The best books that explore night’s tantalizing and terrifying potential

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been intrigued by the way night transforms familiar landscapes, creates a sense of loosened boundaries, and seems to be rich with almost magical potential. One of my most beloved books as a kid was The BFG, partly because of its magnificent passage about the witching hour, “the special moment…when all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.” Later, I discovered Hamlet’s take on it and was equally charmed. It’s no surprise that many of the key moments in my debut collection, Here in the Night, take place after dark. Here are my five favorite books that capture the beguiling power of nighttime. 

I wrote...

Here in the Night

By Rebecca Turkewitz,

Book cover of Here in the Night

What is my book about?

The thirteen stories in Here in the Night are engrossing, strange, eerie, and emotionally nuanced. With psychological insight and finely crafted prose, Here in the Night investigates the joys and constraints of womanhood, of queerness, and of intimacy. Preoccupied with all manner of hauntings, these stories traverse a boarding school in the Vermont woods, the jagged coast of Maine, an attic in suburban Massachusetts, an elevator stuck between floors, and the side of an unlit highway in rural South Carolina. At the center of almost every story is the landscape of night, with all its tantalizing and terrifying potential. These stories will stay with you.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Horrorstör

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did I love this book?

This horror novel about a haunted IKEA-like store is playful and fun in every way—from its inventive narrative structure to the book’s mimicry of an IKEA catalogue, complete with a store map and advertisements for furniture that become increasingly deranged.

During daylight, Orsk is a regular furniture store in the suburbs of Cleveland, but when several employees attempt to stay overnight to find out why products keep getting damaged, the building’s dark history begins to bleed into the present. This book perfectly captures the uncanny way nighttime makes familiar landscapes, such as stores and schools, seem entirely unfamiliar, a phenomenon that has always fascinated me. 

By Grady Hendrix,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Horrorstör as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's a classic old-fashioned haunted house story - set in a big box Swedish furniture superstore. Designed like a retail catalogue, Horrorstor offers a creepy read with mass appeal-perfect for Halloween tables! Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Bracken glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofabeds-clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk-til-dawn shift-and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature…

Book cover of Mongrels

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did I love this book?

Night takes on special significance in any werewolf narrative.

In this gorgeous novel, the narrator is descended from a line of werewolves, but is yet to transform himself, despite being past the age it might typically happen. He desperately wants to transform, and each moonlit night offers him the hope that he might feel like less of an outsider within his own family. This surprisingly tender coming-of-age story deftly explores what it means to exist on the fringes of society, and the deep-seeded need to belong.

I’ve always loved books that resist the confines of any one genre, and this book could easily be categorized as a bildungsroman, a work of literary fiction, or a horror novel.

By Stephen Graham Jones,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Mongrels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them. He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his…

Book cover of She Is a Haunting

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did I love this book?

This remarkable YA haunted house novel, about imperialism, intergenerational trauma, and family legacy, creates a strong sense of unease, which builds towards some frightening and grotesque imagery that stayed with me for a long time. Notably, almost all of the horror occurs after dark.

The descriptions of the narrator’s night terrors are visceral and deeply unsettling, and it is through the murky landscape of dreams that one of the ghost chooses to communicate. In the daytime, the narrator is relatively safe. But at night, in the ethereal space between sleep and wakefulness, the ghosts are more real than the living. I also really enjoyed how the narrator’s queerness plays a central role in the story, but doesn’t entirely define her character.

By Trang Thanh Tran,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked She Is a Haunting as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

This house eats and is eaten . . . "A riveting debut from a remarkable new voice! Trang Thanh Tran weaves an impressive gothic mystery in which Jade's father is determined to restore a decrepit home to its former glory and Jade is the only person who feels the soul-crushing devastation of colonialism lingering within its walls." --Angeline Boulley, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Firekeeper's Daughter A House with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in this atmospheric horror, perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic. When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her…

Book cover of Let the Right One in

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did I love this book?

I had to include a vampire story on this list, and there is no better contemporary vampire novel than this Swedish tour de force.

Blackeberg, Sweden, a cookie-cutter suburb of Stockholm, is one of the most memorable settings I have ever encountered in a book. The novel is full of complex, empathetic portraits of Blackeberg’s residents, even its most cruel ones. The friendship between Oskar, a bullied and scared twelve-year-old boy, and Eli, a centuries-old vampire child, is beautifully rendered and unforgettable. 

By John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg (translator),

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Let the Right One in as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Ajvide Lindqvist’s international bestseller Let the Right One In is “a brilliant take on the vampire myth, and a roaring good story” (New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong), the basis for the multi-film festival award-winning Swedish film, the U.S. adaptation Let Me In directed by Matt Reeves (The Batman), and the Showtime TV series.

It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at…

Book cover of The Night Watchman

Rebecca Turkewitz Why did I love this book?

This stunning, sprawling novel is anchored by the experiences of Thomas Wazhashk, the night watchman at a jewel-bearing factory in rural North Dakota.

It explores the strangeness of working the night shift and living with a semi-nocturnal schedule. The job and his tireless fight against a bill that will further dispossess Native Americans drive Thomas to a state of near-exhaustion.

Some of the most memorable moments in this compassionate and narratively ambitious book were the descriptions of Thomas’s lonely and occasionally revelatory experiences on the night shift, including his encounters with a white owl he finds pecking at the factory windows. I found this novel, like all of Erdrich’s books, to be immersive and enthralling.  

By Louise Erdrich,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Night Watchman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



It is 1953. Thomas Wazhushk is the night watchman at the first factory to open near the Turtle Mountain Reservation in rural North Dakota. He is also a prominent Chippewa Council member, trying to understand a new bill that is soon to be put before Congress. The US Government calls it an 'emancipation' bill; but it isn't about freedom - it threatens the rights of Native Americans to their land, their very identity. How can he fight this betrayal?

Unlike most of the girls on the reservation, Pixie…

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Book cover of Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

John Kenneth White Author Of Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

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Long before Trump, each of these phenomena grew in importance. The John Birch Society and McCarthyism became powerful forces; Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first “personal president” to rise above the party; and the development of what Harry Truman called “the big lie,” where outrageous falsehoods came to be believed. Trump…

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