The best books to provoke a sense of dread

Daisy Pearce Author Of The Silence
By Daisy Pearce

The Books I Picked & Why

A Head Full of Ghosts

By Paul Tremblay

Book cover of A Head Full of Ghosts

Why this book?

A book that frightened me so much I genuinely had to sleep with the lights on. I love domestic horror and the discomfort of a family setting and Tremblay’s novel digs deep into this. A Head Full of Ghosts centres around a fourteen-year-old girl displaying signs of acute schizophrenia and the methods her family uses to exorcise her demons. At a time when I’d grown weary of so much modern horror this book really got under my skin.


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The Apparition Phase

By Will Maclean

Book cover of The Apparition Phase

Why this book?

So good! A ghost story rich in texture, set in Britain during the seventies. Twins Tim and Abi live in an insular world, obsessed with the paranormal. After they prank a school friend with a fake ghost photograph events start to spiral out of control. Nostalgic without being syrupy, this book felt like stepping back into my own ghost-obsessed childhood. It’s that familiarity, as well as the slow burn of the strange and unnerving events, that kept me absolutely hooked.


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Between Two Fires

By Christopher Buehlman

Book cover of Between Two Fires

Why this book?

My God, this book. This book. It was so unsettling, so eerie, and yet so lyrically deft that I often found my jaw open in wonder. A mediaeval horror set in France during the Black Death, it tells of a young girl who believes she has seen the Angels of God. I picked it up expecting to drag my way through it and instead found it so absorbing and hallucinatory that I couldn’t read it fast enough. Worth noting also that it manages to be both apocalyptic and very funny which is quite a feat! 


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Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Book cover of Hex

Why this book?

I was obsessed with this book for a long time because I love a narrative built around curses and witches. A small Hudson Valley town is haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. In parts both chilling and profound, it works on a deeper level than your average ghost story and is richer for it. 


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Witch Bottle

By Tom Fletcher

Book cover of Witch Bottle

Why this book?

Although this is a slow-burning horror with an air of menace throughout Witch Bottle is a very human book. It is a story about grief and loss and loneliness and conjures up a deeply unsettling atmosphere that stayed with me long after I’d turned out the light. Uncanny, in the truest sense of the word. 


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