The best books to transport you to a haunted house

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Catherine Cavendish – writer of Gothic and ghostly horror stories. I lived in a haunted house. It didn’t scare me because our ghost seemed to go out of her way to make us welcome. Elsewhere in the building was a different matter. This was occupied by a social club and in one room in particular, an entity targeted lone females, taking delight in poking and shoving them. Since we left there, I wonder about our friendly ghost. Does she continue to watch over her old home? As for the malevolent spirit – one encounter was quite enough for me! My experiences left me fascinated by the power of buildings to absorb its ghosts.


I wrote...

The After-Death of Caroline Rand

By Catherine Cavendish,

Book cover of The After-Death of Caroline Rand

What is my book about?

At a weekend house party at ancient Canonbury Manor, Alli is caught between fantasy and reality, past and present, in the life of Caroline Rand, a famous singer from the late Sixties, who reportedly killed herself in that house. Alli soon learns that evil infests the once-holy building. A sinister cabal controls it, as it has for centuries. Before long, her fate will be sealed, and she will learn about her role in the after-death of Caroline Rand.
It begins with a chilling greeting: "Welcome to The Columbine, Miss Sinclair. You are expected."

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Wylding Hall

Catherine Cavendish Why did I love this book?

I was previously unfamiliar with Elizabeth Hand but this novella had me hooked.

The story concerns a folk-rock band who, decades earlier, stayed at the historic Wylding Hall to write and record an album. But Wylding Hall is full of secrets and mystery, and things happened there that affected them for the rest of their lives.

One of their numbers disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. The house itself behaves in ways that…let's say houses shouldn't behave. All these years later, each of the surviving band members tells their side of the story their own recollections of what happened during that fateful time and this is the really clever part of the story.

Full of spooky atmosphere and an eclectic cast of characters, I loved this story.

By Elizabeth Hand,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Wylding Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the tragic and mysterious death of one of their founding members, the young musicians in a British acid-folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with its own dark secrets. There they record the classic album that will make their reputation but at a terrifying cost, when Julian Blake, their lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again. Now, years later, each of the surviving musicians, their friends and lovers (including a psychic, a photographer, and the band s manager) meets with a young documentary filmmaker to tell his or her own version…


Book cover of The Woman in Black

Catherine Cavendish Why did I love this book?

Eel Marsh House. The name itself sets you up for something dark, sinister, cold, lonely, and hide-under-the-bedcovers scary.

The way Susan Hill handles her brand of horror has always fascinated and grabbed me. She sets her Gothic and ghostly stories – which are mostly novella length – in an indeterminate timeline which has been called ‘Hill-time’ and this all adds to the mystery and ethereal darkness.

The Woman in Black is her most famous (writing in this genre) and has all the ingredients you want. An isolated house with such a macabre back story it’s no wonder it is so deeply haunted, a desolate fog-ridden landscape, the hapless and grieving solicitor who stays there in order to sort out the legal affairs of the late owner.

Add all this to the tragic legend that has the locals fearful and wary and it’s classic stuff – but no less gripping when placed in the hands of an accomplished writer of Susan Hill’s standing.

By Susan Hill,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Woman in Black 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?

The classic ghost story from the author of The Mist in the Mirror: a chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.
 
Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford—a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway—to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow’s house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip…


Book cover of No One Gets Out Alive

Catherine Cavendish Why did I love this book?

Adam Nevill is a British horror writer – you may know of him through The Ritual which was made into a successful film a few years ago.

This is an earlier work and tells the story of Stephanie – down on her luck and reduced to taking a cheap, seedy room in an even seedier house where it is soon apparent that there is something horribly wrong. The chilling and menacing atmosphere of the building is overwhelming, while the landlord is certainly not on the level.

As for his ghastly cousin…. Then there are the noises… Something is going on here that transcends the norm. It’s unnatural, maybe supernatural, and things are about to turn a lot worse when Stephanie digs deeper. This is a house like no other. And the truth of it will take her beyond her wildest fears.

Recently filmed, this is one of Adam Nevill’s most accomplished works (in my opinion) and shows why he has earned a reputation as one of the best.

By Adam Nevill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No One Gets Out Alive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major Netflix film.

Winner of the August Derleth Award, No One Gets Out Alive is the ultimate haunted house thriller from horror writer Adam Nevill.

Darkness lives within . . .

Cash-strapped, working for agencies and living in shared accommodation, Stephanie Booth feels she can fall no further. So when she takes a new room at the right price, she believes her luck has finally turned. But 82 Edgware Road is not what it appears to be.

It's not only the eerie atmosphere of the vast, neglected house, or the disturbing attitude of her new landlord, Knacker McGuire,…


Book cover of The Feast of All Souls

Catherine Cavendish Why did I love this book?

Everything about this story worked for me.

Alice the main character devastated by the loss of her eight-year-old daughter, buys a large, dilapidated house. It will be a big job – a real fixer-upper that she can get her teeth into but it isn't long before she finds out hers is not your everyday normal building.

It starts with the voices and manifestations... and the children. Local legends and folklore abound. Soon Alice is swept up in events far out of her control in both time and dimension. and the house is a key player in this. It guards its secrets well.

This story stayed with me for a long time, and I believe Simon Bestwick deserves to be far better known than he is. I have yet to be disappointed in anything he has written.

By Simon Bestwick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Feast of All Souls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alice has returned to her old home town to put her life back in order.

378 Collarmill Road looks like an ordinary house. But sometimes, the world outside the windows isn't the one you expect to see; sometimes you'll turn around and find you're not alone.

An old flame of Alice's - John Revell - reluctantly comes to her aid when the house begins to reveal its secrets. The hill on which it sits is a place of legends - of Old Harry, the Beast of Crawbeck; of the Virgin of the Height and the mysterious Red Man - and…


Book cover of City of Spells

Catherine Cavendish Why did I love this book?

Gaby Triana excels at creating and transmitting atmosphere. She transports you into the swamps, oppressive heat, terrors, and scares of the Florida she has created in her Haunted Florida trilogy of which this is the final part.

In City of Spells, Queylin Sanchez runs a shop selling incense, charms, and all manner of items designed to appeal to those interested in the occult, but when an elderly man crosses the threshold and enlists her help in ridding his home of an unwanted ghost, she accepts the commission and sets in motion a frightening chain of events that threaten her sanity and her life in fact, much more than that is at stake as she unravels the sinister and disturbing truth.

I can assure you, the tradition of Southern Gothic is alive and well in this author’s capable hands. If you haven’t read any of Gaby’s work yet – it’s time to dive in!

By Gaby Triana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked City of Spells as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A haunted Old Florida home. A ghostly woman in white. Witchcraft from Miami's darker side.When a mysterious old gentleman enters Queylin's trendy new age shop, she hopes he'll buy incense, sage, maybe a nice rose quartz pendulum for his wife. Instead, the man enlists her help getting rid of La Dama de Blanco, a ghostly woman in bloody white dress who's been haunting his 100-year-old Palmetto Bay estate.But when Queylin's rituals and spells uncover terrifying secrets hidden in the walls of the old mansion, she realizes La Dama de Blanco is only the beginning of the haunted home's evil legacy.


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Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

Book cover of Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

Leslie Tall Manning Author Of Maggie's Dream

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Mentor Laugher Research nut Avid reader

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Winner of the Literary Titan Book Award

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family’s happiness.

But Marilyn’s quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by…

Feral Maril & Her Little Brother Carol

By Leslie Tall Manning,

What is this book about?

Bright but unassuming Marilyn Jones has some grown-up decisions to make, especially after Mama goes to prison for drugs and larceny. With no one to take care of them, Marilyn and her younger, mentally challenged brother, Carol, get tossed into the foster care system. While shuffling from one home to another, Marilyn makes it her mission to find the Tan Man, a mysterious man from her babyhood she believes holds the key to her family's happiness.

But Marilyn's quest is halted when her daddy, an ex-con she has never met, is chosen by the courts as the new guardian. Caleb…


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