10 books like The Boughs Withered

By Maura McHugh,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Boughs Withered. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Savage Her Reply

By Deirdre Sullivan,

Book cover of Savage Her Reply

The Children of Lir is one of Ireland’s best-known myths. Over the years it has been more than a little sanitized, and as a consequence almost entirely relegated to a children’s beloved fairytale. With her rich, poetic prose and unflinching honesty, Deirdre Sullivan brings the story right back into the adult sphere. Her characters emerge, flawed and seething, from the magical fog of myth to hurt and help each other, and to drag the enthralled reader with them through aeons of vengeance, loyalty, and, eventually, peace.

I can’t stress how beautiful this novel is. An epic poem almost, it satisfies my hunger for beautiful prose, and for thematic depth and emotional resonance. If you love gorgeous writing as much as I do, you will love this one.

Savage Her Reply

By Deirdre Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Savage Her Reply as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir by the author of the multi-award-winning Tangleweed and Brine

'No-one else writes like Deirdre Sullivan. She is lyrical, poetic and thoroughly intoxicating.' Juno Dawson, author of Wonderland

'Unsettling, haunting, and darkly lyrical, Savage Her Reply is a beautiful thing.' Louise O'Neill, author of After The Silence

A retelling of the favourite Irish fairytale The Children of Lir. Aife marries Lir, a chieftain with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aife turns them into swans for 900 years.

Retold through the voice of…


Things in Jars

By Jess Kidd,

Book cover of Things in Jars

I loved this novel by Jess Kidd (and all her novels, natch) from the moment I started reading. Who wouldn’t love a Victorian-era set story of spectacle and sideshow, featuring lady detective Bridie Devine as she sets out to find a mysterious child who has disappeared? The child in question, Christabel, is rumored to be a Merrow, a kind of mermaid. Ruby Doyle, a dead man who may or may not be a hallucination (brought on by whatever it is that Bridie is constantly smoking) assists her in her investigations. The prose is charming, entertaining, and gripping. There is magic, folklore, and bags of personality.

Things in Jars

By Jess Kidd,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Things in Jars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may…


All the Bad Apples

By Moïra Fowley-Doyle,

Book cover of All the Bad Apples

More beautifully written magic realism, with compelling characters and a fascinating plot. Fowley-Doyle uses the obliqueness of the supernatural and the compelling tropes of a mystery story to explore Ireland's troubled history with women and children. There's something of the road trip to this one, with a warm, supportive, found-family providing kindness and companionship to the main character in a story that otherwise might be too bleak to bear. Release yourself to the prose and to the experience, let the book carry you. It’ll be worth the journey.

All the Bad Apples

By Moïra Fowley-Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Bad Apples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning new novel about silenced female voices, family secrets and dangerous truths from the author of The Accident Season.

'Exquisite . . . This is a book to hold tightly to your chest' Irish Times

'Lyrical . . . Compelling' Guardian

'Beautiful, visceral . . . A primal scream' Louise O'Neill

'Uncompromising, raw, devastating' Publishers Weekly

'I am in absolute awe of it' Melinda Salisbury

On Deena's seventeenth birthday, the day she finally comes out to her family, her wild and mysterious sister Mandy is seen leaping from a cliff. The family is heartbroken, but not surprised. The women…


The Treachery of Beautiful Things

By Ruth Francis Long,

Book cover of The Treachery of Beautiful Things

Beneath the surface of this beautifully written old-style fairytale there lies a compelling examination of free will. This thematic depth adds a delicious, chewy meat to what is already an enjoyable romantic read. I loved the characters here. Jenny’s repeated struggle to overcome the fairytale roles that are imposed upon her, and the properly dark consequences of failure in the fairy realm, make this an excellent YA romance adventure that's hard to forget.

The Treachery of Beautiful Things

By Ruth Francis Long,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Treachery of Beautiful Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A darkly compelling mix of romance, fairy tale, and suspense from a new voice in teen fiction

The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some…


The Idea of the Holy

By Rudolf Otto,

Book cover of The Idea of the Holy

This book is a skeleton key for understanding the fundamental relationship between religion, horror, and the supernatural. Otto was a German theologian and scholar of religions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and in this, his most famous book, he set out to interrogate the nature of holiness, understood not primarily as supernatural moral goodness but as the feeling of numinous dread that accompanies the supernatural, and that “first begins to stir in the feeling of ‘something uncanny, ‘ ‘eerie,’ or ‘weird.’” He explicitly states that it was this emotion in the mind of early humans that gave rise not only to religion but to the cultural traditions of ghost stories and horror tales. If you read only one book on religion and horror, make it this one.

The Idea of the Holy

By Rudolf Otto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Idea of the Holy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"It is essential to every theistic conception of God, and most of all to the Christian, that it designates and precisely characterizes Deity by the attributes Spirit, Reason, Purpose, Good Will, Supreme Power, Unity, Selfhood. The nature of God is thus thought of by analogy with our human nature of reason and personality; only, whereas in ourselves we are aware of this as qualified by restriction and limitation, as applied to God the attributes we use are 'completed', i.e. thought as absolute and unqualified. Now all these attributes constitute clear and definite concepts: they can be grasped by the intellect;…


Doll

By Miracle Austin,

Book cover of Doll

I’m a big fan of young adult fiction and I’m also a big fan of supernatural stories that take place in the “real” world. Doll follows a trio of high school students, who, tired of being bullied, seek out the assistance of Tomie’s cousin… who just happens to be a witch. As far as young adult horror goes, Miracle Austin is the best of the best. 

Doll

By Miracle Austin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome to Frost High; I bet you’ve heard about or currently may be attending. Small school, lots of secrets, a popular mean girl, Pepper Fox, and of course a few outcasts--Tomie Dupuy, Sarifena Green, and Opal Dawn--who all shined on Pepper’s tormented list, since junior high. Opal shined the brightest. Tomie, Sari, and Opal made a pact and traveled to Monroe Creek, Louisiana with the goal to end their torment in an untraditional way. Sometimes things don’t end up, as we wish. Fate always possesses a way to redirect everything. Will they finally find the solution to their agonizing problem…


Who Fears the Devil (Planet Stories 24)

By Manly Wade Wellman, Mike Resnick, Karl Edward Wagner

Book cover of Who Fears the Devil (Planet Stories 24)

Silver John, a balladeer with a silver-stringed guitar, crisscrosses rural USA encountering all manner of supernatural entities, and does it with a song in his heart. There's a deep love of ancient folklore that shines through in this wonderful collection. It's far removed from Carnacki or Silence's cozy sitting rooms and libraries, but every bit as tied to a desire to get to the root of ancient mysteries. There's an almost Bradburyesque sense of wonder in these tales that lifts you up and carries you alongside John on his travels.

Who Fears the Devil (Planet Stories 24)

By Manly Wade Wellman, Mike Resnick, Karl Edward Wagner

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Fears the Devil (Planet Stories 24) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There's a traveling man the Carolina mountain folk call Silver John for the silver strings strung on his guitar. In his wanderings, John encounters a parade of benighted forest creatures, mountain spirits, and shapeless horrors from the void of history with only his enduring spirit, playful wit, and the magic of his guitar to preserve him. Manly Wade Wellman's Silver John is one of the most beloved figures in fantasy, a true American folk hero of the literary age. For the first time the "Planet Stories" edition of "Who Fears the Devil?" collects all of John's adventures published throughout Wellman's…


The Nest

By Kenneth Oppel, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Book cover of The Nest

On my first read of Oppel’s spare masterpiece, I thought, I haven’t been this scared by a book in a long time. It’s a middle-grade novel, but don’t let that stop you from picking it up. Steve is anxious about his baby brother, who was born with severe health problems. When an otherworldly creature offers to help, he assumes he’s communicating with an angel. The creature can fix Steve’s brother—a normal baby certainly would be a huge relief for his whole family. But what does it mean to fix him? And what is “normal,” anyway? This is a haunting, beautifully constructed novel. 

The Nest

By Kenneth Oppel, Jon Klassen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The first time I saw them, I thought they were angels.' The baby is sick. Mom and Dad are sad. And all Steve has to do is say, "Yes" to fix everything. But yes is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back? Treading the thin line between dreams and reality, Steve is stuck in a nightmare he can't wake up from and that nobody else understands. And all the while, the wasps' nest is growing, and the 'angel' keeps visiting Steve in the night.

A haunting coming of…


The Curse She Wore

By Jordan Dane,

Book cover of The Curse She Wore

What I love best about this novel is how adept the author is at combining the traditional elements of a serial killer story with those of supernatural tales such as Peter Straub’s terrifying Ghost Story. And trust me, the combination works. If you’re in the mood to be scared, then touched by the tortured yet loyal and loving Trinity LeDoux, I suggest you stop what you’re doing and acquire The Curse She Wore.

The Curse She Wore

By Jordan Dane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Curse She Wore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trinity LeDoux, homeless on the streets of New Orleans, has nothing to lose when she hands a wealthy, yet reclusive clairvoyant a cursed vintage necklace. 

During one of Hayden Quinn's rare public appearances, he is unexpectedly recruited into Trinity's perilous mission-a journey back through time to the exact moment of death for two very different victims. 

Hayden and Trinity, two broken people with nothing but death in common, pursue the dangerous quest to stop the murderer emulating the grisly works of a notorious serial killer. Trespassing on Fate's turf comes with a price-one they will never see coming.


666

By Jay Anson,

Book cover of 666

Most people know Anson from The Amityville Horror, but this is a whole other horror, and gratefully, totally fictional this time. A couple moves into their dream home (sound familiar?), soon, strange and frightening things begin to happen at the house with the ominous address. Things that have happened in the same house, at other locations, in other times. I read this book years ago and the imagery of the final chapters still unnerves me.

666

By Jay Anson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 666 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An innocent-looking but evil-filled house mysteriously appears at different times in different cities, each time waiting for the unwitting victim to rent it and then unleashing the terrifying force of the devil


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the supernatural, the Irish, and ghosts?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the supernatural, the Irish, and ghosts.

The Supernatural Explore 239 books about the supernatural
The Irish Explore 33 books about the Irish
Ghosts Explore 155 books about ghosts