The best ghost books

27 authors have picked their favorite books about ghosts and why they recommend each book.

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Spirits of the Cage

By Vanessa Mitchell, Richard Estep,

Book cover of Spirits of the Cage: True Accounts of Living in a Haunted Medieval Prison

I will read absolutely anything that Richard Estep writes. He has written books about the Villisca Ax Murders, Malvern Manor, and other crazy-haunted places. This one, about a site in his native England, is utterly terrifying. Estep writes with a very straightforward, matter-of-fact style (his writing reminds me much of my own style), and the evidence he presents for this haunted site is deeply chilling -- especially since his team is one of the groups that has investigated the Cage. 


Who am I?

I've been a paranormal investigator (a paranormal reporter, actually) for over a decade. One of the very best parts of my job is that I get to gorge myself on books of true accounts of the paranormal. It's exciting to see what else is out there, and what other people have experienced – both historically, and personally. I'm so grateful for the chance to add to this body of work; there are many renowned investigators and writers out there, and I'm thrilled to be counted among them. And someday, someone will read about my experiences and be terrified and intrigued and inspired by them.


I wrote...

Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories

By Sylvia Shults,

Book cover of Days of the Dead: A Year of True Ghost Stories

What is my book about?

Are you brave enough to spend every day of the year with ghosts?

Paranormal reporter Sylvia Shults has collected 366 ghost stories, one for every single day of the year, and has detailed them in this ambitious work. There's a story for your birthday. There's a story for your pet's birthday. There's a story to make every day spooky. Open the cover and peek inside - if you dare.

A Sudden Light

By Garth Stein,

Book cover of A Sudden Light

I can never get enough ghost and haunted house stories that have social commentary themes. This is one of the books that helped inspire my own book. Trevor Riddell’s parents are separated, and Trevor and his father move to his lumber-robber-baron grandfather’s mansion in the woods of the northwest, where Trevor’s father and aunt hope to talk their ailing father into a big-money real estate deal involving the house and land.

This book has everything I love: ghosts, intrigue, mystery, history, emotionally-complex antagonists, and epistolary story-telling through letters and journals. Woven into all that, Stein manages to insert a moral about conservation and trees (and other things I’ll let you discover on your own). Ghost stories have a history of being morality tales, and this is a modern version—true to the tradition—that I really enjoyed.


Who am I?

I think of reading horror stories as perfect armchair adrenalin-thrill-seeking. I prefer horror on the quiet side, dark and thematic, with any depiction of blood and gore in measured quantities. My favorite is historical horror with a moral edge, or underlying theme that explores who we are—good, bad, or in-between—as human beings, and how societal norms have changed from one era to another. The monsters of our imaginations are scary, but for true terror, there's nothing more frightening than the things we've done to each other throughout history. Dress society’s ills or expectations in monster clothes and write a story about them, and I’ll want to read it.


I wrote...

Bittersharp

By K.D. Burrows,

Book cover of Bittersharp

What is my book about?

In 2018, Rachel Shepherd finds her father dead in the haunted mansion he had been renovating into a B&B. Something is wrong at Hollister House. Rachel has dreams and nightmares of a dark-haired man. After she sees the apparition of a woman who has haunted her memory for years, Rachel becomes convinced that exposing the truth about a death in 1927 holds the key to freeing Hollister House of its past. She enlists the help of her first love from a decade ago, and together they discover a mysterious mosaic mural, an album of disturbing photos, and Eve Boland’s diary.

As secrets are revealed, Rachel is about to learn that the worst horror of all may be living with the ghosts of the past.

Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood

By Algernon Blackwood,

Book cover of Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood

The Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood features the author’s scariest tales, including “The Willows” and “The Wendigo”. Blackwood piles detail after detail atop one another until the reader nearly suffocates from the gloom and terror they create! He also squeezes much fear from isolated places like Canada and the Danube River.


Who am I?

My Swedish grandmother first introduced me to the horror genre when I was a small boy. Her folktales of trolls and witches really fueled my imagination! Then, when I was in junior high, my father encouraged me to read Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. I didn’t get hooked on things Gothic, however, until I heard the lyrics of Jim Morrison and the Doors in high school. After college, I became a freelance writer. I quickly learned that 80% of my spooky stuff got accepted by magazines while only 10% of my general interest work was published. That said, it’s no wonder I became a horror writer! 


I wrote...

Ghosts Revisited

By William P. Robertson,

Book cover of Ghosts Revisited

What is my book about?

Ghosts Revisited by William P. Robertson exhumes 32 chilling tales from the crypts of Pennsylvania and Western New York. Who knew that Erie Cemetery housed a vampire, or that High Hat, the Seneca Bogeyman, roams Allegany State Park to quench his cannibalistic urges? Hell hounds frequent Goodleburg Graveyard while Hotel Conneaut is home to the specter bride Elizabeth who burned to death on her honeymoon. Scarier yet, is the serial killer whose ghost resides at the Bergen House near Rochester, New York. That was where he slaughtered children and fed them to the pigs.

Historic sites such as the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, the Dunkirk Lighthouse, and Eastern State Penitentiary have their share of phantoms, as well. Add in a haunted hospital, a derelict poorhouse, and a rat-infested factory, and this book becomes truly spooktacular!

With

By Donald Harington,

Book cover of With

Harington was one of the great unheralded—or at least under heralded—novelists of the last fifty years, bursting with stories and whole populations of flawlessly captured human voices, and With was one of his highest achievements. It follows the fortunes of a kidnapped girl in the Arkansas Ozarks who befriends the woods’ menagerie of animals, as well as the ghost (or, as Harington would style it, the “in-habit”) of a twelve-year-old boy whose body did not die but moved away and abandoned him. Recommended if you like your ghosts warm-hearted and aching for home.


Who am I?

I’ve written and published one hundred very short ghost stories, plus a handful of longer ones, and have spent a lifetime reading and watching and thinking about stories of ghosts and the afterlife. My expertise, such as it is, involves ghosts as beings of narrative and metaphor. I’ve encountered great numbers of them on the page and on the screen—nowhere else—but I confess that I would love someday (though don’t expect) to encounter them in the flesh. My flesh, that is to say; their fleshlessness.


I wrote...

The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories

By Kevin Brockmeier,

Book cover of The Ghost Variations: One Hundred Stories

What is my book about?

A spirit who is fated to spend eternity reliving the exact moment she lost her chance at love, ghostly trees that haunt the occupant of a wooden house, specters that snatch anyone who steps into the shadows, and parakeets that serve as mouthpieces for the dead—these are just a few of the characters in this extraordinary compendium of one hundred ghost stories. Kevin Brockmeier’s fiction has always explored the space between the fantastical and everyday with profundity and poignancy. Like his previous books, The Ghost Variations discovers new ways of looking at who we are and what matters to us, exploring how mysterious, sad, strange, and comical it is to be alive—or, as it happens, not to be.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

By R.A. Dick,

Book cover of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

They made this story into a movie which is still one of my favourites, but the book is even better. Lucy Muir is a widow with two young children and not much money, who rents a house by the sea that is remarkably cheap, mostly because it comes with the ghost of a bad-tempered sea captain, who has driven out all the previous occupants. Mrs. Muir, however, is made of stern stuff and her relationship with the captain makes for one of the oddest, but still utterly captivating, love stories


Who am I?

I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories where, for some reason, the ghosts reveal that they are stuck here. Something happened to them during their earthly life so that, instead of going to wherever you’re supposed to go when you die, this means they can’t. Not until they have ‘undone’ or put right something they did or had done to them. In these stories, we meet spirits who, usually with the help of some human, are doing exactly that. I find such stories deeply satisfying. Which is probably why I try and write them as well…


I wrote...

Friends for Life

By Andrew Norriss,

Book cover of Friends for Life

What is my book about?

My book is about a young teen, Francis, who meets a girl about his own age who is a ghost – though apart from the fact that Jessica has been dead for about a year, she seems perfectly normal. For some reason, Francis is the only person who can see her – until Andi comes along, and then Roland… And the four of them then have the puzzle of working out why Jessica is a ghost and what, if anything, they need to do about it. 

The Ghosts

By Antonia Barber,

Book cover of The Ghosts

I originally found this book used, for a buck, read a few pages, and decided to chance it. I have now read it multiple times, loving the notion of ghostly beings among us, and of time shifts, in a context that really makes sense in a story. (It helps that I’m also a sucker for old spooky houses.) I quickly imagined myself in these pages, part of the fabric of risk, intrigue, and danger, never guessing where it all might end up. Let’s see if you do.


Who am I?

I was invited to travel to Africa and the Mid East on a job and I started to say, “I’m not that kind of guy.” Then I realized I am. I‘d already traveled around the world and even off it, reading. I’ve been happy and sad in books, victorious, scared, in love, survived storms and fierce wars, mourned valiant friends, and even space traveled. Books add dimension to life. What is dimension? Simply more. Like frosting on cake, hot sauce on fries, ice cubes in soda... fudge sauce on ice cream...  I read daily, get great ideas and feelings from books, still make new friends asking, “Have you read this?” Well, have you?


I wrote...

Cheechako: An Alaska Adventure

By Jonathan Thomas Stratman,

Book cover of Cheechako: An Alaska Adventure

What is my book about?

Will Rollins, a greenhorn - cheechako - (chee-chock-oh) is miserable in his new Alaska life. He hasn’t made friends in school and doesn't know a thing about dogsleds or surviving at 40 degrees below zero. When Will darts out onto rampaging river ice to rescue a stranded dog, his bravery wins him the dog, Blackie, and a new Native American friend, Elias. 

Thanks to Elias, Will learns to drive a dogsled, to throw a hatchet, and stay alive in the deep cold. When a fierce blizzard rampages across Alaska, snowdrifts nearly burying the family log cabin, it’s up to Will and Blackie to get help. With Elias injured and Will's family in danger of freezing, can a cheechako save them? Can he save himself?

Things We Say in the Dark

By Kirsty Logan,

Book cover of Things We Say in the Dark

One of the most daring and original voices I have read in recent years. 

I admire Kirsty Logan’s boldness in imagining and describing personal viewpoints and her unique interpretation of possible alternate realities. She shows the courage to commit to ideas and storylines that are original, innovative, and beyond the imagination of most people.

The two darkest stories are "Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by", a menacing tale of abuse, kidnapping, and violence, and "Half Sick of Shadows". The latter is profoundly moving and disturbing and almost unbelievable in its callousness.

A writer whose progress I will follow with interest.


Who am I?

I enjoy stories that bring together diverse themes, such as family life, myths and legends, quests, and cutting-edge science, in an uncomplicated way. I love hidden communities, where accepted rules do not apply, allowing the development of original storylines. The suggestion that there is something on the edge of the supernatural, yet grounded in reality, the weirdest of events retaining a rational explanation. My writing has been inspired by the films of David Lynch. I admire his ability to evoke a sense of menace and a fear that things are not as they seem, leaving much to the reader’s imagination.


I wrote...

Another Life

By Owen W Knight,

Book cover of Another Life

What is my book about?

Imagine: if we could combine dreams and reality in a world where we live forever.

Oliver believes his life to be one of disappointment and failure. Haunted by the memory of a mysterious woman he encountered thirty years ago, and obsessed with finding her, he embarks on a journey embracing grief, hope, myths, and legends to find her. He is drawn into diverse worlds, from ancient rural beliefs and traditions to emerging medical science, as he and the reader are led to question the boundaries between dreams, reality, and imagination.

The Mediator #1

By Meg Cabot,

Book cover of The Mediator #1: Shadowland

Wow, where to even begin with Shadowland? Here’s the deal. I love Meg Cabot. I love everything she’s ever written. Of course, she’s known far and wide for her Princess Diaries series but as a paranormal enthusiast, the Mediator series has always been my favorite. I mean, wasn’t it every teenage girl’s dream to fall in love with the hot ghost haunting her new bedroom? I know that’s all I ever wanted.  


Who am I?

I am an independent author, photographer, wildlife advocate, paranormal enthusiast, and cat mom living in Dallas, Texas. In 2012, I earned my Master's Degree in Art and Performance from the University of Texas at Dallas and have been pursuing my writing career ever since. I published my first book, Cemetery Tours, in 2013 and it will forever be the book that changed my life.


I wrote...

Cemetery Tours

By Jacqueline E. Smith,

Book cover of Cemetery Tours

What is my book about?

Do You Believe in Ghosts? Michael Sinclair does. At twenty-seven, he has spent his entire life pretending that the ghosts he encounters on a daily basis do not exist. Now, if only the dead would let him rest in peace.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely, especially after Kate Avery and her ailing brother, Gavin, move in next door. Kate and Gavin are haunted, and not by a dearly departed loved one. This spirit is aggressive, menacing, and harboring a dark resentment toward Gavin. In spite of every instinct advising him to walk away, Michael finds himself seeking to uncover the mysteries of Gavin's past… and falling for the bright and lovely Kate.

The Canterville Ghost

By Oscar Wilde,

Book cover of The Canterville Ghost

Not strictly written for children, this classic parody provides the model for countless hilarious hauntings that have cropped up in children’s books ever since. The style is somewhat outdated but that won’t stop you from enjoying the frustration of 16th century Sir Simon de Canterville meeting his match in the Otises, a no-nonsense 20th century American family. Horrific bloodstains are whisked away by Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent; clanking chains around Sir Simon’s skeletal wrists and ankles are oiled with a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator; and most humiliating of all, the ghost’s bloodcurdling night wanderings are rendered ludicrous by traps created by the young Otis twins, involving buttered staircases and jugs of water over doorframes. 


Who am I?

I write adventure and mystery stories for children aged 9 - 13, involving battles with mythical creatures, dangerous pacts with demons, and other supernatural chills. My first book, Ante’s Inferno, won the People’s Book Prize and a Silver Wishing Shelf Award. For The Fall of a Sparrow, I drew on my love of ghost stories, not just for their scariness but also for their emotional complexity: ghosts don’t haunt just for the sake of it. They need something only the main character can give. Friendship, perhaps, a companion in their loneliness… or something much darker. Here’s my choice of classic stories in which ghosts pursue a wide – and sometimes terrifying – variety of agendas.


I wrote...

The Fall of a Sparrow

By Griselda Heppel,

Book cover of The Fall of a Sparrow

What is my book about?

Desperate to escape her past, 11-year-old Eleanor is sent away to a spooky school run by a mysterious great-aunt she has never met. There she finds herself followed around by a strange, awkward little boy who – to her horror – knows all about her. Who is he, and why won’t he leave her alone? Unravelling the mystery draws her into a dark web of family secrets, luring her into deadly danger. 

The Children of Green Knowe Collection

By Lucy M. Boston,

Book cover of The Children of Green Knowe Collection

I’d better start by giving you a warning here. This story is from a time long before smartphones, the internet, or digital entertainment. Long before. So it’s a slow burn.

At the start, Tolly has been packed off to stay with his great grandmother in her old house in the country, while his parents are abroad. The house, Green Knowe, is full of mysteries and… ghosts. Ghosts of the past who carry the lesson that you never really know who you are until you know where you came from.

Brilliant stuff but, like I said, be prepared for the gentle pace!


Who am I?

I’ve always been a big fan of ghost stories where, for some reason, the ghosts reveal that they are stuck here. Something happened to them during their earthly life so that, instead of going to wherever you’re supposed to go when you die, this means they can’t. Not until they have ‘undone’ or put right something they did or had done to them. In these stories, we meet spirits who, usually with the help of some human, are doing exactly that. I find such stories deeply satisfying. Which is probably why I try and write them as well…


I wrote...

Friends for Life

By Andrew Norriss,

Book cover of Friends for Life

What is my book about?

My book is about a young teen, Francis, who meets a girl about his own age who is a ghost – though apart from the fact that Jessica has been dead for about a year, she seems perfectly normal. For some reason, Francis is the only person who can see her – until Andi comes along, and then Roland… And the four of them then have the puzzle of working out why Jessica is a ghost and what, if anything, they need to do about it. 

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