The best haunted house books

18 authors have picked their favorite books about haunted houses and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

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

The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Listen, if you like creepy books and you don’t already know Shirley Jackson then I am about to change your life. All of her books are fantastic but this one is probably the greatest haunted house story of all time. Four seekers arrive at the notoriously Hill House, including Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a haunting. They are not prepared for what they find.


Who am I?

I’m a writer and a bookstore owner and a lover of all things dark and strange. I grew up reading books that I often had to put in the freezer at night so that they wouldn’t haunt my dreams and I never grew out of it.  I have a book club called The Fantastic Strangelings so I am constantly reading, and always looking for new and wonderful stories to share.


I wrote...

Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

By Jenny Lawson,

Book cover of Broken (in the Best Possible Way)

What is my book about?

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, Jenny brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way.

A treat for Jenny Lawson’s already existing fans, and destined to convert new ones, Broken is a beacon of hope and a wellspring of laughter when we all need it most.

Horrorstör

By Grady Hendrix,

Book cover of Horrorstör

Grady Hendrix crafts a unique worldnot only in this story, but for the pantheon of horrors he has built throughout his novels. Set amidst the winding paths of ORSK (an IKEA-like store), the reader is introduced to strange happenings already in progress. As the store itself changes and incidents become more sinister and paranormal, so does the presentation of the book itself. Designed to parody an IKEA catalog, illustrations of ORSK products become more menacing as the story progresses, inviting the reader to progress deeper into a world of danger and terror. Hendrix has a way of crafting “real” peoplepeople you know in your own life. Normal people terrorized by abnormal circumstances, reacting the way any of us might when facing supernatural horrors.


Who am I?

I’ve been ensconced in horror since childhood—from the Monster Double Feature to Creepy and Tomb of Dracula. I’m part of the Monster Squad; I’m what goes bump in the night. I live for the scare. My love for all things spooky started young, growing up with Bradbury and Matheson, before graduating to King, Koontz, and Straub. I continued to absorb horror wherever I could: books, films, and comics, drinking it in as quickly as it came out. Eventually, I found that I’d absorbed so many stories, I had one or two of my own to contributeso I began writing short stories and novels to terrorize the genre myself!


I wrote...

Threshold

By Andy Lockwood, Brian Ritson (illustrator),

Book cover of Threshold

What is my book about?

After the death of her grandmother, Cate inherits an antique mirror. The frame is detailed, ageless. The glass unmarred. Impeccable. Cate can't put her finger on it, but there's something wrong with the way her reflection looks back at her.

Cate assumes the mirror has a storied history, but it doesn't seem to have any history at all. Previous owners have all disappeared, leaving Cate to piece together its mysterious origin. At first, this didn't seem like a problem, but Cate's life is twisting in unusual ways since taking ownership of the artifact. Plagued by nightmares and haunted by her own reflection, she can hardly close her eyes. Perhaps it is exhaustion. Perhaps it is something else entirely.

Priory

By Becky Wright,

Book cover of Priory

I love a classic, gothic haunted house story with an unexpected twist, and Priory delivers. When Oliver Hardacre returns to his namesake home, located outside the gloriously atmospheric Yorkshire town of Whitby, he opens the door to his past. The narrative is told from Oliver’s modern perspective and his mother’s point of view in the 1970s, when Oliver and his brother were children at Hardacre Priory. Replete with dark, twisted secrets and multi-layered, complex characters, Wright’s sentient, menacing estate comes alive under her masterful touch. This is a short read, easily finished in one sitting. Crack it open on a foggy morning, with a spot of tea and a blanket to cut the chill.


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by haunted houses and the lore behind them ever since childhood. I spent my summers walking our neighborhood cemetery and devouring novels by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Shirley Jackson. It was only natural, then, that my debut novel had to be a haunted house story—my own love letter to the genre. Having lived in a haunted house myself, the experiences I had within those walls did little to discourage my fascination with the paranormal. While I may have left my ghosts behind me, you can still sense their lingering presence inside Parting the Veil.


I wrote...

Parting the Veil

By Paulette Kennedy,

Book cover of Parting the Veil

What is my book about?

When Eliza Sullivan inherits an estate from a recently deceased aunt, she leaves behind a grievous and guilt-ridden past in New Orleans for rural England and a fresh start. Eliza arrives at her new home and finds herself falling for the mysterious lord of Havenwood, Malcolm Winfield. Despite the sinister rumors that surround him, Eliza is drawn to his melancholy charm and his crumbling, once-beautiful mansion. With enough love, she thinks, both man and manor could be repaired.

Not long into their marriage, Eliza fears that she should have listened to the locals. There’s something terribly wrong at Havenwood Manor. And Malcolm’s threatening moods, as changeable as night and day. As Eliza delves deeper into Malcolm’s troubling history, the dark secrets she unearths gain a frightening power. 

Hell House

By Richard Matheson,

Book cover of Hell House

As the name might suggest, this novel is very much a spiritual descendant of Shirley Jackson’s Hill House, with a very similar setup: ghost hunters visit a haunted house that’s been abandoned for decades. That, however, is where the similarities end. In Matheson’s work, the haunting is more physical, with bodily threats to the ghost hunters at every turn, and the psychological and spiritual terror it inflicts does far more damage to them at each step, turning them against each other in violent and sometimes deadly ways.


Who am I?

I’m a writer of sapphic horror and romance fiction, and a professor of nineteenth and twentieth literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I’ve been an avid reader of ghost-focused fiction since I was a little kid. This fascination was, in part, encouraged by my horror-loving parents, but I think I’ve just always loved being scared, and for me, the scariest thing imaginable is a haunted house. I’ve read widely in the genre, by turns spooked, thrilled, and baffled, and this reading eventually encouraged me to write my own haunted house novels. If you love a chilling tale, you’re going to love the books on this list.


I wrote...

Gnarled Hollow

By Charlotte Greene,

Book cover of Gnarled Hollow

What is my book about?

Emily Murray has been given a chance of a lifetime: to work and study inside Gnarled Hollow, the former estate of one of her favorite authors. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but the house has a disturbing habit of changing dimensions—and not just physical ones. Rooms go missing, doors close on their own, and time has a strange tendency to disappear. Emily is joined by other scholars, among them the beautiful art historian, Juniper Friend. Together they begin to research the history of the house, refusing to abandon their work. Spurred on by their desire to uncover the mysteries of Gnarled Hollow and its ghostly inhabitants, they’re determined to uncover the truth, even if it means risking their own lives.

The Elementals

By Michael McDowell,

Book cover of The Elementals

This is one of those books that creeps up on you. The setting is unusual and it uses the tropes of Southern Gothic in unexpected ways. For one thing, McDowell’s novel is set at the beach during a vacation. Most of the haunted activity takes place during the day in the oppressively sunny landscape of the vacation home for a group of visitors recovering from various ills. For another, and like a lot of Southern Gothic stories, family dynamics and history are a big part of the backstory here, but there are unpredictable elements as well, including the very nature or un-nature of the setting itself.


Who am I?

I’m a writer of sapphic horror and romance fiction, and a professor of nineteenth and twentieth literature and Women’s and Gender Studies. I’ve been an avid reader of ghost-focused fiction since I was a little kid. This fascination was, in part, encouraged by my horror-loving parents, but I think I’ve just always loved being scared, and for me, the scariest thing imaginable is a haunted house. I’ve read widely in the genre, by turns spooked, thrilled, and baffled, and this reading eventually encouraged me to write my own haunted house novels. If you love a chilling tale, you’re going to love the books on this list.


I wrote...

Gnarled Hollow

By Charlotte Greene,

Book cover of Gnarled Hollow

What is my book about?

Emily Murray has been given a chance of a lifetime: to work and study inside Gnarled Hollow, the former estate of one of her favorite authors. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural, but the house has a disturbing habit of changing dimensions—and not just physical ones. Rooms go missing, doors close on their own, and time has a strange tendency to disappear. Emily is joined by other scholars, among them the beautiful art historian, Juniper Friend. Together they begin to research the history of the house, refusing to abandon their work. Spurred on by their desire to uncover the mysteries of Gnarled Hollow and its ghostly inhabitants, they’re determined to uncover the truth, even if it means risking their own lives.

Maybe This Time

By Jennifer Crusie,

Book cover of Maybe This Time

Jennifer Crusie writes some of the funniest heroines I ever met. I adore her voice and I wanted to add her to my list. When I went to Jen’s blog ArghInk to ask her which of her heroines was over forty. She said Andie.

Andie’s ex-husband North wants one last favor from her as closure. Help him settle the two delinquent orphans he inherited from a distant relative. He knows Andie can handle anything.

Her new fiancée isn’t pleased. When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren't your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What's worse, Andie's fiancé thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right.

I read…


Who am I?

My real name is Susan Berger and I'm a certified bookaholic. I'm also an actor and I love my work. Being older has been very lucky for me. I wrote children’s books as Susan J Berger. COVID closed my publisher and I'm not actively submitting at the moment. I write romance as Susan B James because I didn’t want my children to have to acknowledge that their mother knew anything about sex. Falling in love and living happily ever after is an ageless state. But in romance novels heroines are mostly under thirty. I happen to be chronologically gifted myself. And many of my favorite romances feature older heroines. I think we need more.


I wrote...

Time and Forever

By Susan B. James,

Book cover of Time and Forever

What is my book about?

Two women in their sixties time travel to 1969—London and Los Angeles. One finds an old love. One finds a new. But time travel has rules. And that's a problem...

Being in their sixties has its perks. Sherry is a successful businesswoman. Lorena’s an actress on a popular sitcom. Sherry’s husband dumped her for a younger woman eighteen years ago. Lorena’s husband died of cancer. Sherry wants a second chance at love. Lorena doesn’t think second chances are possible. She can’t imagine loving anyone but Dave. But when a glitch in a Virtual Reality Adventure game sends them back to 1969 London, “possible” takes on a whole new dimension. Are they willing to pay the price to alter their future?

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.

Pierre the Maze Detective

By Hiro Kamigaki (illustrator), Ic4design (illustrator),

Book cover of Pierre the Maze Detective: The Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower: (Maze Book for Kids, Adventure Puzzle Book, Seek and Find Book)

Pierre the Maze Detective is a series of books, that, unlike my four other recommendations, combines maze solving with a narrative. I could have picked any book from the series, but I particularly liked the Mystery of the Empire Maze Tower. Each spread is a beautifully detailed illustration, somewhat similar to Where’s Waldo?, at first glance, the maze is not obvious, but on closer inspection, through the busyness, you can spy a series of paths subtlety woven into the illustration. I think this book (and the others in the series) offers a wonderful extra dimension to a slightly older solver, someone who can immerse themselves in the story, solve the mazes, and solve the crime!


Who am I?

I am an author, illustrator, and award-winning creative director. I have loved to draw and make things since a young age, mostly wacky contraptions (inspired by my love of the Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races cartoons). I’m also passionate about mazes, having spent many family holidays drawing mazes on a small whiteboard for my two boys to complete.


I wrote...

Mega-Maze Adventure!: A Journey Through the World's Longest Maze in a Book

By Scott Bedford,

Book cover of Mega-Maze Adventure!: A Journey Through the World's Longest Maze in a Book

What is my book about?

Not just a maze––the book itself is a maze! Every page (including the cover) has a portal hole cut into it, allowing the maze to run from page to page and make this the world's longest maze in a book. Every spread is a journey through an imaginative world: there's Robot World and Butterfly World, Ski World and Underwater World, Dragon World, and Skyscraper World.

Filled with hypnotic details, hidden surprises, fun facts, and bright, swirling, richly-colored details, every page is a compelling adventure. This maze book is the first of its kind, and a totally immersive, compelling, and challenging experience for young people (and their parents!).

The House of the Seven Gables

By Nathaniel Hawthorne,

Book cover of The House of the Seven Gables

I love this book because I’ve stood inside the house that inspired this tale, owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susan Ingersoll, and I learned of the history associated with the story and why he wrote it. But beyond these fascinating details, Hawthorne’s knack for layering symbolism throughout his work really speaks to me. I love to do this when I write because the subconscious mind picks up these details even when we consciously may not realize it. This is part of evoking the mood essential for creating a foreboding environment.


Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the mind-body-spirit’s impact on our human experience. Especially the aspect of mind, because deep within us resides the shadow-self described by Carl Jung. Most of us spend our lives hiding this part, but it’s there, waiting to pounce. These are the stories I tell, and with my background in Health and Wellness and in Creative Writing, I write paranormal, supernatural, and horror stories containing the simple truths about our human experience. All are designed to bring out the shadow lurking within and expose it to the light. As a counterpoint to these dark tales, I write evocative poetry, uplifting children’s stories, and some educational books with my writing partner, Derek R. King.  


I wrote...

The Many Worlds of Mr. A. Skouandy and Other Stories from Oakwood Sanatorium

By Julie Kusma,

Book cover of The Many Worlds of Mr. A. Skouandy and Other Stories from Oakwood Sanatorium

What is my book about?

Oakwood Sanatorium blurs the lines of psychosis and reality—science and spirituality when Dr. Shepard Blanchard finds himself investigating the strange events surrounding an unconscious man abandoned in the hospital’s lobby. 

This psychological thriller’s unique postmodern collage-style creates a foreboding atmosphere as the patients sharing the man’s assigned ward are evaluated. The psychological horror and suspense enhanced with the admission forms, patients’ stories, and doctor’s notes. From beginning to end, your sanity is on the edge of oblivion, and your senses are pricked and prodded with science fiction, alternate realities, and unexpected outcomes. The many twists and turns leave you unnerved and wondering what comes next. In the end, Blanchard questions his decisions, and ultimately, he finds himself secluded in his own dark reality.

Or, view all 34 books about haunted houses

New book lists related to haunted houses

All book lists related to haunted houses

Bookshelves related to haunted houses