The best books about haunted places

1 authors have picked their favorite books about haunted places and why they recommend each book.

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77 Shadow Street

By Dean Koontz,

Book cover of 77 Shadow Street

This book is all around haunting and instantly made me a huge fan of Dean Koontz. Set in an apartment complex with a long history of violence and hauntings, Koontz does a fantastic job of setting up expectations, and then subverting those expectations. Not everything here is as it seems. Throw in some disturbing creatures and an interesting twist and I was hooked!


Who am I?

I have always been fascinated by horror, particularly the dark and imagination-inciting creatures produced by it (even though I’m a big scaredy-cat, haha!). In a time when slasher films and haunted houses tend to dominate the horror genre, I set out to create a creature-feature similar to the 80s and early 90s classics I grew up with (Aliens, The Thing, Phantoms, Dawn of the Dead). I fell in love with creating truly nightmarish monstrosities and deep, vulnerable but strong characters to battle them. The books on this list are definitely huge inspirations in my own work, so I hope you enjoy the beasties in them as much as I have!


I wrote...

Pandora (The Organization)

By Joshua Grant,

Book cover of Pandora (The Organization)

What is my book about?

A cruise ship disappears without a trace, reemerging a week later and transmitting a single word: Pandora. Business tycoon and owner of the cruise line Patrick Carver sends a band of mercenaries to land on the ship and figure out what happened. For reasons beyond her, young doctor Aubrey Pittenger is chosen to go along for the ride. But all is not as it seems aboard the crumbling cruise liner, and evil comes in many forms. Now the ragtag team will have to band together in order to survive the night in this Aliens/The Thing homage horror thriller from the mind of bestselling author Joshua Grant!

Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt,

Book cover of Hex

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. 


Who am I?

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a ghostbuster. I was the kid with the stack of ghost books and horror film obsession, sparked full of adrenaline and excitement. I knew about ouija boards and poltergeists before I knew my times tables and even now - older, more cynical, less drawn to graveyards - I still feel that same thrill when I am holding a horror novel in my hands. I write about discomfort, about fear. I’m well-acquainted with it. I like the feeling of being unnerved and want to evoke that in the stories I tell and the ones I read, like the books below. Hope you enjoy! 


I wrote...

The Silence

By Daisy Pearce,

Book cover of The Silence

What is my book about?

Stella Wiseman was a child TV star, but there’s nothing glamorous about her life now. Alone in her thirties, she’s lost her parents and her friends and she’s stuck in a dead-end job. But just as she hits rock bottom she meets Marco, a charismatic older man who offers to get her back on her feet. He seems too good to be true.

She appreciates the money he lavishes on her. And the pills. But are the pills just helping her sleep, or helping her avoid her problems? With Stella’s life still in freefall, Marco whisks her away to a secluded cottage where she is isolated from everyone except him. No longer sure what’s real and what’s not, Stella begins to question whether she was wrong to trust Marco.

Midnight is a Lonely Place

By Barbara Erskine,

Book cover of Midnight is a Lonely Place

Barbara Erskine is the queen of time slip romance novels. Almost all the books she writes feature this literary device, and cover periods of history from ancient Egypt to World War 1. Midnight is a Lonely Place was the first of her novels that I read, many years ago, and was hooked on this genre from then on. I had never come across this type of story before, blending history with the present and giving it a supernatural twist, not just ghosts haunting the protagonists, but the two interacting and incorporating romance too. This book takes us back to Roman Essex and a love triangle between Marcus Severus Secundus, his wife, Claudia, and Nion, a Druid prince. When a Roman grave is disturbed, Kate, a modern-day writer, is pulled into the cycle of jealousy and vengeance they have played out over two thousand years. 

All of Erskine’s books are well…


Who am I?

I’ve always had a fascination with the past and how it interacts with the present. I grew up playing in the house and grounds of a spooky old house that was a convalescent home for World War One soldiers and had stood there for centuries before that. At university my essays always strayed into the supernatural. I studied time slips and gothic fiction in English Literature and my history dissertation was about people who believed their children were fairy changelings. When I’m not combining my passion for historical mysteries and ghostly goings on in my writing, I collect old postcards and explore crumbling cemeteries for inspiration.


I wrote...

Dandelion Time: A Romance Through Time

By Nel Ashley,

Book cover of Dandelion Time: A Romance Through Time

What is my book about?

When Maddie inherits a beautiful house and a large sum of money from an unknown benefactor, it’s her chance to escape from an abusive relationship, but means moving miles away from everything and everyone she knows. Convinced the house is haunted, Maddie finds herself slipping back through time to meet Alex, a handsome First World War fighter pilot with his own fabulous story.

To stay with Alex, Maddie must say goodbye to the present, but her ex isn’t prepared to give her up so easily. In the aftermath of his jealous rage, Maddie and Alex’s chance at happiness is shattered. Now Alex is gone. Can Maddie find a way to be reunited with the man she loves, or will they be separated by time forever?

To Break a Covenant

By Alison Ames,

Book cover of To Break a Covenant

A recent addition to the horror genre, this excellent debut novel excels in creating a surreal narrative drenched in dark atmosphere. To Break a Covenant centers around a terrifying, fractured faux-documentary about a town under control of a sinister presence. I dare you to read creepy descriptions of ‘found’ footage and not feel a chill as this mystery unfolds. 


Who am I?

As an author of horror and thrillers, I have always been drawn to big mysteries, the darker the better. I blame this fascination on my love of David Lynch movies, which had originated in my early teens and persists to this day. I have also found that incorporating ‘found objects’ into mixed media narratives can help better simulate reality while also twisting it in unpredictable ways. It is no surprise that my debut What the Woods Keep is a mixed media genre-bender. While this storytelling method is not new, recent horror novels have used it in incredibly inventive and impactful ways. 


I wrote...

What the Woods Keep

By Katya de Becerra,

Book cover of What the Woods Keep

What is my book about?

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets. Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. But when she returns to her hometown, it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish fringe science theories, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

Ghosts of the Northeast

By David J. Pitkin,

Book cover of Ghosts of the Northeast

Pitkin writes in a very accessible style. What drew me into this book, in particular, is that he starts the book off with a personal experience. He writes of the incident that turned him from a skeptic into a believer in the paranormal. Intriguing stuff, to be sure ... but this revelation also changed his attitude towards teaching, making him more tolerant of other cultures, and more open to sharing different worldviews with his students. Whereas prior to this experience, he had been dismissive of what he saw as "primitive" beliefs (regarding African belief in witchcraft and the afterlife), he was now more willing to explore alternative belief systems with his students.


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.

Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places

By Brad Steiger,

Book cover of Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places

Steiger is a well-known explorer of the supernatural, and he brings this solid research foundation to his many books on the subject. Steiger's works tend towards the encyclopedic, simply because he gathers such a wealth of stories and information in every book. Because he's been at this business for such a long time, a reader can be confident that they are in good hands with Steiger's work. 


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.

Ghosts

By César Aira, Chris Andrews (translator),

Book cover of Ghosts

Aira is one of the most interesting novelists alive today, a writer whose wit, energy, and unfailingly restless imagination ensure that his books never follow a straightforward path, and thus always surprise you. Ghosts, my favorite of those books, presents the story of a half-constructed luxury apartment complex, the ghosts who wander its beams and its floors, and the adolescent girl to whom they call. Recommended if you like your ghosts circumambulating and avant-garde.


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.

Tamsin

By Peter S. Beagle,

Book cover of Tamsin

Mr. Cat is a ride-or-die. Mr. Cat walks the line that all cats do in the real world, in that he doesn’t actually have magic powers and he can’t actually talk, he is at the end of the day a little animal that lives in Jenny’s house, but also he would bite a ghost without hesitation. It’s Peter S. Beagle’s complete mastery of voice and tone that enable Jenny and Mr. Cat to walk that line so effortlessly. Because the fantastical is grounded so deeply in the real world, the stakes feel so high that I first read this book in one breathless sitting, afraid to look away. 


Who am I?

All the best books have a cat sidekick. Over and over, when people talk to me about my book, they pause in the middle of whatever they were about to say and go, “Oh my gosh, Biscuits,” and then launch into a list of things Biscuits the cat does, and how they are similar to things their cats have done, presumably up to and including throwing hands (paws?) with horrifying monsters that want to eat your heart. Biscuits is the latest in a long and proud tradition of literary feline companions, an essential element of many of my favorite and formative texts growing up. 


I wrote...

Hollow Chest

By Brita Sandstrom,

Book cover of Hollow Chest

What is my book about?

Charlie Merriweather has been having nightmares. Unseen monsters with gleaming eyes and teeth, invisible weight pressing him down. But that’s all going to be over now that his big brother, Theo, is finally home from the war in France. Except it doesn’t get better. Theo is different—cold, distant, angry. Charlie discovers that his brother’s heart has been stolen by war wolves, ancient and terrifying beasts that consume the hearts of those broken by grief. Along with his faithful cat Biscuits, Charlie must navigate a war-torn London to find the war wolves and get his brother’s heart back. But can a heart that’s been eaten ever be replaced? 

Haunted Virginia

By Jr. Taylor, L. B.,

Book cover of Haunted Virginia: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Old Dominion

Before other authors (including me) published books on Virginia’s ghosts and legends, it was L. B. Taylor who’d written many spooky tales that haunted the Old Dominion in a long span of books, including this one. Not just Virginians, but as someone who moved here in 1985, I learned about the state’s many ghosts, monsters, and legends that taught me a new view of the state. No one needs to live in Virginia to enjoy reading this book.


Who am I?

Long before I began writing my first fictional story and way before I researched for my first nonfiction paranormal book, I gave up ignoring the voices in my head and began writing horror, fantasy, and six nonfiction books on the paranormal in Virginia. Besides learning a new piece of history or legend I never knew before, the research for my nonfiction books and articles inspired me to incorporate it into my horror or fantasy fiction. I enjoy writing fiction, but I believe I learn as much as my readers when I write nonfiction. 


I wrote...

Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales

By Pamela K. Kinney,

Book cover of Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales

What is my book about?

Like every state in the Union, Virginia has unique myths, legends, and yes, even true stories that sound much like legends, but aren't. Read the urban legend of the Bunnyman and what happens to mortals at his Bunnyman Bridge at midnight on Halloween. Discover the myths surrounding Edgar Allan Poe and other famous Virginians. See why Natural Bridge is a haunted tourist attraction. What makes the Great Dismal Swamp so creepy: Is it the ghosts or Bigfoot? Meet the Witch of Pungo in Virginia Beach and find out that Mothman and the Jersey Devil visited Virginia. Read Virginian stories of witches, demons, monsters, ghosts, pirates, strange animals, and soldiers from the Civil War. Visit an amazing and frightening Virginia that you never knew existed.

The Widow's House

By Carol Goodman,

Book cover of The Widow's House

I will never look at apples the same way again after reading The Widow’s House. Set in the Hudson River Valley in Upstate New York, this winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award is a modern Gothic suspense filled with atmosphere. From snakes in mailboxes, to rotting apples, to a creepy old professor and a suspicious husband, this book will give you goosebumps and keep you guessing. Read it on a rainy dark night—but make sure the doors are locked.


Who am I?

I was born on Halloween, so I’m officially a card-carrying member of all things creepy, right? However, I’m definitely drawn to books with mood and atmosphere over outright horror and gore. I find the subtle aspects of fear so much more interesting—how is it that one person’s reality can be so different than another’s? I write domestic suspense because I think the people we are closest to and the places we think are safest are often the ones that can hurt us the most. Where a story takes place is so very important. I need to know the geography, the feel, the history of a place—then I can put people in it and make bad things happen.


I wrote...

One Night Gone

By Tara Laskowski,

Book cover of One Night Gone

What is my book about?

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

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