The best books about poltergeists

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

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Strange World

By Frank Edwards,

Book cover of Strange World

Strange World is a collection of short stories (and many are very short). They expand on the title, the stories being recollections, reports, and (I’m fairly sure) completely made-up weirdness from around the country and world. Everything from strange coincidences to the absurdly fantastic, are all presented as matter-of-fact. This is perfectly in line with the publication date of 1964. Then, America was fully invested in the UFO craze, tinged with metaphysics and the occult. The stores are a time capsule of this cultural view and – whether or not you believe the stories are true – are a fun read.

Who am I?

I’ve always been drawn to the dark, mysterious, and weird. Originally influenced by science fiction and fantasy, then later by mysteries, suspense, thrillers, and horror, I loved the mental visuals and excitement of being in extreme, reality-bending situations. Combine these aspects, and that’s why I told my own story with these same themes: In Tents is my homage to small-town culture… twisted into a darker reality. 


I wrote...

In Tents

By Andy Kaiser,

Book cover of In Tents

What is my book about?

Dario may not have his life figured out, but at least he has a job, a cell phone, and friends who care about him. That’s enough, until the circus comes to town. Soon after, a bloody attack puts his friend in the hospital and Dario begins to hunt for whoever is responsible. As he investigates, Dario is pulled toward the dangerous and violent circus, its strange people, and the dark rumors of “Frank’s Show.” But the more he unravels the mystery, the more he realizes he must escape it all… before it kills him.

The Haunting of Hiram

By Eva Ibbotson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hiram

A delightful, bonkers story in which 12-year-old Alex MacBuff, Laird of ancient Castle Carra, is not so much haunted by a motley collection of ghosts as brought up by them from babyhood. For battle-hardened Krok the Viking, heartbroken Victorian governess Miss Spinks, spoilt 5-year-old poltergeist Flossie, retired vampire Stanislaus and failed Hellhound Cyril, Alex is the centre of their world, and they will do anything to help him. Anything, that is, except stop haunting the crumbling, much-loved but unaffordable Castle Carra that Alex needs to sell to Texan billionaire Hiram Hopgood. Which is awkward… as a ghost-free castle is part of the deal.


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. 

Reaper Man

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of Reaper Man

I got this book in the airport on my way back from a summer spent in England studying King Arthur (both the legend and the historical figure). Reaper Man was my introduction to Pratchett and I am grateful every day that I chose this and not the book on the fall of Rome that was also in the running for my attention. Pratchett’s Death is a delight, especially in this outing where he has lost his job and takes up work on a farm to help bring in the harvest. Unfortunately, his absence causes all kinds of problems (at least until a new Death is created to take his position) and ends up involving an undead wizard, a support group for various monsters, and a sentient compost heap. Also Death rides a horse named Binky! Equal turns hilarious and biting, Reaper Man is still one of my comfort reads.


Who am I?

I am a hybrid author (both traditionally and independently published), mother of one kid and three cats, and an avid gamer. I’ve been doing the publishing thing since 2012 though I’ve been writing for much longer than that. I have an advanced degree in Medieval Literature and still read things in Middle English for fun.


I wrote...

An Unkindness of Ravens

By Jeanette Battista,

Book cover of An Unkindness of Ravens

What is my book about?

I have not (yet!) had Death as a character, though I suspect that I will one day. My books range from YA to adult fantasy novels, usually with something supernatural in them. I’ve written werecreatures of all types, ghosts, demons, with a dragon or two sprinkled in here and there.

This book may not have Death in it, but it has plenty of the lowercase kind. An Unkindness of Ravens centers on Denevah, a poisonous girl whose very touch can kill. She’s been created for one thing—vengeance—and she’s about to be unleashed on a city that doesn’t even know she exists.

The Fountain Overflows

By Rebecca West,

Book cover of The Fountain Overflows

Toward the end of her career, Rebecca West wrote an unusually autobiographical novel, retelling her Edwardian childhood with the wisdom and sadness of hindsight. The Fountain Overflows, published in 1956, describes the struggles of an artistic family with a fiercely devoted mother and an impossibly wayward father. West brilliantly describes the hard work and ambitions of gifted children, but the book is mainly memorable for its strange, semi-magical atmosphere and the sense it gives readers of revisiting a lost world—for hanging over this book is the shadow of the First World War, a cataclysm that finally arrives in the sequel, This Dark Night.


Who am I?

I grew up in a small seaside town north of Boston. I have three siblings, and we always spent a few weeks every summer with our cousins in a rented house somewhere in New England—a new place each year. I became a bookworm at a young age, and I’ve always loved reading novels about big families that capture both the magic and the conflicts inevitable with many siblings and relatives. I was also an anglophile, and I tended to gravitate toward books written in earlier decades, particularly those of the mid 20th century. When I began writing my own novels, it seemed natural to set them in those fascinating earlier times.


I wrote...

Shorecliff

By Ursula DeYoung,

Book cover of Shorecliff

What is my book about?

Spending the summer of 1928 in a big house on the Maine coast, with his ten older cousins and a gaggle of aunts and uncles, seems like a dream come true to lonely thirteen-year-old Richard. But as he wanders through the bustling house, Richard witnesses scenes and conversations not meant for him and watches as the family he adores disintegrates into a tangle of lust, jealousy, and betrayal.

At first only an avid spectator, Richard soon finds himself drawn into the confusion, battling with his first experience of infatuation and forced to cover for his relatives’ romantic intrigues. With vibrant, nuanced characters and an immersive sense of place, Shorecliff examines the bonds of loyalty and rivalry that can both knit a family together and drive it apart.

Kiss Me Deadly (Nickel City Necromancer)

By Jessie Thomas,

Book cover of Kiss Me Deadly (Nickel City Necromancer)

"A necromancer and a vampire walk into a cemetery…and if you’re wondering how this joke ends, that makes two of us." Nickel City ticks all the boxes for reasons why I’ll deprive myself of sleep for a book. The cast leaps out of the pages; Sera the witty, brave, but soft-hearted heroine, her friend/ex-girlfriend, Dev, a feisty, sharp-tongued vampire hunter, and then Nate, the brooding vampire who Sera just can’t ignore. Three deadly enemies forced to work together against evil; what can go wrong, eh? Thomas slays with this enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance. With delicious simmering tension and laugh-aloud moments, it’s a clever, gripping read that now has me addicted to visiting cemeteries in the hopes of bumping into a certain vampire.


Who am I?

The idea of paranormal beings living amongst us makes me irrationally giddy. It constantly distracts me as I wonder how they blend into society and live behind their closed doors. Happy to explore these possibilities, I love to read and write books where wolves, vamps, and witches are put through the wringer as they navigate a world that’s sometimes hidden, and other times not. Tenacious females, gutsy heroes, and heinous villains inhabit my dark paranormal and epic fantasy realms, but with added twists that make them not-your-usual paranormal tales. When not torturing my characters, I can be found reading tarot as I live my own otherworldly life in Dublin, Ireland. 


I wrote...

Bound (Turning Moon)

By Julie Embleton,

Book cover of Bound (Turning Moon)

What is my book about?

Hunted by a depraved evil. Maimed by his twisted magic. If she’s to survive, the price demands a sacrifice. Can she surrender love to evade death? 

The alpha of Nyah’s pack has aligned with dark forces, and his plans for her break the most absolute of Lycan Laws. With her pack under his thrall, and her wolf maimed by his magic, she turns rogue, her incapacity landing her in unfamiliar Lycan territory where she catches the unwanted attention of Dean, an alpha determined to learn the truth she hides. With her crazed alpha closing in, and the safety of another pack at stake, Nyah faces a choice. Her bound wolf will kill her, both alphas can save her, but which one, and at what cost?

Unbelievable

By Stacy Horn,

Book cover of Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory

I have been praising this book for years and have no plans to stop anytime soon. Using investigatory skills and a keen sense of human pathos, journalist and NPR producer Horn tells the full-circle story of the parapsychology lab founded by the Rhines. She doggedly and accurately presents the “unbelievable” findings of the Duke lab and the struggle of its founders to swim against a tide of orthodox reaction. As a work of history, it is significant—and as a piece of dramatic historiography it is enthralling. 


Who am I?

I'm a PEN Award-winning historian of alternative spirituality and a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library. I track the impact and substance of supernatural beliefs—a source of fascination since my Queens, NY, boyhood—in books including Occult America, The Miracle Club, and Uncertain Places. I often say that if you do not write your own history, it gets written for you—usually by people who may not care about or even understand the values that emanate from your work. Given my personal dedication to the spiritual search, I call myself a believing historian (which most historians of religion actually are). I labor to explore the lives, ideas, and practices behind esoteric spirituality.


I wrote...

Daydream Believer: Unlocking the Ultimate Power of Your Mind

By Mitch Horowitz,

Book cover of Daydream Believer: Unlocking the Ultimate Power of Your Mind

What is my book about?

My latest book is Daydream Believer. In it, I consider—from the perspective of both intellectual history and practical methodology—the prospect of thought causation, or what is sometimes called New Thought. This is the philosophy behind pop-spiritual ideas like the Law of Attraction and the power of positive thinking—flawed notions that nonetheless display an instinct for some of the underlying abilities of human nature, as seen in today’s most ambitious studies of the placebo response, neuroplasticity, psychical research, and interpretations of quantum mechanics and inter-dimensionality. Daydream Believer responds to the ablest critics of New Age ideas, such as social historian Christopher Lasch, and explores the validity of academic ESP research, which forms the basis for some of the books listed here.

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.

Confessions of a Ghost-hunter

By Harry Price,

Book cover of Confessions of a Ghost-hunter

Harry Price is one of history’s great ghost hunters. In this book, you’ll hear his tales about his remarkable adventures at the Borley Rectory—which he has called the most haunted house in England—his investigation of a talking mongoose, and much more. Price discusses his methods, his tools, the behind-the-scenes experiences that pulled him into such unusual cases, and of course, his findings. 


Who am I?

Though I’ve always found the idea of survival after death fascinating, it was my interest in Modern Spiritualism that really sparked the desire to write Chasing Ghosts. That era (mid-1800s to the early 1900s) was a time when millions confidently believed they could communicate with the dead. Of course, this was only the tip of the paranormal iceberg. So I continued the journey into the lore of haunted places, ancient cultural beliefs, and scientific endeavors to find evidence for paranormal experiences or to debunk it. As a historian of the weirder pages of the past, this topic endlessly fascinates me. I hope it will for you as well. 


I wrote...

Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural

By Marc Hartzman,

Book cover of Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural

What is my book about?

Ghosts are everywhere—whether you believe in them or not. Every town has its local legends, and countless books, movies, and TV shows are haunted by their presence. But our obsession with ghosts runs deeper than we know—and is embedded in the very fabric of American history.
 
Writer and historian Marc Hartzman dons the mantle of tour guide, taking readers on a fascinating journey through supernatural history, including: The Fox Sisters and the rise of Spiritualism; the supernatural obsessions of famous figures; famous haunted sites; and famous ghosts like the Bell Witch of Tennessee Deeply researched and highly entertaining, with archival images and black and white illustrations, Chasing Ghosts will satisfy believers and skeptics alike.

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