I think fall may have finally arrived here in north Texas. The high today only reached about 80, so it’s time to break out the sweaters and boots.
Fall makes me crave all the pumpkin spice things and gives me an urge to cozy up the house. But it also usually inspires me to settle down with a scary book.
I’ve always been a lover of horror — both books and movies. But today I’m offering you a list of books (in no particular order) that might not qualify as “horror” but definitely have a high “creepy” quotient. These are all books I have read and that I recommend. . . but you might want to set them aside for daytime reading only.
You’ve been warned!
21 Creepy Books for your Fall Reading List
1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This dystopian novel was selected for Oprah’s book club and Publishers Weekly called it “a haunting and grim novel about civilization’s slow death after the power goes out.” I devoured this one.
2. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Wowza, this one scared the pants off me! I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down. An ingenious idea for a book that Amazon.com calls a “propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense.”
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
One of my all-time favorite books, The Handmaid’s Tale is a tale of a futuristic society gone horribly wrong. “Atwood takes many trends which exist today and stretches them to their logical and chilling conclusions . . . An excellent novel about the directions our lives are taking . . . Read it while it’s still allowed.” (The Houston Chronicle)
4. Room by Emma Donoghue
This one is not as scary as it is creepy. The movie is coming out soon, but you have still time to read it before catching it on the big screen, because you will likely devour it in one sitting. “Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child. ” (Amazon.com)
5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The debut novel by Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl fame) is “a wickedly dark thriller that Stephen King calls a ‘relentlessly creepy family saga’ and an ‘admirably nasty piece of work.'”(Amazon.com)
6. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
I don’t think this book was intended to be a thriller, but it creeped me out nonetheless. It’s about fairies and changelings and it had me leaving the light on. The publisher calls it “a haunting fable about identity and the illusory innocence of childhood.”
7. Never Let Me Go by Kazoo Ishiguro
Again, I would call this one creepy but not necessarily scary. It’s the story of some school friends who have a rather ordinary existence until secrets start to emerge. Dystopian and chilling to the core in its premise.
8. The Voices by F. R. Tallis
I read this recently and found it to be a classic spine-tingling ghost story. “Recommended for fans of thrillers in the gothic tradition, such as Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and Shirley Jackson’s work.” (Library Journal)
9. Disclaimer by Renee Knight
Another recent read for me, this psychological thriller fleshes out what it would be like if the past came back to haunt you. The publisher calls it a “brilliantly conceived, deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a woman haunted by secrets—and the price she will pay for concealing the truth.”
10. The Troop by Nick Cutter
If you have a low threshold for the gross factor, you’d probably better skip this one. The Troop is a novel about a scout camping trip that goes horribly awry. Take if from Stephen King who said, “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.”
11. Pines by Blake Crouch
Inspired by the TV show Twin Pines, this book’s an eerie Twilight Zone-ish thriller about a town you can enter, but you can never leave. (Cue Hotel California.) Booklist calls it a “riveting thrill ride, which mixes suspense, horror, science fiction and dystopian nightmare all rolled up into one unputdownable book.” Yep. That about sums it up.
12. Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist
When the main character’s daughter disappears without a trace, he begins a quest to solve the mystery of their snowy island village. A chilling page-turner that I couldn’t put down.
13. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
A ghost story that’s weird and unsettling. . . but not all that scary.
14. Above by Isla Morley
Like Emma Donoghue’s Room, this novel has a kidnapping plot, but the author ups it a notch by throwing in a dystopian vibe. “Morley crafts a menacingly sinister tale of imprisonment and eerily inventive story of survival that will appeal to fans of riveting psychological suspense and cut throat dystopian fiction.” (Booklist)
15. The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
Kuh-reepy. It’s a quick read, but it’ll freak you out. The New York Times called it “a horror story of maternity and the nightmare of social collapse.” Um, yeah.
16. Sister by Rosamund Lupton
A suspense thriller with a terrifying twist. Amazon.com says it’s “at once an engrossing thriller and a powerful meditation on the bonds of family.”
17. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Just the setting alone in this one is disturbing. Then the fact that it’s about a serial killer in Stalinist Russia, and it’s downright terrifying. Amazon.com calls it “a frightening, chilling, almost unbelievable horror story about the very worst that Stalin’s henchmen could manage.”
18. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Almost any Stephen King novel could easily make this list. I’ve read a whole bunch of them and most of them scared the living daylights out of me. I chose this one because of the whole “lost in the woods” factor, and because it might be one of his lesser known novels. Quite scary, this one.
19. Sphere by Michael Crichton
I’m going way back here, but this sci-fi thriller was the first Crichton novel I read and I stayed up all night reading it. It’s about a “mysterious spherical spaceship at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.” (Amazon.com) So if aliens scare you, definitely read this.
20. The Passage by Justin Cronin
This is one of my most recent reads and it is epic zombie/vampire stuff. I enjoyed it immensely. It’s gross, but not overly so. I highly recommend!
21. Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
Just the title alone does it for me. I can’t tell you exactly what “those across the river” are, or what they do. You’ll have to read it to find out. And it will frighten you. And rightfully so.
What about you? Have any creepy books you’d add to this list? I’m always looking for a new thriller to add to my stack. I’d love to hear your recommendations!