Spooky (But Not Scary) Books
The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw

This is a wonderful opportunity to knock another classic off your reading list. In this novella-length story, a British governess becomes convinced the estate she's working on is haunted. A little bit gothic, a little bit ghost story. Give the audio version a try, narrated by Emma Thompson. More info →
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The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility

$7.99$3.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Audible)
This gave me serious goosebumps, and I didn’t want to ever put it down. This is a book I can't stop recommending. It's well-written and un-put-down-able, and I just love the story (which I think reveals some of my own personal prejudices—I'm a sucker for young love). While not technically YA if you hate that genre it's not the title for you. More info →
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The Distant Hours

The Distant Hours

Anything by Kate Morton could be classified in this genre of creepy, but not horror. She’s wonderful at psychological drama. This Gothic mystery is slow to build but those who persevere will be rewarded. The plot flips back and forth between World War II and the 1990s, but not in the way you'd expect. The setting is a crumbling old castle, which contributes to the story's feel. More info →
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Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

$11.99
Haunting and atmospheric, with a sad truth that dawns on you gradually. Ishiguro slowly introduces the reader to three teens in a 1990s British boarding school. His prose says so much while revealing so little, as it slowly dawns on the reader what is not-quite-right about these children's lives. More info →
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When Mockingbirds Sing

When Mockingbirds Sing

$7.99$2.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)
Billy Coffey's combination of lyrical style plus quirky characters has drawn comparisons to Flannery O'Connor and Shirley Jackson. This novel centers around Leah, a 9-year-old whose unusual gift—and even more unusual imaginary friend—divide the community she lives in. More info →
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Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

$7.99$1.99
As I was reading this short novel, it strongly reminded me of something I'd read before, but I couldn't figure out WHAT. I finally realized it wasn't a book at all—it was the TV show Lost! (If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.) A recommendation from Episode 62 of What Should I Read Next; I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of this before and put it on my list immediately! In this short Australian classic, a group of girls from the Appleyard College for Young Ladies venture out for a picnic at Hanging Rock on a beautiful afternoon. Three of the girls set out for a hike, and are never seen again. More info →
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The Thirteenth Tale

The Thirteenth Tale

Every Jane Eyre fan worth her salt has this on her reading list. This mystery, set firmly in the tradition of Gothic greats, kept me guessing from start to finish. A little dark and deliciously creepy, perfect for curling up with on a cold day. More info →
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And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

$6.99$1.99Audiobook: 9.99 (Whispersync)
This is the world's best-selling mystery—and when I found out the audio version was read by Dan Stevens, I couldn't resist. (Loved it.) Ten strangers are lured to a deserted island, and then they begin dying, one by one, victims of a disturbingly wide range of murders. They share one thing in common: each has something in their past they would prefer to keep hidden. Who is the murderer, and will any of them survive? More info →
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He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said

The story opens when Kit and Laura are taking pains to keep any trace of their existence off the internet. We soon learn this is because of an event they witnessed at an eclipse festival in 1999, which had devastating consequences for all involved, consequences that still endanger them today. A fabulous psychological thriller. More info →
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Rebecca

Rebecca

File this under: a classic that is not remotely boring. Don't be put off by its age: this thrilling novel feels surprisingly current. Suspenseful, and it holds its tension on a re-reading: a sure sign of a well-crafted thriller. A modern Gothic page-turner with discussion fodder galore -- marriage, Manderley, and (she says with a shudder) Mrs. Danvers. More info →
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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery

$11.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
Raybourn writes historical fiction with a twist; she's best known for her Lady Julia Grey mysteries. This is her first novel in a Victorian series featuring the badass but well-bred Veronica Speedwell: her heroine travels the world hunting beautiful butterfly specimens and the occasional romantic dalliance. When her guardian dies, the orphaned Veronica expects to embark on a grand scientific adventure. But Veronica quickly realizes that with her guardian's death, she is no longer safe—and she begins to unravel the mystery of why she poses a threat to dangerous men. More info →
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Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Many critics consider Shelley's gothic tale of a dangerously ambitious young doctor and the monster he creates to be the very first science fiction novel, and influential on the horror genre as well. This book completely surprises many modern readers, who think they know the story and find it to be nothing at all like they expected. The novel's themes remain timeless. More info →
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Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre

$7.69$0.99Audiobook: 1.99 (Whispersync price)
Gothic mystery, psychological thriller, and love story, all rolled into one, Brontë's themes were astonishingly modern for 1847. If you never read it in high school, fall is the perfect time to pick up this groundbreaking classic that features one of literature’s greatest—if not universally beloved—heroines. More info →
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

$12.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
I didn't hear of this short 1962 novel until a few years ago, since readers with great and diverse tastes kept recommending it. I first heard about it on the Books on the Nightstand podcast, but its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading. It's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere—and the audio version makes it come alive. More info →
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The Hazel Wood

The Hazel Wood

Alice and her mom have spent 17 years on the run, trying to dodge the persistent bad luck mysteriously connected to an unnerving book of stories penned by Alice's estranged grandmother. When Alice's grandmother dies, her mother thinks they're free—until the day Alice comes home from school to discover Ella has been kidnapped, leaving behind a page torn from her grandmother's book and a note: Stay away from the Hazel Wood. But Alice has to save her mom, so she enters what she slowly begins to see is her grandmother's book of stories-come-to-life—and they suddenly look a lot more like horror than fantasy. This seriously twisted and sometimes bloody fairy tale reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, with a dash of The Matrix. More info →
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Starbridge Series

Starbridge Series

Especially the later three books set in the 1960s. Seriously creepy supernatural elements. I've read Susan Howatch's Starbridge series (beginning with Glittering Images, set in the Church of England in the 1930s) before (maybe twice?) but it's time for a re-read. Each of the series' six books is self-contained, but is told from the perspective of a different character, allowing the reader to glimpse the same events from different viewpoints. There's lots of religion, sex, and psychoanalysis. This series isn't for everybody, but readers who love it really love it. More info →
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The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles

$10.99$2.99
This collection, which Bradbury called "a book of stories pretending to be a novel," was written in 1950. At the time, Bradbury set it in the distant future—which means right about now. In a series of vignettes, he chronicles the collapse and ultimate destruction of earth, the repeated human attempts to find safety on the red planet, and the conflict between the new arrivals and the native Martians. Bradbury never disappoints, and this strange work is among his best. More info →
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The Singer’s Gun

The Singer’s Gun

I've read Mandel's most recent book Station Eleven multiple times (which would also be an excellent spooky pick), and have been slowly working my way through her backlist. I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific crime novel; its key plotline is still the stuff of headline news. More info →
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The Giver

The Giver

Welcome to the "ideal" future, where a perfect society embraces Sameness. But something sinister lurks beneath the surface of this tightly controlled community. At a much-anticipated ceremony, the resident twelve-year-olds are sorted into vocational assignments, Harry Potter-style. Jonas is skipped over, and the Chief Elder soon reveals why: instead of receiving a typical assignment, Jonas has been chosen to be the next receiver of memory. When he begins his training with the old man known as The Giver, he discovers books, colors, snow, and love—and he begins to understand what his people lost when they gave away their memories. More info →
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Jane Steele

Jane Steele

$12.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Audible)
Jane Eyre lovers, you can relax: while Faye—and her heroine, Jane Steele—draw serious inspiration from Jane Eyre, it's not a retelling. Instead, it's delightfully meta: our titular narrator tells us the inspiration to write down her story came from "the most riveting book titled Jane Eyre." This Jane is a wise-cracking, whip-smart, unconventional young woman who rebels against Victorian convention, but she has a heart of gold. Numerous winks to the original make this tons of fun for Brontë fans: Jane becomes a governess, there's a stand-in for Mr. Rochester, and of course, something important is locked away in an attic. More info →
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Not That I Could Tell

Not That I Could Tell

In Strawser’s new domestic suspense, a tight-knit group of women gather around the backyard firepit, drink a little too much wine, and stay up way too late. By morning, one of them has vanished, and so have her children. As the authorities (and the women) begin to investigate what might have happened, they find they have more questions than answers, and the husband’s suspicious behavior has them all looking over their shoulders. Did their friend simply run away, or was she harmed, and above all—why? This would make an excellent companion to I'll Be Your Blue Sky. More info →
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The Complete Stories: Flannery O’Connor

The Complete Stories: Flannery O’Connor

O'Connor's work is weird, imaginative, grotesque, and unforgettable. If you've never read her work (or haven't read it since high school?) this is a great place to jump in. Start with the classics Everything That Rises Must Converge, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and The River. More info →
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Among the Shadows

Among the Shadows

If you've read Anne or Emily, you know they have their creepy moments ... but when you gather these nineteen Montgomery stories together, you end up with a collection that feels quite different from anything else she wrote, ranging from the strange to the supernatural to the genuinely spine-tingling. If you're in the mood for a gentle ghostly story, this collection is for you. More info →
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In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Book 1)

Seriously disturbing, but un-put-down-able. Tana French writes an amazing psychological thriller. This is the first book French's popular Dublin Murder Squad, and it’s twisty and unpredictable. The story has two primary threads: but if your book club can stomach it, you can talk about psychopaths and supernatural disturbances. (French has a new novel out October 9.) More info →
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The Chief Inspector Gamache Series

The Chief Inspector Gamache Series

A favorite series, set in a tiny village in Quebec. These mysteries are unlike anything I'd ever read: the whodunit plot lines are just an excuse to explore human nature, granting them a depth and psychological astuteness I never expected from this genre. (Note: if I thought Three Pines was a real place, I'd move there in a heartbeat.) These are great on audio. More info →
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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus

$6.99$2.99Audiobook: 9.49 (Audible)
Although if "terrifying" is in the subtitle, perhaps this one goes beyond merely "spooky"? In this nonfiction thriller, Preston details the emergence of the ebola virus in a pageturning, day-by-day, truth-is-scarier-than-fiction account, starting with the initial discovery of the virus in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and tracing its origin back to the central African rain forest. More info →
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We Were Liars

We Were Liars

$9.71$2.99
An eminent family and a group of four friends gather on a private island for an annual reunion. But Cadence doesn't remember what happened one summer. As she slowly begins to remember, details of the accident are revealed. But what is the truth and which are lies? More info →
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1984

1984

$9.99$2.99Audiobook: 7.49 (Whispersync)
I discussed this creepy classic with WSIRN guest Scott Flanary on episode 122. If you've never read this surprisingly timely story about the Big Brother who always watches over you and the Thought Police who can read your mind, October is a wonderful time to do so. More info →
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Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

$12.99
This groundbreaking classic was downright scandalous in its day—and it hasn’t lost much of its shock value in the intervening 160+ years. Heathcliff is every bit as much the abominable scoundrel now as he was then, and the English moors are every bit as creepy. The gloomy landscape and gothic feel make this a perfect read for this season. More info →
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The Book Thief

The Book Thief

$9.99$2.99
"You are going to die," begins this 2006 novel. A fitting beginning to a story about hard things: a little girl and her family struggling to endure in WWII Nazi Germany. The characters are interesting and unexpected, right down to the unusual narrator. Beautiful, haunting, fascinating, hopeful. More info →
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