If you’ve carved your pumpkins, picked out your haunting Halloween outfit and consumed too many pumpkin-spiced lattes and you still aren’t feeling Halloween-y enough, spook yourselves silly this weekend with a classic horror novel to get into the spirit.

From the king of the horror genre, Stephen King’s ever-expanding collection of tomes to modern physiological novels that’ll keep you up at night, we’ve rounded up our favourite 12 horror novels that’ll keep you going all through the spooky season – and beyond.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Kick off the spooky season with Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror classic, The Haunting of Hill House. 

If you thought you’d only just managed to get over the jump scares in the Netflix series, just wait until you unfold Jackson’s even creepier narrative.

Netflix’s series strayed pretty far from the original narrative. In Jackson’s tale, Dr. John Montague invites a selection of people to come to his longly-rumoured haunted house, all based on paranormal experiences they’ve previously encountered. Naturally, only two accept his offer. Spread over a summer-long period, Dr Montague, Eleanor Vance, Theodora and Luke Sanderson, the heir to Hill House who also plays host, unravel unnerving truths about the haunting, supernatural house and those who once walked its halls. 

Misery by Stephen King

It wouldn’t be a horror novel guide without including the king of psychological horror, Stephen King.

Misery follows the taunting relationship of crime writer Paul Sheldon and his deranged fan and former nurse Annie Wilkes. Following an alcohol-induced driving accident, Annie takes Paul under her wing, giving him medication and treatment. Her outright obsession with Paul becomes clear from the offset and takes an unusual turn as she finds out he’s planning to kill off her favourite character from his famed novels. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 

From Halloween costumes to special film appearances, everyone knows of Frankenstein phenomena, but how many of you can admit you’ve ever actually read Mary Shelley’s novel? 

This spooky season uncover Shelley’s world famous novel, as you follow scientist Victor Frankenstein on his creation of The Monster, a man created from body parts and chemicals. It can only end terribly.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris 

Acting as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon introduces readers to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the psychiatrist-cum-cannibal-serial-killer. 

The narrative follows former FBI agent Will Graham, who makes it his retired mission to find the alleged serial killer ‘The Tooth Fairy’ who is performing cannibalistic murders. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison 

There’s been a long muddled debate surrounding whether Toni Morrison’s Beloved falls under the genre of horror, and even Morrison herself didn’t deem it fit to fall under the category, but its attention to detail and stark brutality of slavery is enough of an argument to categorise it as such. 

Beloved follows Sethe, a woman who escaped a slave plantation, and is constantly tortured internally by memories of her entrapment and loss of her two-year-old daughter. A woman named Beloved arrives, who is manipulative and finds that Sethe actually killed her daughter. It’s both a traumatising and sad read in one, portraying a poor woman’s downfall. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The story that inspired so many writers, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is world famous for its haunting tale of Count Dracula. 

Stoker’s Dracula follows Jonathan Harker as he visits Count Dracula in Transylvania who longs to purchase a house in London. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. A series of strange events unravel, from puncture marks on a woman’s neck to a wrecked ship, as Dracula must find new blood in England and spread the undead curse. 

A must-read for classic horror genre fans.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

What do you do when you’re convinced your best friend has a demon living inside of her? Set out to perform an exorcism of course. That’s exactly what high school sophomore Abby has to do for her bestie Gretchen after she notices Gretchen begins acting strangely in Grady Hendrix’s 2016 novel, My Best Friend’s Exorcism. 

Is a friendship strong enough to defeat the devil lingering from within you? 

Final Girls by Riley Sager 

As the king of horror, Stephen King, excellently put it, “if you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.”

One thing links the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, and Lisa – together and it’s their survivorship of three separate murder sprees. But as Lisa and Sam both mysteriously die, Quincy has a deep-rooted suspicion that she’s the next on the list to disappear.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

From the author who brought us The Icarus Girl and The Opposite House comes the White is for Witching, a novel driven by grief, eating disorders, and a haunted house. 

Helen Oyeyemi’s tome follows the Silver family, who are mourning the loss of their mother, Lily. Written from Eliot’s perspective but largely about his twin Miranda, who develops ‘pica’, an eating disorder that makes her want to eat anything but food, whether that’s mud, stones, or dusty chalk. The house they live in isn’t as it seems either, slotted on the cliffs of Dover, and ridiculed by creaks, scares, and spirits.

Follow Oyeyemi as she captures a newfound version of the Gothic genre and thrusts it into the 21st century.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill 

You’ve seen Daniel Radcliffe’s starring role, but have you read the story that brought the film version to life?

Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black follows a junior solicitor, Arthur Kipps, as he attends the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow at her eerie abode in Eel Marsh House. As the title suggests, Kipps catches a glimpse of a figure dressed head to toe in black, and when he tries to discuss his vision with the locals, he’s shut off and a deeper feeling of unease lifts over him.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice 

An interview with a vampire isn’t something we’d like to embark on, but that doesn’t stop a young man from telling the gruesome tale of his life – of an immortal vampire cursed with a longing for human blood.

Carrie by Stephen King

Before you embark on streaming the multiple remarks of Carrie this Halloween, delve deep into the original tome by none other than Stephen King. The story of a young girl, Carrie White, who has a gift of telekinesis.


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