Coffee, check, comfy sweater, check, and a good book? Looking for something to get you ready for the spooky season? Look no further as I have some fun suggestions for you! Book preference always boils down to personal preference and taste so if you disagree or think I missed something out, let me know! I am always looking for more suggestions – the creepier, the better.
In my latest post, I talk about getting all cosy and comfy ready for the colder months, and a good book to accompany this is paramount to my autumnal experience. The list here is all of the books I have read so can actually suggest them. Hopefully, I have a few books on the way to add to this list for next year…
I have put a mixture of modern and classics, so hopefully, there is something on the list for everyone! I couldn’t resist the last one, who does not love Colleen Hoover?
- Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
- A Flicker in The Dark by Stacey Willingham
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
- Small Angels by Lauren Owen
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
- The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
In the north of England, far from the intrusions of cities but not far from civilization, Silvie and her family are living as if they are ancient Britons, surviving by the tools and knowledge of the Iron Age.
For two weeks, the length of her father’s vacation, they join an anthropology course set to reenact life in simpler times. They are surrounded by forests of birch and rowan; they make stew from foraged roots and hunted rabbits. The students are fulfilling their coursework; Silvie’s father is fulfilling his lifelong obsession. He has raised her on stories of early man, taken her to witness rare artifacts, and recounted time and again their rituals and beliefs—particularly their sacrifices to the bog. Mixing with the students, Silvie begins to see, hear, and imagine another kind of life, one that might include going to university, traveling beyond England, choosing her own clothes and food, and speaking her mind.
If you are looking for a short chilling read that will make you have reading paralysis this is the book. This one. Right here. Truly chilling for me. It holds tension and an impending sense of doom well. The main character is someone you root for and want to help, but know there is nothing you can do. Be warned this book does contain domestic abuse so only read if you are comfortable with that theme.
The book is set over the course of a couple of days. The main character, Silvie is with her parents who are professors of anthropology, in an experimental anthropological experience in Northumberland. While the students of the course can sleep in tents, Silvie’s controlling and obsessive father forces his family to sleep in the most authentic period huts. Silvie latches onto the sole female student while trying not to make her father angry, and fails as he is always angry with something she does.
Any longer and this book would have been too much, as the way it is written is amazing in the way it is so harrowing and grim.
A Flicker in The Dark by Stacey Willingham
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.
Now 20 years later, Dr. Chloe Davis has her own private practice as a psychologist in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She has found herself in somewhat normal life, away from her traumatic past, even making plans to get married. However, this mask sometimes slips as she relives her own past through her younger female patients. Then a local teenager goes missing in a familiar way; then another… Has the past caught up with her?
Serial Killer Copy Cat Murder Mystery that will have you glancing over your shoulder and thinking hmmm. To be honest, I was skeptical at first about the portrayal of our main character Chloe, but as the story went on, I seemed to understand her a little more. The book is not a description heavy, you don’t waste time on appearances or how things look unless they are of importance. This is something I didn’t pick up on at first but it made it so much easier to read so quickly.
If you are looking for a murder mystery thriller that has a good pace and enough twists to get you dizzy then add this to your bookshelf. I thought I had this book figured out by page 60, only to doubt myself, question everything, and then be rewarded with the reality of the novel.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
“Ten little boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there then there were seven. Seven little boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. Each has been marked for murder.
This book will leave you restless for answers. There is not a safe moment when reading, no time to feel comfortable, quintessentially making this the indelible arcane horror it is not meant to be.
It is very Christie in the writing style so if this is your first book read by her, be warned of the 1930s language and style used, as it is not the same as watching Poirot on TV.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
Dark with comedic relief in just the right places. I did buy this book initially with the thought that it would be a bit like True Blood but Sookie is a bit older and likes reading, and to some extent, the first part of this book sets it up that it’s all stereotypical southern ladies. (From what I know from the books). It then takes a deep dark dive.
It’s a mix of social commentary, anxiety, comedy, and the idea of what if my mum and her friends had to deal with a vampire problem, so if that is something you’d like… voila!
Small Angels by Lauren Owen
As a teenager, Kate found a safe harbor from her parents’ constant fighting in the company of the four Gonne sisters, who lived with their strict grandparents next to Small Angels, a church on the edge of dense green woods. The first outsider to ever get close to the sisters, Kate eventually learned the family’s secret: The woods are home to a capricious, menacing ghost whom generations of Gonnes had been charged with stopping from venturing into the village itself.
But as the sisters grew older, braver, and more independent, bucking against the family’s burden, the bulwark began to crack, culminating in a horrifying act of violence that drove a terrible wedge between the sisters and Kate.
Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church in the village where her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to hear unsettling stories about Small Angels–and worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real.
Now Kate is returning home for the first time in years, for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are coming alive again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, the most troubled of the sisters and her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself. An unforgettable novel about the memories that hold us back and those that show us the way forward–this is storytelling at its most magical. Enter Small Angels, if you dare. (synopsis from Goodreads)
Tricky to get into, but worth the fight as it is full of intrigue suspense, fantasy, gothic themes, and basically everything you want out of a book to get ready for Halloween.
The main takeaway from this one for me is that stories define us and what are memories except for stories? The land we live on, the woods and rivers remember if it likes the story enough. While we may grow up believing the stories told to us, letting them define who we are, we can change the story anytime we like. We don’t have to be defined by what other people believe. That intermingled with the Gothic tropes and supernatural fantasy that is woven in the novel makes it a complex but interesting spooky read.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
“In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white”The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Walter Hartright is a young art teacher, who encounters a mysterious and distressed woman dressed entirely in white, while he is out on a rainy day in London. Later finding out the woman has escaped an asylum. Walter takes a new position as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, in doing so, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse.
The book that in my opinion defines the Victorian Gothic Genre. It’s not modern-day horror to say, but it has psychological traits and eerie passages that really show the start of what is a multi-million genre nowadays. Woman in White will teach you things you never dreamed of with its witty archaic writing.
DISCLAIMER: This is a victorian 600-page book that requires patience and willingness or else it will be started and left to collect dust in the DNF pile of doom.
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson
Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden. In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies.” Young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.
When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.
As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding… (synopsis from Goodreads)
Creepy, horror, and quite believable – which for me is the scariest bit. The premise is an interview with Maya, a survivor of the garden. We learn about her life before, how she was captured, and her time in the garden. In doing so we are slowly shown this twisted world, exposed to the raw emotions of Maya and peeling back her layers of trauma. It’s not a book that will make you paranoid, but a book that will make you horrified.
Verity by Colleen Hoover
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, the husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. (synopsis from Goodreads)
I am not 100% sure how I feel about this book. To quote others, crying, screaming, smiling… this is a book I can describe as “much”
As always I am obsessed with the writing style which is why I could not put it down. I knew what was coming and enjoyed it but still… spoiler time.
The concept of Verity, the esteemed author, being in a coma and needing a literal ghost writer is a great concept. Of course, the husband is everything our ghostwriter is attracted to in a man so 1+1=2, etc. However, however; he is bland, there’s no oo interesting quirk he has. And I don’t quite understand the romance between the two. Still enjoyed the book so recommend it to people who are also in a CoHo chokehold.
That’s all I plan on recommending, for now, so please let me know if I missed any books let me know in the comments below!