This week my “top 5” list was put together for my friend Amy, who asked for recommendations on spooky ghost stories. I love reading creepy books, and had so much fun putting this one together. Whether you’re able to handle some serious paranormal action, or want something on the lighter side to only dip your toes into the horror genre, you’ll be able to find something on this list.
The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is my one true horror queen, and I had to include her classic The Haunting of Hill House on this list. It is truly one of my favourite books, and still gives me nightmares years after reading it. The story follows four characters who go spend the weekend at Hill House, which is, as the name suggests, super haunted. I often say this book has five main characters though, and count the house itself, which is personified throughout the story. There are so many layers to this book: it has physical ghosts and psychological trauma, lush writing, and a terrifying setting that will truly give you chills.
Rules for Vanishing, by Kate Alice Marshall
Sometimes I find myself gravitating towards YA horror, trying to fool myself into thinking a book geared towards young readers will be less scary than something meant for adults. Rules for Vanishing is an exception to this rule. The story focuses on a group of kids that enter a sort of portal and find themselves on a haunted road, trying to find their friend. However, they also end up learning what actually happened to a young girl who went missing 50 years ago. It’s written in a faux-documentary style, and is straight up terrifying. The writing is so descriptive, you’ll have a hard time not picturing the haunting scenes that the characters find themselves in.
City of Ghosts, by Victoria Schwab
If you’re relatively new to the horror genre and want to start off mild, I would suggest City of Ghosts. This is the first in a middle grade series, and is both spooky and wholesome. It follows a young girl, Cassidy, who can see ghosts (her best friend is dead!), as she travel around with her parents who are the hosts of a popular paranormal TV show. Cassidy quickly finds herself caught up with some unfriendly ghosts, and has to figure out a way to put them to rest. It’s a great story featuring a strong friendship, Harry Potter references, and the perfect amount of spooky settings.
The Dead Girls Club, by Damien Angelica Walters
Did you spend your childhood staying up late and swapping scary stories with friends? If so, you might like The Dead Girls Club. It flips back and forth between past and present, and we learn how a group of childhood best friends (who were fans of extremely terrifying stories) grew up. Of course, they don’t grow up happily ever after. In fact, one of them dies, and the main character is trying desperately to remember what exactly happened. This book has unreliable characters, past trauma, psychological suspense, and will leave you guessing until the end.
Rooms, by Lauren Oliver
This is the only book on this list that I haven’t read yet, but I recently ordered a copy and will have it soon! I’ve wanted to read Rooms ever since I first read the synopsis for it. It’s a book about a haunted house that is left as inheritance to a mother and her children. However, they arrive expecting the home to be empty when it is fact housing two former (dead) residents. It’s part mystery and part family-drama, with a chilling setting that sounds perfect to curl up with on a cold, dark night.