5 Short, Spooky Books to Read Before Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, there are still a few more days to dive into these spooky reads and get into the spirit of things before the cold winter nights kick in. 

If you’ve exhausted all of Stephen King’s works, have already made your way through Shirley Jackson’s classics, or you’re just looking for something a little different, then look no further. I’ve compiled a selection of five spine-chilling, ghoulish and spellbinding tales to see you through the rest of the month.

Whether you’re in the mood for a story that’ll leave you terrified of the dark corners in your room, or you’d rather puzzle your brain over a thrilling murder mystery, there’s something in this list for everyone. 

For the horror lovers, to the not-so-scary readers — curl up by the fire, and dig into your Halloween bounty with these hauntingly good stories.

1. ‘The Ex Hex’ by Erin Sterling

“Never mix vodka and witchcraft.”

Think Hocus Pocus meets Practical Magic meets Gilmore Girls. If you’re looking for something that won’t keep you up at night then this one’s for you. This fantastical romance follows a small-town witch and her cursed ex-boyfriend (hence the name!), who ultimately have to fight off danger, as well as their intense chemistry, in order to save the town. 

Lighthearted, fluffy, and wickedly fun, you’re sure to fly through this fast-paced magical read. A great choice for readers who prefer something a little less scary.

2. ‘The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights’ by Various Authors

“All he knew was the awful burden of his mistakes, and the impossibility, now, of ever righting them.”

Eight bestselling authors, including Bridget Collins (The Binding) and Kiran Millwood Hargrave (The Mercies), have come together to compile this thrilling collection of original short stories for the ghostly season. Perfect to dip in and out of, or binge-read in one sitting. 

Either way, you’re sure to find yourself swiftly immersed in the spooky atmosphere The Haunting Season creates, transported from the eerie frosty moors of Yorkshire in one tale, to a bustling London Christmas market in the next.

3. ‘The Devil and the Dark Water’ by Stuart Turton

“Some songs weren’t mere songs. They were memories curled tight and set alight.”

I had high expectations for this book going in as I really enjoyed Turton’s debut novel (The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle), and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, The Devil and the Dark Water knocked it out the park. This mystery thriller is jam-packed with suspense, intrigue and brilliant characters racing to find out who — or what — is trying to sink the ship, threatening to kill them all. Despite the slightly heavier page count than the other books on this list, it’s an absolute page-turner and you won’t be able to put it down.

4. ‘My Best Friend’s Exorcism’ by Grady Hendrix 

“By the power of Phil Collins, I rebuke you!”

A popular and well known author with books such as The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix is no stranger to lists such as this one. My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends humour, horror and nostalgia brilliantly, and is a great pick if you’re looking for something truly thrilling to read. Set in the 1980s, the book (and soon to be film) follows two teenage girls, their friendship, and… you guessed it, the possession of one of them. Get ready for a creepy, yet exciting story!

5. ‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Seeing as we’re days away from Halloween, why not finish off the spooky reads with this absolute classic? Under 200 pages, this is a quick twisted tale to sink your teeth into before the month is through.

Fall into the magnificent yet nightmarish world that Gaiman created, and follow Coraline on her strange and gripping adventure beyond the mysterious door. You’ll speed through this book so fast that you’ll even have time to watch the beloved film before you go trick-or-treating!

Halloween is one of my absolute favourite times of year to read, purely because of the seasonal inspiration it brings. There are so many ways to interpret the holiday, so many layers to dig into, and these five suggestions offer just a glimpse into what wonderful books are out there to read. 

From ghostly tales, and grisly monsters, to the sisterhood of witches, and the wonders of magic. 

With only days left in October, I’m hoping to tick off a few more Halloween-themed reads before winter. Please share any recommendations you have! What books do you have left on your spooky TBR?

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