13 Scary Books for Halloween

An illustration of Rip Van Winkle, by Ashley Smith Collet

Halloween (and the season surrounding it) is my favorite time of the year—and good books only make it better!

Have you heard of All Hallow’s Read? It’s a wonderful Halloween tradition started by Neil Gaiman (author of The Graveyard Book, Stardust, and Coraline). The point of the tradition is to recommend/give a scary book to a friend during the Halloween season.

And so, in honor of this tradition, here are thirteen of my favorite scary books. I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Wait Till Hellen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn – Although intended for young readers, this is a genuinely spooky book with a great ending. I would recommend it to anyone.
  2. The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander – One of my top ten, all-time favorite books. While it’s not exactly a “Halloween book,” it’s a very suspenseful adventure book featuring a trio of witches that help the main character (and the reader) learn some pretty important lessons about life.
  3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – In this award-winning book, Neil Gaiman (who is a spectacular storyteller) tells of a boy who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts and werewolves. A delightful read—an excellent twist on The Jungle Book.
  4. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz – Do you remember reading this book in elementary school? It’s a collection of scary, popular folklore. The grotesque ink illustrations alone are enough to give you nightmares.
  5. Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving – The classic short story about a man, Rip, who is magically enchanted to sleep for twenty years. There are times I envy him.
  6. Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney – If you’re looking for something a little darker (and by “little,” I mean “a lot,”) then try the first book in Delaney’s “Last Apprentice” series. With an assortment of witches, ghosts, blood, and bones, this book is sure to keep you up at night.
  7. A Rose For Emily by William Faulkner – The ending of this little story will make your toes curl.
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling – This book feels like the most Halloween-y of the Harry Potter series, wouldn’t you agree?
  9. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – If you want to read some classic Halloween literature with deep insight into human nature, then look no further than Frankenstein.
  10. Coraline by Neil Gaiman – A young girl discovers a hidden door that takes her to her “other mother.” Another deliciously creepy book by Neil Gaiman!
  11. The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis – This book from the Chronicles of Narnia is PACKED with powerful lessons about addiction and seeing things as they really are. Plus, Puddleglum! 😀
  12. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe – Poe seems to be a treasure trove of all things creepy. This short story (especially if you listen to an audio rendition) will make your hairs stand on end.
  13. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – My favorite “scary” story. I absolutely love colonial America and the legend of the Headless Horseman (I have a sticker of him on the back of my laptop)!

But what about you? What are YOUR favorite scary stores/books? Please write them in the comments below!

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