It has been YEARS since I last wrote a “Halloween Reads” blog post, and since my last one I have read hundreds of books (literally) and I discovered a whole pile of new reads that are now Halloween favourites of mine.
The majority of this list is suitable for all readers but 2 of them will be adult novels, so hopefully there will be something for everyone.
1. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
I don’t think a book captures Halloween better than The Halloween Tree. It is spooky, simply dripping with Halloween aesthetic and history, and best of all; it is suitable for all ages.
I know this book is a favourite in America, with there being plenty of animated adaptions of it out there, but I didn’t read it myself until last year. I love Bradbury’s other works and when I discovered he wrote a book about my favourite holiday I just had to give it a read. I loved every moment of it, and I think it should be a seasonal read for everyone. It is a wild Halloween ride that might just teach you a thing or two.
2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Can you get any more iconic than the headless horseman?
This is another book that has so much Halloween style energy that you need to read it every year. It is a classic for a reason, and even though it didn’t invent the legend of the headless horseman, it certainly made him the pop culture figure he is today.
This classic is just the right level of scary. It is more thrilling than flat out scary. It might be out of the reading level of younger readers just because of the writing style but it isn’t too difficult to read or follow. It is a short read but it certainly takes you on a wild ride.
3. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Whether you have read this book series or not, you have probably heard a story or two from it without realising. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark contains some of the most iconic creepy tales of our time. The Hook, the girl with spider eggs in her face, the phantom hitchhiker; are all urban legends that feature in the series.
There is a lot of debate, especially in America, about whether this book is suitable for kids or not. The original contained a lot of scary illustrations, but since then a new “tamer” illustrated version has been released. Whatever version you get your hands on, I think this is a collection that needs to be in the hands of every Halloween lover or anyone who wants a collection of spooky tales. If you are unsure about the scariness level maybe read a few stories yourself before giving it to your kids. It is just common sense, and every kid is different. Generally kids love scary things.
I know I will be getting my own collection of these books and reading them to my kids, when I have them, every Halloween. As a kid free adult though, I still loved them, they were nostalgic and made for perfect mini tales of terrors.
4. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
I make fun of King a lot. He has his tropes, and when his books are bad they are very bad. I will admit to having a fondness for very early King books, and this one is probably one of my favourites.
I think this book is a Halloween read because it has everything a Halloween book should have: The undead, a cautionary tale, creepy cemeteries, cats, scary kids and ghosts. If that doesn’t scream Halloween I don’t know what does.
This is one of the adult books on this list, so it has some language and scarier moments that might not be suitable for younger readers. If you are already a King fan or want to give his work a go, this is a great one to read in October.
5. Horns by Joe Hill
I am a big fan of Joe Hill’s writing; he is probably one of my favourite authors of all time. Horns was the first book by Hill that I read and I ploughed through it in only a few days one October.
Horns is on my Halloween to read list simply due its setting. A lot of this book takes place in the woods. I think this would be a great horror read for anyone who isn’t used to reading horror. It is funny, fast paced, not scary and generally is more of a mystery wrapped up in a horror wrapper. It has more demon themes and human based horror, rather than ghosts or other supernatural things.
I will say that this is very much an adult novel, even more so than Pet Sematary. You can read my full review of it here.