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9 Spooky And Chilling Books To Read This Halloween

Staying in on Halloween is the perfect excuse to curl up with a book by candlelight – and what better time to pick a title that unsettles you? From racing thrillers and murder mysteries to forgotten folk tales, here are the must-reads to choose from this weekend.

The Haunting Season, by Various Authors

Winter has long been a time for gathering by the flame of a candle or the warm crackling of a fire and swapping ghost stories. Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors bring this time-honoured tradition to life in a spellbinding collection of haunted tales. From a bustling Covent Garden Christmas market to the frosty moors of Yorkshire, these are stories to send shivers down your spine and serve as a companion to long winter nights. So enjoy a night this Halloween (and beyond) with a selection of capturing stories that will stay with you.

Reprieve, by James Han Mattson

In 1997, four contestants made it to the last cell of the Quigley House, a haunted escape room known for its monstrosities. If the group can endure its horrors without shouting the safe word, ‘reprieve’, they’ll win a substantial prize of money. However, before they can complete the challenge, a man breaks into the cell and kills one of the contestants. In this story, those who were there on the night lend their points of view: Kendra Brown, a teenager uprooted from her childhood home after the loss of her father; Leonard Grandton, a hotel manager caught in a series of toxic entanglements; and Jaidee Charoensuk, a gay international student who came to the US in search of his former English teacher. As each character’s journey unfurls, deceits and misunderstandings fuelled by obsession and prejudice are revealed. This is a startling exploration of complicity and masquerade, combining the psychological tension of classic horror with searing social criticism.

The Devil and the Dark Water, by Stuart Turton

It’s 1634, and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is set to face trial for a crime that no one dares speak of. Yet no sooner is the ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. Strange symbols appear on the sails, and a figure stalks the decks and livestock are slaughtered. Passengers are plagued with ominous threats, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Then: an impossible murder. From the author of the dazzling The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award, comes an adventurous and wildly entertaining murder mystery to sink your teeth into.

Never Saw Me Coming, by Vera Kurian

Chloe looks like an ordinary university student, but she’s actually a highly intelligent psychopath out for revenge. She is also part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the university’s Psychology Department. Of course, most psychopaths aren’t criminals, but when a string of murders on campus causes upheaval, Chloe’s private vendetta is sidelined. Partnered with fellow study participants, she can’t trust – and distracted by typical university life – Chloe has to walk the line between hunter and prey in Never Saw Me Coming. This is a gripping story combining a relatable college setting, charming psychopaths and a fresh, clever voice.

The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld

The Bass Rock has watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland for centuries. During this time, the fates of three women are linked to this place and each other.

In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband, and the local community’s strange waters. Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning her father’s death, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward. The men in their lives circumscribe each woman’s choices, but in sisterhood, there is the hope of survival and new life…

Sisters, by Daisy Johnson

The perfect Halloween read, Sisters is a twisting Gothic horror novel by Booker-shortlisted author Daisy Johnson. Something unspeakable has happened to sisters July and September. Desperate for a fresh start, they move across the country to an old family house that has a troubled background of its own. As noises come from behind the walls and lights flicker of their own accord, sleep feels impossible, yet dreams are endless. In their new, unsettling surroundings, July finds that the fierce bond she’s always had with September – forged with a blood promise when they were children – is beginning to change in ways she cannot understand. Hailed as a gothic masterpiece, this is a page-turner you won’t want to put down.

Trick or Treat, by Katerina Diamond

When six-year-old Marcus is taken from outside his house on Halloween, it shakes his quiet neighbourhood to the core. Everyone was ready for a night of trick-or-treating. Now the unthinkable has happened. As Detective Imogen Grey arrives to question Marcus’s parents, they tell her there has been a mistake. Their son is just fine. But if that’s true, where is Marcus? Imogen becomes locked in a race against time to find the missing child and uncover the truth. Can she discover what’s happened to Marcus before it’s too late?

Stranded, by Sarah Goodwin

When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year. Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village, and she’s desperate to explain what happened. She wants people to know how the group fractured and friends became enemies, how they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them and how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come.

First, she must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded and her role in the events that saw eight people arrive and only three leave. This is a gripping page-turner about secrets, lies and survival at all costs.

Whisper Cottage, by Anne Wyn Clark

Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage hoping for a fresh start. Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but the generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend, and they start to feel settled. Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. When Stina and Jack hear strange noises in the night, they start to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems.

Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home? This is a haunting, incredible story about the power of secrets and rumours, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key and Lucy Atkins’s Magpie Lane.

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