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The books to read this Halloween.
The books to read this Halloween.

10 spooky books to keep you company this Halloween

From haunted houses to missing dogs, these Halloween-ready books go from slightly scary to downright spine-chilling

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 995)

From one of Poland’s best and most beloved authors, and the 2018 Man Booker International Prize winner of Flights, comes this noir novel—masterfully translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, and described by Sarah Perry as an “astonishing amalgam of thriller, comedy and political treatise". Set in a remote Polish village, with a reclusive, old woman as its protagonist, all hell breaks loose when Janina Duszejko’s dogs disappear and some locals are found murdered.

Frankenstein In Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (OneWorld, 941)

Following its translation (Jonathan Wright) and publication on the bicentenerary of Mary Shelley’s original literary monster, the Iraqi author’s black comedy-cum-horror fantasy secured a spot on the 2018 Man Booker International Prize—and invited comparisons with George Saunders’s Lincoln In The Bardo. Set in US-occupied Baghdad, Saadawi’s creation foregrounds revenge and justice, trauma and human rights issues—with a little help from his creature: “Whatsitsname", or the “1st Iraqi citizen".

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (Vintage Books, 900)

Celeste Ng has described this work as “weird and wild and wonderfully unsettling" and Lauren Groff has described its writer as “a new goddamn swaggering monster of fiction". Johnson’s follow-up to the short story collection Fen, a modern-day gender-spin on Sophocles’s Oedipus myth, has made her the youngest-ever author to be shortlisted for the Booker. With its lush landscape and language, and “the Bonak" lurking under the river, this book is more treat than tricks.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tail, 1,625)

“Atmospheric" is the appropriate adjective to describe Perry’s—of The Essex Serpent fame—re-writing and gender-bending of the 19th-century Gothic classic, Charles Maturin’s Melmoth The Wanderer. This darkly delicious novel explores moral reckoning, redemption, and the postmodern human condition, where “human cruelty proves scarier than any spectre". But, beware: this is not bedtime reading.

House Of Screams by Andaleeb Wajid (Penguin Random House, 250)

Praised by science fiction writer Indrapramit Das, Wajid’s (also a food and romance writer) eerie novel plays with the haunted house trope and creates an “echo chamber of mounting narrative terror". An inherited old house on Myrtle lane, bloody hands and blood-curdling screams—read after dark at your own risk.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Granta, 1,034)

She’s considered as the “best British writer never nominated for the Booker", and Moss’s latest, praised by Emma Donoghue and Jessie Burton, is certain to give you the chills and the creeps. The story of Silvie Hampton and her abusive father who “likes dead things", Ghost Wall addresses issues of gender and class, British identity and borders, in 160 pages—and even still, manages to give the sense that “everywhere, something is being withheld".

The Woman In The Window by AJ Finn (HarperCollins, 399)

Another fictional feather in the The Girl On The Train cap containing psychological thrillers is this New York Times bestseller from US books editor Daniel Mallory (pen-name: Finn). Gillian Flynn is a fan, and the film rights have been sold to Fox. Amy Adams is set to play the agoraphobic protagonist Dr Anna Fox, who, after a traumatic incident, is frightened of “the vast skies, the endless horizon, the sheer exposure, the crushing pressure of the outdoors".

The Bus On Thursday by Shirley Barrett (Fleet, Little, Brown, 1,433)

Barrett’s sophomore novel, set in the recesses of a remote Australian town—full of strange occurrences and odd characters—bursts with horror and humour. Touted as Bridget Jones meets Twin Peaks, and recommended for fans of Maria Semple, Stephen King and Henry James’s The Turn Of The Screw, expect laughs and jump-scares, demons and kangaroos, as young Eleanor blog-posts her way through this black, bleak comedy.

The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (And Other Stories, 656)

Printed as part of their “Year of Publishing Women", and translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker, this is a story of the on-a-dark-and-stormy-night variety. This Mexican mystery, which masterfully engages with gender, is also “a story about bodies disguised as a story about language disguised as a story about night terrors," warns Mexican novelist Yuri Herrera.

The Cabin At The End Of The World by Paul Tremblay (HarperCollins, 1971)

His 2016 novel, A Head Full Of Ghosts, supposedly scared the living hell out of Stephen King—so prepare to scare yourself silly with the Bram Stoker Award-winning author’s latest: a psychological suspense with a “twist to the home invasion horror story". This tense and terrifying page-turner has merited comparisons with Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door.

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