BLOGTOBER Day 18: Spooky recommendations

I posted my autumn recommendations earlier in the month, but thought I’d wait until a bit closer to Halloween to give you 10 spooky book recommendations. If you’re looking to read something unsettling or scary, these are the books to pick up!

10. Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

I’m putting Rules For Vanishing on this recommendations list even though I didn’t like it, because everyone else I’ve heard talk about it has loved it.

Rules For Vanishing tells the story of a mysterious path through the woods which appears every year, and the people who disappear off of the face of the earth when they wander down it. Sara’s sister disappeared last year, but when a mysterious text convinces her and her old friends to wander down the path in the search for her sister, things turn deadly.

The film rights have been optioned and I’m actually looking forward to seeing the adaptation even though I didn’t love the book. The story was intriguing, I just don’t feel as though a novel was the right form for this story – if you can get hold of an audiobook version I’d recommend giving that a go instead.

9. Autumn by David Moody

I’m a big zombie fan, so it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t include a couple of zombie stories on this list. Autumn is one of the scarier zombie books I’ve read because it feels so realistic: the zombies aren’t bloodthirsty as soon as they turn, which makes their eventual change all the more frightening.

The Autumn series is a series of companion novels, with cameos and reappearances from old favourite characters later on in the series, so if you’re looking for a fresh take on the traditional zombie story then I’d highly recommend this one.

8. Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan

Perfectly Preventable Deaths is set in Ireland and follows twins – one of whom is falling in love with the local bad boy, and one of whom is discovering witchcraft and her own innate powers.

Perfectly Preventable Deaths is one to pick up if you want to read something dark and deeply unsettling. A scene at the end of this novel is still haunting me a year and a bit later and while I was reading it I began wishing I hadn’t picked up the book, and I’m not impacted like that easily!

7. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her Eyes is a domestic thriller with one of the most shocking endings I’ve ever read. It’s not a spoiler to say that because it’s written very plainly on the front cover, and I thought that claim would ruin my enjoyment of the book… But although you might think that you’ve figured out what the twist is, there’s then a twist on a twist and it is WILD. When I read it my jaw literally dropped open, and I was so amazed by what I’d just read that I preceded to run downstairs and screech at Sean for at least ten minutes.

The more time that passes after reading this book the more that I think that I was probably a bit generous when I gave it 4 stars, but if you want to read a domestic thriller with a difference – in this case a supernatural, paranormal element – then this will hit the spot.

6. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman

The Walking Dead is always the perfect read in October: it’s when the new episodes of the show air on AMC, so why wouldn’t you want to revisit the source material?

The Walking Dead comic run is vastly different to the TV show, so if you aren’t a huge fan of the adventures of Rick Grimes and co. on screen then it’s still worth giving the graphic novels a shot. Documenting the journey of a cop through the zombie-infested landscape in the search of his wife and child, this is not only a quick read but will definitely give you a few jumps.

5. Potkin and Stubbs by Sophie Green

Potkin and Stubbs is a middle-grade mystery perfect for those who like ghost stories but don’t like being awfully frightened.

Lil Potkin is a journalist in Peligan City and she discovers the case of her career when she meets Nedly Stubbs, who is a ghost. Lil and Nedly team up to solve the mystery of how he died. Featuring an extremely unnerving toy called Wool and a creepy abandoned asylum, this is a story which features a lot of tropes but because it’s aimed at a middle-grade audience it’s a great read for people who are timid readers. There’s also a character called Abe who reminds me so much of Inspector Gadget and I LOVE him – I really hope he pops up again later in the trilogy!

4. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious is the first book in a mystery trilogy following a girl called Stevie. Stevie manages to get a scholarship to the prestigious Ellingham Academy after mentioning her fascination with the Albert Ellingham mystery in her application, so when she gets there she is determined to finally crack this cold case.

My problem with the Truly Devious series is that I like it slightly less with each installment, so I’m a bit apprehensive about picking up the recently announced The Box in the Woods (which is the first book following Stevie outside of Ellingham Academy).

3. Retribution by Jilliane Hoffman

When people recommend spooky books they often mention domestic thrillers, but I never see a lot of crime recommendations. This might be because people think of them as focusing more on the procedural aspects of investigating the crime – or because people don’t read crime novels that much anymore, I don’t know – but I think the heinous acts that human beings can commit against each other is one of the things which scares me the most.

Retribution focuses on the absolute worst of humanity. Our protagonist, C.J. Townsend, is brutally raped and almost murdered in her apartment building when she’s a student, only to have to face her attacker in the courtroom when she’s prosecuting him for a different crime many years later.

It has been a long time since I read Retribution, and I do worry that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much second time around so I’ve been putting off rereading it, but I can vividly remember some of the scenes because they imprint themselves in your mind. If you’re easily upset by distressing scenes in novels I’d suggest avoiding this one.

2. City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts follows a girl called Cassidy Blake, who becomes able to see ghosts following a near-death experience. Her parents are historians who are obsessed with ghosts, so when they get their own TV show the Blakes begin travelling across the globe to some of the most haunted locations on the planet (with Cassidy’s ghostly best friend, Jacob, in tow).

Although City of Ghosts is a middle-grade like Potkin and Stubbs, it couldn’t be more different. This series is genuinely frightening, even if you read it as an adult. There’s a scene in the second book in the series, Tunnel of Bones, which sent shivers down my spine and put me so on edge that I jumped at every little noise in my house, and I can’t remember the last book aimed at older readers which has successfully had that impact on me.

1. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

In all fairness the Arc of the Scythe series is probably better described as ‘unsettling’ than ‘spooky’, but as all of the covers feature grim reapers (which, in this universe, are called scythes) I couldn’t think of a better series to top this list.

If you haven’t read Scythe yet, I don’t know where you’ve been. People have been hyping this series up since the first book was released, and I only jumped on board last year but I’m so glad that I was all caught up in time for the third book in the series to be released.

In this world death has been conquered, so to solve overpopulation people are trained as scythes who go around gleaning a daily quota to allow humanity to continue without completely overwhelming the planet. Although it’s supposed to be a utopia, I can’t think of anything scarier than believing that death had been conquered only to have to face it anyway.

I binged this whole trilogy last October and I am honestly already looking for an excuse to reread them, so if anyone wants to host a readlong for this series I would be grateful.

Thanks for checking out my spooky recommendations! Do you have any recommendations you’d add to my list?

See you tomorrow,