Somehow, we’re celebrating halloween again, with outrageous costumes and trick-or-treating and scary movies. Are you looking for a terrifying book to read? I’ve compiled a list of books that I’ve read that I’ve found particularly scary and thrilling. I’m sure that there are many books on your own lists that I haven’t read, like Dracula and Frankenstein and the majority of Stephen King novels. But below is a list of novels that are a little different to the conventional ‘halloween reads’ list, and I hope you enjoy reading them.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
This book is freaky, scary, thrilling and creepy. The main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is a skilled perfume-maker can make the most beautiful perfumes around, but he decides to craft a smell that has evaded him thus far: the smell of a virgin. In order to do this, he murders a large number of virgins and capture their smell, and then he puts it all together for the signature smell he’s been desperate to make. The plot is quite ridiculous, but really fantastic at the same time. It’s a really enthralling novel, and you can read my review of it HERE.
American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis
American Psycho has an age limit of 18+ in Australia because of it’s gory storyline and detailed murder scenes. Need I say more? Patrick Bateman is a serial killer and in American Psycho, the reader delves into his mind to try and understand his thought process. He’s an absolute nut, with thoughts that seem to resemble stream of consciousness and don’t have any real pause. It’s a fast-paced novel that will have you eager to turn the next page.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus isn’t a particularly scary novel, but more it’s a dark, ominous novel that does well to add to the atmosphere that is halloween. The circus featured in this novel appears out of nowhere, with no warning. People from all around come to see it, and then all of a sudden it’ll be gone. The characters that work at the circus are playing their own little game – they’re trying to best each other. And they know that at the end, in order for one of them to win the game, the other has to die. It’s a slow build novel, but the characters are fascinating and it’s a dark novel, and you can read my review of it HERE.
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
My Sister Rosa is a creepy novel about a young psychopath named Rosa. The book is told from the point of view of her brother Che, who seems to be the only person who knows what her sister is. He keeps having to remind her not to hurt or kill anyone, and she seems to say just the right things to get away with everything. She looks sweet and she acts polite in public, but in private she makes comments about harming people, and then some family friends actually get harmed and it looks like Rosa is to blame. It’s a chilling novel that will leave you desperate to keep turning the page. Rosa is truly terrifying.
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Broken Monsters is about a serial killer who is attaching human remains to animal parts. It’s odd, creepy, and terrifying. The criminal investigation heightens the pace of the story, and the characters are three dimensional and they anchor the novel. Broken Monsters is a thriller as well – you’re not sure who is safe and who might die and you find yourself desperately turning the page to find out. You can read my review of Broken Monsters HERE.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book is a children’s novel and the perfect level of scary for them. After a grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. For a children’s book, it’s quite scary. But it’ll have them entertained and intrigued. There are magical elements to the tale and the book features plenty of adventures sure to enthral all readers.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
The Passage is a post-apocalyptic novel set after a viral outbreak has killed most of the world’s population. We meet the main character, Amy, when she is abandoned by her mother at the age of six. She is then pursued and imprisoned by shadowy figures behind the government experiment ‘Project Noah’. But she is no vampire. She can hear the others’ thoughts, and the thoughts of their victims, and she doesn’t age. She stays the same age for years after the outbreak and becomes a vital character in the series. She is the key to saving the world from this viral apocalypse. The Passage explores survival, devastation, mourning, regret, and friendship. You can read my review of The Passage HERE.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is a children’s classic, but it’s a really fantastic novel that I recommend for adults to read. It’s written from the point of view of Death as he travels across Nazi Germany collecting souls during the Holocaust. He’s actually quite a reverent character, but he is ominous and creepy. He mentions things about the future that the reader is unaware of. He mentions how a favourite character is going to die, and when, and it’s a momentary plot point that terrifies and saddens the reader. It’s a literary masterpiece, but it’s also a chilling tale. You can read my review of The Book Thief HERE.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
This novel is a slow build, and it follows detective Mikael Blomkvist as he tries to solve a centuries-old cold case about a young girl who went missing on Hedeby Island in 1966. He starts to uncover mysteries about the island and also about all of the characters he’s met. The young woman aiding him with the investigation – named Lisbeth with a dragon tattoo – is going through some quite horrifying problems herself. This book is beautifully written, but it’s very disturbing.