October 30, 2018

Halloween Books for my Fellow Scaredy-Cats

I am the first to admit that I am a coward. I don't do horror movies, haunted houses, scary costumes, or anything that will involve a jump scare. When it comes to horror, I am screaming mess who reacts to every little scare (sometimes things that aren't even meant to be scary).

Due to my sensitivity to spookiness, I always feel left out during the Halloween season. After the age of 12, it is so longer acceptable to wear cute costumes and content yourself with candy. Instead, you are meant to dive headfirst into a world of horror, blood, and guts-- a world I was not meant for. For the past couple of years, I have been searching for the common ground between scaring myself senseless and just sitting on my couch alone, eating candy while watching rom-coms.

So, in the spirit of being a scaredy-cat who still wants to enjoy Halloween, I am going to list some of my favorite Halloween inspired books to help you enjoy the season even if it scares the dickens out of you.


If you aren't in the mood for supernatural creepiness (aka if ghosts and goblins are your least favorite part of Halloween), then mysteries are the best way for you to get into the spooky spirit. Mysteries almost always deal with some kind of death or murder, with the unnecessary paranormal freakiness. On the other hand, if you are creeped out by the real life horror stories, then probably still avoid this category. 

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I have championed this book during pretty much every season of the year, but it is particularly great for Halloween. The Naturals qualifies since it is a little bit murdery and bloody, but in a realistic kind of way. If you are a fan of Criminal Minds or any other true crime shows, then you would definitely like this one!

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

If you are more on the adventurous side of the scaredy-cat spectrum, then try your hand at this book centered around the unsolved and violent murders from Jack the Ripper. I love the historical atmosphere of Stalking Jack the Ripper, plus there is a nice romance to distract you from all of the killing (hopefully). 

The Daemoniac by Kat Ross

The Daemoniac is another story loosely based on the Jack the Ripper books, but less realistic than Stalking Jack the Ripper. There are more supernatural themes that make it seem less realistic, and maybe to some people, less scary. I am a fan of all things Kat Ross writes, and I am happy to say that her writing translates just as well in mystery as in fantasy.

Never, Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

If you are not in it for the creepiness or the murder, then Never, Never is probably more your speed. It is not so much a mystery as unexplained events with the two main characters losing their memories for no apparent reason. The creepiness is wondering how this happened and why, but there are no overt supernatural elements. 


Thrillers are perfect for those who want to up their adrenaline without increasing the frequency of their nightmares. If you want to get your heartbeat up but not in a terrified way, then these are for you.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter is more existential terror than outright horror. There are murdery clones and twisted reality. It reminds me of the darker episodes of Doctor Who, creepy and questioning the foundations of the universe, but not nightmare inducing.


Ever since we found out that Edward from Twilight is sparkley, my fear of vampires has drastically decreased. For the most part, I think that they are too much of a trope, especially in YA, to be sincerely scared of them. If you are more in a bloody mood, then theses rather tame vampire books are here for you. 

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Honestly, the covers of this series are the scariest thing about them. Yes, there are vampires but it is not terrifying or horror-inducing. There is actually a lot of political intrigue, vampire high school dynamics, and relationships at work in addition to the blood and gore.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Holly Black is the master of creepy, of exploring old tropes in a new way that brings them back to life. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is definitely creepier than Vampire Academy, with more emphasis on the vampires. But, the beautiful writing style and unique twist on vampires is worth the read.


If you want to think about it in the most simplistic way, witches are just people with magic. Like, there shouldn't be anything scary about it compared to ghosts or zombies. They dabble in the supernatural, by casting spells and flying on broomsticks, but they are more human than other supernatural creatures, and therefore, less terrifying in my eyes.

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire is a book about travelling between worlds--one with witches and one without. So, at least half of the book isn't scary. I would argue that the other half isn't scary either, just more involved with magic, power, and witchy wonderfulness. 

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Besides Harry Potter, Hex Hall is one of the most scaredy-cat friendly books about witches. Hex Hall is about a school for supernatural beings, including werewolves, vampires, and witches. A lot of it is about figuring out who you are, especially with newfound magical powers.

Dead People

To be clear, I am not talking about zombies. I don't do zombies and I don't think that any scaredy-cat does. I am just talking about the mentioning of dead bodies, like when you take a casual stroll through a graveyard. Not scary, right?

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Anything by Victoria Schwab has a darker side, but The Archived is one of the darker ones. It centers around guardians of "The Archive" which is really just a fancy name for a really big graveyard. Their task is to keep the dead dead, which I can fully respect.

Books to Read if You Just Want to Look Like You are Reading a Scary Book

Sometimes, you just aren't in the Halloween mood. You don't want to read anything scary, but you want to look like you are reading a scary book to impress others. Well, this list of books whose covers are creepier than their insides is for you.

Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut

Unfortunately, this book is not based on the movie Hocus Pocus. That was my first thought when I saw it on my syllabus. It is really about a soldier adjusting to life and cruelty after the Vietnam War. But, I am sure that you can trick a bunch of people with the title!

Unhinged by A. G. Howard

This whole series has creepy covers with a figure staring directly into your soul, but the actual story never creeped me out. It is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland that is meant to be a bit darker, but how scary can you really make a cat and talking flowers?

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

The word "die" written in large letters in what appears to be blood is always a little bit creepy. If that is the only thing someone sees on your book cover, then they will certainly respect your stomach for horror. In reality, this is supposed to be a darker retelling of The Wizard of Oz, but I think that pretty much anyone could handle it.

Also, thanks to some wonderful friends on Twitter, I have a thread of Halloween movies for the faint of heart. 

How do you celebrate Halloween? Are you easily scared or a Halloween pro? What are your favorite books to read during the Halloween season? Do you have any recommendations for those more sensitive to scares? I am also open to movie and TV series suggestions!

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