5 Spooky Stories to Get You in the Halloween Mood

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Best Horror Books Best Of Featured

For many of us, the Halloween countdown starts as soon as fall rolls around. When the leaves turn orange and the darkness creeps in, it’s the perfect time to cozy up with a scary story or a nail-biting horror movie. Now, with All Hallows’ Eve just around the corner, I’ve put together this list of five bone-chilling stories to prepare you for the spookiest day of the year!

1. Pet Sematery by Stephen King

Stephen King Pet Sematary book cover with cat and graveyard

Stephen King has become one of the modern world’s most celebrated authors, publishing over 60 novels in his lifetime. He can terrify even the hardiest of horror readers with his hauntingly vivid settings, convincing characters, and unexpected twists — and the 1983 novel Pet Sematary is hailed by fans as one of his best.

It begins innocently enough, with the Creed family moving to a quiet town in Maine. Little do they know, their new house sits near an ancient animal burial ground — where the bite is much worse than the bark. When the family cat gets run over, only to return the next day acting strangely, the Creed family and the reader know that things are about to get very freaky.

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

One of the most famous horror books of all time, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the source of many a bolt-necked costume — but how many know the original tale? When Shelley wrote this novel, her goal was to “speak to the mysterious fears of our nature… to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”

Two centuries later, she’s clearly succeeded: just about everyone recognizes the name Frankenstein. While it’s commonly associated with the half-dead, half-alive humanoid monster, Frankenstein carries the name of the scientist behind the creation, Dr. Victor Frankenstein — who must choose between his life’s work and the safety of humanity. That said, to really appreciate the nuanced terrors of this classic Gothic novel, one simply has to read it.

3. 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith

30 days of night book cover with man screaming

30 Days of Night is a three-issue horror comic by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith that’s guaranteed to keep you awake… and petrified. When the small town of Barrow, Alaska is plunged into a midwinter month of darkness, the area becomes a hunting ground for a group of bloodthirsty vampires — and its residents must fight like hell to survive.

Templesmith’s illustrations bring Niles’ words to visceral life, a no-holds-barred portrayal of the graphic violence and gore throughout the story. Though none of the stories on this list are exactly easy reading, take heed that 30 Days of Night is not for the faint of heart.

4. Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Fledgling scary novel cover with legs coming out of a white wall

Though best known as a sci-fi author, Octavia Butler has also conjured up many multi-layered horror stories to make your skin crawl. Fledgling is a perfect example — this thrilling novel tackles issues of race and identity under the guise of a sinister vampire plot.

The story kicks off with immediate suspense, as a young girl named Shori wakes up with no knowledge of who or where she is. It only gets more disturbing as she discovers that she’s actually a 53-year-old vampire, wanted dead by an unknown figure. Though aware it could lead to her own demise, Shori is desperate to find out more about her past and identity — and as she goes from fledgling to full-on vamp, she finds that the only one she can trust is herself.

5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book cover with a skeleton head over a graveyard

For anyone who loved sitting ’round a campfire as a kid and sharing urban legends passed down through generations, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is just the chill-inducing companion you’ll need for Halloween. Compiled by editor Alvin Schwartz, this book includes some of the most harrowing short stories ever told.

Many have questioned its classification as a children’s book — and rightly so. From haunted houses to people getting eaten by worms, the descriptions and illustrations may leave you a little queasy. However, if you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia with your Halloween reading, then this is the book for you.

Whether you’re planning to spend your night trick-or-treating or under the blankets with hot cocoa and a scary movie, I hope that these spooky stories have gotten you into the Halloween spirit. Have a hauntingly good one!

Guest post by Savannah Cordova from Reedsy – Twitter / Instagram

Best Horror Coloring Books for Adults

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Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books

Who said that scary things aren’t for kids? Or that coloring books aren’t for adults? Both of these things are proven dreadfully wrong with the best coloring books inspired by the horror genre. Yes, they’re a thing. Your favorite monsters jump off the page as you color in between the lines and create a ghoulishly gorgeous work of art – all while relieving stress and soothing the mind with a set of crayons as your guide. If you’re looking to unwind and relax after a long day – and need something a bit more abnormal than the typical Netflix and wine – try these horror coloring books for adults to channel your dark side with a bit of creepy color. 

The Beauty Of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book

The Beauty Of Horror: A GOREgeous Coloring Book

This horror coloring book by Alan Robert is one of the most popular on the web, and you’ll see why as you glance into its pages. GOREgeous features “an onslaught of severed heads, monsters, deadly weapons, and skeletal remains” as you “visit burial grounds, the zombie apocalypse, serial killer lairs and gruesome torture chambers.” Their words… cute, right? Invest in this page-turner that has tons of gore-geously good reviews on GoodReads on Amazon, and get that red crayon ready for all the blood, clown noses, and leftover guts. You’re going to need it. 

Horror Coloring Book for Adults : Horror Stress Relieving Illustrations with Scary Monsters, Creepy Scenes, and a Spooky Adventure

Horror Coloring Book for Adults

This horror coloring book isn’t for the faint of heart. You won’t find any “good witches” or soft scares within these black-and-white pages – only the most terrifying and intricate illustrations that will freak you out and frustrate you as you try desperately to color within the lines. Trust us, once you see the complexity of these designs, you’ll see that you’ll need the entire box of crayons. That being said, this horror coloring book is ideal for the artsy scare lover… and you’ll want to stick this art up on your bedroom wall for the most gorgeous horror house on the block.

Zombie Coloring Book

Zombie Coloring Book

Take a break from witches, skeletons, and killer clowns as you go back to basics with a horror staple: zombies. These undead creatures will always have a place in your favorite scary movies and TV shows… and now on your nightstand, too. Choose from 20+ zombie illustrations – ranging from ugly and gross to interesting and a bit cute – and fill them in with your favorite colors to bring life back into your relaxation routine with a few undead monsters. Sure, the title of this book is a mouthful, but Zombie Coloring Book really is an incredible habit for everybody!

Alice’s Nightmare in Wonderland Coloring Book 

Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland Coloring Book

Plenty of children’s movies are a lot more creepy once you watch them as an adult, like Alice in Wonderland. Between the Chesire Cat’s scary smile and the Queen of Hearts yelling about beheading children, this classic Disney film is almost as scary as any horror film from the early 2000’s. And it gets even more horrifying with this adult coloring book that features demonic versions of the film’s classic characters. A giant, murderous rabbit is something that you didn’t even know you needed until now, and you can make him any color you like for ultimate nightmare fuel. 

The Beauty of Horror 2: Ghouliana’s Creepatorium Coloring Book

The Beauty of Horror 2: Ghouliana's Creepatorium Coloring Book

It’s pretty rare in the world of horror for the sequel to be just as spooky and stunning as the original – unless we’re talking about horror coloring books for adults. Ghouliana’s Creepatorium has just as many distorted ghosts and scary skeletons as the GOREgeous book that we told you about earlier… and it doesn’t even need to be Halloween to stick these finished illustrations up on your refrigerator. Let loose and embrace your inner artist with these spooky designs that never go out of style… and know that there are plenty more coloring books to try in the The Beauty of Horror lineup. Thanks, Alan Robert!

Book Recommendation “Girl on Fire”

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Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Women in Horror

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Gemma Amor’s “Girl on Fire.” Gemma Amor is a Bram Stoker Award nominated horror fiction author, podcaster and voice actor based in the UK. Her books include Cruel Works of NatureDear Laura, White PinesGirl on Fire, and These Wounds We Make. She’s also co-creator, writer and voice actor for horror-comedy podcast Calling Darkness, starring Kate Siegel. Her stories are feature on the NoSleep PodcastShadows at the Door, Creepy and the Grey Rooms podcast.

Author Gemma Amor headshot

SYNOPSIS: Ruby Miller is free at last. Free from her past, her tormentor, her shitty family and the even shittier odds she was given at birth. But freedom has a price, and when the young girl hell-bent on starting a new life crashes her cherry red 1989 Pontiac Bonneville on America’s loneliest road, she finds out just how dear that price is. From the Bram Stoker Award nominated author of Dear Laura and White Pines comes a new novella, a searing tale of fire, revenge and redemption, a coming-of-age tale with a bite, because, let’s face it… happy endings are for children, and some girls just want to watch the world burn.

Review by Ben Vicariously 4/5 stars.

This story starts with a bang (literally) and is paced like wildfire, zipping through a tale of a young girl’s burning fury being unleashed upon the world. Ruby’s traumatic past haunts her still, and all she wants to do is see the world burn. She is the girl on fire, and her killing rage is both righteous and overwhelmingly destructive. Unfortunately for those around her it is only going to escalate.

To read the full review, click here!

Girl on Fire by Gemma Amor is available now.

Book Recommendation – Crazytimes

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Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Indie Horror Reviews

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Crazytimes by Scott Cole.

Scott Cole is a writer, artist, and graphic designer living in Philadelphia. He writes mostly horror, bizarro, and absurdist fiction. He also likes old radio dramas, old horror comics, weird movies, cold weather, coffee, and a few other things too. Need a book layout or a movie poster designed? Want to option one of his stories for film? Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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Synopsis

You wake up Monday morning and everyone is crazy. Everyone was already crazy, though, right? But somehow things are worse today. People are angry, throwing chairs out of office windows, eating rocks, violently scratching their necks, and running naked through the streets. They’re killing each other for no reason and laughing through the carnage. The whole city is like this. And meteors are falling from the hazy skies above. How are you going to survive? Do you even want to? This isn’t just another manic Monday. This is Crazytimes.

Review

“…fuses Cronenbergian body horror and visions of the apocalypse onto a wry, heartfelt-yet-absurdist first-person narrative that falls tonally somewhere between Joe Lansdale and Sam Raimi.”

Shawn Macomber, Rue Morgue

“A tongue-in-cheek orgy of gore-splattered insanity”

Peter Caffrey, Ginger Nuts of Horror

“The book is gruesome and fast-paced with lots of creative kill scenes. All manner of limbs are dismembered, bodies split open, and gory flung about with reckless abandon. It’s also really gross as whatever virus is infecting people has some real nasty side effects. Ultimately the book plays out like a trashy, fun, grindhouse B-movie (think Planet Terror meets The Crazies)”

Ben Long, reviewer at @reading.vicariously

Crazytimes by Scott Cole is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace

Book Recommendation – Crossroads

Categories
Best Horror Books Best Of Featured Horror Books Reviews

Puzzle Box Horror’s book recommendation of the week is Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

Laurel Hightower grew up in Kentucky, attending college in California and Tennessee before returning home to horse country, where she lives with her husband, son and two rescue animals, Yattering the cat (named for the Clive Barker short story) and Ladybug the adorable mutt. She loves discovering new favorite authors, and supporting the writing and reading community. A bourbon and beer girl, she’s a fan of horror movies and true life ghost stories. Whispers in the Dark is her first novel, though there are always more in the pipeline, and she loves researching anything horror related. She can usually be found working on the next project into the wee hours, sometimes as late as ten at night, as long as her toddler allows.

Laurel Hightower author photo

SYNOPSIS

How far would you go to bring back someone you loved?

When Chris’s son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. The walls of grief close in on Chris’s life until, one day, a small cut on her finger changes everything. 

A drop of blood falls from Chris’s hand onto her son’s roadside memorial and, later that night, Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window. Only, is it really her son’s ghost, or is it something else—something evil?  

Soon Chris is playing a dangerous game with forces beyond her control in a bid to see her son, Trey, alive once again. 

Reviews

Crossroads is a gripping, deeply emotional ride. From its very first sentence to its shattering finale, this novella held me spellbound. If you aren’t reading Laurel Hightower, you’re missing out on one of horror’s brightest rising stars.”

Jonathan Janz, author of The Raven and Children of the Dark

Grief addicts unite! This book should come with a free therapy session, or at the very least a box of tissues. What a heavy read. I could feel the sorrow and pain coming off the pages as I read, and after finishing it I was completely wrecked. Overall this is an incredible novella, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far!”

Ben (@reading.vicariously)

To read the full review, click here!

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower is available now at Horror Hub Marketplace.