October is a tricky month for me. I’ve stated before that I’m not a huge Halloween enthusiast … I’m really just counting down the days to November 1st when I light up those Christmas songs and slowly trickle in all things Christmas and sparkly.
But one of my mottos in life is to enjoy every season and wherever you are, be fully there. So in that regard, and because my little enjoys Halloween, I do what I can to maintain the spooky spirit. Hence, I carefully curate an October TBR full of chills and thrills.
Here are my top recommendations for Spooky Reads this October (note: for the Halloween horror super fan, these are going to be quite tame! I like atmospheric, bump-in-the-night style spook … not gore).
1. The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault: Such an underrated book! This tiny YA thriller (only 228 pages) is a gripping, page turning, whodunit. We follow Marnie, an eccentric outcast, who has recently discovered an ancient book on the art of reading tea leaves. Curious she begins to practice and discovers she is spookily talented. Then all-star Mr. Popular Matt Cotrell asks for a reading. He has been getting emails from his friend Andrea … who happened to disappear months ago and is assumed dead. Suddenly Matt and Marnie are set on an eerie, whodunit chase full of spooky happenings (magical? supernatural?) and people hell bent on preventing the truth from surfacing.
2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab: In my opinion this is Schwab at her spooky best. Schwab creates wonderfully atmospheric reads and Vicious scores top marks. In the beginning Victor and Eli are college roommates. After experimenting in near-death experiences both Victor and Eli discover they possess extraordinary, supernatural talents. But when their experimenting takes a deadly turn, Victor is sent to prison.Ten years later Victor escapes and is set on hunting down his now mortal enemy. Eli is on an escapade of his own … to rid the earth of those who possess these same extraordinary supernatural powers. It is just so eerie, dark, creepy and … bloody. (It is Schwab we are talking about here). But I really loved these characters — which isn’t usual for me in thrillers. Character development is usually cast aside for tension and plot development. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and Schwab really brought new life to the debate of good versus evil.
3. Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly: I love, love, love this Cinderella retelling. So much more than a retelling Donnelly creates a dark, gritty and, at times, bloody world that delves deep and questions societal expectations, the boxes we are placed in, and our definitions regarding beauty. Read my full review here.
4. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig: This brand new 2019 release is for sure going to become an October read classic. Full of ghosts, magic and thrills-a-minute, this loosely based 12 Dancing Princesses retelling has all the elements needed to keep you in the Halloween spirit. Read my full review here.
5. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: Magical triplet sisters living on a mystical, matriarchal island having to fight to the death for the crown? Yes please. I loved how brutal this world was. I loved the matriarchal society that bow in fear of their queens. I loved the haunted, murderous island … and the whole time wondering “are they really going to kill one another?” So so good, so very October.
6. Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving: When it comes to classic spook, other than Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley, Sleepy Hollow is a must read. I love that this short story can be enjoyed quickly the night before Halloween, or multiple times throughout October when you feel those Christmas vibes sneaking in!
If you’re having trouble staying in the Halloween spirit, check out Halloween How-To: Tips For Getting Into The Spirit, full of tips for how to stay in the Halloween spirit, and a monstrous Halloween playlist.