Reading List

13 books to get you into the Halloween spirit

Whether you're looking for a psychological thriller or a classic horror novel, these books will inspire you to keep the lights on.

Whether you're looking for a psychological thriller or a classic horror novel, these 13 books are sure to put you in the Halloween spirit.  

Check out our haunted reading list below. Happy Halloween!

The Bone Mother by David Demchuk

David Demchuk's horror novel was on the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. (David Demchuk)

What it's about: Three neighbouring villages on the Ukrainian/Romanian border are the final refuge for the last of the mythical creatures of Eastern Europe. But as war looms, these magical beings face extinction. 

Read it if you like: Eerie and unsettling fairy tales and folklore. These portraits of ghosts, witches, sirens and seers  — and the mortals who live at their side and in their thrall  — will chill your marrow and tear at your heart.

Tarry This Night by Kristyn Dunnion​

Kristyn Dunnion's book Tarry This Night is a dystopian novel in which a new civil war has broken out in the U.S. (Liz Marshall/Arsenal Pulp Press)

What it's about: Kristyn Dunnion's latest novel is set during a new American civil war and follows what happens when a polygamist cult, living in an underground bunker, runs out of food.

Read it if you like: Dystopian novels and gothic lyricism. Tarry This Night is a modern take on the Lilith tale, where spirited women resist their violent and oppressive leader to regain their autonomy. 

​Wrist by Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler

Wrist is Nathan Adler's debut novel. (Kegedonce Press/Facebook)

What it's about: This Indigenous horror story follows dinosaur hunters embroiled in a battle after fossils are discovered in Northern Ontario, while the excavation crews are driven mad by inexplicable illness. 

Read it if you like: Monster stories. This book blends the magical with Indigenous legend.

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Nick Cutter is the author of the horror novel Little Heaven. (Simon & Schuster Canada/Kevin Kelly)

What it's about: A trio of mismatched mercenaries is hired by a young woman for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven.

Read it if you like: Vivid descriptions of gore and violence. Stephen King has said Nick Cutter's writing is "old-school horror at its best."

The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann

Joe Ollmann is the author of the graphic biography The Abominable Mr. Seabrook. (Drawn & Quarterly/Taien Ng-Chan)

What it's about: This graphic biography about William Seabrook explores the early 20th-century travel writer's life from his alcoholism to his love of BDSM. Seabrook dabbled in cannibalism and helped popularize the term "zombie."

Read it if you like: Real-life stories about voodoo, bondage and cannibalism.

Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr

Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall is Suzette Mayr's fifth novel. (Coach House Books)

What it's about: An anxious English professor dealing with the publication of her dissertation, backstabbing colleagues and a missing friend, finds that her office building may be haunted. 

Read it if you like: Classic haunted house novels like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King's The Shining. This novel is a modern take on a timeless tale. 

The Substitute by Nicole Lundrigan

Nicole Lundrigan is the author of The Substitute. (Anna Lena Seemann/House of Anansi Press)

What it's about: A disillusioned academic, taking a break from his lab to teach middle-school science, finds one of his students dead in his backyard. As his community slowly turns against him, an anonymous narrator offers insight into events past and present. 

Read it if you like: A finely crafted page-turner and a chilling look into the mind of a psychopath. 

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

Adam Sternbergh is New York magazine's culture editor. The Blinds is his third novel. (Edwin Tse/HarperCollins)

What it's about: Set in a town populated by criminals who have had their memories altered, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace. But after a suicide and a murder, the town's residents revolt and mysterious outsiders threaten to tear the whole place down. 

Read it if you like: A mystery with twists, turns and philospohical underpinnings. The Blinds is a speculative thriller that explores culpability and what it means to be evil.

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper talks about what influences his writing, including his latest book, The Only Child (CBC/Simon & Schuster)

What it's about: Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Lily Dominick has evaluated some of the country's most dangerous psychotics. But when she meets an especially twisted patient, claiming to be over 200 years old, Lily embarks on a journey that will threaten her career, her sanity and ultimately her life. 

Read it if you like: 19th-century Gothic horror. The Only Child remixes Dracula, Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to create a fast-paced thriller. 

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is a New York Times bestselling author from Sudbury, Ontario. (Random House Canada/Kathryn Hollinrake)

What it's about: When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their misdeeds and past lives. But after a resident goes missing, Casey stumbles across a mystery in the wilderness that surrounds her town.

Read it if you like: Mysteries set in a harsh, unforgiving environment where a killer is on the loose. 

The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal

The Lost Ones is Sheena Kamal's debut novel. (HarperCollins/Malcolm Tweedy)

What it's about: When Nora Watts receives a phone call informing her that the daughter she put up for adoption has gone missing, she decides to go and search for the teen girl. As Nora embarks on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, she will face her most terrifying demon, all to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

Read it if you like: Psychological suspense and dark, flawed characters. This is a story of perseverance through both physical and emotional abuse.

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Iain Lawrence won a Governor General’s Literary Award in 2007 for his children's book Gemini Summer. (TD Canadian Children's Literature Award)

What it's about: This young adult novel follows two boys who must learn how to survive in the wild when their boat sinks off the coast of Alaska. 

Read it if you like: Wilderness novels, survival stories, or harsh and isolating landscapes and scary stories shared by the campfire.

Our Little Secret by Roz Nay

Our Little Secret is Roz Nay's first novel. (Lisa Seyfried Photography/Simon & Schuster)

What it's about: When her ex-boyfriend's wife goes missing, Angela is interrogated by police. Despite her claim that she's not involved, detective Novak is sure Angela is hiding something. 

Read it if you like: Dark love triangles and twisted betrayals. This psychological thriller will have you wondering if Angela is the villain or the victim.

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