Top Ten Tuesday: Best Halloween Reads

While admittedly I'm not a horror fan, I have a great deal of affection for a handful of wonderfully dark books. This topic should be fun.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

Ten superb Halloweenish books, coming right up.

1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. Most of the Potter books put some focus on Halloween, but Chamber of Secrets includes a Deathday party, giant man-eating spiders, disembodied voices, a trip down the Hogwarts drains, talking to snakes, words written in rooster blood, attacks from an unseen monster, possession by the soul of a Dark Wizard, and a basilisk. Lots and lots of spooky.

2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which contains a she-monster with button eyes and a severed hand that scuttles like a spider. Frankly, anything by Neil Gaiman would probably work for Halloween reading; I've only read Coraline, so that's what I'm recommending. But he has one called The Graveyard Book. So, you know.

3. Lilith by George MacDonald. Ravens and a cold chamber full of sleepers who don't rouse, monsters and cruel giants—and the title character is a child-murderer and vampiress. One heck of a scary book.

4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The living Heathcliff is more terrifying than the ghost of Cathy Earnshaw. This is not a pleasant book, but it's certainly a Halloweenish one.

5. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Man-eating giants, a witch who turns into a snake, a prince under enchantment, and a trip into the Underworld.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The very spirit of this book is liminal and ghostly—much like Wuthering Heights, but with a better ending.

7. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle. The Echthroi. That scene where Meg has to pick the right Mr. Jennings. Xing. Louise the snake. Even Blajeny and Proginoskes are a little frightening, though good.

8. Dracula by Bram Stoker. Possibly the scariest book I've ever read. Also possibly the most melodramatic, but still, scary.

9. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. Whatever you think of the inhumanly attractive and also rather melodramatic Edward Cullen, the Volturi are just plain terrifying. And the darkness of Bella's mind during Edward's absence is pretty freakish, too. My favorite of the Twilight books by far, though that's not everyone's experience.

10. That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis. Nightmares, the Fairy, the whole coldhearted N.I.C.E. with their psychological manipulations, goblins, the reanimation of Merlin, a sort of Tower-of-Babel experience, and the meeting point of Christianity and paganism. Possibly my favorite book on this list. It's the third book in Lewis' Space Trilogy, but can just about stand on its own.

Honorable mention to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which was darkly fantastic when it wasn't excruciatingly dull. It's hard to get much creepier than the gentleman with the thistle-down hair.

Which books would you pick for best Halloween reads?


  1. I didn't participate this week but #10 is my favorite choice! And The Graveyard Book would be on my list - #1 and #9 are great choices too!

    1. I think I need to read The Graveyard Book. And it makes me so happy to discover other people who love That Hideous Strength! Not to mention New Moon. :)

  2. How could I have forgotten the Brontes? Wuthering Heights, especially, since I read that one just a couple of years ago... Great list.

    1. Wuthering Heights was last year's Halloween read for me. Gothic all the way! :)

  3. Dracula melodramatic? Perhaps. :) Still, it's pretty scary, but more a psychological scary rather than jump out from behind a tree with an ax scary. Personally the psychological scary is more scary, IMO. The epistolary style also gives the feeling that you're reading something that actually happened rather than just a story. So, what I'm trying to say is that Dracula is a great novel & I love it. Just finished another read of it last week.

    I don't read That Hideous Strength all that often but when I do it scares me. Primarily because I can see the philosophy of N.I.C.E. being played out in real life.

    No Halloween would be complete without some H.P. Lovecraft. Pick your madness, er story.

    While this is a short story, I can't let any Halloween go by without listening to "The Great Old Pumpkin" by John Aegard.

    1. Oh, I totally agree with you about the psychological scary. Dracula was terrifying, and it did feel more real because of the epistolary narrative mode. And I'll change my mind--it wasn't the most melodramatic book; that might've been Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. As for the melodrama itself, isn't that all Gothic novels? :P

      And yes, the N.I.C.E. does remind one horribly of modern philosophies.

      I HAVE to read Cthulhu. Why have I not done so yet?

  4. The Bronte sisters are so perfect for Halloween. Especially Wuthering Heights, it just scares me! Rebecca falls into that category of classics as well!

    My favorite Halloween Harry Potter is the Prisoner of Azkaban - the movie though! So fabulously creepy!

    1. Prisoner of Azkaban is definitely creepy with all those dementors! It didn't scare me as much when I first read it, probably because I was braced for another Chamber of Secrets, but it has its moments for sure.

      And yes, absolutely Rebecca!

  5. AH! Coraline was top of my list, it was so brilliantly spooky! I loved it so much! And the second HP book has such a brilliant deathday party scene! I love it so much! Great list!

    1. Coraline was ghoulish and beautifully creepy. And it's hard not to love Nearly Headless Nick. ;)

  6. Something Wicked This Way Comes!! Ray Bradbury..

    it's very autumny and spooky and beautiful!


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