Spooky books to read this Halloween

We asked for your favourite stories which are sure to send shivers down our spine this Halloween. From bewitching books great to read with children, to the terrifying tales you turn to for a fright, here are some of the top recommendations. 

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Spooky tales for children



grimm fairytales






gruffalo child




  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman "A Halloween must for us. This is as spooky as we can get as sometimes my 3 year old finds Bubbleguppies and Octonaughts a bit too scary!"
  • Grimms Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm "Grim and all too realistically horror-inducing. Definitely not for the very young but scary indeed!"
  • Badjelly the Witch by Spike Milligan "This is legendary in my family, officially the best book ever!  It's the type of kids book you will love more than them. Brilliant characters."
  • The Tailyipo by Joanna Galdone and Paul Galdone "An old man in a cabin in the woods hunts the Tailipo and steals its tail. One dark night it comes to get it back, scratches on the cabin door saying 'Give me back my Tailypo...' As a child I was terrified."
  • The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson "I remember my two-year-old daughter lying in bed after lights out with the wind howling outside going 'His eyes, like pooooools of TERRIBLE FIYAAAAH'." "We actually enjoyed this even more than the original."
  • Goosebumps series by R L Stine "I had a kind of love/hate relationship with the Goosebumps books as a child. They were scary and gave me actual nightmares, but I couldn't stop reading them!"

haunted house

dark matter


point horror

jeremy visick

spider sanwiches

  • Haunted House by Jan Pienowski "Not a horror story, or even scary, but as a kid I absolutely loved the pop up book. I've just bought a copy for my little boy, and I hope he loves it as much as I did - it's perfect for a younger child for Halloween!"
  • Dark Matter by Michelle Paver "Don't expect to have that big terrified moment - the fear sort of creeps up on you through the atmosphere of the writing."
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl "A classic book for children and adults". "My son is seven and found The Witches absolutely terrifying".
  • Point Horror series by R L Stine "I still shudder in horror at remembering this series (aimed at teens). I found it in a charity shop a few months ago AS AN ADULT, and thought would be a giggle to read again. Screamed and hid under the duvet again. The shame!"
  • The Fate of Jeremy Visick by David Wiseman "It's mysterious, dramatic and truly poignant at times and gave me serious nightmares about mine shafts and lost children."
  • Spider sandwiches by Clare Freedman and Sue Hendra "A favourite of my three year old. Delightfully disgusting!" "The subject matter and illustrations of cockroach curries, slug smoothies and the like really captured the children's imagination." 


Truly scary reads for adults

skeleton crew

edgar allen poe

roald dahl

loved one

little stranger

ghost stories

  • The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet by Stephen King "A really creepy short story, it's about a normal person going mad and imagining tiny creatures living in his typewriter... or is he? It really plays with the reader and leaves a very unsettled feeling."
  • Tales of Mystery and Madness by Edgar Allen Poe "I read these when I was about 12 and staying with my granny. Couldn't sleep for about a week. There's one about being buried alive <shudder>." 
  • Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories "A compilation of 14 spooky tales. After reading only half way through the book, I felt more than a little uncomfortable on my own in the dark. A sure sign that the stories made an impression and perfect for some Halloween fun!"
  • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh "One of Waugh's lesser known novels. A creepy love story set in a cemetary - hilarious and tragic and perfect for Halloween!"
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters "The best ghost story for adults I've read in years. Intelligently written, a real page-turner with some disturbing aspects that make you question the narrator." "Lots more going on beyond the ghost story, a fantastic read."
  • The Ash Tree or The Lost Hearts by M R James "I re-read these every Christmas, all you need is a panelled room and a crackling open fire to really get the atmosphere!"


last days

amityville horror

wuthering heights

woman in black



  • The Last Days by Adam Nevill "I've recently discovered this relatively new British horror author. The Last Days is the only horror novel I've ever read that actually made me sleep with the light on. His stuff is well written and worth checking out if you like scary."
  • The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson "A classic from the 80s. It's the mix of ghostly goings on and children tapping into the supernatural that gets me. Still gives me the chills."
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte "I first read this when I was about 12. I was shit scared that Cathy was trying to get into MY window whenever a tree branch was blown against the glass."
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill "Truly terrifying. I could only listen to the audiobook during the day because the actual text would give me nightmares!"
  • The Shining by Stephen King "This really got to me, I read it in one sitting, when I was alone in an unfamiliar house. I was so drawn in to it that when I finished it took me a while to come back to reality, work out where I was. Very very unnerving!"
  • The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe "The Raven is creepy in a proper Halloweeny way! Madness, ghosts, a talking raven, its all there."




pet cemetary


the birds


  • Dracula by Bram Stoker "A fantastic book, I can re-read it time after time and still get the thrills everytime. The diary of the ships captain is especially chilling."
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelly "I have to say this wins every time for me as one of the best horror books, purely for its chilling description and portrayal of the monster."
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King "One of the scariest books I've ever read. I only read it once when I was a teenager and have never had the courage to read it again." "Not too scary but gripping enough to keep you absorbed for hours."
  • Fluke by James Herbert "To this day a brilliant mind-bender of a book. It is the story of a man, and a dog - or is the man the dog? Read it to find out. Super spooky for Halloween."
  • The Birds by Daphne du Maurier "One of the most unsettling stories I've ever read. Forget the Hitchcock interpretation, this is proper back-to-basics stuff."
  • Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk "In it there's a short story called 'Guts' - a quick, stomach-churning awfulness! It's legendary (and for good reason) - apparently whenever he does a reading, at least one audience member faints!" 

Like this? Try these:


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Last updated: almost 2 years ago