The wonderful thing about the Halloween season is that there are so many different ways to get your thrills in. There are haunted houses galore, costume parties popping up every night, and a plethora of scary movies to choose from your preferred streaming service. There’s nothing more thrilling, though, than crawling under your covers with nothing but a flashlight and a prayer to accompany you through a horror story.
Though Halloween was on a Thursday this year, we prefer to keep our spooky spirit rolling right into the weekend. If, like us, you haven’t gotten your fill of haunts just yet, here are a few books to grab that are sure to keep you up all night (spoilers, naturally, abound):
At the risk of sounding like a Gillian Flynn fan club (see last week’s post), we’d like to submit Dark Places to the pool of scary stories. Right after resident Sales and Production gal Sam bought it, she picked up a People Magazine that included a warning in its review: don’t read this book after dark. Naturally, she took it right home for her bedtime reads and promptly put it back down until daybreak after reading the nursery rhyme at the start. With a sprawling family farm and the glum Missouri highways as the setting, character choices including a troubled teenage brother and a hired hitman, and a bit of Satanic Panic for good measure, Dark Places is a pacey thriller with unexpected twists that keep the chills coming all night long (or day, if you’re like Sam).
The Colony dives into the ominous world of New Hope Island, the home of a 100-year-old mystery over the disappearance of all 150 people who lived there. How could an entire group of people vanish into thin air, leaving no trace behind? Journalist Alexander McIntyre decides he needs to find out for himself, and what follows is an unsettling adventure that is somehow both supernatural and entirely convincing. After reading The Colony, you’ll be left thinking that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
This one’s terrifying because it’s true. Based on years of research, and a decent amount of pure obsession, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the account of the Golden State Killer’s decade-long reign of terror over California. Sparing little to no detail, the book dives into the crimes of this horrific killer, from stalking to raping and, eventually, murdering. Quite frankly, there’s only one light at the end of this tunnel: after publishing the book in February 2018, the Golden State Killer was caught and arrested in April of that year, and the detectives on the case attribute some of its momentum to McNamara’s work. After reading this one (or, admittedly, listening to the audiobook while moving house), I was double checking the locks on my doors and windows — and actually couldn’t have it on once night fell.
If you’re looking for a bit of psychological horror that you can read in one sitting, this one’s your gal. The Yellow Wallpaper, a short story written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and based on her own experience, is a collection of journal entries from the perspective of a woman prescribed a little post-partum bed rest by her husband. As she spends her days wiling away in a singular room, she begins to believe she can see a figure moving behind the prominent yellow wallpaper. Not only does it have a curiously creepy denouement, but Gilman has a way of injecting the paranoia of her character straight in to your veins, so that by the end, you may feel a bit mad yourself.
Like everyone, I feel a lot of things when I read: happiness, sadness, hopelessness. But very rarely do I feel the genuine anger that the horror of Gerald’s Game spawned in me. Readers can expect about the same from every Stephen King novel: horrible villains (occasionally in monster form), plots that you feel slightly uncomfortable describing to your mother, a residual nightmare or two. But Gerald’s Game has stuck with me more than many other stories have. Before this book, I lived cheerily in a world where the term ‘degloving’ was unknown to me. I thought Space Cowboy was a quirky Halloween costume or the name of a song by Jamiroquai or Kacey Musgraves. Being ‘made of moonlight’ was an ethereal compliment to throw at my sparkliest of friends. This book brought horror into my life that I never asked for (though, I suppose I did by picking it up in the first place), and the final courtroom scene is one that literally made me gasp aloud and slam the book shut.
As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with the scary stories that have kept you up at night!