It's spooky season darlings, and there is nothing better than curling up with a hot beverage and a book that leaves you feeling haunted. Here are thirteen recommendations to keep you up at night.
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1. Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
A gothic-infused debut of literary suspense, set within a secluded, elite university and following a dangerously curious, rebellious undergraduate who uncovers a shocking secret about an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school's promise of prestige.
Trust us, you belong here.
Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world's best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year's incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school's enigmatic director, Viktoria, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she's ever had. But the House's strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.
Combining the haunting sophistication and dusky, atmospheric style of Sarah Waters with the unsettling isolation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, Catherine House is a devious, deliciously steamy, and suspenseful page-turner with shocking twists and sharp edges that is sure to leave readers breathless. Buy it.
2. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.
When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she'd be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she'd get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.
Instead, she got Em.
Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre's body with drugs or withholding critical information to "ensure the smooth operation" of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre's falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too...
As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies–missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em's motivations–drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive–she must confront the ghosts in her own head.
But how come she can't shake the feeling she's being followed? Buy it.
3. Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant, author of the renowned Newsflesh series, returns with a novel that takes us to a new world of ancient mysteries and mythological dangers come to life.
The ocean is home to many myths, But some are deadly... Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy. Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they're not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life's work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price. Buy it.
4. Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a feverishly twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother's hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Ever since Margot was born, it's been just her and her mother, struggling to get along. But that's not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she may have just found the answer: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Only, when Margot gets there, it's not what she bargained for.
As soon as they see her face, everyone in town knows who Margot belongs to. It's unmistakable--she's a Nielsen. And when a mysterious girl who could be Margot's twin is pulled from a fire, Margot realizes that her mother left Phalene for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what's still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there's poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she's there, she might never escape. Buy it.
5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten--a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife--the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca. Buy It.
6. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's New York Times-bestselling paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as groundbreaking.
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave. Buy it.
7. Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht
Debut author Jennifer Giesbrecht paints a darkly compelling fantasy of revenge in The Monster of Elendhaven, a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who loves both.
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster's heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it. Buy it.
8. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction. Buy it.
9. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
When Mouse's dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?
Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there's more--Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather's journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants...until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.
Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors--because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they're looking for you. And if she doesn't face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.
From Hugo Award-winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is a gripping, terrifying tale bound to keep you up all night--from both fear and anticipation of what happens next. Buy it.
10. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets...From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes "a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror" (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noem Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find--her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noem knows little about the region.
Noem is also an unlikely rescuer: She's a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noem ; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noem, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noem digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noem, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. Buy it.
11. The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Sky in the Deep in this bewitching, historical horror novel, perfect for fans of Holly Black and V.E. Schwab. Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead. The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good? Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply-buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairytale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.
12. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
From the New York Times bestselling author of Furyborn comes a breathtaking and spine-tingling novel about three teenage girls who face off against an insidious monster that preys upon young women.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she's sure she'll never find.
Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she's broken--or maybe everyone else is.
Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight...until now. Buy it.
13. The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Some doors are locked for a reason.
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.
A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, The Silent Companions is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the companions themselves. Buy it.
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