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5 Horror books you should read this Halloween


26th Oct 2022 Book Reviews

5 Horror books you should read this Halloween

Looking for the best Halloween reads around? Don't miss these horror books which range from eerie and suspenseful to downright disturbing

Halloween is just around the corner, and you might have a long list of horror films that you’re planning to get through. 

But it’s also a great time to get stuck into a creepy book, especially if you’ve cancelled some of your streaming subscriptions to save money. These are some underrated picks that might just spook you out.

A blanket content warning: all of these books contain upsetting themes.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Four childhood friends go elk hunting on a Blackfeet reservation in Montana, USA. They’re young, carefree and mainly in it for a good time, but they make a fatal mistake, breaking an important cultural rule. Years later, they and their families are haunted by this mistake.

The Only Good Indians is a slow-burn horror that builds tension and takes you in unexpected directions. At face value, it’s a ghost story (albeit one about a ghost animal rather than your typical dead relative). But it’s also about coexisting with nature and honouring your culture, which at times go hand in hand.

"If you like 'elevated horror' then you might like this rumination on nature, cultural identity and tradition"

Stephen Graham Jones is Blackfeet Native American himself, and he weaves a specific cultural context into the story that makes it a really unique read, even if you find stories of ghostly revenge a little overdone. 

If you like “elevated horror” where all the scares are really a metaphor for something else (think Get Out, The Babadook and Hereditary) then you might like this rumination on nature, cultural identity and tradition. 

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Her Body and Other Parties by Stephen Graham Jones

This collection of short stories blends magical realism, body horror and feminist commentary, resulting in a series of dark fairytales that are perfect for the Halloween season. 

Machado’s stories tackle everything from abusive relationships to society’s sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, weaving these heavy themes into evocative and eerie tales.

She experiments with different styles of storytelling to craft stories that are deeply unsettling. A particular standout is “The Husband Stitch”, a story inspired by folklore tales and urban legends, in which the narrator wears a mysterious green ribbon around her neck and must fend off her husband’s increasingly aggressive attempts to untie it.

A fever dream collection, it’s perfect to dip in and out of on dark winter nights.

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Not for the faint of heart, Bazterrica’s Tender is the Flesh is a dystopian vision of a future in which a mysterious virus has made animal meal inedible, leading to the legalisation of cannibalism. If you’re squeamish, think twice about picking this one up: Bazterrica does not hold back on the detail in her depiction of the factory farming of humans. 

Set in Argentina, where Bazterrica is from, and translated into English in 2020, the story follows Marcos, a human meat supplier. He is grappling with the loss of his child and the breakdown of his marriage…and his distaste for his pretty gruesome job.

"Be prepared to rethink your relationship to meat!"

Bazterrica’s writing style is flat and direct. The story reads more like a case study than any kind of elevated metaphor for social injustice, which makes its grisly detail all the more disturbing. It’s graphic, unsettling and builds up to a pretty shocking conclusion. Be prepared to rethink your relationship to meat!

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

Ottessa Moshfegh’s newest book, Lapvona, was hotly anticipated, especially on BookTok. Whether it lived up to the expectation is a matter of opinion, but it’s certainly a weird book.

Set in a medieval fiefdom and full of themes of witchcraft, religious fanaticism and general depravity, it’s full of the kind of unsettling weirdness you might be craving at Halloween. At the centre of the story is 13-year-old Marek, who lives with his cruel father until he commits a shocking crime that changes the course of his life. 

The book is divided into seasons, and while it starts a little slow, Moshfegh gets into her stride once she reaches summer, creating a suffocating atmosphere that has you wondering what exactly is going on. 

Euphoria by Heinz Helle

Euphoria by Heinz Helle

Atmospheric and depressing, Euphoria makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like a fun beach read. 

Five men in their thirties on a remote getaway in the mountains of Austria leave their wooden cabin one day to find the world completely unrecognisable. They are unsure what exactly has happened, but it has left the world desolate, bleak and empty. 

"Euphoria makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like a fun beach read"

Heinz Helle offers a brutal vision of apocalypse, as these seemingly normal men deteriorate in the face of unknown catastrophe. Everything that defined them before becomes completely meaningless and they are stripped bare, proving themselves capable of horrific acts. 

It’s a haunting story that lingers long after you finish it, as you wonder what you yourself might be capable of in such dire circumstances. 

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