We’ve compiled a list of our favourite hair-raising novels, perfect for a grown-up homage to the spookiest time of year. No costume required.
The Shining by Stephen King
We couldn’t possibly compose a list of nerve-wracking novels without a nod to the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Whilst it was tough to choose just one of his 54 titles, The Shining is a delicious combination of King’s staggering ability to both terrify and enchant his reader, conjuring the most profound ways to scare us.
The Shining follows a somewhat dysfunctional family and their move to the empty Overlook Hotel; five-year-old Danny is a 'shiner', astute to the blood-curdling psychic voltage rife within the building. American wilderness, psychotic decline, the haunting of both the hotel and the mind—The Shining is a quintessential psych-horror.
American Pyscho by Brett Easton Ellis
In a similar vein to The Shining, Brett Easton Ellis’s masterpiece American Psycho delves into the mind to find our truest terrors.
The book follows Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street honcho and out-and-out psychopath. Somehow, the sharp-dressing monster manages to become both our villain and hero, in a fashion that only a writer with Easton Ellis's brilliance could execute. It's the American Dream gone very bloody.
The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
Now for something a little more recent - soon to be made into a major film starring Fifty Shades hunk Jamie Dornan.
Trauma is perhaps the true horror in Jensen's tale; the plot follows nine-year-old Louis Drax, a difficult child who falls off a cliff into a ravine and somehow survives.
His family in tatters, we gradually come to know the real, horrendous consequences of Louis’s fate.
The House on Cold Hill by Peter James
It’s complex, uncanny and consistently chill-inducing, and yes—it’s about a haunted house. Multi-million copy bestselling author Peter James’s foray into horror sticks to classic tropes of the genre, but with his added undeniable penchant for nail-biting tension.
A family’s move to a dilapidated Georgian mansion in the countryside, as you can imagine, goes horribly wrong. This is one you won’t regret picking up, for its sheer good old-fashioned scares.
X by Sue Grafton
Sue Grafton is one ambitious writer. Producing a novel for each letter of the alphabet is no mean feat, yet even by letter ‘X’ her captivating way with words is still in full force.
NPR’s Maureen Corrigan said X “made [her] wish there were more than 26 letters” and it’s a sentiment we share. Perhaps more of a ‘thriller’ than a ‘chiller’, X follows a conniving serial killer somehow able to eliminate any traces of his murders. It’s arguably Grafton’s darkest yet.
The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
The Moth Catcher is the stunning seventh instalment of Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanthorpe series, now an ITV detective drama starring Brenda Blethyn.
Somehow different from the six before it, the novel is claustrophobic and toys deeply with characters’ psyches.
A young ecologist is found dead in a valley near a country mansion he was housesitting. A second man is found dead, and the only link to the two seems to be the men’s fascination with moths. It's as eerie as it sounds.
As Good As Dead by Elizabeth Evans
Sometimes scares are much more sinister than just ghosts and ghouls. This subtle yet deeply unsettling novel follows Charlotte, a writer who is confronted by a friend she betrayed at university.
Esme arrives unexpectedly at Charlotte's front door, and eerily makes no mention of their dispute. Soon enough, however, Charlotte is irreversibly snared in a catastrophic series of lies, manipulation and secrecy.