It’s officially the month to be spooky, and you can only watch so many classic horror reruns each year, so why not try a fresh, new story? From spine-tingling tales for the hard-to-scare to books with just a touch of terror, we’ve got the Halloween read for you.
Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts
By Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose
The guts of the tale: Before his death in June 2018, beloved bad-boy chef and comic lover Anthony Bourdain had wrapped up work on this comic anthology of tales of haunted chefs and bedeviled diners with his Get Jiro! collaborator and friend, Joel Rose. Filled with gruesome art from some of the comic world’s top horror artists and inspired by Japanese folklore, the collection is centered on a group of chefs who take turns telling increasingly horrifying tales of spirits like Hidarugami, the ravenous souls of those who starved to death, or Jikininki, ghouls who feast on the dead.
Bone-chilling quote: “There’s just something about horseflesh. I crave it.”
For fans of: The Tales from the Crypt and Haunt of Fear comic series or anyone interested in the legacy of Bourdain, whom Rose lovingly calls “the hungriest ghost of them all” in a dedication penned after the chef’s death.
Costume inspiration: Check out the glossary filled with legendary Japanese spirits like Yuki-Onna, a beautiful spirit with a deadly kiss.
By Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker
The guts of the tale: Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and established horror author J.D. Barker (The Fourth Monkey) have teamed up to pen this prequel of sorts to Dracula, the 1897 vampire novel that kicked off the still-fervent fascination with the Count. In keeping with the classic’s epistolary style, Dracul is written as journal entries and features Bram himself as the protagonist. This delightfully gothic tale is packed with gore and atmosphere.
Bone-chilling quote: “He smiled at me and tapped on the glass again with his fingernails. His nails were long and yellow, hideously so. Oh, and his teeth! . . . His lips were curled back like those of a snarling dog, and his teeth were like fangs. He licked at his lips and said my name. He said it so quietly, as if mouthing it, yet I heard him perfectly, as if he were right next to me.”
Costume inspiration: This one’s obvious: Grab a cape and some plastic fangs!
The Witch of Willow Hall
By Hester Fox
The guts of the tale: Equal parts romantic and supernaturally chilling, Hester Fox’s sweeping tale is set in 1821 New England, two centuries after the infamous Salem witch trials. But it looks like the witches were real after all, and young Lydia Montrose has the lineage and burgeoning power to prove it. A creepy estate, juicy scandal, family secrets, ghosts and a handsome yet mysterious suitor make this a satisfying and quietly foreboding tale that never gets too dark.
Bone-chilling quote: “It’s a slow moan, a keening wail. The sound is so wretched that it’s the culmination of every lost soul and groan of cold wind that has ever swept the earth.”
Costume inspiration: A witch from the era of your choosing.
Llewellyn’s Little Book of Halloween
By Mickie Mueller
The guts of the tale: This little book is a history of Halloween, a party-planning inspiration and a book of charms all rolled into one. Mickie Mueller provides insight into Halloween’s origins, along with simple spells (sprinkle thyme in your shoes for courage), recipes and decor ideas that are perfect for your own gathering of spirits.
Bone-chilling quote: “Bats have been a longtime symbol of Halloween, and it’s not because they’re scary; I’ve met a few, and they’re really not.” (Which sounds exactly like something a bat disguised as a human would say!)
For fans of: All things Halloween!
Costume inspiration: Something classic, like a sheet-clad ghost.
By Andrew Michael Hurley
The guts of the tale: John thought he had escaped the superstitious ways of the wild English countryside. Yet when his grandfather dies, he is pulled back into his family’s tiny farming community, where strange things have been occurring. Has the devil slipped in among the flocks of sheep? Or has the devil always been among them? This atmospheric, eerie novel is perfect for a rainy night in.
Bone-chilling quote: “Days were late to lighten and quick to end and people began to die. The older folk first, coughing up their lungs in shreds like tomato skins, and then the children, burning with fever.”
Costume inspiration: A wolf in sheep’s clothing.