Okay, okay, we get the picture. Vampires and zombies… they’re pretty scary. What with their blood sucking and flesh feasting, glamoring and lurching, death defying and multiplying it’s really no wonder they’ve cornered the market in creepy. But if variety is truly the spice of the afterlife, at this point you’re likely dying for something new on your Halloween reading list. So to help you diversify your diet of literary horror, we’re featuring all those terrifying ghosts and ghouls left lurking in the shadows while the vampires and zombies hog the limelight. We’ve got witches, and we’ve got ghosts. We’ve got killer clowns, shape-shifting crows, and even… could it be… Satan! So lock your doors, turn on the lights, and try to be brave. These bloodcurdling books are chomping for a chance to scare you sideways:
The Black Carousel by Charles L. Grant
The master of “quiet horror” returns to Oxrun Station where the townsfolk have fallen under the mysterious curse of the Pilgrim’s Travelers carnival. Filled with hellish sideshows, hypnotic carnies, and the eponymous evil merry-go-round, this quartet of linked tales is mesmerizing and macabre.
A Book of Horrors edited by Stephen Jones
This 14-story collection of old-fashioned horror includes both genre heavyweights and talented newcomers such as Stephen King, Lisa Tuttle, and Reggie Oliver. With tales of arsonist hitchhikers, deadly game shows, and exorcism, these spine-tinglers are like garlic for vampire romance.
A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
This spooky Southern Gothic from the Bram Stoker Award-winning Piccirilli follows the twisted souls of swampy Kingdom Come county including a coven of granny witches, conjoined triplet oracles, and a black nudist preacher. A lyrical tale of evil perfect for Flannery O’Connor fans.
The Descent by Jeff Long
If Jesus Christ really existed, was Satan a real man as well? In this twisting horror adventure, tour guide Ike Crockett stumbles upon an actual gateway to Hell in a Tibetan mountain cave. A mix of Dante and Stephen King, this ambitious book’s living, breathing devils will haunt you well past Halloween.
A Gathering of Crows by Brian Keene
The king of the zombie novel changes ghoulish gears as five mysterious figures descend on the quiet town of Brinkley Springs. Shape-shifting from crows to humans, the evil beings are centuries old, hungry, and bent on bloody destruction. Will Brinkley Springs survive?
The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
Horror legend Campbell crafts this creepy surrealist fable about a disgraced film critic whose life falls apart while researching an obscure silent movie star. As he gets closer to the reclusive comedian, a disturbing grinning clown and disembodied laughter begin to terrorize him wherever he goes.
Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist
From the author of the bestselling Let the Right One In comes this eerie novel about an unspeakable evil from the sea. When a young girl vanishes from a snowy Swedish island, her distraught parents soon learn the islanders are making human sacrifices to a monster from the deep. Yikes.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
This blood-chilling debut from horror’s new superstar is a modern classic. When aging death-metal god Judas Coyne buys a ghost on the Internet, he gets more than a macabre collector’s item. Merciless and violent, the hypnotist ghost wants revenge for a suicide Coyne may have caused.
Monster: A Novel of Frankenstein by Dave Zeltserman
This grotesque new novel retells Mary Shelley’s horror classic from the monster’s perspective. Casting Dr. Frankenstein as a perverse maniac partnered with the Marquis de Sade in a sadistic plot to kidnap 200 girls, this critically-acclaimed creepfest will have you rooting for the monster.
Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti
This chilling graphic novel skillfully adapts four Lovecraftian tales by the “philosophical horror” master. Filled with covens of worm-like humanoids, animated department store mannequins, and a haunted insane asylum, these nightmarish shorts are original and terrifying.
Russell J. (Readers’ Services)