6 Books to Haunt You this Spooky Season

(Last Updated On: September 21, 2019)

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, ghouls and pals! 🕷️🕸️👻  I know my reading habits have trended heavily towards science fiction and fantasy this year,  but truth be told I am a horror lover at heart. 🔪🩸

As the season changes and the temperatures finally cool down, I find myself gravitating toward spooky and atmospheric reads. What better way to celebrate Friday the Thirteenth than with a list of spooky reads?

6 Books to Haunt You this Spooky Season

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

 Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

This debut novel is a perfect “transition to fall” read, and one that has stuck with me since I read it six weeks ago. This Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling is heartbreakingly beautiful, magical, atmospheric, and haunting.

🩰 Read my spoiler-free ARC review of House of Salt and Sorrows

The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz

The Siren and the Specter coverWhen David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different. Built by a 1700s land baron to contain the madness and depravity of his eldest son, the house is plagued by shadows of the past and the lingering taint of bloodshed. David is haunted, as well. For twenty-two years ago, he turned away the woman he loved, and she took her life in sorrow. And David suspects she’s followed him to the Alexander House.

Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

It takes a lot to scare me. I grew up sneak-watching Unsolved Mysteries and slasher flicks (sorry, dad). This book has a scene which a year later still haunts me. 15/10 recommend for spooky reading desires.

👻 Read my spoiler-free ARC review of The Siren and The Specter

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

20181022_175431Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

Captivatingly written and atmospheric, The Wicked Deep will pull you in with its lyrical prose. This is a perfect, witchy Halloween read.

🧹 Read my spoiler-free review of The Wicked Deep

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for Vanishing coverIn the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

This is my next ARC read, but I read an early excerpt of this before receiving the full review copy and was pleasantly surprised by the mixed format to go with the found footage vibe.

🎥 Read my spoiler-free ARC review of Rules for Vanishing

Contagion (Contagion #1) by Erin Bowman

Contagion coverIt got in us

After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

Most are dead.

But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.

Don’t set foot here again.

As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.

Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

This book blew me away last year and topped my favorite reads for 2018. Science fiction and horror combined makes for such a compelling and horrific read.

🧟 Read my spoiler-free ARC review of Contagion

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

The Waking Forest coverThe waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository

I am currently reading this one, and this is one of the most atmospheric books I have read in awhile. Wees’ writing is beautiful and descriptive, and I almost feel like I am in a fever dream while reading it (much like when I read Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton – which I also recommend!).

🌲 Read my spoiler-free review for The Waking Forest and my interview with Alyssa!

What do you think of my spooky recommendations? Have you read any of these? Do you have your own recommendations for this Spooky Season to share?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. Amber

    September 13, 2019 at 5:37 AM

    Rules for Vanishing kind of sneaked up on me. I’m sooo excited for it now that I know it’s a found footage type deal. And it’s good to see you raving about Contagion again XD

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:40 PM

      I am picking up Rules for Vanishing today and am so excited to read it in full! The excerpt I read on Bookish First was so damn cool. And I will never stop raving about Contagion, lol!

  2. Tammy

    September 13, 2019 at 6:35 AM

    I love these recs, Kal! I’m very interested in Rules for Vanishing😊

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:41 PM

      Me too, I am picking it up today and am so excited to dive in!

  3. Paul's Picks

    September 13, 2019 at 7:17 AM

    Yes! It’s almost time to get my kids’ Halloween books out!

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:41 PM


  4. Meaghan @ Words Gremlin

    September 13, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    Kal, these recs are just *chef’s kiss*!!! Rules for Vanishing looks really good, too. Bummed I wasn’t able to get an ARC, but hoping I can buy it once it’s out.

    And if you’re looking for more spooky recs, lower YA spooky is covered by the Lockwood and Co series by Jonathan Stroud, and adult is covered by The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling’s!

    1. Meaghan @ Words Gremlin

      September 13, 2019 at 7:10 PM

      *Starling, bc autocorrect is cruel to me lol

    2. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:44 PM

      At least Rules for Vanishing comes out next week, so the wait is almost over!!!

      Thanks for the additional recs, I have The Luminous Dead but haven’t managed to read it yet… it may creep onto my October TBR!

  5. Macey @ Brine and Books

    September 13, 2019 at 10:06 PM

    Ooooh lyrical prose!! I think I’d like The Wicked Deep the best simply by that description. I rarely get into thrillers or crime-reads, so maybe I ought to branch out this spoopy szn hehe

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:45 PM

      Yesss definitely try something new! The Wicked Deep wasn’t the book I was expecting, but I was totally enthralled with it while reading it and the writing is magical.

  6. TheCaffeinatedReader

    September 14, 2019 at 6:42 AM

    Definitely had most of these on my tbr due to you already, but, I can’t stop gushing about House of Salt and Sorrows [also House of Rage and Sorrow…is this a coincidence with their titles being so similar lolol] Buuuut I need to now investigate The Siren and the Specter

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:46 PM

      *cackles into the sunset*

      LISTEN HALEY. I don’t scare easily. But the freaking Long Room Scene in that book haunts me – I had to read the book with the lights on because all noises were creeping me out.

  7. waytoofantasy

    September 14, 2019 at 12:05 PM

    I think I’m definitely going to aim for reading House of Salt and Sorrows in October. It feels like one to read for the halloween month for sure, lol. Great list!

    1. Kal

      September 16, 2019 at 12:49 PM

      I totally stand by that decision! To be honest, I want to re-read it in October because I just loved the book so much!

  8. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    September 15, 2019 at 9:39 PM

    Ooh, great list, Kaleena! I’m hoping to read House of Salt and Sorrow and the Wicked Deep soon! I had an eARC of the Waking Forest, and try as I might, I couldn’t get into it when I picked it up back in February. I tried to read several times, and could never get past the first 20% of the novel. Does it pick up from there? I did enjoy the atmosphere of the novel, but I wasn’t very interested in the characters.

    1. Kal

      September 17, 2019 at 12:41 PM

      Thanks so much Kelly! I really think House of Salt and Sorrows & The Wicked Deep will be perfect reads for this time of the year! And… I had a similar issue with The Waking Forest back in March when I originally tried to read my ARC, actually. I never really got invested in the characters, but the story really came together for me around the 50% mark and I wound up enjoying it quite a bit! Plus, it helped that I was in the mood for an atmospheric read!

  9. Para

    September 16, 2019 at 5:14 AM

    I love creepy forests (Uprooted, anyone?), so I will definitely look into The Waking Forest. And House of Salt and Sorrows and The Wicked Deep sound great too…

    1. Kal

      September 17, 2019 at 12:45 PM

      I STILL need to read Uprooted, I have heard such great things! I own a copy on my Kindle and I really should try to read it this spooky season! Happy reading, Para!

  10. jamsu

    September 16, 2019 at 5:47 AM

    I only know the Wicked Deep but I enjoyed reading that one with you even if it wasn’t how I expected it to be.

    1. Kal

      September 17, 2019 at 12:46 PM

      It was such a fun buddy read!!!

      1. jamsu

        September 19, 2019 at 8:43 AM

        It was even though I was disappointed with the lack of magic.

  11. northernplunder

    September 16, 2019 at 3:19 PM

    a great selection Kal! i personally havent read any of these but i did read a snippet of the wicked deep which im itnerested in

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      Wicked Deep was really beautiful and atmospheric, it just lacked witchy things I was hoping for

  12. Catherine

    September 17, 2019 at 4:28 AM

    I’ve seen a lot about House of Salt and Sorrows, but this post was what finally convinced me to add it to my TBR!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      Oh goodness, I am so honored! I hope you love that book as much as I do when you read it!

  13. Kristina

    September 17, 2019 at 4:51 PM

    Alright- i’m down to try horror again! If you liked them, I hope I can enjoy them too!

    I’ve added The Siren & The Specter, The Wicked Deep and Rules for Vanishing — I like how it’s compared to the Blair Witch project! the main thing I didn’t liked in the movies was the filming through someone’s camera xd not really the story it itself, so let’s see what it looks like!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 10:51 AM

      Oh man, what pressure! I hope you like these recommendations, Kristina – I really loved these books! I recently plowed through Rules for Vanishing and you won’t hear me stop screaming about it anytime soon, lol.

  14. Molly's Book Nook

    September 18, 2019 at 12:28 PM

    Oh I’m glad Contagion is on your list! I have that and STILL need to read it!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 10:55 AM

      It’s such a good, genre-bending read! I don’t think I will stop screaming about it for a long while haha. I hope you can get to it soon, Molly!

  15. fictionnochaser

    September 20, 2019 at 5:26 AM

    I’m so bad at horror, I know. I adored The Wicked Deep and can’t wait to read House of Salt and Sorrows. Great recommendations!

    1. Kal

      September 20, 2019 at 12:17 PM

      Horror is a wide genre that means different things, so don’t worry about being “bad at” it! I hope you enjoy House of Salt and Sorrows!

  16. Susan

    September 21, 2019 at 1:37 PM

    Ah! You already know how I feel about House lol. On Oct 1 there is a new witch anthology called Hex coming out!

    1. Kal

      October 3, 2019 at 4:44 PM

      HOUSE IS SO GOOD AND I WON’T STOP SCREAMING AS SUCH lol! I saw that anthology, looks cool but I don’t really like anthologies so I am passing on it. I hope it lives up to your expectations, Susan!

      1. Susan

        October 3, 2019 at 7:52 PM

        You should keep screaming. When will I ever stop screaming about SOC or Arc of a Sycthe and now it seems, There Will Come a Darkness? Never. Scream yourself raw!

  17. Marie

    September 22, 2019 at 9:08 AM

    Ah what a lovely selection of books, Kal! I only read The Wicked Deep, but I have to agree it’s the perfect spooky, atmospherical read. I have both House of Salt and The Waking Forest on my TBR, so curious to read them both! 🙂

    1. Kal

      October 3, 2019 at 4:57 PM

      Thank you so much, Marie! The Wicked Deep honestly is such a perfect read, and I hope you enjoy House of Salt and Sorrows and The Waking Forest as much as I do!

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