9 Books You MUST Read This Spooky Season

(Last Updated On: October 13, 2020)

It’s finally October, which means I’m no longer a weirdo for having decorated my apartment for Halloween! 🙌🙌🙌 Sure, it might be freaking 100° F (38° C) and my state is on fire so it doesn’t feel like autumn, but I’m going to drink my pumpkin ale and lattes and sweat in scarves anyways.

2020 Spooky Reads recommendations
A stack of 8 books, spine faced away from camera.

To celebrate the beginning of Spooky Season, it’s time to share a list of 8 books to read to get you in the mood! Can you guess what I have on my list this year?

9 Books to Read this Spooky Season

This year’s list has a combination of middle grade, young adult, and adult books that I found to be perfect and ~atmospheric~ autumn reads.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Middle Grade, Horror

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cover for Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkThe iconic anthology series of horror tales that’s soon to be a highly anticipated feature film! 

Stephen Gammell’s artwork from the original Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark appears in all its spooky glory in this paper-over-board edition. Read if you dare!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a timeless collection of chillingly scary tales and legends, in which folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time.

And don’t miss More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3!

Originally published in 1981 before I was born, I accredit my love of horror in large part to this book! I vividly remember checking it out from the library in elementary school and hiding it from my parents (they wouldn’t let me watch Unsolved Mysteries, so I assumed this would also be banned). It’s been well over twenty years, and the spider-eggs-in-my-cheek story and illustration still haunt me. Every time my best friend and I go camping, we read these to each other in the tent.

Semi-related, but the 2019 “adaptation” film was actually surprisingly good! I loved how the writers approached the material – urban legends from a book – and let me tell you… there was a part that legit spooked us.


Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+, Debut Author

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Cover for Cemetery Boys by Aiden ThomasA trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Words can’t express how much I adored this book. Aiden Thomas’ debut YA urban fantasy is set during Día de Muertos and is the perfect read for Spooky Season!


Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
Young Adult, Horror, Mystery

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cover for Rules for VanishingIn 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.

It’s been over a year since I read this one and I still think about it! This is perfect for fans of mixed media storytelling and found footage horror with a side of urban legends and ghosts!


The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Young Adult, Horror, Urban Fantasy

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owlcrate cover for The Bone HousesSeventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

The Bone Houses is easily one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read. Atmospheric and unique, this book features adorable sibling relationships, a loyal goat who is the true MVP, and spooks galore.


Contagion (Contagion #1) by Erin Bowman
Young Adult, Horror, Science Fiction

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cover for ContagionIt 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.

Of course one of my favorite books would make this list! This is a science fiction/horror crossover that is creepy as hell, atmospheric, claustrophobic, with some virus for good measure.

Note: this is an intricately plotted duology; the second book leans more heavily into the science fiction of the story, but I think this could be read as a standalone if that isn’t your jam.


I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick
Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery

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I Killed Zoe Spanos coverThis gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

If you’ve ever wondered what Rebecca crossed with a contemporary thriller and true crime podcast elements would be like… you need to pick up I Killed Zoe Spanos! If you’re itching for a good thriller for this season, I highly recommend this to fans of twisty mysteries that keep you guessing!


Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Adult, Horror, Gothic Horror

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Mexican Gothic coverAn isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

This book still haunts my dreams in the best of ways.  Mexican Gothic is a stellar addition to the gothic horror genre… CREEPY house, CREEPY people, & excellently plotted Gothic thriller set in 1950s Mexico that you won’t be able to put down! Please check my review for the content warnings, as it’s a lot.

NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with the gothic horror genre, the pacing may feel a bit slow. The tension builds slowly to a truly horrific ending; patience is rewarded.


The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz
Adult, Horror

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cover for Siren and the SpecterWhen 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.

I read this back in 2018 and honestly? The Red Room still haunts me. This was truly the first book to creep me the heck out in AGES and it holds such a special place in my heart for that!

That’s it for this year’s Spooky Season recommendation list! If you’re looking for more recommendations, check out my other lists below!

Top 5 Books About Witches

Reader Voracious patrons get exclusive access to reading vlogs, guides, polls, & more by supporting me on Patreon!

What are your reading plans for this Spooky Season? What books would you recommend?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!



  1. Sophie

    October 1, 2020 at 12:47 AM

    I love that post! And you are right about Mexican Gothic! I would add The Sun Down Motel, Sawkill Girls

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:20 PM

      Thank you, Sophie! I have Sawkill Girls on my TBR… maybe I will get around to reading it this month!!! And I am going to have to check out The Sun Down Motel, thanks for the rec.

  2. Ursa

    October 1, 2020 at 3:05 AM

    Cemetery Boys and I Killed Zoe Spanos seem soooo good! It’s been a while I haven’t read any spooky/fall vibes books, Octobre is the perfect moment to get back at it

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:21 PM

      I enjoyed both of them so much, and hope your October is filled with spooky fall reads!

  3. Tasya @ The Literary Huntress

    October 1, 2020 at 3:30 AM

    Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark is an unexpected favorite for me, it’s so fun to read like you’re listening to campfire stories! I also love Rules for Vanishing and Cemetery Boys but for different reasons: Rules for Vanishing was really creepy, I think it’s the creepiest book to date while Cemetery Boys was just wholesome. Great recommendations!

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:23 PM

      Ahhh, I’m glad you also enjoy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – I have such a soft spot in my decayed heart for it. Rules for Vanishing was indeed CREEPY AS HECK and I loved that… Cemetery Boys made my heart whole again and I am so thankful.

  4. Jenny @ Reading the End

    October 1, 2020 at 4:49 AM

    WHAT an excellent list! Rules for Vanishing was so scary — I too still think about it! — and Mexican Gothic creeped me all the way out with its horrifying mushrooms. Cemetery Boys is definitely one that I want to check out, although it all hinges on how checked out it is at my library (I suspect: very) whether I actually get to read it before Halloween. 😛

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:25 PM

      THE FUCKIN MUSHROOMS! I will forever be haunted by them hahaha. I hope you are able to get your hands on Cemetery Boys sooner rather than later, it is such a wholesome read.

  5. erin @ Reading On A Star

    October 1, 2020 at 8:29 AM

    Cemetery Boys is on my list!! Hopefully I can get to it this fall!

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:26 PM

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, Erin!

  6. Evelyn

    October 1, 2020 at 9:06 AM

    Mexican Gothic is so good! I really want to check out Rules for Vanishing!


    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:26 PM

      I loved Mexican Gothic SO MUCH. And I hope you get spooked by Rules for Vanishing soon, Evelyn!

  7. Chukwuka Chinelo

    October 1, 2020 at 9:58 AM

    I want to read who killed Zoe and Mexican gothic . For halloween i am going to read Lost Gods by Brom it looks scary af, i am ready to be spooked.

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:28 PM

      I am going to have to check out Lost Gods because… YES. Happy reading and thanks for the rec!

  8. Lisa Noble

    October 1, 2020 at 3:54 PM

    I would add the Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) and Ray Bradbury’s The Hallowe’en Tree. I always read the opening of the Graveyard Book to my grade 7 students on Hallowe’en. “There was a hand in the dark, and it held a knife”. Hooked!

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 1:18 PM

      Oooh, thanks for the recommendations! I actually own an audiobook copy of Graveyard Book but haven’t read it… I am going to try to read it this month.

  9. Cam @ Camillea Reads

    October 1, 2020 at 4:37 PM

    Cemetery Boys is already on my TBR, and I would love to read I Killed Zoe Spanos especially since you likened it to Rebecca. I need to read Contagion, which reminds me that I was recommended The Luminous Dead!

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 1:56 PM

      Oh, I forgot about The Luminous Dead!!! I was recommended that book LAST YEAR and own a copy but haven’t read it yet lol

  10. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    October 3, 2020 at 10:07 AM

    I recently read Mexican Gothic – what a wild read! I like the note you’ve put in your list. I had to remind myself that while reading. One spooky season read I’m hoping to get to (if my hold comes in on time) is The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson.

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 2:35 PM

      Mexican Gothic was a TREAT and I am forever scarred lol. And yea, I’ve seen a lot of reviews lamenting about the pacing (and that it isn’t ya????) so I feel the IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS alert is necessary. Downside of the book hitting the list so many times and people having weird expectations. Crossing my fingers for your hold — I’ve heard good things about that one!

  11. Louise @ Monstrumology

    October 4, 2020 at 9:51 AM

    I have Mexican Gothic on my TBR for this month and I can’t wait to read it! Gothic fiction is one of my favourite genres so naturally, I’m very excited for it 😀

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 2:38 PM

      Ahhh, I hope you love it as much as I do! I really want to read MORE gothic horror; I love the slow build anxiety and tension of the genre.

  12. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    October 4, 2020 at 1:05 PM

    So many great recommendations! I hadn’t heard of The Bone Houses yet but it sounds like the PERFECT read for Halloween and it’s available at my library! I was also curious about Zoe Spanos and your post has given me the push to check it out!

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 2:40 PM

      Thank you so much, and I am so glad to hear The Bone Houses is available at your library! I feel like that one flew under the radar last year, which is a shame because it is so delightful. I hope you enjoy it & Zoe Spanos!!!

  13. Chocola

    October 4, 2020 at 4:03 PM

    Great post! Cemetery Boys is on my TBR, but I’m waiting on getting a copy from my library. Mexican Gothic also look like a fun read! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is nostalgic for me. As a kid, the cover made me so uneasy! I may brave it out this time around.

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 2:41 PM

      Oh man, the Scary Stories covers freaked me out (so good) when I was a kid. And I swear, the picture with the spiders hatching out of the chick’s cheek has haunted me for decades! Happy reading!

  14. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    October 6, 2020 at 8:40 PM

    I haven’t read a lot of these, but I did love Mexican Gothic. I hope you have a fantastic reading month!

    1. Kal

      October 15, 2020 at 10:56 AM

      Mexican Gothic was such an incredible read, I think about it so often and love seeing it on my shelves!

  15. Jayati

    October 7, 2020 at 12:40 AM

    I’m not much for spooky books but Mexican Gothic is one I’ve been wanting to read forever and I hope I can finally get to it! Thanks for the great recs!

    1. Kal

      October 15, 2020 at 10:57 AM

      Oh gosh, way to dive into the deep end of Spooky with Mexican Gothic, Jayati! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did

  16. Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    October 7, 2020 at 10:28 AM

    Rules for Vanishing sounds interesting! I love mixed media books. I read Contagion last month and really loved it! I agree that Immunity is totally different and if you’re okay with a bit of a cliff hanger you probably could read Contagion as a stand-alone lol

    1. Kal

      October 15, 2020 at 11:14 AM

      Rules for Vanishing honestly was such a surprise when I read it last year, and it deserves a lot more attention than it has! So happy to hear you loved Contagion though!!! One of my favorite books, and def could be a standalone if you’re not interested in the political aspects. I like how Erin plotted the duology so well

  17. Caro @ bookcheshirecat

    October 12, 2020 at 10:25 AM

    Great recommendation post! I’m close to finishing Cemetery Boys and it’s such a fantastic book! I love the characters so much and the atmosphere is perfect for Halloween 🥰 You also made me really excited for Rules for Vanishing, it sounds perfectly spooky! 👻

    1. Kal

      October 15, 2020 at 12:06 PM

      UGH Cemetery Boys is so soft and pure and I love that book to pieces. So happy you’re enjoying it, too! And I hope you enjoy Rules for Vanishing, it is deceptively spooky!

  18. Kristi@ConfessionsofYAReader

    October 15, 2020 at 11:29 AM

    Love this list! I’ve read quite a few of these already.

    1. Kal

      October 15, 2020 at 12:12 PM

      Thank you, Kristi! All of these books really surprised me when I read them in the best of ways

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  20. Sofia @Bookish Wanderess

    October 17, 2020 at 8:29 AM

    Mexican Gothic is SO GOOD and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I have Cementery Boys out from the library right now and I hope to read it soon and I’m adding The Bone Houses and Contagion to my tbr because they both sound amazing.

    1. Kal

      October 28, 2020 at 10:57 AM

      It honestly warms my heart in a creepy, musty way how many people are loving Mexican Gothic! Silvia is an amazing author and deserves all the attention she’s getting. I hope you enjoy Cemetery Boys, The Bone Houses, and Contagion!!!

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