31 Days of the Spookiest Halloween Reads!
Normally for the spooky season I do my top 5 Halloween Reads for the year, but with all the 2022 malarkey I wanted to try something different. Something bigger. This October I did a BP Recommends spooky reading post every day!
Here they are collected in their solid gold glory. These are stone-cold scary reads and I hope I can convince you to try some of them.
October 1: Like Jagged Teeth, Betty Rocksteady
“The guys following her home are bad enough, but when Jacalyn's Poppa comes to the rescue, things only get worse. After all, he's been dead for six years ...”
Kicking things off with a bang, if by bang you mean the violent bang of a door in the night that wakes you sweating and anxious. Recommended for all you lovers of unreliable memory, warped reality, and having your brain running out of your nose.
October 2: Tender Is The Flesh, Agustina Bazterrica, Translator Sarah Moses
“It happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus had made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Now, eating human meat is legal. Then one day Marcos is given a gift: a live specimen of the finest quality ... .”
Recommended for all you lovers of social dynamics, slow apocalypses, and $2 ribs night at the local pub.
October 3: The Cipher, Kathe Koja
“It began with Nakota and her crooked grin. She had to see the dark hole in the storage room down the hall. She had to make love beside it, and stare into its secretive, promising depths. Then Nakota began her experiments ...”
Recommended for all you lovers of mystery, twisted psychology, and scrubbing yourself in a cold shower while weeping.
October 4: Some Will Not Sleep, Adam LG Nevill
“A bestial face appears at windows in the night. In the big white house on the hill, angels are said to appear. A forgotten tenant in an isolated building becomes addicted to milk ...
Recommended for all you lovers of: short stories [we don't all have time for a novel], the horror behind the veil of normality, and the lactose intolerant.
October 5: Remains, Andrew Cull
“Grief is a black house. Driven to breakdown by the brutal murder of her young son, Lucy has become a ghost haunting the William Tuke Psychiatric Hospital. There she remained until the whispering pulled her back ...”
Recommended for all you lovers of eerie introspection, rappings at midnight, and a slow dissolution into a bleak ending.
October 6: The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw - not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old, foul, bad yellow things ... It creeps all over the house ...”
An oldie but a serious goodie, and a quick value read for anyone who's time-poor. Recommended for all you lovers of equal rights, disintegrating mental states, and interior decorating.
October 7: The Nightly Disease, Max Booth III
“Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is hoping for a nice quiet eight hours. What he doesn't want is to fetch anybody towels or dive face-first into their clogged toilet, and he sure as hell doesn't want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies ...”
I have three copies of this ill fated novel, as its publication was a difficult birth. Written from the author's first hand experience of running a cursed hotel! Recommended for all you lovers of seeing behind the scenes, a humorous look at dreary day jobs, and ornithology.
October 8: Everything Is Beautiful And Nothing Bad Can Ever Happen Here, Michael Wehunt
“Bea loves her life in Fontaine Falls, a perfect little town. She has never thought to question that love until her next-door neighbour opens fire on a crowd of black demonstrators gathered in the city park. Lester has torn open an invisible wound in Fontaine Falls, and what festers inside of it will change Bea, her family, and the dimming mind of her mother forever ...”
For October 8 it's a double recommendation, I recommend this one so hard. Recommended for all you lovers of unusual hauntings, difficult choices, and never escaping the past.
October 9: Pontypool Changes Everything, Tony Burgess
“Have you ever imagined what it would be like to kill someone? What if you woke up and began your morning by devoting the rest of your life to a murderous rampage? You catch the virus through conversation, and once it has you it leads you on a strange journey ...”
Extremely different to the also-excellent movie, this won't be for everyone. Recommended for all you lovers of unusual narrative, lyrical writing, and weird apocalypses.
October 10: Dark Matter, Michelle Paver
“Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Jack is poor, lonely, and desperate to change his life so when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness ...”
Seriously, is there anything better than claustrophobic historic arctic horror? Recommended for all you lovers of the thing that walks in the frozen night, huskies, queer horror fiction, and being too scared to look out the window.
October 11: All The White Spaces, Ally Wilkes
“In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place. When disaster strikes, the men must take to the land and overwinter somewhere which seems immediately both eerie and wrong. In the freezing darkness of the Polar night, where the aurora creeps across the sky, something terrible has been waiting ..."
Keep that frosty isolated horror train rolling! Recommended for all you lovers of a life at sea, self-discovery, trans horror fiction, and malignant hungry ghosts.
October 12: Nothing But Blackened Teeth, Cassandra Khaw
“A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company. It's the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends ...”
Another book that I loved but that won't appeal to everybody. Recommended for all you lovers of lyrical and raw writing, hearts that won't stop bleeding, Japanese horror fiction loaded with yōkai, and white weddings.
October 13: Fragments of Horror, Junji Ito
“An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest ...”
Have you always wanted to get into horror manga but weren't sure where to start? Recommended for all you lovers of bizarre pathos, unexpected endings, and being very careful who you date.
October 14: John Dies At The End, Jason Pargin [writing as David Wong]
“My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst ...”
We've gotten so far; let's lighten things up with a little horror-comedy. And seeing as book 4 in this series has just come out, now is a great time to jump back to the mind-bending story that started it all. Recommended for all you lovers of bizarre humour, unexpected and shocking horror, best friends, and doors that cannot be opened.
October 15: A Little Brown Book of Burials, Laird Barron
“Not sure what drew me there months after Dad killed her. I remember sitting in the shadows of the trees as summer sweltered the mountainside, and I remember the hum of a light aircraft traversing the eastern sky, and I remember thinking Gemma's skull was an abandoned palace of the ants ...”
Even with misprints by the publisher, the stories in this little book are a delight. Recommended for all you lovers of cosmic horror, inexplicable aberrations, and signed limited editions.
October 16: Gateways To Abomination: Collected Short Stories, Matthew M Bartlett
“Bizarre radio broadcasts luring dissolute souls into the dark woods of Western Massachusetts. You've tuned in to WXXT. The fracture in the stanchion. The drop of blood in your morning milk. The viper in the veins of the Pioneer Valley ...”
Recommended for all you lovers of detailed and terrifying worlds build in pastiche, arcane lore, morbid humour, and daytime radio.
October 17: The Labyrinth, Simon Stålenhag
“A world covered by ruins and ash, the remnants of an otherworldly phenomenon has ravaged the earth's atmosphere and forced the few survivors deep underground ...”
My favourite so far of Stålenhag's grand, beautiful and haunting graphic novels. Recommended for all you lovers of scifi apocalypses, terrible decisions, and ghosts of the past.
October 18: The Ritual, Adam Nevill
“Four old university friends reunite for a hiking trip in the Scandinavian wilderness. No longer young, they have little left in common and tensions rise as they struggle to connect. Frustrated and tired, a shortcut turns their hike into a nightmare ...”
Ooh, this is our SECOND Nevill, but this is my list and I do what I want. Recommended for all you lovers of the great outdoors, preserving precious traditions, childhood friends, and that thing grunting and snorting as it chases you through the trees.
October 19: The Graveyard Apartment, Mario Koike, Translator Deborah Boliver Boehm
“A young married couple with a dark secret move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard, only to realise that the apartment's idyllic setting harbors the spector of evil. And the longer they stay, the more trapped they become ...”
This is another oldie but a goodie, originally published in Japan in 1986. Recommended for all you lovers of haunted houses [which are simply the best], Japanese horror fiction, the specter of the past, and the property market.
October 20: Dear Laura, Gemma Amor
“Every year, on her birthday, Laura gets a letter from a stranger. That stranger claims to know the whereabouts of her missing friend Bobby, but there's a catch: he'll only tell her what he knows in exchange for something ... personal ...”
Content warning: that this novel made me feel so unhappy and unsafe is a testament to the author's mastery. Recommended for all you lovers of tense crime fiction, mysteries, being genuinely scared, and grinding your teeth so hard you piss off your dentist.
October 21: I Will Rot Without You, Danger Slater
“Ernie's life is a mess. Gretchen's gone, and the apartment they once shared is overrun with intelligent mold and sinister bugs. Then his neighbour Dee shows up, so smart and lovely. If he can just get past the fact that her jealous boyfriend could reach out of her blouse and punch him in the face at any moment ...”
Look, you know what this list has been lacking so far is a bit of heart. Recommended for all you lovers of bizarro writing, the sadness of the human condition, literal urban decay, and laying it on the line for love.
October 22: The Tindalos Asset, Caitlín R Kiernan
“A rundown apartment in Koreatown. A Los Angeles winter. A strung out, worn out, wrecked and used government agent is scraped up off the pavement, cleaned up, and reluctantly sent out into battle one last time ...”
It's killing me that nobody who's read this book has contacted me to tell me how horrible I am for putting the adorable shark person in the above image. Recommended for all you lovers of fantastic challenging science fiction, Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft, and the watery end of the world.
October 23: The Fog, James Herbert
“A peaceful village is shattered by a disaster which strikes without reason or explanation, leaving behind a trail of misery and horror. A yawning, bottomless crack spreads through the earth, out of which creeps a fog that resembles no other ...”
A classic old read with an incredible cover design that I snatched off my parents' bookshelf when I was far too young. Recommended for all you lovers of inexplicable disasters with supernatural effects, the worst of humanity, and scads of gore.
October 24: The Family Plot, Cherie Priest
“Music City Salvage is a family operation, specialising in doomed historic properties. But business is lean and times are tight when the aged and esteemed Augusta Winthrow appears with an offer too good to be true. A massive family estate ...”
This is one of my comfort reads, loaded with interesting and likeable characters. Recommended for all you lovers of haunted houses, strong female leads, family dynamics, and nasty ghosts.
October 25: Comfort Me With Apples, Catherynne M Valente
“Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. It's just that he's away so much. And sometimes Sophia wonders about dark things: the questions her husband won't answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And the neighbours who can't quite meet her gaze ...”
Recommended for all you lovers of spicy feminist re-envisioning of classic literature, a sense of dread, the horror of perfection, and of course true perfect love.
October 26: Leech, John C Foster
“Archibald Leech is our secret weapon when the fabric of reality tears and alien mathematics leak into our world. Leech can see through the curtain and it's enough to drive a man mad. But his relationship with Control is slowly disintegrating, as his need for a safe home for his volatile hard-drinking wife increases ...”
I've been obsessed with this character ever since Foster first introduced him in a short story, so how exciting when we finally got a whole novel. Recommended for all you lovers of noir, cosmic horror, the one good guy trying to make a difference, and seeing into the arcane guts of existence.
October 27: The Last Plague, Rich Hawkins
“When Britain is hit by a devastating epidemic, four friends must cross a chaotic, war-torn country to reach their families. Between them and home the countryside is teeming with those affected by the virus: cannibalistic mutated monsters, whose only desire is to infect and feed ...”
The first book of a very enjoyable trilogy. Recommended for all you lovers of scifi monster disasters, survival horror, wet gory apocalypses, and wholesome family love.
October 28: Mycophoria, Tom GH Adams
“Deep beneath the earth of a North Cumbrian wood lies the germinating mass of a ten million year old fungus-like organism. The country's only resident fungus expert is dead on the floor of her laboratory, a sticky orange fluid oozing out her ears ...”
We're staying in the wet and gory vibe with this next read. Recommended for all you lovers of fungal zombies, survival horror, bloody fun, and some really neat characters.
October 29: Noise, Darin Bradley
“Salvage hijacks the unused airwaves. Mixed in with static's random noise are dire warnings of the imminent economic, political, and social collapse - and cold-blooded lessons and how to survive the fall, how to prosper in the harsh new order that will inevitably arise from the ashes of the old ...”
Look sorry the cover art on my copy of Noise is REALLY average so I've just photographed the title page instead. Recommended for all you lovers of the collapse of capitalism, survival horror, and justifying the awful things you do to survive.
October 30: The Route Of Ice And Salt, José Luis Zárate, Translator David Bowles
“It's an ordinary assignment. The cargo: fifty boxes filled with Transylvanian soil. The Demeter has made many trips like this. Yet there's something different, something wrong ...”
You had me at sexy gay retelling of the last voyage of the Demeter. Recommended for all you lovers of dark sexy horror, queer retellings of classic literature, the allure of the ocean, and of course Dracula.
October 31: Furnace, Livia Llewellyn
“Horror has long celebrated the twin engines driving human existence: Sex and Death; Love and Destruction; Temptation and Terror. While many strive to reach the extremes, few authors manage to find the beauty that rests in the liminal space between these polar forces, the shuddering ecstasy within the shock ...”
Seeing as we're slipped into a sexy horror trend, let's have the strongest of strong finishes. Recommended for all you lovers of horror that burrows right into your torso, horror that makes it personal, that sees inside your heart.
Bonus: You Might Also Like: Outermen, BP Gregory
“A sky without a sun. A world with no universe. Mankind's one attempt at greatness left society irreparably warped. Bland normality now to Cath who lost everything in the bargain, even coffee. But she's not going to get to cower in her quiet life much longer. One man thinks he can change everyone's destiny, for better this time. And willing or not he'll need Catherine to do it ...”
Who knows, if you like these then we have a lot in common and you might like my book too. Recommended for all you lovers of weird scifi, being lost in space, reconstructing a disaster from the shattered people left behind, and coffee.
That's it, my 31 days of the most awesome books you can put in your face. If you haven't read any of these yet I hope I've convinced you to take a chance on them and I really hope you enjoy them. Spooky readings!