Six Seriously Creepy Books For The Spooky Season

If you are looking for a creepy read for the spooky season, perhaps something slightly different to the usual witches, vampires, and ghosts, then look no further. These are six books I’ve read in 2022 that seriously creeped me out. Counting down from number six being the least creepy and number one the most, here are my top picks for the spooky season.

6. Fairy Tale by Stephen King

Blurb: Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was seven, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself – and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and her ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.

Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.

King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale about another world than ours, in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy – and his dog – must lead the battle.

My review: For me, this was classic King and for all the right reasons. A young protagonist, 17-year-old Charlie (not always your typical hero either, as he has a bit of a dark side) helps local grumpy old man Howard Bowditch when he falls and breaks his leg. After calling the ambulance, Charlie finds himself left with Radar, the man’s ageing German Shepherd to care for. The first chunk of the book is taken up with establishing these relationships and I really enjoyed this part. The unlikely pair become good friends as Charlie cares for the dog, the house, and eventually Mr Bowditch when he returns home. It soon becomes apparent, however, that Bowditch is hiding a dark secret in his padlocked shed. When he dies suddenly, he entrusts this secret to Charlie through some tapes he recorded and Charlie must then decide whether to go where Bowditch once went, essentially, in the shed and through a portal to another world. This part of the book actually slowed down a bit for me as we had so much detail on the other world for quite a long time. It really reminded me of The Talisman too, which is not a bad thing. Once Charlie runs into danger in the other world, it really picks up pace again and I found it hard to put down. The other world is slowly dying since a neglected son of the royal family discovered a well that gave him dark powers. He takes revenge on his family and the entire kingdom by killing, maiming and destroying and unleashing a disease that slowly turns people grey and seals up their eyes, noses and mouths. When Charlie is imprisoned by the creepy Night Soldiers who guard the new king, he finds himself in a horrific dungeon with other ‘wholes’ and will be forced to fight each one to the death. By this point I was truly hooked and I think the Night Soldiers in particular brought a truly creepy and eerie touch to the story. In many ways it is a classic good vs evil story, and also has many nods to familiar fairytales. A great read that (mostly) had me on the edge of my seat!

5. Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan

Blurb: Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself.

In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

My review: Definitely not one for the faint-hearted and the depictions of animal cruelty are hard to read, but I truly enjoyed this unique and thrilling read. I don’t read psychological or crime thrillers too often because I often find while the plots are excellent, the characters are lacking, but I felt differently about this book. The two main characters, the detective investigating the horrific crime of sixteen dead horses heads placed in a circle on a rundown farm, and the forensic vet called in to assist him, were both really interesting in my opinion. They were both fairly unreliable and there were certainly parts of the book that made me suspect either of them of either being involved, or of knowing more than they were letting on. They were both dealing with past trauma in different ways and they were both a bit ‘odd’ and didn’t find it easy to fit in or get along with others. This made the whole thing quite interesting, I thought. As for the crime itself, it just gets darker and darker until you are peeling back the grimy layers of the rotting seaside town itself. The crime was far more complicated and the reasons behind it far more eerie and creepy than I had ever imagined. I just had to keep reading and digging. It definitely left me with a few questions and a lot to think about. I enjoyed the style of the writing too. I would definitely read more from this author. A thoroughly creepy, brooding read!

4. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things by Iain Reid

Blurb: Jake and his girlfriend are on a drive to visit his parents at their remote farm. After dinner at the family home, things begin to get worryingly strange. And when he leaves her stranded in a snowstorm at an abandoned high school later that night, what follows is a chilling exploration of psychological frailty and the limitations of reality.

Iain Reid’s intense, suspenseful debut novel will have readers’ nerves jangling. A series of tiny clues sprinkled through the relentlessly paced narrative culminate in a haunting twist on the final page.

Reminiscent of Michael Faber’s Under the Skin, Stephen King’s Misery and the novels of José Saramago, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an astonishing and highly original literary thriller that grabs you from the start—and never lets go.

My review: I definitely advise reading the book first with this one! It’s a very strange and creepy read told from the point of view of a young woman on a road trip with her fairly new boyfriend, Jake. They are driving through heavy snow to meet his parents who still live on the farm he grew up on. On the drive, the narrator is thinking about ending their relationship. Once they arrive and meet the parents, things get very strange indeed. It’s hard to describe without giving away spoilers, but this book really keeps you reading as you just want to try and figure out what is going on. The narrator is somewhat unreliable – is she seeing and hearing things that are not there? Is something wrong with Jake? Or is it his parents? Altogether, what happens during and after their visit is increasingly odd, creepy and eventually, genuinely terrifying. I watched the Netflix movie after and thought they left loads out. The movie makes very little sense, whereas the book leaves you wondering, but explains a lot more! A truly creepy read from start to finish.

3. The Watchers by A.M. Shine

Blurb: This forest isn’t charted on any map. Every car breaks down at its treeline. Mina’s is no different. Left stranded, she is forced into the dark woodland only to find a woman shouting, urging Mina to run to a concrete bunker. As the door slams behind her, the building is besieged by screams.

Mina finds herself in a room with a wall of glass, and an electric light that activates at nightfall, when the Watchers come above ground. These creatures emerge to observe their captive humans and terrible things happen to anyone who doesn’t reach the bunker in time.

Afraid and trapped among strangers, Mina is desperate for answers. Who are the Watchers and why are these creatures keeping them imprisoned, keen to watch their every move?

My review: Genuinely one of the creepiest books I’ve read in a while. I was on edge the entire time reading this. From the broken down car in the middle of the woods, to the lady screaming to run to the house, to the mysterious and horrific ‘watchers’ who come out at night everything about this book stands your hairs on end. Mina is a great character too – I was rooting for the whole time. Inside the house she is surprised to meet three other people who all seem to have met a similar fate to her in these unmapped, unknown woods. Mina and the others are watched by the creatures on the outside, who seem keen on learning about them and also scream and scratch and claw to get in. In daylight, they are safe, but the forest is too vast to escape in the hours of light they have. It’s an impossible and claustrophobic situation, made even worse by the fraying, tense relationships between the people trapped together. This book is a beautiful read, expertly capturing the hopelessness of captivity, fear of the unknown, defeatism and heroism these people go through. The plot thickens the further you go and there are some breathtaking twists at the end. This was a 5 star read for me and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

2. Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley

Blurb: The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

My review: I enjoyed The Loney so was quite sure I would enjoy this, and it was just as good. Again, the author expertly uses the environment and the weather to increase tension, foreboding and mystery in the prose, making the location almost as much a character as the people. This story follows a couple who have inherited a house and a bit of land known as Starve Acre, from his family. The village is a strange place they can’t quite fit into and their young son Ewan seems to make enemies everywhere he goes. His mother begins to get quite concerned about his behaviour and they even consult doctors to determine if something is psychologically wrong with their son. The story tells this past narrative adjacent to the present one, where Ewan is dead, and the couple are grieving in different ways. Ewan’s mother is sure Ewan is still around and invites local spiritualists known as the Beacons into her home to convince her husband Ewan is still with them. Meanwhile, he has been digging up the field to find the roots of an infamous old oak tree known to have been the village hanging tree. Instead, he finds the skeleton of a hare which he cleans up and lays out inside the house. What happens next is fascinating, magical, mysterious and disturbing all at once. The story gets darker and sadder as events unfold. We learn what happened to Ewan leading up to his death and we witness the gradual decline of his grieving parents. More than that, we soon learn that the earth itself has secrets in this place and something dark and chilling has been restored to life. I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. It truly has one of the most disturbing last paragraphs you will ever read!
  1. Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Durham

Blurb: Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle.

Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book—a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day . . . and you’re invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse- pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

My review: Wow, I absolutely loved this book, despite how much it scared me and put me on edge! I just could not put it down! Eamon, the main character had an unusual upbringing, brought up in a cabin in the woods with his strange/crazy father. When his dad went out and never came back, Eamon was eventually rescued and placed into foster care. While in care, he received a copy of a book called Winterset Hollow by an author called Edward Addington. He grew to love the book which relayed the adventures of a group of talking animals living in a place called Winterset Hollow. Years later, his best friend Caroline, who is also a huge fan of the book, and her boyfriend Mark are about to board a ferry to visit the island where the author lived in a mansion until his death. There is a whole group of excited fans on the boat, looking forward to taking photos and capturing the atmosphere of the book that means so much to them. However, once they arrive, strange things start happening. Its hard to write a review without giving too much away, but lets just say, the trio find themselves inside the mansion being entertained by the very characters they have grown up reading about. It seems like a dream come true. But they do say you should never meet your heroes, and it turns out, these particular animals are enraged and traumatised, and hellbent on revenge… This really is a case of the tables being turned on mankind, who have systematically hunted, chased and tortured animals for fun for many decades. There are some simply brilliant twists towards the end, and the author does a fantastic job of evoking sympathy and empathy for the murderous animals, as well as for the trio of friends who have found themselves in a truly nightmarish situation. This story will stay with me for a very long time. It’s haunting, thought-provoking, eerie and actually quite terrifying. It’s also very fast-paced when it gets going and I found it hard to take a break from. An excellent read for anyone who likes unusual horror stories!

And there you have it – six seriously creepy reads which are perfect for the spooky season!

What is the creepiest book you have ever read???

Author Interview with Joel Dennstedt

This week’s blog post comes to you a few days early and in the form of an author interview! I last chatted to indie author Joel Dennstedt around a year ago. Since then he’s been travelling, writing and professionally reviewing books. Here he is talking about his travels, and the inspiration behind his latest release, horror collection, When Dolls Talk

1) Can you tell us where in the world you are right now, and where you are heading to next?

I am back where I began: my hometown of San Diego, California. Five years non-stop trekking through Mexico and Central and South America brought me home to visit family and to re-gear up for 5 more years. I plan to visit Scotland for the Scotch/Whiskey tour, then head to Eastern Europe and across Central Asia into Southeast Asia.

2) Has your travelling inspired any of the books you have written or are working on, and if so, in what way?

Traveling inspired my SF novel,  GuanjoN, , which happens on a planet resembling the Amazon. However, I reached the Amazon after the book was written. So, maybe future thoughts prompted this eerie adventure about Earth natives endangered by indigenous aliens.

3) How has travelling changed you as a person and as a writer?

Oddly, travelling made the authentic me emerge. The true me as a writer. Travelling fulltime gave me the freedom to become myself. Transformation, while challenging, results in total liberation. And travelling is fun.

4) You have a new book out. A horror collection. How did this come about?

This doll spoke to me. Rather, a photo of this creepy doll. She wanted me to write her story. So I did. After that, they just came out of the woodwork.

5) Are you a fan of horror yourself? Who is your favourite horror writer?

Yes, I’m a fan and a follower. My style is inspired by Edgar Allen Poe with a contemporary twist. H.P. Lovecraft has a say for darkness. I worship Stephen King. I never miss a Dean Koontz debut. Overall, I prefer my horror on the literary side, and definitely with a dash of dark humor.

6) Where did the ideas come from for these stories?

Those damn dolls. Actually, I searched out individual creepy photographs to inspire each story. Then I let my fearful imagination go. I’ve posted the photographs on Facebook and in the Bonus Gift Pack that came with every pre-order.

7) I understand you first posted these stories on Wattpad. How useful was that for gaining comments and a potential audience for the book?

Wattpad has a unique audience to itself. They rarely buy the final book. But they keep me encouraged to keep on writing, they offer wonderfully perceptive observations, and they often provide desperately needed Amazon Reviews.

8) Is there a message in this collection? Or in any of your books? Something you wish the world to know? Only to this extent – a

Only to this extent – a marvellous author friend made the following observation about these stories: “So much more depth to them than just scary bump in the night stuff. They’re scary all right, but more about the scary human condition and experience, parables, metaphors, etc.” That is – the real horror in life comes from us humans being human.

9) What can we expect from you next?

Lord, I wish I knew. I want to write a sequel to Guanjo. I plan to write Book 2 of these short horror stories. I need to work on my literary novel, which is still a decade in the making. And I need to keep working on my book of travel short stories based on true events.

10) Is there any genre you would never attempt to write in and if so, why?

I don’t write in genres I don’t read. I don’t read much fantasy. I don’t read hot romance. I wrote a quirky little romance called Hermit, but nothing with muscled men and naked women on the front. But I’m already in trouble with the crowd who says you must pick a genre and stick with it. I cannot do that.

11) How has your journey as an indie writer progressed since we last chatted? Any highs and lows?

It’s a roller coaster; you know that. All highs and lows. More is never enough. The next good thing makes you manic. In the end, it really, truly, MUST be all about the writing. But … it never stays that way. So, I paid my ticket. I’m on the ride. Hanging on.

12) I know you review books professionally. Please give us your top three books so far! What have you read and reviewed that we really don’t want to miss?

That is difficult to answer. I’ll give you my personal favorites, but my taste is not yours. However, I have read many great books by Indie Authors, when I did not expect to do so.

1. Decline – by Jared Kane A perfect little book, a poetic literary

style – understated post-apocalyptic

tale.

2. The Finest Hat in the Whole World – by Colleen Parkinson

Resonates with the feeling and style of

To Kill a Mockingbird. Masterful attention to the details.

3. 602 Brigade – by Musashi Miyamoto

Like Decline, a poetic literary style.

A post-apocalyptic, anti-war tale.

Thanks so much for chatting with me again, Joel!

If you’d like to find out more about Joel, his writing and his travels, here are his links;

Website: http://www.joelrdennstedt.com

Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Joel-R.-Dennstedt/e/B008VJZ6RE

Independent Book Reviews: https://www.facebook.com/independentbookreviews