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???

Guest Post #3 Hello Home…

Welcome to another guest post for my ‘Hello Home…’ pandemic themed feature. It would seem all of us have experienced or are still experiencing a lockdown of some sort while the corona virus continues to blight our lives. Although we are all in the same situation, we experience it differently because our homes are all so different. Thinking about this inspired me to write a piece a few weeks ago dedicated to my house and what it has meant to me during these strange and unsettling times. This week, please welcome author Paul Waters to the blog with a wonderful piece about a lockdown project that really brought the local community together. Enjoy!

The Blue Book House

During Covid my second home has kept me connected to the world. It’s not what you think. I don’t spread my life between two properties. But I do have a home-from-home with essential creature comforts and it sits on my front fence.

My other house is wooden, double-fronted and painted blue. My carpenter friend, Mick, made it watertight and solid for me. My friend, Wink, friend carefully painted it. My Mum, Patricia, did the lettering. And the creature comforts it contains are a selection of one of life’s essentials – books. Hence the name, the Blue Book House.

It all started before the pandemic when I realised that I had far too many books. It seemed like putting a book house in front of my human house would be a good way to share my surplus and spread the book love. But it has not turned out as I expected.

The message written on both sides of my book house says: “Choose a free book. Read it. Keep it forever. Or pass it on.” And people do. They look through the windows or open the doors for a rummage while standing on the pavement.

But far from reducing my book stock, the book house has boosted it in volume and variety. That’s because people passing by also do two other things. They return books they’ve taken and they kindly add books of their own. Sometimes they slot them in. (I try to keep children’s books on the left and other on the right – though that system and any themed displays I attempt quickly become higgledy-piggledy.) Other times I open my front door to find a pile or bag of books in my porch. Which is lovely, though it wasn’t quite was I was aiming for.

I love books. I read voraciously. I write books – you’ll find my debut historical crime thriller Blackwatertown in shops in the UK, Ireland, France and Spain, and online. I like talking about books – I co-present a books and authors podcast called We’d Like A Word with fellow author, Stevyn Colgan. And I love sharing books and the love of reading. So the Blue Book House fits right in.

But it has also become something else – a point of contact with other people when we are restricted in where we can go and what we can do. It’s a connection at a time of social distancing, loneliness and alienation – and reduced hours or closure for local libraries. Most of the time people dip in and out of the book house without me noticing. The only indication is the books rearranged, some gone, others arrived.

But sometimes I happen to be passing a window when people are browsing. The book house is a reason to pause and rest when walking the dog or getting some exercise. Or perhaps I happen to be coming or going myself and have the chance to exchange socially distanced hellos with neighbours.

Sometimes a note is posted through my letterbox or left inside the book house saying thanks for a particular book. They’re usually anonymous. Sometimes with the handwriting and crayon drawings of a young reader. And that is lovely.

When there’s so much doom and gloom and disruption, the notes and conversations prompted by the Blue Book House bring light into my life.

You’re welcome to look inside and see if there’s a book that tickles your fancy. Or if you’re not in the neighbourhood, you could visit virtually via Twitter @bluebookhouse or Facebook @LittleBlueBookHouse

Even better, you could create your own book house. Just don’t expect it to help you cut down the number of books in your home.

Thank you so much to Paul for contributing this wonderful piece to Hello Home…feature. If you would like to find out more about Paul and his work his bio and links are below!

Bio

Paul Waters is the author of Blackwatertown, published in paperback/softcover and ebook by Unbound and audiobook by WF Howes. His website is http://www.paulwatersauthor.com

Books

 Blackwatertown: Amazon.co.uk: Paul Waters: 9781783529254: Books or www.amazon.co.uk/Blackwatertown-Paul-Waters/dp/1783529253/ref=sr_1_1?crid=4G0MXWZ5E4EO&dchild=1&keywords=blackwatertown+paul+waters&qid=1611069602&sprefix=blackwatertown+%2Cdigital-text%2C140&sr=8-1

2021 Reading Challenge

Hi everyone,

This is a post to correspond with my Christmas Calendar Countdown. Every day since the 1st December I have been providing a festive treat for my readers and followers, so far including: win an ebook competitions, win a paperback competition, name a character in my current WIP, sneak peek of a new book cover, me reading from my WIP and much more. I hope you have been enjoying them! This post is for Day 13 and behind the door today is a reading challenge for you to get your teeth into throughout 2021. I’ve taken part in a few reading challenges myself and they are really good fun and often force you to try genres and styles and authors you maybe would not have otherwise. I haven’t taken part in one for a few years though, so rather than search the net for a suitable challenge I decided to come up with one of my own. I tried to challenge myself with this, so I hope you like it and if you want to take part, just tag me in any posts you share!

So here is the challenge;

  1. A book where the location is paramount
  2. A book set in a country you have visited
  3. A book set where you live or as close to it as possible
  4. A book with a title at least eight words long
  5. A play
  6. A book whose title is also a song
  7. A book aimed at adults where the protagonist is a child
  8. A fictional book based on real events
  9. A book with a one word title
  10. A book where the protagonist is a different ethnicity than you
  11. A short story collection
  12. A book with a black front cover
  13. A book with a dual narrative written in 1st person
  14. The first book in a series
  15. A book with an illustrated front cover
  16. A book about climate change
  17. A non-fiction book about a serial killer
  18. A post-apocalyptic book
  19. A classic you have always meant to read
  20. A book you wished you had studied at school
  21. A book you have seen the movie adaptation of but have not read the book
  22. A book where the main character is an animal
  23. A book from your least favourite genre
  24. A book from your most favourite genre
  25. A book aimed at children which focuses on nature
  26. A book from an indie author you have never heard of
  27. An award winning book
  28. A book where the main character has your dream job
  29. A book with the most colourful cover you’ve ever seen
  30. A book where the main character has a disability but the story is not about it

I’m quite excited to give this a go! I don’t know what to call it though – any ideas?

How My Books Are All Linked Up

With the imminent release of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side – Part Three, (released February 22nd, available for pre-order now!) I thought I would write a post about how all of my books are linked to each other.

Some of the links are quite obvious, but others are more subtle so you might have missed them. Let’s start with my first release, YA novel, The Mess Of Me.

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The Mess Of Me is linked to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, by location. Lou and her best friend Joe live on an estate on one side of a bypass and have to cross over the bypass via a bridge to reach their school on the Somerley estate. In The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, Danny and his friends attend Somerley school in the first two books. Danny is also mentioned in The Mess Of Me, by Joe, who is angry with his stepfather and issues a vague threat about doing what Danny Bryans did in the 90’s. The narrator Lou explains to the reader that Danny Bryans was imprisoned for knifing his stepfather to death, and that his is a well-known and notorious story in their area. She also mentioned his name is engraved on a bench near where he used to live.

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The Boy With The Thorn In His Side will later on in the series, have links to two as yet unreleased books. A Song For Bill Robinson, which I hope to release later this year, and a book which has the working title of The Lane Brothers. The Lane brothers appear in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side Parts 5 and 6, which are not out yet. Danny will also appear in their spin-off book.

thisisnowhere-New

This Is Nowhere is linked to Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature by location. This Is Nowhere is set almost entirely in my home village, Hurn. All of my books contain real locations, but I usually fictionalise them and change the names of towns and streets. In this book, I kept everything real. The character of Jake returns home to Hurn after running away as a teenager, and the house he lives in is my actual house now. In Elliot Pie, I have fictionalised some of the locations, but kept Hurn real. Elliot cycles out to Hurn when exploring new places and befriends a lady called Sandra. Sandra lives next door to Jake and May. They are not mentioned by name, but eagle-eyed readers might have picked up on her mentions of the neighbours, and the fact she dislikes the long-legged lurcher type dogs they keep. Both books contain scenes set on the beautiful Sopley Common, a real place, and probably my favourite place in the world.

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Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature is linked to A Song For Bill Robinson, a YA book I hope to release later this year. Both characters live on Hoppers Close, on the Holds End estate. In Elliot Pie, he longs to escape this small world and frequently cycles away from the area to make new friends. At the start of the book, he mentioned the other people who live on Hoppers Close (based on a close I used to live on as a teenager) and tells the reader a bit about the Robinson family. He also spots Bill Robinson walking across the close with his guitar on his back. A Song For Bill Robinson is set almost exclusively on the Holds End estate. It’s a fictionalised version of a council estate named Townsend, which is where I grew up.

And as I have already mentioned, A Song For Bill Robinson links to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, in particular, the last three books, where Danny is an adult and running his own nightclub. Indie nightclub Chaos features heavily in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, and in the later books is a place up and coming bands can audition for regular slots. At the end of A Song For Bill Robinson, he and his band secure such an audition at Chaos, and Danny Bryans is mentioned. He may even appear briefly in the sequel to A Song For Bill Robinson, Emily’s Baby.

The only book not obviously linked to the others is The Tree Of Rebels, because it is set in the future. In my mind however, the location is a future version of the places I have already fictionalised in my other books.

I’m not sure why I like to link my books up. It sort of happened naturally and has become a habit. It’s easy to do because I tend to use the same real and fictionalised locations and my characters tend to be similar in class and background. Plus, it’s fun. It means I never really have to say goodbye to anyone!