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I'm a writer who's eating, drinking and reading my way around Philadelphia.

LET'S GET SPOOKY: 7 scary novels to read before Halloween

LET'S GET SPOOKY: 7 scary novels to read before Halloween

It's officially October. You know what that means? IT'S HALLOWEEN.

"But Shaun," you're probably saying, "Halloween isn't until the 31st." Well, the funny thing is, you're wrong. If it's October, it's Halloween. End of story. If you can't accept this then please feel free to stop reading now. Our values obviously aren't aligning. 

For the rest of you, happy Halloween season! While you're eating the candy you bought for trick-or-treaters and catching up on all of your favorite horror movies, don't underestimate the scare potential of a good book.

Whenever I talk about how scary a novel is, I tend to get skeptical looks. Often, I have people tell me that they just can't get that scared by a book. Apparently these people are braver than I am, because I'm scared by books all the time. Hell, every time I read IT I have nightmares for days. 

Even if the following novels don't give you full-blown night terrors, I can at least guarantee you'll get the creeps. (But seriously, how are you people reading IT and not being kept awake at night?)

IT by Stephen King

If you've only ever seen the original miniseries or the new movie, you're missing out: Stephen King's novel is so much more bizarre and disturbing than either of the adaptations. The killer clown is the same, but here IT's an ancient god from beyond our dimension who feeds off of chaos and hatred and fear. Oh, and kids.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

If you liked The Lotteryyou'll want to check this one out. It's a deliciously creepy tale of two sisters who live on the outskirts of a Vermont town. Their entire family was mysteriously poisoned several years back, and one of the sisters was blamed. Someone in that house definitely killed the family, but it may not be who you expect. 

Witches of America by Alex Mar

Technically this isn't a scary book, but it is about witches, so I'm counting it. Mar explores contemporary pagan culture by meeting a bunch of modern-day witches, even going so far as to undergo initiation for two different groups. If you're at all interested in the (real) occult, you'll find this fascinating. 

You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann

It's basically a much, much shorter version of House of Leaves. But I don't mean that in a bad way! This tiny novel is about a family that rents a remote Airbnb so the husband, our narrator, can work on his screenplay. Soon, though, he starts having weird dreams and getting cryptic warnings from people in the neighboring town. Is he going crazy, or is something wrong with the house?

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

I think of this as the dark mirror to one of my favorite books, The Night Circus. Two young boys named Will and Jim are excited when a carnival unexpectedly comes to town. Will soon realizes, though, that the men running the carnival can't be trusted, and needs to make sure Jim doesn't fall under their spell.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

One of my favorite fantasy novels of all time is McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway, and this dark prequel is perfect for some spooky reading. Jack and Jill are twins who discover a door to a world where werewolves and vampires run wild. Now they have to struggle to hold on to their humanity while living in a horror movie come to life.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Joe Hill is Stephen King's son, and he definitely got his horror genes. As a teenager, our protagonist Vic was nearly killed by a man who kidnaps kids and takes them to the ominous "Christmasland," where they become remorseless monsters. Now the killer is back, and wants to get revenge on Vic by kidnapping her son.

Also check out: What I'm Reading - Summer 2017; In Defense of Fantasy

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