20+ Spine-Tingling Haunted House Books to Read This Halloween
From Gothic mansions to modern apartment complexes, the haunted house books on this list will convince you that spirits can show up anywhere. The horror genre is full of werewolves, vampires, and serial killers, but nothing beats settling in for a good old-fashioned story about a real estate nightmare. From the clueless family at the center of The Shining to the poor skeptics who sign up for a nightmarish visit to Hill House, the books on this list all have one thing in common: houses that love to mess with their inhabitants' minds. These dark domiciles range from the outright foreboding to the misleadingly inviting, but every single one of them comes with a story that will leave you checking your closet for monsters before you go to sleep at night.
House of Leaves
Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is a monster of a book in more ways than one. Told through a mix of traditional storytelling and footnotes, the story of a labyrinthine house that's bigger on the inside is the novel equivalent of a found footage film. It's next to impossible to boil the story down to a simple synopsis, but in part, it's about a family whose children become lost in their strange new home and the eerie messages they begin sending to their frightened parents.
White is for Witching
In White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi tells the story of an ancestral home in Dover, England, that becomes downright hostile after being turned into a bed and breakfast. Like the women in the Silver family, the Silver House seems to have an insatiable hunger, and it's quickly getting out of control.
The Graveyard Apartment
Not all haunted houses are Victorian mansions. Sometimes they're seemingly normal apartment buildings. That's the case in Mariko Koike's The Graveyard Apartment, in which a young couple moves into an apartment complex in Japan that's built in the shadow of a graveyard. Soon, strange occurrences begin to drive the residents out one by one until only the couple is left to face the spirits lurking beyond their apartment door.
The Amityville Horror
Much of the infamy surrounding Jay Anson's The Amityville Horror stems from it supposedly being based on a true story. While it's now widely believed that the story was, at least in part, a hoax, that doesn't diminish the scares of the book and its tale of a family's dream home turning into a nightmare in record time.
The Good House
The house at the center of The Good House by Tananarive Due is beloved by the community of Sacajawea, Washington. At least it is until a young boy's tragic death leaves the owners of the house and their community plagued by an unrelenting darkness.
Every haunted house has an origin story, and in The Invited, Jennifer McMahon lets us in on the ground floor of this one. Helen and Nate leave the comforts of the suburbs to move to an isolated fixer-upper. As they set about their renovations, the couple becomes aware of a legend surrounding their new home, and in the process, they unwittingly bring a malevolent presence into their lives.
The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House was recently adapted into a hit Netflix series, but the classic is a very different beast. Four people come to Hill House for reasons ranging from investigating the home's supposed ghosts to securing their inheritance. Soon, they realize the legend of Hill House is all too real, and it's plotting to claim one of them as its own.
Technically, Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is about a haunted Ikea, not a haunted house, but it's way too good to leave off the list. The book itself looks like a catalog, while the story follows three employees of the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio, who volunteer to work a graveyard shift in order to figure out what's haunting their workplace.
The Secret of Crickley Hall
James Herbert's The Secret of Crickley Hall is grounded by a heartbreaking tragedy. The Caleighs move to the house in hopes of moving on after their son's disappearance. They stay even after it becomes clear that their home is haunted, because they believe their son may be one of the ghosts.
You Should Have Left
In You Should Have Left, author Daniel Kehlmann tracks an author's slow descent into madness. Or is he simply succumbing to the strangeness of the home he and his family are renting in the mountains of Germany? The chilling answer lies somewhere in between.
No list of the best haunted house books would be complete without Stephen King's The Shining. The Overlook Hotel remains one of the creepiest places on the literary map, and the Torrance family's doomed stay is just as effective now as it was when the book was first published in 1977.
Don't dismiss Neil Gaiman's Coraline as just kids' stuff. Little Coraline's journey through a mysterious door in her new house takes her to a reality where everything is magical. But something's not quite right with her button-eyed Other Mother, and the truth is sure to send chills down the spine of even the most seasoned horror fan.
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas is deliciously spooky. On Halloween night, four horror authors accept a challenge to stay in the decrepit Finch House, but it doesn't take them long to realize that they've awoken something dangerous that won't let them go without a fight.
The Turn of the Screw
Season two of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House series is taking its inspiration from Henry James's classic novella The Turn of the Screw. The story of a governess who becomes convinced that her charges are possessed is a quick, but deeply chilling read that you can devour in a single setting.
The Little Stranger
Like the Gothic classic Rebecca, Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger keeps you guessing about whether ghosts are haunting Hundreds Hall or if the strange happenings are just the products of the troubled minds of the residents. A local doctor visits the house in hopes of answering that very question, and he quickly finds himself at the center of a dark mystery.
This House Is Haunted
If you love The Turn of the Screw, then you need to read John Boyne's This House Is Haunted. Set in 1867 York, a governess named Eliza Caine arrives at her new job to find no adults, only her two young charges. What's more, she can't shake the feeling that there's something dark in the home that's following her every footstep.
The Haunting of Blackwych Grange
The Haunting of Blackwych Grange by Amy Cross plays into our modern fascination of ghost hunting shows and movies. A team of paranormal investigators gain access to the long abandoned Blackwych Grange to search for spirits, and they end up finding way more than they ever dreamed they would.
Clive Barker's Coldheart Canyon blends all of the horror of the haunted house genre with the charm of Hollywood's golden age. After a botched surgery, Hollywood's most famous action hero heads to a secluded mansion to heal. Unfortunately, the previous owner's dark past has left the house full of restless spirits.
No One Gets Out Alive
One day, people in horror novels are going to learn that if a place is selling for cheap, it comes with ghosts. That's a lesson that the protagonist of Adam Nevill's No One Gets Out Alive learns the hard way. Stephanie moves into a boarding house where the rent is low and the room is spacious. Unfortunately, the place may also include a few residents that aren't among the living.
The Night Strangers
Chip and Emily Linton move to a rambling Victorian home after the plane Chip was flying crashes into the ocean in Chris Bohjalian's The Night Strangers. The couple hopes to rebuild after the tragedy, but they soon discover a door in their basement that's sealed with 39 bolts. That would be unsettling enough on its own, but it just so happens that Chip also lost 39 passengers in the crash.
Marlys Millhiser's Nella Waits takes the meddling mother-in-law trope to a whole new level. Lynnette falls hard for the mysterious heir to the Van Fleet House. Unfortunately, the burgeoning romance is frowned upon by the spirit of his dead mother who haunts the family's homestead.
The Silent Companions
Laura Purcell's The Silent Companions is a throwback to Victorian ghost stories in the best possible way. Elsie is left pregnant and widowed shortly after marrying an eligible heir. Now she's left in his rambling home where a figure behind a locked door bears an eerie resemblance to her.
The Loveliest Dead
The Loveliest Dead by Ray Garton specializes in being unsettling. After the death of their young son, a family moves to their homestead in California to start over. Unfortunately, the house is already occupied by a number of spirits who want the family gone.
Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings is an underrated classic. The book helped inspire Stephen King's The Shining, but it more than stands on its own. Ben and Marian Rolfe just can't pass up an offer to rent a mansion in upstate New York for the entire Summer for a measly $900. There's just one catch — the couple must prepare meals for an aging resident who lives in a distant wing of the house . . . nothing bad could come of that, right?