Skip to Content

26 Gripping Ghost Story Books

If you enjoy paranormal and spooky stories, don’t miss the best ghost story books to read for thrills and chills.

Here at The Uncorked Librarian, we just love ghost stories, including those featuring haunted houses, schools, hotels, and cemeteries.

But with so many great ghost books out there, how do you choose?

Below, find our top recommended books about ghosts for adults, teens, and tweens – both published recently and a few classics.

While many of these ghost novels will fall into the horror, suspense, and thriller categories, others will showcase a much different type of ghost.

Enjoy historical fiction, short stories, translated literature, and more.

Keep reading for the best ghost books, and don’t forget to tell us your favorites in the comments. Let’s get started!

Read even more spooky books for adults.

Best Ghost Story Books with image of ghost going upstairs in a dark house
Keep reading for the best ghost story books from around the globe.

Save your favorite ghost books for later:

1. Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
2. Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
3. Amazon Prime: Don’t miss Amazon First Reads – early access to Kindle books. Get fast delivery as well as movies, music, Originals, shows, and more.
4. Or, start your trial of Amazon Video for movies and tv series on demand.

26 Best Ghost Story Books

By Sheree Strange with additions from Christine

The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson book cover with water and home covering half of a person's face all hued gray

1. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

If you’re looking for ghost story books, you really should start with the master of the genre, Shirley Jackson. Her classic gothic horror novels and short stories will send chills up your spine like no other.

The Haunting Of Hill House, first published in 1959, is still fascinating and terrifying readers for a reason.

The story revolves around a psychic researcher, Dr. Montague, who rents the haunted mansion Hill House for the summer.

He invites several friends, each of whom experienced supernatural experiences, to stay at the house, hoping to prove – once and for all – that the haunting is real.

You’ll also love The Haunting Of Hill House if you enjoy haunted house books.

Read The Haunting Of Hill House: Amazon | Goodreads

The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg book cover with blue title on white background and illustration of an eye

2. The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

Clare’s husband, Richard, was a horror movie buff – in fact, he was a horror movie scholar (what a cool job!).

Widowed and grieving, Clare attends the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, with the tickets Richard purchased before his death.

As she steps out of the movie he most wanted to see, Clare sees him, in a white linen suit he didn’t own in life, across the street.

The Third Hotel is one of the most subtle and striking ghost books you’ll find on the literary fiction shelf – not to mention it will have you desperate to book a flight to Cuba.

Read The Third Hotel: Amazon | Goodreads

Hell House by Richard Matheson book cover with brownish yellow coloring with house and figure out front

3. Hell House by Richard Matheson

The infamous Belasco House in Maine is widely regarded as the most haunted house in the world.

In Hell House, millionaire William Reinhardt Deutsch hires a physicist, a spiritualist, and a medium to investigate the possibility of life after death, starting in the mansion where a supernatural presence works against them every step of the way.

Matheson’s 1971 novel incorporates all the best aspects of books about ghosts: a haunted house, malevolent spirits, a burning mystery, and a ticking clock.

Will the investigators he has hired get to the bottom of the mystery before Deutsch himself passes over to the other side?

See what other great books were published in the 70s.

Read Hell House: Amazon | Goodreads

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward book cover with purple like bird on red orange background

4. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

In Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward’s third novel, stark Southern realism collides with the gothic to make one of the best ghost books of recent years.

The story begins on Jojo’s thirteenth birthday when he slaughters a goat in the hopes of proving to his grandfather that he is truly a man.

Pop tells Jojo stories as the goat cooks, about his time in prison as a teenager and the boys he met there.

One of the boys that Pop met in prison is dead, but his story isn’t over. It’s a visceral beginning to a story that will churn your insides all the way through.

Read Sing, Unburied, Sing: Amazon | Goodreads

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz book cover with skull like head in middle of gray landscape

5. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz

If your passion for ghost story books started young, surely you remember Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark.

It’s well worth revisiting as an adult – if only to wonder what the heck the grown-ups were thinking, letting you read it after lights-out!

Alvin Schwartz drew on popular urban legends and long-held folklore to craft spooky stories, and the scare factor was ramped right up with the nightmare-fuel illustrations supplied by Stephen Gammell.

If you really want to go all-in, you can find more ghost stories in the two follow-up volumes, More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones.

Read Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark: Amazon | Goodreads

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders book cover with brush and trees overlooking city

6. Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

If you’re looking for ghost books outside the norm, you must try Lincoln In The Bardo.

Saunders was inspired by a story his wife had heard about Abraham Lincoln visiting the crypt of his son, who died aged 11 while his father was still in the White House.

Saunders’ story takes place in the “bardo,” a liminal space between life and death, and features over 150 ghosts, people caught in the in-between who don’t realize that they have died.

This is a hauntingly beautiful – if, at times, confusing and infuriating – novel, and one of the best ghost novels this century (so far).

With all of the different ghosts and voices, Lincoln In The Bardo makes for an incredibly enjoyable fantasy audiobook too.

Read Lincoln In The Bardo: Amazon | Goodreads

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill book cover with foggy and dark forest

7. The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

If you’re looking for cozy but spooky ghost story books, check out The Woman In Black.

This 1983 gothic novel is set in the English countryside, which sounds like an idyllic escape… if it weren’t for the mysterious specter that haunts its residents.

The narrator, Arthur Kipps, was just a junior solicitor when he was summoned to the small town to settle the estate of a recently deceased widow.

At her funeral, he sees something unsettling, and he soon realises there’s more to the life (and death) of the elderly woman than he first thought.

Years later, living his best life in London, what he experienced still haunts him.

Travel back to the 80s with more great books.

Read The Woman In Black: Amazon | Goodreads

Beloved by Toni Morrison

8. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Books about ghosts aren’t all spooks and silly scares: some of them hold a serious message in their pages.

Beloved is one such novel, Toni Morrison’s story of a former slave haunted by the child she was forced to kill.

The story is based on the real-life experience of Margaret Garner, an escaped slave who killed her own children rather than have them captured and re-enslaved under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Such trauma is unimaginable but beautifully rendered by Morrison’s skilled hand.

It’s an incredible metaphor for the inherited trauma that continues to affect the descendants of victims of the African slave trade.

Beloved is also a great book to make you think more deeply.

Read Beloved: Amazon | Goodreads | Read More

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë book cover with water or ocean at sunset with pink and darkening sky

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe.”

The classic novel Wuthering Heights might not be the first that comes to mind when you’re looking for ghost books, but this haunting story of love that persists across the divide is definitely one you need to read.

Volatile, brooding Heathcliff was adopted into a world of privilege, but never quite belonged there.

His heart is broken when his adopted-sister-slash-love-interest, Catherine, decides to marry the boy next door and is then broken all over again when she dies tragically young.

But will her spirit ever leave the moors that Heathcliff still calls home?

Read Wuthering Heights: Amazon | Goodreads

City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab book cover with young person and cat walking away from cityscape

10. City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

This is Edinburgh like you’ve never seen it before!

In City Of Ghosts, Cassidy Blake’s ghost-hunting parents are the stars of a new TV show that takes them to the haunted Scottish capital.

She moves with them, and in her new city, she meets Lara, another In-Betweener who “helps” ghosts move permanently beyond the Veil.

Working together, they tackle the Red Raven, a sinister ghostly force that puts up an epic fight.

Sweet, spooky, and evocative, this is one of the best alternate-reality ghost books for young adults, and grown-up readers will get a kick out of it, too.

Read City Of Ghosts: Amazon | Goodreads

Ghost Story by Peter Straub book cover with skull over burning firepit

11. Ghost Story by Peter Straub

For 50 years, the Chowder Society has been meeting in upstate New York to tell stories. Four friends make up this group – but there used to be five.

Ever since the mysterious death of Edward Wanderley at a party, his remaining friends have been haunted, and the stories they share have taken a dark turn.

The King of Horror, Stephen King, called Ghost Story “one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century,” and it’s definitely one of the best ghost books to keep you up past your bedtime.

Bump up the spook factor by reading it with your own book club!

Travel to New York with even more books, and if you are looking for shorter scary books in a time crunch, be sure to peruse our spooky novellas reading list.

Read Ghost Story: Amazon | Goodreads

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving book cover with illustrated person standing on cliff with flag and moon shining down

12. The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

If you’re looking for classic American ghost story books, look no further than The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

Okay, technically it’s a short story, but it’s every bit as complex and evocative as the best ghost novels.

First published in 1819 (and popularised by the Disney adaptation in 1949), this surprisingly complex ghost story has had a long and lasting influence on popular culture.

In fact, the New York village once known as North Tarrytown – where many of the events in Irving’s story take place – has since officially changed its name to Sleepy Hollow.

Also, its local high-school sports teams are the Horsemen in reference to the legend.

Read The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow: Amazon | Goodreads

Hotel World by Ali Smith book cover with pink hotel bedding, golden bed frame and deeper pink wall

13. Hotel World by Ali Smith

If you’re looking for inventive books about ghosts with serious literary chops, Hotel World is your go-to.

Ali Smith has crafted an intense postmodern masterpiece, for which she was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Book Award (in 2001) and the Encore Award (in 2002).

The story is told in five sections, from the Past to conditional futures, then weaving back to the Present.

The ghost at its heart is Sara Wilby, a young hotel chambermaid who tragically falls to her death in a dumbwaiter.

This is a powerful and moving meditation on grief and acceptance.

Find even more spooky books set at hotels.

Read Hotel World: Amazon | Goodreads

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver book cover with water and foggy mountains

14. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Jack Miller is in his late-20s, and stuck in a dead-end job, barely making ends meet. Plus, it’s 1937 London, so the dark clouds of war are looming overhead.

It’s hard to blame Jack for jumping at the opportunity to join an expedition to the Arctic, an adventure into the unknown with only four other men and eight Huskies for company.

It’s hardly a traditional start, but Dark Matter is unique among ghost books.

The chills are two-fold: the plunging temperatures of the approaching polar night, and Jack’s growing fear that they are not alone in the darkness.

Read Dark Matter: Amazon | Goodreads

Join The Uncorked Reading Challenge Today

Travel around the world with the Uncorked Reading Challenge. Get the best book and movie recs straight to your inbox. Sign Up Now.

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco book cover with ghostly person hanging upside down with lights

15. The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

If you want to dive into a series of young adult ghost story books, start with The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco.

It all begins with a restless spirit, Okiku, wandering the Earth and unable to move on after her murder.

She devotes her afterlife to haunting anyone who has taken the life of a child, a vengeance mission she pairs with helping the other ghosts she encounters move on to what should come next.

She figures this is what she’ll do for eternity until she meets Tark, a teenage boy covered in tattoos who changes everything.

Read The Girl From the Well: Amazon | Goodreads

More Of The Best Ghost Books From Christine

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas book cover with illustrated two boys back to back with moon

16. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys is one of the best YA books about ghosts – spirits, in particular – especially if you are looking for LGBTQ+ books for teens and enjoy cultural “witchy” storylines.

Yadriel has the ability to see ghosts – a gift from the goddess of death. In his community, women have the power to heal, and men help guide spirits to the afterlife.

As a trans boy, Yadriel is struggling with his powers as well as gaining acceptance in the Brujx community. Upon the death of his cousin, he is determined to prove himself a real brujo.

When Yadriel summons the wrong ghost, though, his role becomes even harder, especially since he’s falling for this ghost.

Who is murdering the members of Yadriel’s community, and what will Yadriel learn about himself along the way?

Inspiring and gripping, you’ll see what all of the hype about Cemetery Boys is all about. Find even more great LGBT fantasy books to read for adults and teens.

Read Cemetery Boys: Amazon | Goodreads

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas book cover with woman in red dress walking away from house at night

17. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Some of the best ghost novels are classic retellings, and 2022 new book release, The Hacienda, is for fans of Rebecca.

Head to Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence. Beatriz’s father is dead, forcing her to marry for convenience and money. It’s the only way to save her family.

Beatriz moves into Don Rodolfo Solórzano’s grand estate, but rumor has it that something terrible happened to his last wife within these very rooms.

Haunted Hacienda San Isidro not only requires an exorcism from a priest but also a few witch’s spells. Find a bit of romance in this gothic historical fiction ghost story.

Read The Hacienda: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

18. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

You could easily put any of Simone St. James ghost books on this reading list, The Book Of Cold Cases, The Broken Girls (dark academia), Silence For the Dead, and The Haunting of Maddy Clare – just to name a few.

However, one of our favorite books of 2020 includes The Sun Down Motel, reigniting our love for suspense novels and ghost stories.

In 1982, Carly Kirk’s Aunt Viv disappears from The Sun Down Motel. Now in 2017 and with the death of her mother, Carly heads to upstate New York in search of answers – and her aunt.

In an alternating timeline, meet the ghosts of the hotel – just don’t get locked in with the candy machine as you start to smell cigarette smoke.

Can Carly uncover the mystery of her aunt’s disappearance before that something sinister also gets her?

Read The Sun Down Motel: Amazon | Goodreads | Read More

Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi book cover with two chairs, blue wallpaper, and cat on the ground

19. Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Translated into English by Geoffrey Trousselot

Before the coffee gets cold is more of a book with a ghost vs one of the top “ghost books” – but it’s an important one.

For Japanese fanstasy lovers, head to a centuries-old, back-alley cafe in Tokyo, Japan. Once here, grab a cup of coffee, wait for the ghost to leave her chair, and travel back in time.

Four patrons are here for that particular reason, hoping to see someone for the first or last time. Each has unfinished business.

True to the title, visitors can only stay before their coffee gets cold. If they don’t finish their coffee and meeting in time, they are destined to become the new ghost in the chair.

Before the coffee gets cold is the perfect short read for time traveler lovers. This one will leave you thinking, but be forwarned that not everyone loved it as much as we did.

Read Before the coffee gets cold: Amazon | Goodreads

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

20. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Of course, Neil Gaiman has penned one of the best ghost story books that we especially recommend as a road trip audiobook.

After his parents are murdered, the ghoulish cemetery inhabitants help raise Nobody “Bod” Owens.

Bod makes friends and has adventures with both those living outside of the graveyard and the dead within, including a witch. Yet, not everyone is as friendly as they seem.

True to his human roots, though, Bod craves growing up like a living boy, including attending school. However, his parents’ killer is still on the loose and determined to fulfill a prophecy.

Can Bod finally become part of the living, and what will become of his ghostly friends and family?

Read The Graveyard Book: Amazon | Goodreads | Read More

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol book cover with illustrated girl with dark hair swirling in the air

21. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Nothing beats a good friendship story, even if that friend is a ghost.

An immigrant from Russia, Anya is struggling to fit in at school. She befriends a ghost at the bottom of a well, and this ghost, Emily, helps Anya attract the attention of her crush and the “cool” kids.

Of course, being popular isn’t as glam as it looks, and Anya also starts to wonder what happened to Emily.

For YA ghost books in graphic novel form, this is a great selection for reluctant readers and those looking for a relatable high school experience.

From more conservative readers, Anya’s Ghost has been criticized for its mature content.

Find even more powerful graphic novels for teens and tweens. However, if you are looking for something scarier, find ghosts on this creepy graphic novels reading list.

Read Anya’s Ghost: Amazon | Goodreads

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll book cover with black and white woods and red sky

22. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods is a haunting short story graphic novel filled with gothic and macabre illustrations.

Bad dreams have the potential to kill, skin is the vessel for worm-like babies, and there are a plethora of murderers, ghosts, and body parts.

Do not walk through the woods late at night – although, in reality, there is no escaping evitable doom.

For ghost story books, the intentional illustrations are the most appealing.

Eyes are grayed out or missing, implying the darkness that lies underneath. Claw-like hands tear through the pages. Red smears across the pages successfully integrate all five stories.

Through the Woods is one seriously spooky book.

Read Through the Woods: Amazon | Goodreads

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia book cover with Mexican woman wearing a maroon dress holding flowers

23. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you champion kick-butt women in historical fiction, travel to the Mexican countryside in the 1950s in Moreno-Garcia’s popular Mexican Gothic.

Noemí Taboada leaves for High Place to help her struggling cousin, Catalina. Part of the problem is that the estate’s walls are teeming with demons and death.

Noemí knows that something isn’t quite right, and with so many secrets, can the two women escape High Place alive?

For gothic ghost story books, Mexican Gothic is eerily atmospheric and rich in detail.

Read Mexican Gothic: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager book cover with chandelier glowing in a green light

24. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Popular books about ghosts sometimes have a twist, and Sager’s Home Before Dark won’t disappoint.

With the death of her father, Maggie returns to her haunted childhood home, Baneberry Hall.

Previously, her father’s bestselling story about the property changed all of their lives – and not necessarily for the better.

Did her father fabricate the ghostly tales of Baneberry Hall just to make a quick buck? Or, was Maggie’s father covering up for something much worse? 

Ghost thrillers don’t get any more dangerous and unnerving than this. You might just find yourself believing in ghosts.

Read Home Before Dark: Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens book cover with water and sunset

25. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Who knew that a classic Christmas story would also become one of the best ghost books?

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol follows grumpy and greedy Ebenezer Scrooge, who has lost his way – and his heart, compassion, and empathy.

Visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, Scrooge learns from his deceased business partner, Marley, and these ghosts what his currently bleak future holds.

Can Scrooge change before it’s too late?

Read A Christmas Carol: Amazon | Goodreads

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen book cover with bright blue birds flying around a golden cage

26. Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Did you ever almost not finish a book because it started so slow, but then, decided to stay with it – and the ending was completely worth it? Kind of like Season 2 of White Lotus

Well, that’s Asheville author, Sarah Addison Allen’s, Other Birds for us. Goodreads reviewers raved about this one, which is why we kept going.

Thank goodness; Other Birds ended up being one of our favorite 2022 book releases.

Set on Mallow Island in South Carolina, Zoey is about to start college.

With the death of her mother, her father and new wife want little to do with her, except for transforming her former bedroom into the perfect Instagram office.

Charismatic Zoey starts charming the once-isolated and unfriendly residents of The Dellawisp into becoming friends and part of her newfound family.

However, when one of them dies, everyone’s secrets and ghosts of the past start to unfold and reveal themselves.

For slow-burn ghost story books, Other Birds might just have you in tears. There’s a bit of delicious foodie fiction here too.

Find even more North Carolina authors to read on our sister site, Uncorked Asheville.

Read Other Birds: Amazon | Goodreads

Save These Ghost Books For Later:

Best Ghost Books And Ghost Stories Pinterest pin with ghostly woman walking up dark stairs and book covers for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Third Hotel, The Girl From The Well, Dark Matter, The Woman in Black, City of Ghosts, Wuthering Heights, The Graveyard Book
Save your favorite ghost stories for later, and chase ghosts around the world with The Uncorked Librarian.

Grab your favorite books about ghosts here:

1. Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
2. Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
3. Amazon Prime: Don’t miss Amazon First Reads – early access to Kindle books. Get fast delivery as well as movies, music, Originals, shows, and more.
4. Or, start your trial of Amazon Video for movies and tv series on demand.

Sheree from Keeping Up With The Penguins, short black hair woman holding an orange stripped book, Frankenstein

Thank you to TUL contributor, Sheree from Keeping Up With The Penguins

Sheree (pronouns: she/her) is a writer and book reviewer living on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation (known as Sydney, Australia). She has been reviewing books on her blog, Keeping Up With The Penguins, since 2017. She reads books of all kinds and shares her thoughts on them all across the internet.

What are your favorite books about ghosts?

Which ghost novels have you enjoyed? Are there any that we should add to our growing TBR pile? Let us know in the comments.

More paranormal & fantastical reading lists:

Books With Vampires
YA Vampire Books
Salem Witch Trial Books
Books With Werewolves
Alien Books

“Ghosts” is also a theme for the 2023 Reading Challenge.