Are you looking for seriously spooky books? Search no longer as authors and bloggers come together to share their favorite creepy books and horrifying stories. Make sure to read these scary books for adults, including a few for teens, with the lights on and doors locked!
Stinky farting unicorns, zombie teenagers, true-life crime mysteries, murderous obsessions, and folktales gone grim. From graphic novels to fantasy and nonfiction, these are just a few of the themes that await the daring and brave reader from this uncorked and terrifying seriously spooky books for adults reading list.
Some of my favorite bloggers, bookstagrammers, and new authors have brainstormed to create their favorite creepy books recommendations filled with amazingly good scary books for adults (and some teens) to read.
I dare you to pick up one of these titles late at night alone in the house with the lights dimmed and not be terrified out of your mind. Heck, I need a glass of wine just thinking about the horrors in each book.
This eclectic spooky books list is perfect for Halloween, October, or the fall, too, and is sure to have something for every type of reader.
P.S. A few ways to read these spooky books and grab discounted titles:
1. We get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month.
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Seriously Spooky Books For Adults: Thrilling & Chilling Mysteries
| Creepy Book Set In Japan
If you are looking for scary books for adults that are also movies, don’t skip Ring, a deadly murder mystery. A cursed videotape lands at an unsuspecting viewer’s home. If a certain, unknown act is not performed, the viewers die from heart attacks. And die they do.
After his own niece dies, journalist Asakawa decides to investigate. Finding hidden messages in the tape, Asakawa heads out across Japan for answers that appear related to a disappearing woman. Unless Asakawa figures out how to stop the curse, more will die. Is he immune to the consequences of the tape. Amazon | Goodreads
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Murder Mystery Set In Pikeville
Submission from a returning TUL contributor, Hayley of Backpacking Bookworm
Don’t be fooled by the title. For seriously spooky books, The Good Daughter is full of blood, gore, and murder — as in internal body parts from a mother’s gruesome death splattering her children square in the face. The author does not hold back on psychologically disturbing descriptions. The dark nature pushes the boundaries of typical psychological thrillers, drawing out the horror to create graphic imagery.
Karen Slaughter’s The Good Daughter is a turbulent family drama following the Quinn family. The first part of the book reveals the harrowing murder of Gamma witnessed by her two daughters, Samantha and Charlotte. They are helpless in trying to save her, as their father is a successful defense lawyer with plenty of local enemies.
The second part of the book is set 28 years later where Charlotte, now a successful defense lawyer, is first on the scene of a school shooting. The culprit is a teenage girl who is quite clearly holding the gun that killed two people.
Charlotte knows there is always more. With the help of her father and begrudging sister, they must work against the clock to help the vulnerable teen, whilst still facing the unspoken demons lingering from the events 28 years previous. Amazon | Goodreads
Psychological Thriller & Suspense Set In North Carolina & Kentucky
Olivia is trying to move on from her infamous past by starting over in North Carolina. It’s the 20-year anniversary of her well-known sewer drain rescue, an occasion that has transformed her life for both good and bad.
When Olivia trips over a body in her yard during a sleepwalking episode, she realizes NC won’t be the escape she hoped for. Now a suspect, is someone trying to send Olivia a message?
Mystery Book Set In Vermont | Ghost Thrillers
If you love creepy books with haunted houses and Ouija boards, don’t miss Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, also a Book Of The Month selection.
With Maggie’s father’s recent death, she must reconcile her childhood haunted house, Baneberry Hall. Her father’s bestselling book about the home changed all of their lives, mostly for the worst.
Did Maggie’s father lie about the paranormal occurrences at Baneberry just to make money? Or was he hiding something more sinister? Against her mother’s wishes, Maggie returns to the haunted house, even though it foreshadowed her imminent death on the property. Will Maggie come out alive? This spooky book will have you looking in your dresser before bed… Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→
Whodunit Mystery Set In Ireland
One of the best fun and light spooky books of 2020, I loved The Guest List by Lucy Foley, also a Book of the Month selection. Set on a haunted island off of the shores of Connemara, Ireland, watch spoiled frat boys fall apart. If you love Agatha Christie novels, you’ll enjoy The Guest List, which has a little comedic relief, too.
The story begins with the discovery of a dead body during yuppie AF wedding festivities. All of the guests are extremely vile, rich snobs. The ushers grew up together in a weird cult-like prep school filled with secrets and lingering immaturity. The women have destructive relationships with the men in their lives. Everyone has secrets and a motive…Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→
Seriously Creepy Books: Psychological Thrillers & Suspense
Women’s Psychological Thriller & 2020 Debut
Darling Rose Gold is one of my favorite creepy books of 2020. Talk about dysfunctional families.
Poisonous Patty is serving a 5-year prison sentence: she would shave her daughter Rose Gold’s hair, pull her out of school, and convince Rose Gold that she needed a wheelchair. In reality, though, Patty was poisoning her daughter’s food.
On Patty’s release day, Rose Gold picks her up with a new son in tote. Patty moves in, against everyone’s wishes, and you wonder what the heck Rose Gold is thinking. From here on out, though, watch a vindictive game unfold. The toxicity and manipulation make Darling Rose Gold one of the best fast-paced thrillers and spooky books of 2020. You’ll also hate everyone. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→
Horror Novel Set In The UK | Contribution by Eliza Stopps of Eliza Stopps.
Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst, which gives her terrifying insight into abusive relationships and criminal behavior. Because of this, In the Darkest Corner is one of the best spooky books and thrillers about a woman whose dream man turns into a nightmare. Their relationship slowly transforms into something violent and controlling. By the time Catherine finally figures out her ex-boyfriend’s motives, it’s almost too late.
Catherine manages to leave her ex, Lee, and starts to see another man. Just as she starts to feel better, Catherine is forced to question her own sanity. Strange things start happening around her apartment. Her spoons are in the wrong spot in the drawer, a curtain pulled to the side when it shouldn’t have been, and the feeling that someone is always watching her… Amazon | Goodreads
Psychological Thriller Set In England and France
If you are looking for spooky books that start out ‘normal,’ don’t miss The Safe Place by Anna Downes. Wine by the pool never looked so manipulating.
Emily’s life is a wreck, making her an easy target to CEO Scott Denny. Scott preys on Emily’s weaknesses, offering her a dreamy nanny/housekeeper position in France. Heading to a secluded mansion where Scott’s wife and sick daughter live, Emily begins to see all of the red flags. Of course, she ignores them until it’s too late.
Scary Novel Set In New York | Submission by Jessica of We Who Walk Here, Walk Alone
Come Closer by Sara Gran is an incisive look at the dangers of ignoring your true nature and trying to mold yourself into the kind of person you think you should be. It’s also one of the best scary books for adults about demonic possession.
Amanda has a steady job and a sensible marriage. She even owns the stylish loft that she dreamed of. To achieve this, though, Amanda has incrementally erased who she is at her core. When strange things start happening, and Amanda notices changes in her personality, chalking them up as signs that she is becoming herself again.
The demon who has claimed her has far more insidious goals. Amanda’s behavior shifts from unusual to alarming and then downright terrifying.
The fact that the early parts of the book are so relatable makes you wonder if the same thing could happen to you. If, like Amanda, you hear mysterious scratching in your walls and start having nightmares about oceans of blood, find yourself an expert in demonology. Fast. Amazon | Goodreads
Psychological Thriller Set In North Carolina
One of the most talked-about spooky books of 2020 (and a BOTM selection) includes Megan Goldin’s The Night Swim.
A psychological thriller, follow Rachel Krall, a true-crime podcaster responsible for freeing an innocent man. Recruited into a trial as well as a mysterious disappearance and murder mystery, Rachel finds herself caught up in the deadly drama. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→
If you are looking for scary books for adults and like Agatha Christie, you’ll enjoy any of Ruth Ware’s spooky titles.
Lo Blacklock writes for a travel magazine and has been invited out on a luxury cruise. One evening, Lo insists that she hears a woman being thrown overboard. None of the guests appear to be missing or perturbed, though, and as Lo investigates, she begins to find that her gorgeous cruise is a fancy nightmare. Amazon | Goodreads
Infamous Scary Books For Adults
Spooky Book Set In Colorado
If you are looking for popular seriously spooky books for adults or love books with a haunted house, you definitely want to check out anything written by Stephen King. Find creepy clowns, pet cemeteries, and high school blood baths.
In The Shining, welcome to the Colorado Rockies, home to the Overlook Hotel resort. Sounds pretty safe, right?! An infamous horror novel, meet recovering alcoholic and writer, Jack Torrance. With the acceptance of an off-season position as a caretaker for the hotel, Jack and his family move onto the resort grounds.
Jack’s son, Danny, possesses ‘special’ abilities unbeknownst to his parents along with the Chef. Weird and deadly occurrences start happening at the hotel. You must grab a copy of this scary AF book to see who survives. Amazon | Goodreads
Terrifying Book Set In Washington, D.C. | Submission by Becca
Talking about one of the best scary books for adults, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty tells the horrifying story of young Regan MacNeil as she literally battles her demons. While Regan’s famous actress mother, Chris MacNeil, works on her next big film, strange and poltergeist-esque activities begin wreaking havoc in the MacNeil household.
Regan starts displaying psychological and physical symptoms, landing her in multiple psychiatric and medical treatments. With no success, Chris MacNeil turns to local Jesuit priest, Father Damien Karras, for assistance. Amazon | Goodreads
Gothic Horror & Historical Fiction Spooky Books
Gothic Horror Set In Mexico
One of the hottest creepy books of 2020, head to the 1950s and the Mexican countryside in Mexican Gothic. Noemí Taboada receives an upsetting letter from her cousin at High Place. Catalina believes that the walls are filled with ghosts and deadly secrets. Is it just the drab atmosphere that is making Catalina and now Noemí feel ill, or is something more sinister at play? This home is alive with death.
The details in Mexican Gothic are dazzling with gore and brilliant golden darkness, making this one of the best new scary books for adults. Feminists will cheer along with lovers of historical gothic fiction and horror. If you covet haunted houses, this one is for you. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→
Translated by John E. Woods | Horror Book Set In Paris | Submission by Jella of Asiana Circus
Perfume is not your everyday thriller, and unlike the other creepy books on this fall reading list, it doesn’t have a lot of blood or a cruel and crazy serial killer. However, Perfume has a perfectly characterized, curious antihero, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille.
Born into the slums of 18th-century Paris, Jean-Baptiste’s mother leaves him to die in the middle of the fish market. Despite the low chances of survival, his loud crying saves his life.
Jean-Baptiste lives a tormented and emotionless life until he finds his passion: scents and perfume-making. Since he cannot connect with people, Jean-Baptiste decides to create a fragrance so perfect that it makes him instantly lovable. His newfound passion quickly turns into an obsession that will lead him to commit multiple murders. Amazon | Goodreads
Spooky Book Set In Shakespearean Time | Submission by the author, Amber, of Amber Elby
Witches? Check. Ghosts? Check. Magic? Check. Candy? Well, it’s BYO, so check your cupboards. What more could you want for spooky books for YA loving adults? How about a dash of Shakespeare, too?
Cauldron’s Bubble is a fast-paced adventure novel that integrates stories from Bard’s plays with original characters in a new, fantastical world. Join Alda, a teenage orphan who just learned that she may or may not be a witch as she is whisked into a magical realm of sorcery, spirits, and nymphs.
On the other side of the world, a cabin boy called Dreng helps a mysterious Danish prince escape from pirates before being shipwrecked on an enchanted island. The two come together to combat an evil sorcerer and save their realities, and themselves.
Although Cauldron’s Bubble can be read and enjoyed by young adults, it is edgy and nuanced enough to satisfy more mature tastes looking for creepy books to read that are much lighter. Along the way, readers will meet characters from Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest, so new and established Shakespeare fans will have something to enjoy. Amazon | Goodreads
Don’t miss our witchy reading list, too.
Seriously Creepy Books For Classic Lovers
Creepy Classic Set In Switzerland
We all know about this wacky and grotesque science experiment gone wrong. Truly one of the best spooky books with a strong moral, watch as an effort to cheat death goes completely awry. When Victor creates a Creature that he can no longer handle or contain, he decides to abandon him.
The lonely Creature learns to take on true human capabilities but is consistently shunned from society. Ultimately, the Creature decides to take revenge on his maker and tormentors. Frankenstein is one of my favorite creepy books to read around Halloween. Amazon | Goodreads
Spooky Classic Set In Transylvania (historic Romania) & England
Dracula is one of the best classic vampire books. Going door to door for sales is always a risky business, especially when Jonathan Harker finds himself at Count Dracula’s castle. Inside, phantom women roam the dark halls. Jonathan even witnesses the Count transform from a human into a bat. Left with the female vampires, Jonathan barely escapes.
Soon after, horrific and mysterious ailments start happening in England where Dracula is rumored to have landed. With vampires clearly lurking around, find romance, horror, and a whole lot of bloodsucking. Personally, Dracula has always been one of my favorite spooky books since high school. Stoker’s version is not quite HBO True Blood, but it’s still just as sexy. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→
Creepy Classic Set In London
A horror novel about hedonism and luxury, The Picture of Dorian Gray is another one of my favorite creepy books and high school classics. The first room in the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom always makes me think of Dorian.
Basil, a coveted artist, believes that Dorian is one handsome creature. He paints a full-length portrait of him. Vain and sensual Dorian wishes that his portrait would age and fade away instead of his body. To Dorian, beauty is all that is worth pursuing in life. Forget being a gentleman.
When Dorian’s deepest desire is granted, the painting begins to not only soak in Dorian’s years but also his nastiness and crimes. Selfishness only leads to self-demise. Readers watch as Dorian falls victim to his own narcissism. Eerie but poignant, you’ll find murder, scorned love, and guys who are jerks in this creepy classic. Amazon | Goodreads
Nonfiction & True Crime Spooky Books For Adults
True Crime Set In Kansas | Submission from Rachael of Booklist Queen
Truman Capote is one of the first authors to write nonfiction that reads like fiction. A true crime classic and one of the best scary books for adults, In Cold Blood will engross you.
In 1959, a typical all-American family is savagely murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. With no apparent motive, the murders seem to be completely random. Yet, the Clutter family was intentionally targeted.
Capote follows the case through the agonizing weeks before the murderers are caught. Over the ensuing years, he covers the case beginning with the trial all the way to the executions of the murderers. Through his extensive interviews, In Cold Blood provides a disturbing peek into the minds of two killers. What could be scarier than that? Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→
Scary Books For Adults: Graphic Novels
Illustrated by Eddie Campbell | Graphic Novel Set In Victorian London | Submission by Jella of Asiana Circus
From Hell is a lesser-known Alan Moore work, but it’s still widely acclaimed and has quickly become one of the most beloved spooky books of all time.
From Hell tells a fictionalized version of the Jack the Ripper story in a gripping and daunting style. It takes place in a slum of Victorian London. If you love the legend of the Jack the Ripper, you are probably going to fall in love with this comic’s beautiful design and dark and deep thoughts. Why does he kill?
This work also gets political, asking how we choose who is worthy in society. Moore created a creepy classic that has messages that are more relevant and important today than they were back in the Victorian era. Amazon | Goodreads
Spooky Graphic Novel
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll is a haunting YA and equally gripping adult-appropriate graphic novel. Discover five short stories with gothic, macabre illustrations. Readers walk through the unforgiving woods and find fairy tales and love gone astray.
I read this one for my grad school lit class, and out of all of the spooky books on this reading list, this one will take you the least time to read but fulfill your creepy book needs. Amazon | Goodreads
YA Spooky Books That Wimpier Adults Like Me Appreciate
Spooky YA Fantasy
Just a fair warning since I do not typically read short stories: Zombies vs. Unicorns is an anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. Authors include a few of my YA favs like Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, and Maureen Johnson. These are mildly scary stories.
And yes, guys, this is me so you know I am going to recommend a few young adult titles for this spooky books for adults reading list. You will convert to the dark side. Get ready for serious comedic banter as Black tries to convert you to Team Unicorn and Larbalestier to Team Zombie. Which team are you?
Sometimes it is harder to find a virgin than a unicorn in NYC. You should always follow instructions—no matter how odd—when babysitting. Cute and fluffy animals are not always cute and fluffy animals, and it is best not to dig up someone unless you plan on marrying them.
I loved Zombies vs. Unicorns and fantasy-loving adults and teens will too. Zombies vs. Unicorns ultimately brings together childhood unicorns and matures them with Walking Dead worthy zombie drama and gore. Amazon | Goodreads
Horror Book Set In The U.S. & Japan | Submission from bookstagrammer Jennia
Most of us are familiar with the classic J-Horror remakes and their uniquely haunting imagery. Rin Chupeco plays with and blends these well-known stories to craft an original and wistful retelling in The Girl from the Well, a lyrical narrative told from the point of view of legendary Japanese specter Okiku.
Okiku descends upon those who thrive from misusing and slaughtering children. When Okiku departs from her first victim’s home, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious boy named Tarquin who is covered in striking and unsettling tattoos.
A malevolent spirit is attached to Tarquin. He has coped with self-deprecating humor and by avoiding close relationships for fear that friends may come to harm. Okiku becomes committed to protecting Tarquin, coming to his aid numerous times. As their unusual friendship progresses, mysteries surrounding Tark’s life and bad fortune are gradually sprinkled throughout the storyline.
Chupeco has flawlessly mixed folklore with the young adult horror genre, ultimately giving us an intriguing take on the classic ghost story and representing one of the best spooky books that adults will love, too. Amazon | Goodreads
Zombie Novel | Submission from the author, Melissa Woods, of Melissa Woods
Alive? is the story of Violet, a seventeen-year-old girl who has the misfortune of getting bitten during the zombie apocalypse. Luckily for Violet, she doesn’t die. Unluckily, she’s picked up a few little quirks along the way. Like the inability to get a decent tan and a somewhat troubling hunger for human flesh.
Alive? is about more than just zombies (though there are plenty of those!). It’s a story about friendship, survival, and the different ways to hide the corpse of the guy you just accidentally ate. Violet, known to everyone she meets as clumsy, unfit, and constantly unlucky, must navigate her way through a world that’s slowly falling to pieces around her while attempting to hide her terrible secret from her closest friends.
The debut YA novel from Melissa Woods blends zombie horror, post-apocalyptic survival, and a dash of humor, in a story that will leave you wondering; “How long would I last in the zompocalypse?” Amazon | Goodreads
Which Of These Spooky Books For Adults Will You Read Next?
Quite frankly, I scared myself by just compiling this list. Creepy books CREEP me out. Note that I wrote about unicorns and zombies. I cannot handle anything more terrifying than a nasty rainbow pony. I would never be able to fall asleep at night. Jessica Jones’s mom gave me night terrors for weeks.
Which of these titles do you consider as the best spooky books of all time? Which will you add to your fall reading list? Are there any books that you didn’t love or weren’t scary enough?
I also hope that you find new authors, bloggers, and friends to follow online. Thank you to all those who contributed with their favorite scary books for adults.
This article originally posted in 2018/updated on August 8, 2019 and is updated for 2020.