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32 Seriously Creepy & Spooky Books For Adults

Are you looking for seriously spooky books for adults? Uncover favorite creepy books guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

Stinky farting unicorns, zombie teenagers, true crime podcasts, murderous obsessions, ghosts, 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 seriously spooky book list.

I dare you to pick up one of these horror books for adults late at night alone in the house. Dim the lights, light a candle, and try not to be terrified out of your mind. Heck, I need a glass of wine just thinking about it.

This eclectic spooky books reading list is also perfect for Halloween, October, or the fall. Find something for every type of reader.

Uncover the newest suspense novels, vampire books, and even a few psychological thrillers. We love our creepy classics as well as riveting and popular ghost books for adults.

Plus, our favorite bloggers, bookstagrammers, and authors brainstormed to share their top creepy books. Find horrifyingly scary books for adults and teens — although a few of these books sit on the milder side.

So, what are the best spooky books according to our community? What is your personal favorite creepy book? Let’s get started!

Love scary books and paranormal stories? You might cackle for these wickedly witchy books.

Seriously Creepy Spooky Books For Adults blog post cover with old books, white smoke, and blue background
Hoping to fill your TBR pile with terrifying thrillers, deadly mysteries, creepy classics, gory graphic novels, and gothic fiction? Don’t miss our favorite spooky books for adults on this reading list perfect for fall.

P.S. A few ways to read these creepy novels and grab discounted titles:

1. We get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month.
2. Try Audible Plus.
3. Find books via Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans.
4. As a member of Amazon Prime, don’t miss Amazon First Reads — early access to Kindle books.

Seriously Spooky Books For Adults: Thrilling & Chilling Mysteries

2021 spooky murder mysteries, The Maidens by Alex Michaelides book cover

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Literary Cult Fiction Featuring Greek Mythology & Set In The UK (Cambridge)

Don’t miss one of the most anticipated 2021 murder mysteries and spooky books, The Maidens. You may recognize Michaelides from his popular debut, The Silent Patient.

Also a Book Of The Month Selection, if you seek out horror books on cults or crave Greek mythology, this one is for you. Michaelides is best known for his signature surprise and twisted endings.

A novel set mostly at Cambridge, watch as a group of impressionable young women hang on a handsome professor’s every word.

When these young undergrads end up brutally murdered, one by one — just like the Greek tragedies that they are studying — the murderer seems quite obvious. Yet, something is off.

As Mariana fights to overcome the death of her husband in Naxos — a man she idolized — she can’t help but think that she is cursed. Others question her sanity.

Can Mariana solve the mystery before the murderer comes for her? This is a nail-biting and fast-paced mystery. Some were disappointed by the ending, but not us. Amazon | Goodreads

2021 creepy books, We Were Never Here by  Andrea Bartz book cover with rainbow title and palm trees in dark background

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

One of the newer creepy books of 2021, head to Cambodia and Chile for one deadly good time. Best friends Emily and Kristen are adventurous travelers, but men always end up dead in their path.

Are these truly random accidents of self-defense, and will these women get caught?

Back home in Wisconsin, Emily starts to question why Kristen’s life is filled with so much tragedy and death, including her parent’s demise in a home fire. Kristen’s grandparents seem pretty on edge, too.

Full of chilling suspense, watch as Kristen manipulates Emily and her new beau while slowly putting together all of the pieces.

What’s going here? And is someone else about to die? Spoiler: the answer is YES.

Although you might find some parts of We Were Never Here a bit slow and not quite tidied up, the last lines of this suspenseful novel will get you.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good book on toxic and deadly friendships in the fall? Witness the long-term effects of childhood trauma at their worst, too. Amazon | Goodreads


Best horror books The Ring by Koji Suzuki red book cover with lines yielding into a circle

Ring by Koji Suzuki

Translated by Glynne Walley | 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

Creepy book and 2020 murder mystery, Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane book cover with blurred white woman's face

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Murder Mystery & Thriller Set In Ithaca, New York

We don’t recommend reading Pretty Little Wife right before bed… This is a fast-paced, creepy thriller that didn’t leave us with the most soothing dreams at night.

If you love true crime podcasts, eerie feminist revenge, and dysfunctional families, we think you’ll speed read through Pretty Little Wife, one of our favorite creepy books of 2020.

Head to Ithaca, New York where it’s pretty clear that ice queen Lila Ridgefield offed her scumbag husband, Aaron. However, the police cannot prove it.

Both Lila and Aaron grew up drowning in trauma and tragedy. Unfortunately for Lila, her scheme doesn’t go quite as planned.

Her supposedly dead husband is MIA. Is he alive? And more importantly, is he coming for her?

While you are waiting for Aaron to pop up in the shadows of their house, the story grows darker. Something more sinister is in the backdrop as police have also been searching for missing college students.

I’m still shivering. Lila is the perfect but troubled vigilante hero. With the goal to emphasize survivors versus predatory men, you’ll find more depth to this thriller than you expected. Amazon | Goodreads


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Spooky Books For Adults The Good Daughter By Karen Slaughter book cover with shadow of woman holding a candle

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Murder Mystery Set In Pikeville
Submission from 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.

They also must still face the unspoken demons lingering from the events 28 years previous. Amazon | Goodreads

2020 scary books for adults, The Girl From Widow Hills Megan Miranda book cover with golden hair floating in blue water

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

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?

The clues are everything in this mystery and thriller, and as for creepy books, this one will have your heart racing. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Save These Creepy Books For Later

Scary Books For Adults Pinterest Pin with book covers for The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Exorcist by William Beatty, Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Night Swim by Megan Goldin, Come Closer by Sara Gran, The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter, and Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Is your TBR pile already overflowing with spooky books? We feel ya! Save this scary books reading list for later and come back to it when you are ready!
2020 Creepy Books, Home Before Dark by Riley Sager book cover with chandelier glowing in a green light

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

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… Home Before Dark is also one of our favorite ghost books for adults on this list. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

2020 Spooky Books, The Guest List Lucy Foley book cover with mansion on an island in the rain

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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 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 Novels

2020 Creepy books and thrillers, Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel pink book cover with gray and black butterfly

Darling Rose Gold By Stephanie Wrobel

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→

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd book cover with picture of mom and child on broken phone

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

Social Media Thriller Set In London

People Like Her is an especially creepy book if you are a blogger and Instagrammer. Hello, The Uncorked Librarian.

Thrilling and terrifying, this is one of the most #relevant 2021 books about social media so far.

InstaMom Emmy Jackson is a famous mom influencer. Her popularity isn’t always good, though; she seems to have a revenge-seeking stalker.

Is it because she gives out vomit-worthy, fake advice? Doesn’t practice what she preaches? Is caught making her house look messy to be more ‘relatable?’

Let’s be real, Emmy is a crappy influencer lacking ethics and a soul… We don’t really care for her; she makes the rest of us look really bad.

Emmy doesn’t care, though. She is bringing in 6 to 7-figures and transforming moms’ lives. Until she isn’t… Toxic and unprofessional advice can be deadly.

Told in three perspectives — Emmy’s ‘author’ husband, a spooky stalker, and her own — you’ll wonder how much sympathy you have for Emmy. Everyone in this story is quite detestable.

We are pretty sure you will hate-love People Like Her and will crack up at the hysterical Instagram references.

Unlike Emmy, let’s be real here: We are 200% all-in for #blessed social media-related spooky books. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→

Spooky Books Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes book cover with telephone jack

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

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

Scary books for adults, The Safe Place by Anna Downes book cover with blue pool and lounge chairs facing the ocean

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

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.

Eerie and mysterious, you will frantically turn the pages of this dark debut. Will Emily get out alive? Why the isolation, misery, and secrets? Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Best spooky books like Come Closer by Sara Gran book cover with white brunette woman's face covered in splattered blood

Come Closer by Sara Gran

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, she chalks 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

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin book cover with waves breaking on a beach with half woman's face

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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. Who knew so many creepy books took place in North Carolina?

Rachel Krall, a true crime podcaster, has a reputation for inadvertently solving murders and affecting trial outcomes. Some judges and lawyers despise her.

With a successful podcast and die-hard fans, listeners seek out Rachel’s help and coverage with their stories.

Rachel heads to smalltown North Carolina for a sexual assault trial when she learns about an unsolved death that is seemingly not an accident. Caught up in the drama of both cases, Rachel risks her life for her passion and to help the victims.

This spooky book will keep you guessing and places readers in the jury box…

We loved the relevancy of podcasting and blogging as well as the appeal for our trending true crime fascination. Are you a Murderino?  Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Creepy book set in Long Island, Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam book cover with diving board and pool

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Thriller & Suspense Novel Set In Long Island

Are you ready for one of our favorite suspense novels with a slow-burn plot and limited action? Leave The World Behind is a seriously creepy book and thriller.

A 2020 Book of the Month selection, Alam’s vocabulary and mastery of repetition fascinated us. Be sure to read this spooky book to prep for the SATs.

Alam draws readers into his characters through their honest revelations and flaws. Everything and everyone is a (dreadful) mystery.

By the end, readers understand that this is a story about life, living, and inevitable death. The blackout in NYC is an intense metaphor.

The ‘plot:’ Amanda and Clay rent an Airbnb on Long Island for their vacation. When the older owners randomly return, they warn them that there is a devastating blackout in the city.

Ruth and H.G. want their second home back early and end up staying with their temporary tenants who, quite frankly, disgust them. They disgust us, too…

With no cell phone reception or cable, Amanda and Clay along with their two children are at a loss of what to believe. Can we survive without technology?

In the course of just a few days, a haunting tale unfolds questioning how we live, what we rely upon, privilege, and human nature.

We personally think Alam despises us all — with some hope in our children — and we were all here for it. Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware book cover with boat port hole and rainy sea

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

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

Infamously Scary Books For Adults

Seriously spooky books for adults The Shining By Stephen King gray book cover with eyes

The Shining by Stephen King

Spooky Book Set In Colorado

If you are looking for popular and 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

Best Horror Books Ever The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty book cover with red glowing face of a woman

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

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 2020 books, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia book cover with Mexican woman wearing a maroon dress holding flowers

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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 for the cousins along with lovers of historical gothic fiction and horror. If you covet haunted houses, this is one of the best contemporary ghost books for adults.  Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

Spooky books for adults Perfume by Patrick Suskind yellow, orange, and red book cover with naked person swaying

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

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 books for adults and teens Cauldron's Bubble book cover with cauldron on a fire

Cauldron’s Bubble by Amber Elby

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 MacbethHamlet, and The Tempest, so new and established Shakespeare fans will have something to enjoy. Amazon | Goodreads

If you love magic and spells, don’t miss our witchy reading list, too.

Seriously Creepy Books For Classic Lovers

Creepy Classics Frankenstein by Mary Shelley book cover with face of green monster that almost looks human

Frankenstein By Mary Shelley

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

Love Frankenstein? Don’t miss even more great novels set in Switzerland.

Scary Books For adults Dracula by Bran Stoker red book cover with path leading up to Dracula Castle

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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 Classics The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde book cover with Dorian Gray portrait, a white brunette man

The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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

Strangers on a train by Patricia Highsmith book cover

Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith

Horror Book Set On Train Between D.C. & NYC

One of the most famous creepy books set on a train, don’t skip Highsmith’s Strangers On A Train. This 1950s train thriller gained popularity when Alfred Hitchcock transformed the book into a terrifying movie.

And yes, the movie is different and, for me, better. *Gasp.*

Guy Haines wants to divorce his cheating, pregnant wife when he meets Charles Bruno on a train. A renowned architect, Haines wishes to marry his new love. Bruno is, well, a psychopath. Hindsight is everything.

When rambling Bruno suggests that he and Guy swap murders of their ‘beloved’ ones — he’ll kill Haines’s wife Miriam if Haines kills his father — Haines brushes him off. Until Miriam is strangled to death at a fair…

Haines finds himself owing relentless Bruno a deranged favor. The characterization in Strangers On A Train is everything.

Although a bit dry and excessive at times, you can’t help but get drawn into this wild and intense plot. Amazon | Goodreads | Read More→

P.S. If you are looking for a more modern spooky retelling of Strangers On A Train, try Confessions On The 7:45 by Lisa Unger.

Nonfiction & True Crime Spooky Books For Adults

True Crime Horror, In Cold Blood By Truman Capote black and white book cover with picture of a small rural town

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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 | GoodreadsRead More→

Scary Books For Adults: Graphic Novels

Spooky Books From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell red and white book cover with building in the distance

From Hell by Alan Moore

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 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

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

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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.

We read this one for a 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 TUL Appreciate

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong book cover with sword covered in golden dragon and red roses

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

YA Romeo & Juliet Retelling | Political Fiction Set In Shanghai, China

Looking for a creepy book perfect for teens and adults? Published at the end of 2020 and a BOTM selection, don’t miss this multicultural Romeo and Juliet retelling set in Shanghai, China in the mid-1920s.

Full disclosure that we have mixed feelings about These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.  This 3.5-star romance is a solid political fiction novel.

However, the plot is a tad on the overkill/lengthy side paired with a bit of sloggy storytelling at the beginning. The ending won us back, though.

Juliette Cai returns from America and is trying to avoid her family enemy, Roma Montagov.  Although in rival gangs that shoot each other on sight, Juliette has never really fallen out of love with Roma…even though he betrayed her.

With a violent monster plaguing the streets of Shanghai – insects that cause people to rip out their own throats — the Communist Party moving in, and European foreigners trying to carve out their piece of the county, Juliette and Roma decide to team up to go up against them all.

Can they save the people of Shanghai?  What about their destined doomed love? Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→

YA Spooky Books For Adults Zombies vs Unicorns black book cover with zombie and unicorn

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Spooky YA Fantasy

Just a fair warning since we do not typically read short stories: Zombies vs. Unicorns is an anthology edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.

Authors include a few of our YA favs like Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, and Maureen Johnson.  These are mildly scary stories.

And yes, guys, this is TUL so you know that we are going to recommend a few young adult titles for this spooky books for adults reading list.  Come 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.

We 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

For more YA books, head over to our Vampire Book List For Teens.

Best spooky books for adults and teens The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco black and white book cover with girl walking out a doorway

Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

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

Good YA horror books to read Alive by Melissa Woods book cover with brunette white woman holding bleeding organs

Alive? by Melissa Woods

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

Don’t forget to grab your favorite spooky books here:

1. We get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month.
2. Try Audible Plus.
3. Find books via Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans.
4. As a member of Amazon Prime, don’t miss Amazon First Reads — early access to Kindle books.

Save These Scary Books For Adults & Teens For Later

Creepy Books And Spooky Books Reading List Pinterest Pin with book covers for The Maidens by Alex Michaelides, Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane, The Guest List by Lucy Foley, The Night Seim by Megan Goldin, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda with picture of spooky ghosts clawing at window
Did you find a few new creepy books to read? Save this spooky books reading list for later and never be without a good book on your shelves.

Which Of These Spooky Books For Adults Will You Read Next?

Quite frankly, we scared ourselves by compiling this list. Creepy books CREEP us out. 

Note that we also wrote about unicorns and zombies.  We cannot handle anything more terrifying than a nasty rainbow pony.  We would never be able to fall asleep at night. Jessica Jones’s mom gave us night terrors for weeks.

Which of these novels do you consider as the best spooky books of all time? Which will you add to your fall reading list? Are there any scary books that you didn’t love or weren’t scary enough?

We 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.

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Robyn

Sunday 3rd of October 2021

The Silent Companions is one of my favorite reads. A gothic style story, it’s old fashioned in the best of ways.

Christine

Monday 4th of October 2021

We'll have to check it out. Thanks so much for the spooky book rec.

Chocoviv

Saturday 29th of August 2020

The Ring is my favourite...

Christine

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Did you watch the movie, too?

Sarah

Thursday 27th of August 2020

This is an interesting list. I tend not to read horror books very often, not because they scare me but because I find them bland - I'm strange, I know. Even authors like Stephen King, I just find myself bored out of my wits when reading what people claim are some of the scariest books. I think I desensitized myself to horror after watching too many horror movies as a kid. However, I still do have the odd craving to read something scary from time to time, so next time that happens, I'm going to use this list as a reference. I do have dracula and Frankenstein on my TBR, so those books I do intend to read at some point.

Christine

Sunday 30th of August 2020

Haha, that isn't strange at all. I actually never enjoyed horror books or creepy books until the pandemic. Suddenly, this year, I found myself into rom-coms along with thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

The creepy classics are a must, and I *think* you might like the scary books from 2020 -- those are less just about the horror and more psychological thrillers. I ate up Darling Rose Gold, and The Guest List was funny, creepy, and relevant (the bridge-to-be is a blogger). I didn't love the Riley Sager as much as others did, and The Night Swim is in my pile - everyone is raving about that one. I forgot to add The Sun Down Motel, but I enjoyed that one as well.

Liz

Monday 29th of June 2020

I love this blog but there are so many ads that it's very distracting and hard to navigate through.

Christine

Monday 29th of June 2020

Thanks so much for saying that you love my blog, Liz. I appreciate it! I'm sorry the ads are troublesome for you--I definitely understand, but I also put out endless free content; these ads are how I earn money as a full-time blogger. My site (hosting, mailing lists, apps to smoothly run TUL, fees to hirer a developer to help maintain its speed for users), etc cost me at least 5,000 a year to maintain; those ads help pay off those expenses. You can always use an ad blocker, but please also know those ads support my small business.

Kathy | Tasty Itinerary

Thursday 15th of August 2019

I LOVE that you added so many horror classics to this list as seriously the oldies are oldies but goodies. I want to read The Good Daughter! It sounds like it could be made into a movie. Did they make it into a movie?

And can we talk about these unicorns?! I'm dying laughing at your descriptions. Nasty rainbow unicorns! Bahahahah

Christine

Saturday 17th of August 2019

Yes, The Good Daughter was made into a movie in 2008. I will have to watch it too!

God, I am a sucker for unicorns...even dirty ones.

I'm glad that you love the creepy classics too. I might do a post just for them since they are very location-specific.