After recently reading (and loving) Sip I was inspired to recommend some books to read this fall that won’t scare the pants off you, but still give you spooky vibes.
I wouldn’t classify any of these books as outright horror (though I’m by no means an expert on the genre) but they range from creepy to unsettling to just plain odd. If you want to try something different this season, pick up one of these! There are 13 because…well, 13 is a spooky number – you know, curses and bad luck and whatnot.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson
Elves and goblins are traditionally found in the fantasy realm and while the main characters of this book aren’t scary, they are odd and the artwork is mildly creepy.
Sip by Brian Allen Carr
Set in a barren, dystopia wasteland where people can drink shadows to get high – how is that not unsettling?
Strange Weather by Joe Hill
This collection is disturbing and upsetting in a few ways, but not as traditionally horrific as some of his other work.
Saga (series) by Brian K. Vaughan
I’ve recently finished volume 9 and my heart is still broken into a zillion pieces. My misery just wants some company. But this is certainly on the odd spectrum and the diverse cast of characters could certainly inspire some great Halloween costumes!
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
A middle-grade novel I found genuinely creepy without being too scary for younger readers.
The series follows a doctor in modern London treating fantastical patients including vampires, werewolves, ghouls and even mummies. Something about the books makes me think of the excellent documentary, What We Do in the Shadows – which I also highly recommend.
The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers
I could probably come up with a reason to add this to just about any list because I love it so. But there are plenty of creatures, both creepy and cute, that make this one feel appropriate for the season.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Teenage girls being resurrected – it doesn’t get much more Halloween-themed than that. But this book has a surprising amount of heart and while it’s sometimes a little gross, I didn’t find it scary.
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
This one follows a modern ghost gal living in New York City. She finds herself teaming up with a local witch, a ghost’s mortal (haha) enemy, to save others in the undead community from a terrible fate.
Fisher of Bones by Sarah Grailey
A novella with a blend of fantasy and post-apocalyptic vibes, this one definitely has a creep-factor.
The Swallow by Charis Cotter
Another middle-grade story about ghosts. This one is haunting and more than a bit sad.
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
Get the version illustrated by Chris Riddell if you can – it adds to the atmosphere of Gaiman’s lady-driven retelling of Sleeping Beauty.
Agents of Dreamland by Caitlín R. Kiernan
A detective-esque novella about an alien fungus-based plague with a cult following. Need I say more?
I hope you have a chance to check out some of these alternative reads. If you’ve already read some, let’s chat. Any strange or spoopy reads you think would fit on this list?