Halloween Reads to Get You in the Spirit | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Halloween Reads to Get You in the Spirit

Culture Critic Emily Walters recommends five thrilling books that are sure to get your heart racing this October

Before I Go To Sleep

SJ Watson

Christine can not remember her past – or even yesterday - after a terrible accident robbed her of her memories. Determined to discover who she is and what is happening to her, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep, before she forgets. However, the truth of her accident and her memories may be more terrifying than she bargained for. This electrically charged thriller is terrifyingly brilliant, and if you are a fan of the films Memento and Shutter Island or just interested in the distortion of the human mind, this book is a perfect recommendation. 

Watson creates layers of plot twists and turns whilst effortlessly keeping the reader engaged, this book is disturbingly good and will linger in the minds of the reader long after the final page.

The Woman in Black

Susan Hill 

Enjoying a resurgence in popularity after the 2012 box office hit starring Daniel Radcliffe, and a long-running stage adaptation, the original short novella of The Woman in Black is a classic ghost story and should not be overlooked. Written in the traditional style of a Gothic novel, the plot centers on a small village being haunted by a mysterious specter, resulting in the death of its children. The young protagonist attempts to discover the truth of the 'woman in black'.

If you fancy a short but eerie read this October, I would highly recommend this book. Susan Hill’s writing is incredibly atmospheric while maintaining a carefully constructed horror that will leave you wanting more.

The Dry 

Jane Harper

Released last year and winning multiple awards, this book deserves all of the critical praise and reviews. Like some of the books on this list, The Dry is not your stereotypical horror but should definitely be next on your to-read pile. 

The Dry kept me up all night and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough

Set during a period of severe drought in a small town in the Australian outback, tensions in the small community become unbearable as three members of the Hadler family are found brutally murdered. Police officer Aaron Falk is drawn into the homicide investigation of his childhood best friend and his family, after returning to the town over twenty-one years later. As Falk investigates deeper into the mysterious killings, secrets from his past begin to surface as he questions both himself and the truth of his friend’s crime. Jane Harper’s writing immediately transports the reader into Australia with fluidity and ease, and is an action-packed read with secrets and guilt threatening to explode and break the community. 

This novel kept me up all night and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. If a novel involving murder, hidden secrets and a killer in plain sight intrigues you, read The Dry this Halloween.


Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere may not be a typical thriller or horror novel, but I would still highly recommend this book to read over the dark autumn months. Published in 2003, it is an urban fantasy that describes the wonders and horrors of London 'Below', a world eerily familiar to our own where monsters, saints, murderers and angels dominate and rule the city beneath the city. 

This book clearly illustrates why Neil Gaiman, a Carnegie and Hugo medal winner, is often considered to be one of the best authors of the modern day, with his writing effortlessly weaving the story and its characters together in beautiful prose.

Despite it not being a typical book to read for Halloween, I would still highly recommend it because the fantastical elements are a perfect way to celebrate the season of the paranormal and all that it stands for.

Dark Places

Gillian Flynn

Full of suspense and mystery

Dark Places follows the protagonist Libby Day, after her mother and sisters were murdered in ‘The Satan Sacrifice.’ After miraculously surviving the event, she testified that her brother Ben was the killer. Years later, she is contacted by the Kill Club – a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes in the hope they can prove that her brother is innocent of the crime that he has spent twenty-five years behind bars for. As Libby attempts to discover the truth of that fateful night, she finds herself on the run from a killer once again.

This novel is a must-read for fans of fast-paced thrillers with many twists and turns; told through a series of flashbacks and multiple narrative perspectives, it is full of suspense and mystery, and a definite must to get you in the spirit of Halloween.


25th October 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

deadbookdarling.com, Amazon and Pixabay