Six Literary Scares This Spooky Season

‘Tis the season for some of the most fun genre fiction. Stalwarts like Stephen King will always be around for reliable scares, but some novels that sit on the boundary of literary fiction and genre horror also serve well-deserved creeps. Whether you’re looking to get into the Halloween spirit or just enjoy the crisp weather with an atmospheric read, these books blur the line between the real and the surreal, all while reminding us the scariest moments may also be the most human.

Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes

A series of disturbing Detroit murders prompts Homicide Detective Gabriella Versado to race to solve the increasingly macabre crimes. I have been in many a hot debate over the best Beukes novel, but it’s also a trick question (they’re all great). While the Broken Monsters killer makes chimeras of their victims, Beukes does some grafting of her own, playing on the fringes of many genres to create something sure to raise pulses. Spooky.

Bunny, by Mona Awad

Samantha spends a lot of time mocking the other girls in her MFA program, especially those who refer to each other almost exclusively as “Bunny.” Then she’s invited to their weekly Smut Salon. Soon, she’s involved in their creative process, which is . . . . unconventional to say the least. If you’re craving something creepy, campy, and completely unafraid to go to places that make the reader go “Wait, what?”, definitely pick this one up.

Lanny, by Max Porter

It’s a normal English village. But does it belong to the citizens—or to Dead Papa Toothwort? Folkloric Dead Papa Toothwort is tuned into the lives of the villagers, listening always, especially for the titular Lanny, a young boy who’s gone missing. Porter’s inventive style, which draws
a fine line between the mystical and the everyday, contributes to both the story and its unsettling atmosphere.

Melmoth, by Sarah Perry

In the gothic tradition, protagonist Helen inherits a set of letters from her friend Karel. Then Karel disappears—and Helen’s attempts to solve the mystery lead her deep into haunted pasts. At the edge of every encounter lurks the nightmarish Melmoth the Witness, who is doomed to witness and record the worst of humanity. A disturbing and powerful book.

Mouthful of Birds, by Samantha Schweblin

So you read Fever Dream as recommended in Beautiful Nightmares: At the Intersection of #WITMonth and Horror, and now you’re in need of another Schweblin fix? Well, you’re in luck. Schweblin’s latest, a kinetic set of short stories published earlier this year, also thrives on exploring worlds of oddness and confusion. From a rest stop haunted by jilted brides to a girl who eats birds, these stories question our perception and our reality.

Orange World and Other Stories, by Karen Russell

Russell’s short fictions are perfect for fall days, and previous collection’s titles, including St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, are masterpieces in their own right. In this latest assortment of short stories, Orange World, Russell continues in her tradition of crafting weird and wonderful little worlds. Through Depression-era ghost stories, creepy Joshua trees, and suckling devils, Orange World explores the tensions between society and nature.



About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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