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There are a few books I love to re-read in the fall, particularly around Halloween. Normally, I love to read thrillers, mysteries, anything with suspense, as well as classic literature, but during October, reading a few horrors is a must!

If you’re looking for something spooky to pick up this time of year, look no further! Here are my top October novels (with my own mini-review and plot synopsis from Wikipedia):

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Possibly my favourite horror novel of all time? Ira Levin is one of my favourite authors and fun fact: he also wrote The Stepford Wives! I love his writing style and have read Rosemary’s Baby two or three times now – and fun fact – this was actually the highest selling horror novel in the 1960s and really launched the popularity of horror as a genre! Even if you’ve seen the movie, you need to read the book. Trust me. You will love the gothic undercurrent with the Manhattan setting.

Plot: A young couple, Rosemary Woodhouse and her husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old, historic, New York City apartment building. The newlyweds are warned the building has a disturbing history. Guy, a struggling actor, is more hesitant to move in, but Rosemary wants to start a family. The two settle in and meet their neighbours – an older, eccentric couple. Rosemary finds them irksome but Guy grows close to the couple. Strange things start to happen in and around the building, with Guy’s career, and their friends, and Rosemary soon finds out she’s pregnant, but is fearful of her unborn child being in danger. That’s all I’ll say in case you haven’t watched or read this masterpiece before!

The Shining by Stephen King

I believe this may be my favourite King novel. I love the film too, although apparently Stephen King hated this adaptation! The book is a bit different than the film but I love both and really urge you to read this one even if you’ve seen the movie. Fun fact: this book was influenced by Stephen King’s personal experiences: visiting The Stanley Hotel in 1964 and his struggle with alcoholism. Another fun fact: this was the book that really established Stephen King’s figure in the horror genre due to its popularity.

Plot: The Shining centers on Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. His family accompanies him on this job, including his young son Danny, who possesses “the shining”, an array of psychic abilities that allow the child to glimpse the hotel’s horrific true nature. Soon, after a winter storm leaves the family snowbound, the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel influence Jack’s sanity, leaving his wife and son in grave danger.

Carrie by Stephen King

Another great novel by the ‘King’ of horror! How does he do it? Carrie is a short read, great for slow readers or those who don’t have a lot of time on their hands. If you like creepy vibes, blood, manic spirituality, and catholic cult vibes, you’ll enjoy this read. Fun fact: Stephen King based the character of Carrie off of two girls he knew in high school (poor girls)!

Plot: Set in Maine, this novel revolves around Carrie White, a friendless, bullied high-school girl from an abusive religious household who discovers she has telekinetic powers. Feeling guilty for harassing Carrie, Sue Snell invites Carrie to the prom with Tommy Ross, but a humiliating prank during the prom leads to Carrie destroying the town with her powers. The narrative contains fictional documents in approximately chronological order that present multiple perspectives on the prom incident and its perpetrator. Carrie deals with themes of ostracism and revenge, with the opening shower scene and the destruction of Chamberlain being pivotal scenes.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

We LOVE goth vibes around here. Dracula is just such a classic, perfect for halloween. If you find it difficult to read classic novels, this is a great one to read as an audiobook. Nothing like a little wine and a little bloodlust for a great autumn evening. Fun fact: APPARENTLY Dracula was not intended to be published as a fictional novel – Bram Stoker had allegedly seen everything he’d written, and the manuscript was originally meant to be published as a manifesto. Crazy! Are you a believer?

Plot: Dracula is related through letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles. It has no single protagonist, but opens with solicitor Jonathan Harker taking a business trip to stay at the castle of a Transylvanian nobleman, Count Dracula. Harker escapes the castle after discovering that Dracula is a vampire, and the Count moves to England and plagues the seaside town of Whitby. A small group hunt Dracula and, in the end, kill him.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Ending my list with another classic! This is really part horror, part science fiction. Frankenstein is actually not a lengthy novel so this one is also easy to read in my opinion. I feel like the vibes in this one remind me of Beauty and the Beast, particularly imagining stormy weather, a monster being created, etc. Fun fact: Mary wrote Frankenstein when she, her husband Percy, and Lord Byron had a competition on who could write the best horror story.

Plot: Frankenstein tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. 

If you haven’t read any of these, definitely add them to your library or bookshop wish list! Curl up with a big blanket, lots of coffee, and get so freaked out reading these that you need to sleep with your lights on. Happy reading!

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