13 Chilling Horror Books to Read This Halloween
by Martin Brown on 29 October 2021
Halloween is here, and there’s no better time to turn dim the lights cosy up with a black cat and scare yourself witless by diving into some delightfully devilish horror fiction.
Here are 13 spine-chilling horror books from us at Severn House available now.
THE PIPER by Lynn Hightower
Editor Rachel Slatter describes this as one of the scariest books she’s ever read, and we can see why! In this bone-chilling tale of terror from Shamus Award-winning thriller writer Lynn Hightower, a devoted mother must confront the paranormal forces that have cursed her family.
When Olivia James receives a phone call just after midnight, she recognises her brother’s voice. But there’s a problem: her brother has been dead for the past nine weeks. . .
(Also look out for Lynn Hightower’s upcoming supernatural thriller The Enlightenment Project, a harrowing and complex tale of demonic possession and exorcism in contemporary America)
STAKE by Kevin J. Anderson
A bold, fresh take on the vampire mythos by Kevin J. Anderson. Simon Helsing believes the only way to stop a bad guy with fangs is a good guy with a stake. He has devoted his life to ridding the world of vampires. He hunts them, finds their daytime lairs, and pounds a stake through their hearts.
Detective Todd Carrow is a skeptic. Haunted by visions of brutal killings from a previous case, he sees the latest gruesome murders as nothing more than the actions of a madman targeting innocents.
Helsing is convinced he’s doing good, but what if vampires aren’t real and Carrow is right?
THE MURDER DANCE by Sarah Rayne
Sarah Rayne‘s masterclass in gothic suspense is a must-read this Halloween (and beyond).
Having unexpectedly inherited an Elizabethan manor house in rural Norfolk, the new owner Quentin Rivers has asked Phineas Fox to investigate the house’s history. Phin soon becomes immersed in The Tabor’s dark and mysterious past, and in the course of his research uncovers tales of a curious dance, the Cwellan Daunsen: a dance that has not been performed for centuries but whose strange legend still lingers. The dance has a dark side; whenever it took place, children were told to stay indoors – and on no account to look through their windows . . .
BURIED MEMORIES by Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green continues to do what he does best: sublimely interweave horror, fantasy, sci-fi and mystery in this latest Ishmael Jones mystery.
As long-buried memories from his hidden past begin to resurface, Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny feel compelled to return to the small country town where Ishmael crash-landed in 1963; the place where his memories began.
Norton Hedley is no ordinary town. Apparitions, sudden disappearances, sightings of unusual beasts: for centuries, the place has been plagued by a series of inexplicable events. Ishmael’s first task is to track down local author Vincent Smith, the one man he believes may have some answers.
Ishmael and Penny aren’t the only ones seeking the mysterious Mr Smith. When their search unearths a newly-dead body in the local mortuary – a body that’s definitely not supposed to be there – Ishmael becomes the prime suspect in the ensuing murder investigation. His only hope of discovering the truth about his origins lies in exposing a ruthless killer.
FESTIVAL OF FEAR by Graham Masterton
Award-winning horror writer and master of the macabre, Graham Masterton presents a blood-curdling array of treats: twelve stories of terror celebrating the bizarre and grotesque, guaranteed to quicken the pulse.
Marvel at the mirror dug up in secret and better off buried . . . Thrill at a pair of lovers, whose promises to each other lead them down a disturbing path. Observe the haunted house . . . Come closer, dear reader – the hour of the festival is upon us . . .
PRISONER OF MIDNIGHT by Barbara Hambly
Barbara Hambly presents a masterful mix of historical mystery and supernatural horror in this vampire novel with political bite.
March, 1917. The goal of every government involved in the Great War has been achieved: industrialist Spenser Cochran has drugged and enslaved a vampire, Don Simon Ysidro, to do his bidding, and is now on the way to the US aboard a luxury ship.
Horrified, Dr Lydia Asher secures her passage on the vessel to rescue her friend from Cochran’s chemical thrall. Meanwhile, her husband makes a dangerous alliance with the vampires of Paris to send Lydia the information she needs about the drug.
As they cross the Atlantic evidence mounts that another vampire is hiding aboard the ship, indiscriminately murdering passengers. Lydia knows she must solve both cases before the ship docks, and that breaking Cochran’s hold on Don Simon will not be enough . . . She must kill him.
HUSK by Dave Zeltserman
Classic contemporary horror from the Shamus and Derringer-winning author of Small Crimes, Dave Zeltserman.
Charlie is a Husker on the prowl in the New Hampshire wilderness when he falls in love with a girl named Jill. Loving Jill means leaving the Husk clan, with its gruesome cannibalistic rituals, and that will be far more difficult – and dangerous – than Charlie could have foreseen.
THE LUCIFER CHORD by F.G. Cottam
Master of the genre F.G. Cottam delivers ‘a sinewy spooker with plenty of unforeseeable surprises’ (Publishers Weekly)
Researcher Ruthie Gillespie has undertaken a commission to write an essay on Martin Mear, lead singer and guitarist with Ghost Legion, the biggest, most decadent rock band on the planet, before he disappeared without trace in 1975. Her mission is to separate man from myth – but it’s proving difficult, as a series of increasingly disturbing and macabre incidents threatens to derail Ruthie’s efforts to uncover the truth about the mysterious rock star.
KILL MONSTER by Sean Doolittle
Sean Doolittle ‘delivers a rambunctious monster story that features precise wit, messy violence, aggressive pacing, and a charmingly incongruous cast’ (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)
A golem created to assassinate a criminal in 1856 is reawakened in the present … intent on targeting his victim’s innocent descendants.
COMMUNITY by Graham Masterton
We couldn’t have just one book on this list by modern horror maestro Graham Masterton. . .
Michael is involved in a car crash which kills his girlfriend. He wakes to find himself in the hospital of a small town in Montana. There he convalesces and gradually becomes acquainted with the local community, most of whom seem to be clever and charming, although some are arrogant and difficult to get on with. In particular he forms a relationship with a smart and pretty local girl. He learns that he has been in a coma for weeks and that his friend’s remains have already been sent back to California for cremation. He keeps in touch with his family through emails and phone calls.
As time goes by, however, and he gradually recovers his mobility, he begins to notice odd things about the community. People disappear without explanation and nobody ever mentions them again. Strangers come and go on a regular basis but the local people seem to ignore them. He is about to leave and go back home when his new girlfriend disappears. He stays to investigate. He gradually begins to come to the terrible conclusion that he is actually dead and that everybody in the town knows that he is no more than a ghost. The truth, however, is far more shocking…
SECRETS OF THE DEAD by Simon Clark
This tale of Egyptian mummies and ancient secrets from Simon Clark is sure to send a chill up your spine.
John Tolworth is delighted when he is hired to help investigate a collection of mummified bodies found in the notorious Gold Tomb in Egypt. Not only is he intrigued by the work, but the collection is stored in an ancient castle in Devon, where John spent his childhood. He looks forward to revisiting the area, and to showing his family the place he grew up.
But when John and his family arrive at Baverstock Castle, John starts to remember things. Things he had forgotten. What happened the last time he was there? And why is Philip Kemmis, the former owner of the castle, and John’s childhood companion, now a raving madman?
As the mummified bodies begin to reveal their ancient secrets, John begins to think the unthinkable . . .
THE BELL TOWER by Sarah Rayne
Another modern classic from Sarah Rayne, showcasing her mastery of every kind of horror with this delicious twist on the haunted house tale.
When Nell West starts extending her Oxford antiques shop, she is not expecting to uncover strange fragments of its past: fragments that include a frightened message scribbled on old plasterwork, dated 1850 and referring to someone called Thaisa.
She also uncovers a mysterious link with a village on the Dorset coast – a village with an ancient bell tower and dark memories of a piece of music known locally as Thaisa’s Song. The sea is gradually encroaching on the derelict tower, but the old Glaum Bell still hangs in the lonely bell chamber and although it was silenced after an act of appalling brutality during the reign of Henry VIII, local people whisper that its chime is still occasionally heard.
As Nell and Michael Flint discover, the tower is mysteriously entangled with the story of Thaisa and a 400-year-old tragedy that has echoed down the centuries.
GRAVEYARD SHIFT by Casey Daniels
This quirky murder mystery by Casey Daniels is a rip-roaring ride full of supernatural surprises, twists. . .oh, and the ghost of Al Capone.
Pepper Martin, now Community Relations Director of Garden View Cemetery, is contacted by the ghost of Eliot Ness, one of Cleveland’s most famous dearly departed. According to Ness, the ashes scattered at the ceremony twenty years earlier weren’t his. His were stolen prior to the ceremony by a Ness groupie, and he cannot rest until those ashes are found. Luckily, Pepper has an idea where they may be.
Knowing she’ll have no peace until she does what the ghost wants, Pepper travels across town to retrieve the ashes. When she gets there, though, she finds more – and less – than she bargained for. There is a dead body in the house . . . and Eliot Ness’s ashes have vanished.
Pepper sets out to solve the murder of the man in the house where the ashes were supposed to be. But when a mysterious package arrives for Pepper, containing the spirit of Al Capone, and her boyfriend Quinn begins acting strange, things go from bad to worse . . .