Creaking floorboards, doors that slam shut for no reason at all, lights flickering in uninhabited rooms… is there anything spookier (or more fun) than a haunted house? We don’t think so. Fall is here, and maybe your book club is in the mood for something eerie. If so, we’ve got just the thing! Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite haunted house novels that are sure to spark scary conversations for you and your friends. You’ll want to leave the lights on when you discuss these creepy reads!
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is considered by many to be a definitive work in the horror genre. Four people all travel to Hill House for their own reasons, knowing that the house is supposedly haunted. We don’t need to tell you that things get weird. Jackson’s work is beloved, and reading this book is a great way to kick off the spookiest time of year. PS: If your book club loves this book so much that you decide you need more Shirley Jackson in your life, take Jimmy Cajoleas’ advice and check out We Have Always Lived in the Castle this fall, too!
Does your book club love spooky stories with a romantic twist? If so, Tess Gerritsen’s The Shape of Night will hit all the right notes. In it, Ava Collette moves into a storied old home in Maine called Brodie’s Watch. When things begin to go bump in the night, she grows suspicious of the house’s past and begins to wonder if it could be haunted. We’re so excited about this novel that we named it one of the must-reads of the season. Gerritsen’s latest doesn’t come out until next week, but if you can’t wait to start reading, be sure to check out Bookish’s exclusive excerpt you won’t find anywhere else.
Many haunted houses in novels are haunted by virtue of the fact that they’re old. But in Ruth Ware’s fun twist on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the house in question is very technologically advanced. In The Turn of the Key, you and your book club will become guests at the luxurious Heatherbrae House where everything is automated and something is seriously amiss. Once your club members have read the book, you can check out Bookish’s interview with Ruth Ware for some extra insight into this creepy thriller.
The Toussaint family of Sacajawea, Washington lived in a beautiful house that the community simply called the Good House. The town’s feelings towards the structure chill significantly, however, when something terrible happens in the residence. Your club will love discussing the Toussaint family’s home, their history, and the tragedy they face within the walls of the Good House. Family dynamics always make for great book club discussions, and Tananarive Due’s novel is sure to keep you and your friends talking long into the night.
His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler
You can’t go wrong with Edgar Allan Poe, or with Edgar Allan Poe retellings. For a fun twist, check out these new spins on Poe’s classics written by some of the biggest names in YA fiction. Highlights include Tiffany D. Jackson’s take on “The Cask of Amontillado,” Stephanie Kuehn’s interpretation of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and Fran Wilde’s reimagined “The Fall of the House of Usher” (which is one of the most influential haunted house stories in the genre). For bonus points, your club can check out Poe’s originals (included in this volume!) and spend some time comparing and contrasting. Will you be bored at book club? Nevermore!
Stephen King’s The Shining is a horror classic for a reason: It’s terrifying. We’re cheating a little here because The Shining is about a hotel rather than a house, but once you read it, we know you’ll forgive us. Readers will travel to the Overlook Hotel in a remote part of Colorado that gets cut off from the rest of the world by blizzards each winter. The Torrance family is setting in at the hotel to act as the caretakers for the property. Five-year-old Danny Torrance has a bad feeling about the Overlook, however, and he’s noticed some things that don’t quite add up. Your book club will love discussing this creepy classic!