12 Books about Monsters, Witches and Ghosts

Creepy Halloween scene with monsters in hiding
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This year, as the excitement and anticipation of Halloween builds, some of us will be eagerly waiting to go trick-or-treating, some- to hone their skills in costume-making while others- to entertain themselves with spooky tales. To help you conjure up the Halloween spirit, we have prepared twelve chilling stories that will whisk you away on a frightful ride accompanied by ghosts, vampires, witches and other creatures of the night.

Our selection of Halloween tales is so deliciously creepy that fans of the macabre will not be able to resist the temptation to sink their teeth into this feast of horror.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Image Credit:Berkley Books

It began shortly after the party at which one of their members, Edward Wanderley, had died – or was killed. The Chowder Society, who for years had met in customary evening dress with the object of telling each other tales of every kind, now found themselves drawn towards the supernatural. It was some sort of solace for Edward’s loss. They began to tell ghost stories, extraordinary ghost stories … ghost stories that did not always stop when the teller finished speaking … Then came the dreams, shared simultaneously by the Chowder Society members, forecasting horrors the four ageing men can scarcely bring themselves to discuss. And now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past – and get away with murder.

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The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Image Credit: Penguin Books

The walls of Baskerville Hall harbour some ghastly secrets. The legend of a hellhound tormenting the noble family for generations is fuelled by the frequent ghostly apparitions in the deadly marshland of Dartmoor. When Sir Henry, the latest heir to the Baskerville fortune, seeks protection from the famous sleuth, the entire residence is engulfed by hysteria. But never fear! Sherlock Holmes’s meticulous method of deduction and exceptional powers of observation never fail to catch the criminals, especially those who attempt to hide some sinister skeletons behind their charming smiles. 

If you get a kick out of combing through abandoned autumn forests in search for clues, you should give this book a go. 

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Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Image Credit: Tor Nightfire

In spite of its seemingly peaceful and picturesque façade, Black Spring is probably the last place in the world you would want to find yourself broken down and stranded. Those town’s residents who unwittingly decided to move are doomed to live in Black Spring until they die, claimed by the curse of the Black Rock Witch.

Back in the seventeenth century, when the town was just a Dutch trapper colony, there lived a woman named Katherine van Wyler who was accused of being a witch and was swiftly dealt with. Now her soiled husk of a body, chained with eyes and mouth sewn shut, still haunts Black Spring to this day. The townsfolk have slapped on their brave faces and come to accept their curse, but deep down they all know that one day those stitches will come off and then everyone will be at the mercy of Katherine’s deadly whisperings and Evil Eye. But as times change, so too does the area and its people. Some of the town’s younger residents are no longer content with being silenced and trapped in Black Spring.”-Mogsy

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The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson

Image Credit: Saga

Inspired by the infamous Burke and Hare murders in 19th-century Edinburgh, this tale of terror exposes some sordid deeds behind the immaculate facade of prestigious institutions. 

For Dr Wolfe McFarlane, a fleeting encounter with his former fellow student awakens the ghosts of the past he would rather see buried. Fettes, an old Scotsman who has not practiced medicine for a while, also recognises his partner in crime, which takes him back to his student days at a medical school. 

Forty years ago, McFarlane and Fettes were entrusted with the task of procuring “subjects” for dissection classes. The steady supply of corpses was provided by unscrupulous grave robbers who would deliver their tragic cargo to Fettes in exchange for gold. During one of those visits, Fettes recognises the familiar face of a young woman with twelve ghastly stab wounds in her body. This shocking discovery makes him question the moral side of this dubious business. Following McFarlane’s advice to turn a blind eye to the origins of these subjects, Fettes becomes a helpless accomplice, forced to produce cadavers by any means possible. 

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Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood by James Malcolm Rymer

Image Credit: Independent Publishing

Published as a series of penny dreadfuls, Varney the Vampire offers a glimpse into the life of a monster from a different  angle. Varney is not your stereotypical vampire- he fears neither sun nor garlic, and even indulges in human food from time to time. But when it comes to his bloodlust, he shows no mercy. In the dead of night, he sneaks into young maidens’ chambers to taste their sweet nectar running through their veins. When all possibilities are exhausted in England, Varney sets off on a journey across Europe in search of fresh blood and a sizeable dowry. It’s not long before he returns from Italy overcome by melancholy- a crucial intersection point of the story evoking the feelings of sympathy towards our deeply troubled villain. A prisoner of his own desires, Varney decides to part this life on his own terms at Mount Vesuvius, delivering an oddly satisfying conclusion which stays with you long after you have turned the last page. 

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Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward

Image Credit: Tor Nightfire

“The summer Wilder Harlow turns 16, his uncle passes away and leaves his family a cottage on the coast of Maine. Wilder is an odd boy and hopes to spend the summer in the new town making new friends. Soon after arriving, Wilder meets and befriends a girl named Harper and a boy named Nate. Even though a serial killer is on the loose, stalking children while they sleep, the trio ends up having a fun and adventurous summer together. As summer ends, the trio part ways and agree to meet up again next summer. 

When the trio meets up again the next year, everything changes. Horrifying discoveries are made, dark secrets come to light, and the bonds of friendships are soon broken. 

In true Catriona Ward fashion, Looking Glass Sound delivers a disturbing atmosphere without being very descriptive. Her simplistic yet concise writing style creates a vivid world that’s easily imaginable and exquisitely creepy.”-Summer

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The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Allan Edgar Poe

Image Credit: Create Space Independent Publishing

The Murders in the Rue Morgue is considered the first detective fiction story. The master of the macabre, Poe lays the groundwork for many motifs which would be used in future fictional detectives including Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. The eccentric, but brilliant detective solves the mystery of how a murder was committed in a closed room by analysing the facts, laying “red herrings” for the reader to follow are just a few of his original tropes, which are now so familiar that they are almost cliches. 

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Lost Hearts by M. R. James

Image Credit: Arcturus

The walls of Aswarby Hall have witnessed many unsettling events prior to the arrival of a new resident. Nestled in a Linconshire valley, the mansion welcomes a 12-year-old orphan Stephen Elliott who is sent to live with his older cousin Mr Abney. An eccentric professor with a penchant for pagan rituals and occult sciences, Abney quickly becomes a figure of admiration for Stephen. But as he settles in, he begins to suspect that nothing is as it seems. A hair-raising sense of foreboding soon engulfs young Stephen as he is visited by the ghostly apparitions of a gypsy girl and a traveling Italian boy with their hearts ripped out of their chests. But will these warnings from beyond the grave be enough to save Stephen’s life?

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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Image Credit: Ace Books

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches and so cleansed the land.

And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.

It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother….

Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon

Image Credit: Kindle

One of our most iconic childhood games receives a creepy twist as it becomes the gateway to a nightmare world.

I went up the hill, the hill was muddy, stomped my toe and made it bloody, should I wash it?Justin knows that something is wrong with his best friend.Zee went missing for a year. And when he came back, he was . . . different. Nobody knows what happened to him. At Zee’s welcome home party, Justin and the neighborhood crew play Hide and Seek. But it goes wrong. Very wrong.One by one, everyone who plays the game disappears, pulled into a world of nightmares come to life. Justin and his friends realize this horrible place is where Zee had been trapped. All they can do now is hide from the Seeker.

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Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Image Credit: Vampire Chronicles

The Old World legends of cadaverous creatures, whose night rampages wreak havoc on the living, have been circulating around the world since Ancient Babylonia. Lacking any remorse or regret, the undead are condemned to live an eternity lurching from one kill to the next. However, in this intimate outpouring of the heart, we get to see a different side of evil. For Louis, who has been walking a fine line between humanity and monstrosity for over five hundred years, life is nothing but a curse. Tormented by his bloodlust and the empathy for his victims, he slowly reveals his violent past where lost love, betrayal and isolation all blend in one lacklustre existence.

Published in 1976, this lurid memoir of a sun-dodging villain has laid the foundation for subsequent vampire confessions forming a separate sub genre in literature.

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The Dead Woman in Love by Theophile Gautier

Image Credit: Lulu

“This short story recounts the memories of a priest, Romuald, and his chance encounter with a young vampire Clarimonde. Their eyes meet at the most inopportune time, right when he is about to make his sacred vows to chastity and to live out a religious life for all the rest of his days. He utters the holy vows mechanically, but already his heart is lost to the great beauties of this young woman. He chances to meet her yet again, a year later at Clarimonde’s death bed where she is covered over in a white veil and adorned with flowers in her hair. Her beauty is so exquisite he can hardly believe that she is truly dead.

In a state of despair he passes out over her bed, unable to chant the holy prayers to let her spirit depart from her body. Days later he chances to meet her yet again! Is it really Clarimonde that has come back from the dead? Or is this all a maddening form of fanatical illusions in the dead of night? In vain, he tries to forget the young woman’s promise that she will return to him on the ‘morrow, hoping it was just some sensuous dream, but in his soul Romuald knows that everything about Clarimonde is not as it appears to be…”- Peter Gray

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Stella

Stella is a Marketing Consultant and has been writing content for Full Text Archive since 2015. When she is not writing, she is meticulously planning our social and e-mail campaigns. Stella holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Russian Literature, which has provided a broad foundation from which she continues to explore the written world.

She spends her free time reading, visiting old castles and discovering new coffee shops. She can be reached at stella

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