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10 books to read this Halloween, according to the Dazed team

Because nothing is scarier than a reading recommendation!


Ill Will cast a terrible spell on me: I was staying up late to read it every night and in the daytime, its air of paranoia began seeping into my soul – it got to the point my boyfriend announced he was “concerned about my reading materials,” as though I were a five year old. The narrative cuts back and forth between the 1980s and the present day. Dustin, the surviving son of a family who were massacred during the height of the “Satanic Panic”, becomes obsessed with a strange conspiracy theory: he comes to believe there is a serial killer at large in his local area, who is pushing drunken frat boys into rivers and leaving them to drown. The power of the novel is partly drawn from its ambiguity: you’re never quite sure whether you’re reading a detective story or an account of Dustin’s mind unravelling. No book I’ve ever read better captures the vague unease that something is out to get you, and I find myself thinking about it more often than I would like. (JG)


Yes, what an awful little life to read this book. It’s about 2,000 pages of absolute misery, during which the author puts her queer, poor, disabled characters through a meat grinder of abuse. At the 1,000-page mark it all begins to feel quite gratuitous. Oh! A car crash, of course. Suicide, mmm yes please! What’s scarier than the author’s will to play puppet master, however, is the way the book has been absorbed into queer cannon, with gay men using the doorstopper as a way to telegraph their incredible capacity to read. I often think of the way it has defamed Peter Hujar’s portrait of a man in throes of orgasm, too, which graces too many people’s bedroom walls for my liking. (DR)


Everyone knows the name, but how many know where it all began… In 1890, newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker travels to the Carpathian Mountains to visit Count Dracula at his castle, ignoring the warnings of locals who give him crucifixes and other charms against evil. From there you get everything you might expect from a vampire novel: bats, coffins, garlic, seduction, stakes through the heart – Dracula profoundly shaped our understanding of the vampire and its DNA can be traced through every depiction since. (AP)


Predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 26 years, Carmilla is a lesbian vampire romance by Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu – and the OG vampire novel. It follows a teen girl who’s preyed on by a female vampire who introduces herself as Carmilla. By all accounts, it’s racy reading material, steeped in sapphic tension and shapeshifting mysteries. Not only is it the first English language vampire story, but it also contains what we now understand as classic vampy tropes. Think bloody fangs, isolated castles, and Eastern European forests. In short, Carmilla walked so that Twilight could run. (GY)


Oh my god, this book. What can I say without giving it all away? It‘s told from the perspective of Frannie Avery – an aloof, divorced New York English teacher in her mid-thirties – who becomes entangled in a murder investigation. The details of the case are murky, violent: a woman has been killed in a seedy downtown bar, and there’s a chance Avery may have been one of the last people to see her alive. It gets even darker when she starts an intense affair with one of the homicide detectives, despite her growing suspicions of his involvement. The story was turned into a film by Jane Campion in 2003, but its principal messages – of power, consent, the women we choose to believe and why – ended up being muted by a rehashed ending. But the original story, and its final pages, I’ve not ever been able to forget. (DS)


One of my favourite books of all time. And before you say it's not horror, Mrs Danvers – the main antagonist – is so scary!! But honestly, the writing is so beautiful and evocative, and the story is so haunting. Out of all the classics I’ve read, this one had me the most gripped – right from that infamous opening line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...” (TS)


People have tried to adapt Henry James’ book recently – The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Turning, etc etc – but they’re all flops compared to the original, IMO. The Turn of the Screw has everything you could possibly want from a gothic horror: ghostly apparitions, creepy children, an eerie English manor setting. Plus I always have this recurring nightmare that I need to retake my English A Level exam for some reason and can’t remember any Turn of the Screw quotes. Terrifying. (SS)


Nothing captures the horror of living in 2022 Britain – the dread, the suffocating anxiety, the news, the hate, the dread, the doom, the dread, the shame, the DREAD!!! – quite like this book. Which is funny, because its plot has very little grounding in reality: it’s about a sentient fascist house, and what it’s like to be haunted by the eyeless spectre of Morrissey. (DS)


I recently picked this up in my local WHSmiths’ reduced-to-clear section. It was next to The Thursday Murder Club, two classics of their respective genres. When I read it in bed it was like Richy was right there with me. Mmmmmmmm. It also made a fantastic doorstop and kindling for my fire, perfect for the cold winter months. 10/10, would recommend it just for that. (LM)


A boring man is murdered with a fab stiletto!! Didn’t read this one, but did watch the film which is the same as reading but quicker. (DR)