WHAT TO READ NEXT: Let's Pregame Halloween With A Monstrous Novel

Serial Killers, Poltergeists, Satan, and IKEA. Pick your pre-halloween poison.
Publish date:
September 26, 2015
halloween, scary stories, ghost stories, horror, xobookclub

I woke up cold this morning, put on a sweater, and knew with perfect clarity that curl-up- with-a-good-book-and-hot-beverage-of-your-choice weather was upon us. This year, it coincides perfectly with Halloween (and yes, I believe that decorations lining the shelves of Walgreens dictate the beginning of Halloween), my favorite holiday, hallowed be its spooky name.

Accordingly, this month's book club selections are all novels that feature fright, without being too genre (sorry Clive Barker fans, I count myself amongst your numbers and feel your pain) so that readers with more delicate constitutions can get in on the booky wooky action. So, check out these titles, upvote your favorite in the comments and prepare yourself for the literary stuff of nightmares.

After all, 'tis the season.


I am impressed by Joe Hill if only because he's a bestselling horror author who uses a pen name to avoid riding on his dad's (you might have heard of him, Stephen King) literary coattails. In addition, I have watched Horns more times than I am willing to admit.

The film is beautiful and almost everyone on the IMBD message boards (I read horror movie message boards. I regret nothing.) agrees that the book is better than the movie and all of this is a roundabout way of me saying that if Horns the book is better than Horns the film, I. AM. ALL. IN.

Horrorstör: A Novel

I rarely experience true, unbridled terror, but Horrorstör: A Novel, with its front cover alone, embodies two of my most nightmarish experiences:

1) Watching 28 Days Later in theaters as a teenager and being exposed to the concept of fast zombies. 2) Spending four hours wading through the bowels of IKEA, losing my grip on sanity and trying to find a couch.

While Horrorstör: A Novel does not appear to have fast zombies, Hendrix takes a delightful approach to the truly terrifying flat-packed IKEA experience. And now, armed with the knowlege of the two aforementioned deep, dark, AND ABSOLUTELY VALID fears of mine in mind, check out this wonderful excerpt brought to us by Tor:

The Boy Who Drew Monsters

Keith Donohue, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child, combines folklore, a seaside town, ghost ships, and madness in The Boy Who Drew Monsters. I love a good sea monster and this novel promises them in addition to chills up and down your spine:

"It will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Keith Donohue manages to peer into the darkest nightmares of childhood and beckon forth the monsters from the closet. Atmospheric and haunting, The Boy Who Drew Monsters is all the more chilling because it is grounded in real family life, with its heartbreak and tenderness." - Wowyn Ivey, New York Times bestselling author of The Snow Child.

There's something especially eerie about a horror story seen through the eyes of a child -- the monsters are closer and looming, the terror is primal, and the helplessness is always, achingly, palpable.

Head Full Of Ghosts

I have to admit that I've started this one already (but I'm only one chapter in so it still counts as a new book!) and the genre-bending mix of online journal -- think, xanga era style blogging -- and haunted house revisitation sets up a plot that promises to be ominous, tragic, and (thanks to clever and sharp-tongues protagonist) finely wrought.

High emotional tension aside, I want to again mention to the slipperiness of the overall narrative which is compelling without feeling "experimental." As readers, we have the chance to view this exorcism-gone-terribly-wrong (maybe?) from several, sharp angles -- through the blurry lens of childhood memory, a reality TV show, and online journals -- and who doesn't love a sharp edged exorcism?

Broken Monsters

I picked up Broken Monsters in Barnes & Noble and put it back on the shelf in favor of a more compelling paperback (don't ask me which one because I've already forgotten. Feel free to imagine something inexpensive and pretentious like The Collected Works of John Cheever or something by George Elliot).

The book summary stuck in my head and I went back a few weeks later to try and find it, but its time on the New Releases table had passed and I couldn't get up the courage to ask a bookseller if he or she knew about a "hardcover book that has a kid sewn to a deer" in it. Anyway, after a lot of suspect googling (the search results still haunt me), I found it! On Amazon! And I really, really, really want to read it.

Really, I really, really want to read every one of these books and I will (probably) regardless of what you guys vote on. I'm still excited to see what you choose so get your upvote on.

xoBookClub Deets: On the last Saturday of the month, I'll offer up a selection of books for the book club! Vote your butts off in the comments and look for the announcement of the winning title on Monday at 6:00 PM. You've got a whole month to get your read on and we'll meet up again at the end of the month to discuss.