10 Indie Halloween Horror Reads
TRICK OR TREAT, SMELL MY FEET, GIVE ME SOMETHING GOOD TO READ!
All Hallows' Eve is finally upon us, which means it's time for some spooky reads. If you're like me, you seek out a grim tale that evokes a deep sense of nostalgia, a reminder of Halloween's past. We may be "too old" for trick or treating, but there are books that are guaranteed to transport us to those long coveted nights of dressing up and hoarding enough candy to last until the next year's festivities. What lies before you are my recommendations for Halloween fiends sick to death of the regularly suggested reads by Ray Bradbury or Stephen King. These truly terrifying stories by indie authors absolutely deserve your time and attention. Now, let's get comfortable around the fading light of a jack-o-lantern, and finish off the remnants of last year's candy while we read some nail-biting, terror inducing tales that are sure to set the mood for this, the most horrifying time of year.
10. "The October Society" by Christopher Robertson
Halloween approaches, and The October Society gathers. They come to share their stories. Tales of dark magic and crooked lies. Of tragic pasts and wicked cruelty. Of misguided misadventure and sinister pranks…
This is one of those books that will literally beat you to death with 90s nostalgia (in a good way). Robertson transports us to the days of watching Are You Afraid of the Dark? on cable TV, along with some of the most entertaining commercials to ever interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. The author mimics this in the book with different levels of framing mechanisms and a heartwarming cast of YA characters that make for an entertaining experience.
9. "Dark Treats" by Mark Allen Gunnells
From a master of suspense comes a Halloween collection of twisted holiday horrors. Gunnells is a favorite of mine, and his short stories are a great introduction to the amazing long fiction he has out in the world. In Dark Treats, readers can expect a grab bag variety of tales involving a satanic intervention, mysterious candy, and other truths best left undisturbed.
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8. "Halloween Fiend" by CV Hunt
In a small town named Strang, evil resides. Every evening, once darkness prevails, a creature named Halloween begins his trick or treat route. It's not candy he demands though, no. He desires blood and tissue from a live offering. The people of Strang do as they're told, so as not to receive a trick from this frightening thing that haunts the town. They know the consequences, and come All Hallows' Eve, a special ritual must be fulfilled to satisfy the nightmare called Halloween.
Halloween Fiend is a truly original creature feature. CV Hunt delivers a grim and fantastical tale of ritualistic sacrifice that will satisfy any avid horror fan. This is the kind of story that'll make you want to leave the bowl of candy outside instead of doling it out to the kids. Lock the doors and hunker down because Halloween is coming to town.
7. "Dead Leaves" by Kealan Patrick Burke
Kealan Patrick Burke is renowned for his horror delights, and Dead Leaves is the perfect Halloween treat. I was hooked right from the start with the story Andromeda, which honestly had me instantly buying the Burke's other works. In this decedent collection of frights, readers can expect a wide range of terrifying tales that is sure to tantalize. From the bizarre to grief stricken to desperation and depravity. There's something for everyone in this collection.
6. "Autumcrow" by Cameron Chaney
As the host of Library Macabre on YouTube, I had high expectations for the fictional landscape of Cameron Chaney and Autumncrow Valley. Cameron is a true aficionado of horror fiction and does not disappoint. Autumncrow is a collection of chilling tales that are intertwined by the enchantment of the witching season. Here, we get to know the origin of a place that celebrates Halloween every night, where terror lurks in the shadows. Nostalgic and alluring, captivating and enjoyable. This is how I describe the middle-grade horror that fans of R.L. Stine will adore. If you've read the book or expect to pick this one up, keep on the lookout for Chaney's next installment, Autumncrow High: Fresh Hell.
5. "Benny Rose, The Cannibal King" by Hailey Piper
Blackwood is a small community covered by a veil of darkness and gripped by myths about an evil so terrifying it's story has been told for generations. Halloween night is a special time of year for the residents of this little town in Vermont. Kids are dressing up, candy is being doled out, and the undead stalk their prey. Benny Rose is more than a myth, he's a local legend, and on Halloween night he rises from the grave to ease his insatiable hunger for the living.
This novella is a young adult survival story with all the elements of a slasher film, and a bit of body horror thrown in. The thing I like most about this book is that Hailey Piper created this atmospheric feel by building up the myth of Benny Rose. I became fully immersed in each scene as I learned more and more about the antagonist. The lore about the Cannibal King made for a great reading experience that I found terrifying and compelling. The author also did a great job of creating this constant looming sense of dread that I only thought possible in the 80s slasher films I grew up watching. Benny Rose, the pale-skinned monster could strike at anytime, had me on edge and anxious from start to finish. Beware of The Blackwood Devil!
4. "Halloween Grindhouse" by E. Reyes
From the author of Devil's Hill and The House on Moon Creek Avenue comes a new anthology of grindhouse horror. E. Reyes enthralled me with this Halloween themed collection. Amongst the pages of this book we find a group of kids looking for a Halloween thrill. They use an app to discover spooky locations which takes them to an abandoned home. As they investigate they discover an old VCR and tapes that contain some very disturbing content. This is a Halloween they will never forget.
Upon reading this book I found a new favorite author. Reyes is a great storyteller who has a really distinctive voice. His style is that of a devout horror enthusiast. This is an author I'm watching closely and will be recommending for years to come.
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3. "Doorbells at Dusk" edited by Evans Light
This is a book that comes HIGHLY recommended and has appeared on many best of lists, not just for Halloween, but the best of the best as well. Evans Light and Corpus Press knocked it out of the park with this Halloween horror anthology. It includes some of the most renowned authors in the genre including: Sean Eads, Amber Fallon, Charles Gramlich, Joanna Koch, Curtis M. Lawson, Lisa Lepovetsky, Adam Light, Evans Light, Chad Lutzke, Josh Malerman, Jason Parent, Thomas Vaughn, Joshua Viola, Ian Welke and Gregor Xane.
This is one of those books people are going to be talking about for a long, long time. Doorbells at Dusk is must have modern horror collection that'll be sure to put you in the mood for those autumnal evenings.
2. "October Nights" by Kevin Lucia
If you are familiar with Kevin Lucia, then you will already be all too aware of Clifton Heights and the terror that affects those who reside within its borders. October Nights is a brand new collection of Halloween stories that take place in a world crafted by Lucia where everyday is Halloween.
What I love about Lucia's writing is the creeping dread that emanates as I turn each and every page. A fearful unease of what is to follow while reading along. It'll have you looking over your shoulder or questioning the misleading shapes leering back at you from the shadows. October Nights is the work of a skilled master of modern horror.
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1. "The Halloween Store" and "Mister Glow Bones" by Ronald Kelly
Finally, number one on my list is a drive-in double feature. I hold both of these books dear to my cold, dead heart and consider them not just a couple of my favorite reads for the year, but maybe ever.
These are my two, absolute MUST read indie Halloween themed books, and will certainly be annual rereads as well. My favorite story from the two books comes from The Halloween Store. "Pretty Little Lanterns" is about the investigation into a brutal killer who turns his victims' heads into jack-o-lanterns. Although it's a grisly story, it is also emotionally devastating.
I'm a massive fan of Kelly's work, and his short stories are nothing short of terrifying brilliance. These books, among much of his work, are told by a sinister mastermind with the ability to shock and awe even veteran horror enthusiasts.
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