A few years ago, my brother recommended I read Dracula. Early that autumn, I started through those harrowing halls of Dracula’s castle. As luck would have it, I finished on Halloween Day. Living in those pages throughout October added just the right amount of spook to my month, and ever since, each October I find a scary story to read. These fall days, there’s nothing better than curling up in bed each night, with the howling wind and crackling leaves outside the window, and getting lost in the grips of a good, old-fashioned ghost story.

Here is a collection of our Heirloom family most-highly-recommended spooky stories for your October reading:

  1. Dracula: There are so many things to love about Dracula. For a spooky story, it has all the best elements: an ominous castle in a threatening landscape, a smiling but sinister host (Count Dracula), and a ghoulish cast of characters creeping around the castle. It has just enough terrifying twists to hold the reader in a state of wonderful page-turning horror. Not only is the plot perfectly eerie, but the writing is mesmerizing, and the main host of characters truly endearing. There are moments of real heroism, chivalry, honor, and courage as the main character fights Dracula and all his evil minions to save his heart’s true love. Until the last page, this classic tale will charm, spook, and bewitch you. And best yet, we found a reproduction of the first edition print, with its tell-tale yellow canvas cover and blood-red debossed title. If you read only one book this Halloween, make it this one.
  2. Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories: Roald Dahl, the master of storytelling, years into his career as a writer became fascinated by ghost stories. He became obsessed with finding the best ones ever written in the English language, and for months, he read every ghost story he could get his hands on, piled them in stacks around his living room, and from those, selected 14 of his favorites. These are classic ghost tales—short stories of haunted houses and mysterious apparitions that will give you goosebumps and have you closing the blinds and hiding under covers.
  3. And Then There Were None: I first read this book in high school, and have returned to it a couple of times since. Even though I know the ending, the twists and turns of Agatha Christie's writing still make for a thrilling read each time. Ten strangers find themselves together in an isolated manor on an island off the coast of England, the invited guests of an unknown host. As one by one, the guests unexplainably die, it is clear a murderer is amongst them. As the hunt commences and the deaths continue, the suspense mounts: will the remaining guests be able to discover the killer before they all meet an untimely end?
  4. Heckedy Peg: This haunting children’s book tells the tale of seven darling children who are tricked by a cruel witch named Heckedy Peg into opening their home to her. Once in, she immediately turns them into foods, packs them into her cart, and hobbles off to her cave in the woods where she will eat them. Can the mother save them in time? Will she know how to release the children from the evil spell? Just hearing the words Heckedy Peg still gives me shivers. Audrey Wood’s story is accompanied by the entrancing illustrations of her husband, Don Wood, which do as much as the text in creating a haunting world of hexes.
  5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: So many versions of Washington Irving’s classic ghost tale exist, but our favorite is Will Moses’s. He rewrote Irving’s tale to be more intriguing to a younger audience and peppered it with over 50 of his charming illustrations. There are expansive panoramas of the village of Sleepy Hollow, corner adornments of woodchopping and cider-making, and a magnificent two-page spread of the fabled chase of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.

You can see all our favorites by shopping the collection. And tell us what you think! Which of these have you read? What are you favorite spooky reads during October? We're always looking for book recommendations, and would love to learn which stories have become Halloween favorites for you.

September 28, 2018 — Carolyn Carter

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