Vengeful Binge

Scary stories to read this Halloween

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Spooky season is well underway, which likely means that you’ve already picked out your costume and compiled a good list of frightening movies to watch — but have you picked out a spooky story to go along with the cold weather?

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few recommendations that are sure to give you goosebumps.

“The Taking of Jake Livingston” by Ryan Douglass

Jake Livingston is one of the only black kids at St. Clair Prep, and he’s somewhat of a social outcast. What makes matters worse, Jake can see the dead. Reminiscent of the eeriness in “The Sixth Sense,” these ghosts are mostly harmless and are often seen reliving their own deaths. That is, until Jake meets the murderous and vengeful teenage ghost named Sawyer, who has set out a plan for his afterlife: one that includes an unwilling Jake. Suddenly, Jake’s concept of the dead is turned upside down and he’s haunted by Sawyer and the bodies that unexpectedly turn up around his neighborhood.

“Ace of Spades” by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

In this contemporary mystery thriller, Devon and Chiamaka, two students at the elite Niveus Private Academy, have been chosen recently to be the school’s senior class prefects: extremely coveted leadership positions that can pave their ways into a good university. Everything seems perfect until the anonymous Aces starts exposing the students’ dark secrets through texts. The students’ futures now hang in the balance and what seemed like an unpleasant prank turns into a very dangerous game. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things take a turn for the worse?

“Dread Nation” by Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born just two days before the dead began to walk the battlefield of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, upending the Civil War and changing America forever. In this new world, the battle against the dead is left to those who fall victim to the Native and Negro Reeducation Act, which includes our protagonist. However, when families around the area disappear, Jane is caught in the middle of a battle far more terrifying and dangerous than facing against the dead.

“The Institute” by Stephen King

This science fiction-horror thriller from King is about 12-year-old Luke Ellis, who wakes up in a room that looks exactly like his own, except it doesn’t have a window. His parents have been murdered, and he’s been taken to The Institute, a mysterious place that houses kids with special talents such as telekinesis and telepathy. Luke is quick to realize the sinister ways in which The Institute functions and is determined to find a way out before he disappears into the Back Half.

“The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina” by Zoraida Córdova

The Montoyas never truly wondered why everything in their Four Rivers home seemed so perfect and never dared question their strange matriarch Orquídea Divina, who has never left the home. When she dies, the family goes to the funeral expecting answers to all these apparent secrets; instead, they leave with more questions. Seven years later, they’re still haunted by her memory and unexpectedly blessed by the gifts she left behind, but when a hidden figure begins to pick them off one by one, the few who are left set out to Ecuador to uncover the truth behind their inheritance.

“The Kind Worth Killing” by Peter Swanson

Ted Severson wants to kill his wife Miranda. Cheating is always a valid reason for murder, right? Well, the stunning and mysterious stranger he meets on a flight home, Lily Kintner, agrees and promptly decides to help him do it. After all, some people are just the kind worth killing. Now back home, Ted and Lily’s twisted bond grows, and together, they start to plot Miranda’s demise. But there are some things about Lily’s past that Ted has yet to figure out, namely the reason she’s so willing and capable of killing in the first place.

“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemí Taboada is hardly the girl you’d want to call when you need to be rescued. Instead of a knight in shining armor, she’s a glamorous debutante whose gowns and red lipstick are more suited for upscale galas than anything else. Nonetheless, when her newlywed cousin sends her a frantic letter begging for someone to save her from impending doom, Noemí has no choice but to head to the Mexican countryside to help. It seems like all the odds are against her, as she doesn’t quite know her cousin’s English husband. Her father appears to be eerily obsessed with Noemí and the house itself has begun to plague her dreams with visions of blood and doom. Noemí’s quest to help her cousin soon unearths a violent and maddening family history that she’s not sure she can look past or even overcome.

“You” by Caroline Kepnes

We’re all familiar with the Netflix original series of the same name, so what better way to cure your post-Season 3 binge blues than to pick up the book that started it all? The novel is uniquely narrated from the second-person perspective as Joe follows you, aka Guinevere Beck, around NYC in an extremely addictive, somewhat sickening and thoroughly thrilling “love” story.

“Lovesickness,” “Smashed,” “Shiver” and “Fragments of Horror” by Junji Ito

The Uzumaki manga is arguably the Japanese master of horror’s most famous book, but apart from this cult classic he’s also the author and illustrator of a number of short-story collections. What sets Ito’s stories apart is his discomforting understanding of phobias and humanity’s fear of the unknown. Inspired by literary authors like Lovecraft and Japanese folklore, Ito’s end product is one that is extremely unique, somewhat incredulous and definitely frightening. Despite the night-light you might need to buy after you read them, they are undoubtedly worth your time.

Editor’s note: Please look up content warnings for each book, as some images and topics may be triggering to certain readers.

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