photography of cat at full moon

The dog days of summer lie behind us. Costco already has holiday decorations on the shelves. Between the fire and ice is one of J & K’s favorite times of the year: fall. The season beckons with verdant pumpkin patches, crisp apple cider, and of course, all manner of haunted and scary things. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite spooky fall reads to help set the mood. These books are best read with the lights on.

Cover artwork for Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

Haunted house in the countryside? Check. Plucky heroine? Check. A wealthy family with a sordid past? Present and accounted for. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia starts out slow and then blows the doors off with weirdness. The story draws on traditional gothic elements (think Jane Eyre) while putting its own unique spin on them.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Image of a haunted mansion

This classic short story might test modern readers’ patience with its archaic sentence structure, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. The Fall of the House of Usher chronicles the end of a wealthy, eccentric family, as related by an unfortunate visitor to their decaying estate. Edgar Allan Poe’s mastery of brooding, atmospheric horror is on full display in the story. Best of all, it’s public domain, so you can read it for free online.

House of Leaves

An example of House of Leaves’ unusual page layouts

Doctor Who fans will find the premise of this story familiar: the house is bigger on the inside than the outside. House of Leaves takes readers on a wild ride through a story-in-a-story wherein the narrator attempts to relay the story of a family caught inside a labyrinth within their own home. The book’s formatting is…unique. Love it or hate it, the footnotes, text colors, and varying typefaces all serve a purpose. Sometimes you even have to rotate the book to read it. It’s disorienting, jarring, and altogether perfect for spooky season.

Cover artwork for Satan’s Lamp

Satan’s Lamp

The title of this queer horror novella conveys many of the horror tropes it draws upon. Satan’s Lamp tells the tale of an infamous lighthouse and its ill-fated keepers. Their struggle with supernatural forces is juxtaposed with a healthy dose of sexual tension. Add in the main character’s struggle with belonging and you have a recipe for one “hell” of a story. Bonus: It’s a quick read.

Cover art for And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

Last but certainly not least, Agatha Christie’s mind-bending mystery: And Then There Were None. This book is the pinnacle of murder mystery and has inspired countless other works (Clue, Knives Out). Set in 1930s Europe, it describes a gathering of ten strangers invited by mysterious, unseen hosts to their fabulous island home. It all seems odd but charming until someone dies. And then someone else. It’s up to the surviving guests to determine who among them is the killer before they all end up dead.

Thanks for reading!

We hope you enjoyed this list of spooky fall reads. What are some of your favorite ooky-spooky things about autumn, literary or otherwise? Tell us in the comments!

Check out another book list from J & K: Books to Quench Your Thirst

A Cozy Fantasy Winter Short Story Is Coming
Books to Quench Your Thirst

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