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You may start sleeping with the lights on after diving into this stack of 10 frightening books — some of the scariest reads around — including a 17th-century classic on witches, two true stories about elusive serial killers, and a Stephen King novel featuring vengeful creatures returning from the dead. Perfect for spooky season!
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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
Jackson breathes life into the architectural lead character — Hill House — a rambling haunted mansion that terrorizes three naive folks brought together by a researcher of the supernatural. Locked in each night by a couple of creepy caretakers, the guests are subjected to increasingly disturbing phenomena as the house reveals the evil at its heart. Lonely, single Eleanor is particularly vulnerable to the tricks, and treats, contained in the halls — or are the horrors just part of her active imagination?
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson (2003)
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are planning a Hulu series based on this book (a finalist for a 2003 National Book Award), so now is the time to pick up this Gilded Age story of true-crime and architecture. Larson uncovers the mythic personalities behind the creation of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (the White City), and the trials of erecting 200 temporary buildings for a crowd of 27 million people in Chicago. In the shadows lurked killer and con man H.H. Holmes, a devilish villain who had his own ambitious agenda for the fairgoers at his custom-designed “Murder Castle.”
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (2010)
This not-quite-historically-accurate historical novel exposes the little-known side-hustle of the 16th U.S. president: vampire hunter. Grahame-Smith (who also penned Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) interprets a set of Lincoln’s secret diaries, recounting his quest to avenge his mother’s death after she was killed in a savage vampire attack at their log cabin. One by one, Lincoln hunts down and slaughters the vampires with his trusty ax. All roads lead to war when he discovers that their taste for blood (and unquenchable thirst for wealth) is tied up with the goals of the Confederacy.