With Halloween right around the corner, now is the perfect time to pick a spooky ghost story for your next book club meeting. The list of reading suggestions that we’ve compiled below features a range of literary ghosts, including gentle apparitions, menacing specters, and house-haunting demons. These novels will make you turn the pages with trepidation and send a shiver up your spine. Read them if you dare!
The Wolves of Midwinter by Anne Rice
“The queen of gothic lit” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) returns to the supernatural, conjuring up a world teeming with werewolves…but also ghosts!
It is winter at Nideck Point. Oak fires burn in the stately flickering hearths, and the community organizes its annual celebration of music and pageantry. But for Reuben Golding, now infused with the Wolf Gift, this promises to be a season like no other. He’s preparing to honor an ancient Midwinter festival with his fellow Morphenkinder—a secret gathering that takes place deep within the surrounding forests.
However, Reuben is soon distracted by a ghost. Tormented, imploring, and unable to speak, it haunts the halls of the great mansion, drawing him toward a strange netherworld of new spirits, or “ageless ones.” And as the swirl of Nideck’s preparations reaches a fever pitch, they reveal their own dark magical powers.
The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill
Here’s a chilling, classically inspired ghost story from our reigning mistress of spine-tingling fiction. For the last twenty years Sir James Monmouth has journeyed all over the globe in the footsteps of his hero, the great pioneering traveler Conrad Vane. In an effort to learn more about Vane’s early life—and his own—Sir James sets off for remote Kittiscar Hall on a cold and rainy winter night. But he soon begins to feel as though something is warning him away at every turn; there are the intense feelings of being watched and the strange apparition of a sad little boy. And as he learns more about his hero’s past, he discovers that these phenomena are only the beginning, for Kittiscar Hall is hiding terrible secret that will bind their lives together in ways he could never have imagined.
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R. A. Dick
For the helpless romantics: a ghost novel that was the basis for Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s cinematic love story starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison.
Burdened by debt after her husband’s death, Lucy Muir insists on moving into the very cheap Gull Cottage in the quaint seaside village of Whitecliff, despite multiple warnings that the house is haunted. Upon discovering the rumors to be true, the young widow ends up forming a special companionship with the ghost of handsome former sea captain Daniel Gregg. Through the struggles of supporting her children, seeking out romance from the wrong places, and working to publish the captain’s story as a book, Blood and Swash, Lucy finds in her secret relationship with Captain Gregg a comfort and blossoming love she never could have predicted.
Originally published in 1945, made into a movie in 1947, and later adapted into a television sitcom in 1968, this romantic tale explores how love can develop without boundaries, both in this life and beyond.
Julia by Peter Straub
Fans of The Exorcist will appreciate Peter Straub’s blood-curdling ghost novel.
Julia’s first purchase upon leaving her husband is a large, old-fashioned house in Kensington, where she plans to live by herself, well away from her soon-to-be-ex and the home where their young daughter died. She feels a peculiar affinity for the house right away, a feeling that deepens with each glimpse of a mysterious little girl—blonde, like her daughter—in the neighborhood, and even in her dreams. But the little girl and the big house have an inexplicable aura of evil. And Julia quickly discovers that escaping her past is not as simple as turning a key.
Ghost by Alan Lightman
Looking for an intellectual read that grapples with big metaphysical questions? Pick up this stunning novel about an ordinary man’s encounter with the extraordinary.
David Kurzweil, a quiet man with modest ambitions, was taking a break at his new job, when he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Something no science could explain. Suddenly David’s life is changed, and he soon finds himself in the middle of a wild public controversy over the existence of the supernatural. As David searches for an explanation, we embark on a provocative exploration of the delicate divide between the physical and the spiritual, between science and religion as only Alan Lightman could provide.