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7 Books to read this Halloween

Black and White Skull Figurine via Pexels


By Megha Alam

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

This is the first of the many classic gothic novels you will find on this list. Read this less as a plot-driven novel and more as an unsettling, philosophical essay with beautiful prose, deploying gothic elements to get its point across. I found myself highlighting passage upon passage partially because they were so beautiful, partially because they broke my brain, and partially because I wanted to point out the painfully obvious homoerotic dynamic between the three main men of the story. A bit more of a heavier, philosophical read so if you still want to feel academic over reading week, this is a great one for you. 

Bunny Mona Awad

If I wanted to summarise this book in one sentence, it would be chick flick meets horror meets dark academia. Bunny follows scholarship student Samantha Mackey, who’s enrolled on a prestigious English programme. Naturally she feels left out until she gets adopted by the cliquiest group of them all, a group of prim and classic girls who call each other ‘Bunny’. Gradually, she realises the Bunny world is a lot more sinister and gory than their pink, girly exterior reveals. In fact, it is both. Awad’s writing style plunges you into the narration and the entire reading experience felt like a fever dream, just as confusing as Samantha found her college experience to be. The best part is the disorientation that any other horror or gothic novel has yet to make me feel. 

Frankenstein Mary Shelley

The one where you root for the monster. Frankenstein is a name that I’m sure we’re all well-acquainted with. Inspired by a nightmare and a writing competition with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, Mary Shelley managed to produce one of the most iconic horror and science fiction stories ever written and my personal favourite. No matter how well you think you know the plot or how many movie adaptations you’ve seen, this story about Victor Frankenstein and his surprisingly human ‘monster’ will surpass any expectations.

Rebecca Daphne du Maurier 

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’. One of the more recognisable first lines in literature reflects how impeccably Daphne du Maurier uses the gothic element of the haunted house. The eerie atmosphere she manages to create almost makes Rebecca a book meant to be read in October. This book follows our unnamed narrator who marries a wealthier older man, only to find herself haunted by the memory of his late wife, Rebecca. Side note: tolerate it by Taylor Swift is a great song to listen to while reading this as it is mildly inspired by Rebecca. 

The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson

A classic haunted house ghost story which set the example all other ghost stories would follow. The characters are the backbone of this novel as four people from different paths of life join each other at Hill House to test how haunted this labyrinth-like house actually is. The dynamic between the characters is what drives the story forward up until the end, which, needless to say, isn’t the most wholesome.

Misery Stephen King

What kind of Halloween reading list would this be if I didn’t include a Stephen King novel? Unfortunately I’ve only read two and this is the only horror (yes, I feel like a fraud of a horror fan). This wasn’t what I expected of a Stephen King horror: no blood-stained girl in a prom dress or creepy clowns. The novel follows Paul Sheldon, a bestselling author, who is being taken care of after a car crash by Annie Wilkes, his nurse and biggest fan. She is just as nurturing as she is murderous. Sheldon is kidnapped and locked in her house while she gets him to write an alternative ending for his bestselling series. I like to imagine that King received a horrifyingly unsettling piece of fan mail, and instead of coping with it normally (whatever normal would be in that scenario), he decided to write Misery.

White is for Witching Helen Oyeyemi 

At the centre of this gothic story is, yet again, a haunted house, this time haunted by the women of the Silver family. It follows multiple perspectives, including the house itself, as we witness the grief-fuelled demise of our protagonist, Miranda Silvers. The disjointed structure that Oyeyemi employs creates an eerie, dream-like atmosphere that one can only expect from a house haunted by generations of witches. 

Hey, I’m Megha and I study Politics and History. I predominantly like to write about literature but I also love film and fashion. If you ever want to chat to me about anything or give me any book recommendations you can find me on instagram (@megha.vii) or email me at m.a.alam1@lse.ac.uk.

Megha Alam

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