Top Ten Tuesday Halloween Freebie: Top Ten Books About Hauntings and Demonic Possessions
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. They created the meme because they love lists. Who doesn’t love lists? They wanted to share these list with fellow book lovers and ask that we share in return to connect with our fellow book lovers. To learn more about participating in the challenge, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Books About Hauntings and Demonic Possessions
The topic for today was actually a Halloween freebie, and since it would take much too long for me to list my favorite horror novels, I decided to narrow it down a little by featuring only those that fit a certain theme. Since I am particularly fond of stories about haunted houses and exorcisms, I decided I would shine a spotlight on these books this week:
The Voices by F.R. Tallis
To some, The Voices is going to be just another haunted house ghost story. To others, it will be one of the most terrifying books you’ll ever read. The year it came out, my oldest was still just a toddler, and I’ll admit I came very close to not reading this, simply because the novel’s description made it sound much too scary. Ever since I became a parent, I’ve become much more reluctant about picking up horror novels that involve young children, fearing that they might cut too close for comfort and give me nightmares. True to form though, in the end I just could not resist a good haunted house story. This book opens in 1976 during the hottest summer in the UK since records began, and protagonist Christopher Norton and his wife and baby girl had just moved into their a grand old Victorian era home in the desirable neighborhood of Hampstead. A composer by trade, Christopher spends much of his time in his attic studio recording music, and before long he starts to hear strange voices on his tapes. Around the same time, his wife also begins to notice knocking sounds from the baby monitor and their infant daughter seemingly to babble at something unseen. If you’re in the mood for a good ghost story or a classic haunting, The Voices is a very good choice, and it genuinely freaked me out more than a few times. (Read the full review…)
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Horrorstör scratched a really great itch. When it comes to horror, I’m an unabashed fan of ghost stories and books about hauntings, but because so many of them follow the same formula and use the same familiar tropes, it’s often quite hard find something that truly stands out. I was therefore quite excited about this novel, because of its memorable and real quirky take on the classic haunted house story. Protagonist Amy is a disgruntled employee of furniture superstore Orsk, which is essentially a clever parody of our real world IKEA. There’s something strange about this particular Orsk store though. Every morning store partners arrive at work to find damaged and vandalized goods, not to mention the creepy “HELP” messages that randomly shows up on everyone’s cellphones. To get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all, store manager Basil recruits Amy and fellow employee Ruth Anne for an overnight shift. Expecting to find some innocuous and mundane reason for all the strange things going on, they are totally unprepared for the horrors awaiting them on showroom floor in the dead of night. I really enjoyed this book, and its story is one that will stay with me for a very long time. After all, how often does one come across a haunted house story that takes place in a big box chain store? After business hours when all the customers have gone home and the lights go off, they can become very scary places, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be locked in one all by myself. (Read the full review…)
The Damned by Andrew Pyper
I ended up devouring the book. Partly, it was because of its quick-pacing and slickly written style, but also, it simply might have been the fact I was really hungering for a good horror novel. It’s been quite a while since I’ve revisited this genre, and by that I mean pure, psychological paranormal Horror with a capital H—the kind designed to chill you to your bones. The Damned fit the bill perfectly, delivering in spades what I needed. It introduces us to our protagonist Danny Orchard, who is no stranger to death. It’s even the topic of his bestselling book, a memoir about his trip to the “other side” after almost dying in a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister Ashleigh when they were both sixteen. His writings have made him a celebrity in certain circles, and Danny often finds himself on the road signing books or giving talks at near-death experience groups all over the country, meeting others who have had their brushes with the afterlife and survived to tell the tale. Often, their accounts are of hope and filled with a sense of peace, with most grateful to be given a second chance at life. Danny’s own experience, however, was a lot different. His sister has been dead for twenty years, but her presence haunts him still. In life, Ash was the picture of perfection—smart, beautiful, popular—eclipsing her twin brother in every way. But behind that façade, she was pure evil, and unfortunately for Danny, death hasn’t changed her one bit. (Read the full review…)
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
At its heart, this book is a possession story (well, actually it’s a lot more complicated than that, but let’s just roll with it for the sake of simplicity and keeping things spoiler-free). Enter the Barretts, a seemingly average suburban New England family. Like many others, they were hit by hard times and had to struggle to make ends meet. Dad John Barrett lost his job and mom Sarah became the family’s soul breadwinner. Finances were further strained when their fourteen-year-old daughter Marjorie started getting sick, displaying symptoms of psychosis. Doctors, however, were unable to help. Reluctantly, the family decided to turn to a Catholic priest, who suggested that Marjorie could be under the influence of a demon. A TV production company was contacted, and they in turn offered the Barretts money if they agreed to be filmed for the exorcism. The subsequent events are recounted by little sister Meredith “Merry” Barrett fifteen years later, now twenty-three years old and being interviewed for a book about “The Possession”, a six-episode Discovery Channel reality show that chronicled the events that befell the Barretts as they happened. All I’ll say is, Merry’s narrative broke my heart. Even now, a lot of its ideas weigh heavily on my mind or are sitting like stones in the pit of my stomach. When it comes to a horror novel, I actually think that’s more effective than outright raw terror. After all, the demons we fear aren’t always the supernatural kind. (Read the full review…)
Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Oh, how scary could this book be, I asked myself when I read its description. It can’t be as creepy as everyone says, I foolishly thought. Seriously, a story about a three-hundred-and-fifty-year-old witch who just appears wherever she wants around town, and all everyone does is throw a dish towel over her face or otherwise pretends she’s not there. The whole business sounded more comical than frightening, to be honest. Well, about a quarter way into the book, I was no longer laughing. Things got dark real quick. In this novel, it is an entire town that is haunted. In spite of its seemingly peaceful and picturesque façade, Black Spring has a terrible secret. Back in the seventeenth century, there lived a woman named Katherine van Wyler who was accused of being a witch and was swiftly dealt with in much the way you would expect from your typical puritanical colony. Thing is, though? Katherine might have been the real deal. Now her soiled husk of a body, chained with eyes and mouth sewn shut, still haunts Black Spring to this day. The townsfolk have slapped on their brave faces and come to accept their curse, but deep down, they all know that one day those stitches will come off and then everyone will be at the mercy of Katherine’s deadly whisperings and Evil Eye. If you’re a fan of horror fiction and strong of nerve, I would definitely check this one out. Deliciously creepy and all consuming, Hex was an absolute thrill. (Read the full review…)
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
As the first line in the novel’s blurb states, its protagonist Jack Sparks died while writing this book. What we read is the manuscript of his gonzo style exposé of the supernatural that he was working on right before his mysterious death, which drew plenty of attention due to the eponymous writer’s cult fame and active presence on social media. Jack, however, makes no pretense at objectivity. He doesn’t put much stock in the supernatural, and makes no effort to hide his skepticism or contempt while sitting in on an exorcism in rural Italy on Halloween, laughing and tweeting out snarky remarks the whole time. But everything unravels for him after that trip, starting with a disturbing video appearing on his YouTube channel that he doesn’t remember uploading. Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, Jack becomes obsessed with the occult and plunges deeper into his investigation, embarking on this harrowing journey that will eventually kill him. At its heart, The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a ghost story, but what amazed me was its refreshingly original premise and structure. What really happened to Jack Sparks? The story will keep you guessing, with plenty of mind-bending twists and shocking revelations along the way. Though we all knew Jack was going to die, the ending still managed to catch me off guard, being horrifying, clever, and just perfect. Seriously, if you’re looking for some spine-tingling entertainment, especially for the Halloween season, check this one out right the hell now. (Read the full review…)
The Apartment by S.L. Grey
Being a huge fan of author Sarah Lotz, naturally I just had to check out The Apartment, since she’s one half of the writing duo of S.L. Grey. The book is told through the eyes of a married couple from Cape Town, South Africa. Mark Sebastian is a middle-aged English professor struggling both personally and financially after a terrible event seven years ago had shattered his first marriage. His second wife Steph is a young woman who had to put her life on hold after she got pregnant and married Mark, deciding to be a stay-at-home parent. Despite the couple’s difficulties though, their marriage was loving and idyllic—that is, until their home was violently invaded by three masked men who robbed them at knife point. While the family came out of that agony physically unharmed, Mark and Steph are unable to return to their normal lives due to psychological trauma. So when a friend refers them to a house-swapping website and suggests that they take a nice relaxing vacation, the two of them are intrigued by this money-saving option. Almost right away, Steph connects with the owners of a charming little apartment in Paris, and they decide to take the leap. After all, who can resist the city of light and love? However, once they arrive in Paris, their dream vacation quickly spirals out of control to become a living nightmare. Instead of rest and romance, they find only darkness and terror in their borrowed apartment, which is nothing like advertised. (Read the full review…)
The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
Like I said, I’ve always been drawn to stories about haunted houses, and the entire premise of The Family Plot is built around the subject. We begin with an introduction to Chuck Dutton, owner of a company that specializes in the stripping of old properties and then reselling the valuable pieces. When the stately Augusta Withrow walks through his office door offering him salvage rights to her sizeable historic family estate, Chuck decides to send a skeleton crew headed by his daughter Dahlia to undertake the project. Dahlia and her team all make the drive out together to the old house nestled in the backwoods of Chattanooga, Tennessee…and arrive to a veritable goldmine. With only a few days to complete the job, the four of them get down to stripping the place right away. Still, while the splendor of the Withrow estate is certainly everything that was promised, the crew soon uncovers a few surprises. For one thing, Augusta had failed to mention the small graveyard on the property, tucked away among the overgrown trees. To save time and money, the team has also decided to forgo hotels and spend the nights at the house, but strange things are happening and they only seem to get worse when darkness falls. Imagine HGTV’s Salvage Dogs meets Paranormal Activity and you have a pretty good idea of what The Family Plot is about. The book managed to hit every one of my buttons and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. (Read the full review…)
The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett
This book might be published under a YA imprint, but when it comes to delivering horror, it’s the real deal—no kid gloves here. To give fair warning, I would probably place this on the “older teen” spectrum, and if you don’t like unsettling themes and gut-wrenching endings, then you may want to stay away. Personally though, I knew as soon as I heard about The Last Harvest that it would be right up my alley. Pitched to me as Rosemary’s Baby meets Friday Night Lights, the story is set in rural Oklahoma, starring eighteen-year-old Clay Tate. A year ago, Clay had it all—he was the star quarterback, and also a well-respected member of the Preservation Society. But all that changed the night Clay’s dad lost his mind and made a sudden visit to his neighbor’s cattle ranch. Now on the first anniversary of that night, people still talk in hushed whispers about how the elder Tate’s body was found among the blood and viscera on the floor of the breeding barn, after committing an unspeakable act. Clay himself has become a social pariah, deciding to focus on working the family farm. But lately he’s been having trouble sleeping, and he begins to see and hear things that aren’t really there. Clay starts to wonder if he is now suffering from the same mental illness that affected his dad in his final days. Was this what made his old man go crazy and accuse the Preservation Society of devil worship? Clay knows there’s definitely something wrong, but there are few he can trust to reveal his suspicions. Evil has come to his town, and now Clay fears for his family and for the soul of the girl he loves. (Read the full review…)
Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
What good timing, as I had just reviewed this novel. It’s the prime example of a good haunted house story, the kind that sends chills down your spine, making you wonder if anything is even safe anymore as you steal nervous glances over your shoulder to make sure you really are alone. At the center of this story is the house at Kill Creek, an old abandoned three-story that was built in the mid-1800s on a lonely road in the middle of the Kansas prairie. Lovingly constructed by its first owner, the house saw a few good years before tragedy struck, and people say it has been haunted ever since. For a long time, the house sat empty, its notoriety growing until it catches the attention of the founder of WrightWire, a horror genre website. One day, four well known horror writers receive invitations from WrightWire to spend Halloween night at the house, with the promise of a large paycheck in exchange for an interview which will be livestreamed to millions. The authors all end up accepting the proposal because they are either in need of the money or of the publicity, but none of them are prepared for the horrors that await them inside the old abandoned house at Kill Creek, the evil within its walls stirring once more with the arrival of new visitors. All told, this would be a splendid book to get you in the mood for the Halloween season, its blend of literary horror and psychological thriller made it one of the better haunted house stories I have read in a while. (Read the full review…)
Great list – some really good books on here and some I still need to get to like the Last Days of Jack Sparks (which I bought ages ago and still need to make time for). I have cut down on review books quite a lot and think I’ll have lots of free catching up time in December.
Oh man, you should definitely prioritize Jack Sparks! 😀
OOoh nice topic!! And picks! Going to have to look into nearly all these! Except for Kim Liggett’s book, which I have and still need to read! LOL!
Here’s my Tuesday Post
Have a GREAT day!
Old Follower 🙂
It’s a good one, you should definitely check it out soon!
Awesome list! Very halloween-y
Thanks! I thought it would be a nice theme for Halloween 🙂
I added The Voices to my wishlist and although I may not get to it until next year, it does sound like a good read. I really enjoyed The Family Plot and am surprised it doesn’t get more press. I thought it was very well done. In fact, I like a lot of her stuff and need to read more to fill in some gaps. Great list and I’m glad I have an ARC of Kill Creek and am getting ready to fire it up.
I’m surprised at The Family Plot not getting more press either, since Priest is quite a prominent author. The Voices also needs more attention.
I have to try Horrorstör one day
That one was so fun! You’d like it.
The Damned would have been a good book for my list this week! I love this list, there are several books on here that I definitely want to read at some point. And Yay for Jack Sparks!
I agree, The Damned is underrated!
Ironically, haunted house and possession books are the type of horror books I don’t generally read! I do think I have Kill Creek on the ereader…
Haha, they can be pretty creepy! I hope you enjoy Kill Creek!
‘Horrorstoer’ has me intrigued now! That really sounds like something new! I’d like to see that as a movie as well haha
Oh, you’re in for a treat! Horrostor is definitely a different class of “haunted house” story 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person