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For Readers

10 Spine-Chilling Reads for Halloween

By: Hidden Gems on October 30, 2018

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on October 30, 2018


The Season of the Witch has nearly reached its zenith, and if you’re anything like me that’s involved a lot of being curled up in a blanket, sipping bourbon and reading new and classic tales of spine-chilling horror. In honor of Halloween, here are 10 scary books that will leave you shivering. Not all of these are your traditional horror novels, so there is something for everyone that wants to add a little creepiness to their lives this weekend…

And, remember, if you haven’t already – you can get weekly FREE books similar to these by signing up as a Hidden Gem reader.

In The Darkness That's Where I'll Know You by Luke SmitherdIn The Darkness That’s Where I’ll Know You by Luke Smitherd

Best-selling author Luke Smitherd follows the formula of his seminal work The Stone Man by presenting the reader with another conundrum in In the Darkness – in which a bartender wakes up to find himself inside somebody else’s head. The story then unfolds as protagonist Charlie and unwilling host Minnie have to solve the puzzle of how he got in there… and how to get him out!

“The cover doesn’t do justice to the absolute crazy-pants insanity of this book,” writes reviewer booknerdsbraindump. “The plot is deceptively simple. Charlie Wilkes wakes up inside the brain of a girl with the unfortunate but hilarious name of Minnie Cooper. He is in a room that is completely black, with the exception of a screen – her eyes, through which he can see what she sees. He can hear what she hears, and when he talks to her, she can hear him. They need to work together to figure out what happened, why it happened, how to fix it, and so on, and as they do, they get to know each other better than some long-married couples. My sugar-doped brain kept wanting to make comparisons to the 1987 Dennis Quaid comedy classic, Innerspace, but Smitherd, clever little monkey that he is, wasn’t about to let that happen. Because for all the surface humor and outlandishness of the situation, this is one seriously dark and twisted tale. Nobody is quite what they seem, and one severely screwed up individual can hurt if not destroy an infinite number of people without leaving a trace.”

Yellowstone: Fallout by Bobby AkartYellowstone: Fallout by Bobby Akart 

One of the reasons tropes like the zombie apocalypse are so popular is because we all instinctively wonder what we’d do in an end-of-the-world scenario. That’s a subject explored in this terrifying book, in which a volcano in Yellowstone plummets the world into chaos and a new order emerges from the ash and soot. Part three in an ongoing saga, this is a great segment to jump into the series with and you’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout as you wonder how you might deal with the choices and dilemmas the heroes face.

“Author Bobby Akart takes the struggles of Jake and Ashby to new levels,” writes reviewer Grammyshere, “with heart-breaking decisions, and ever tightening circles as evil and Mother Nature tighten the noose. Absolutely fantastic addition to the Yellowstone series.”

Allison's Adventures in Underland by C.M. Stunich Allison’s Adventures in Underland by C.M. Stunich 

If you thought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland couldn’t get any tripper, you’re in for a shock when you open up C.M. Stunich’s debauched and erotic adventure – which follows Allison down the rabbit hole, into a sex and drug-fueled trip filled with all sorts of crazy adventures. 

Reviewer Rachel F. writes: “CM has taken the titular ‘Alice/Allison’ and given her a modern twist. She’s not a naive girl tumbling through a rabbit-hole, but instead a strong 18 year old with a story and a life, and experience (even if some of it is through books – but let’s face it, how else would we get some of our own experiences but through our imagination?). The author has given us her take on this classic, with twists and turns that I really did not see coming. When the last page hit, I wasn’t ready for it. Not that it was too short, but I was so engrossed that I wasn’t ready to be launched out of the rabbit hole and into my own world.”

Cold Lake by Jeff CarsonCold Lake by Jeff Carson

The fifth adventure of small town Colorado sheriff David Wolf is another creepy and taut thriller, and a great introduction to Jeff Carson’s best selling series. The story begins when a human head is recovered from the depths of nearby Cold Lake – and, believe me, things don’t get any warmer after that.

Cold Lake is as good as reading gets,” writes reviewer Rocky Frisco. “Some heroes and protagonists are interesting, but David Wolf is more. While reading I find it easy to believe I’m reading a true story, about a real person, and I like him and find his actions and choices reflect my own. The area where Wolf works is familiar to me and the stories bring me back to my childhood in a good way. If you like reading in this genre, you simply can’t find a better author than Jeff Carson.

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter BlattyThe Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty

A list of scary books wouldn’t be complete without some classics, and one of the most seminal horror stories ever written is nearly 50 years old now.  In this re-release you get to experience the bone-chilling tale of demonic possession all over again. This edition contains additional polish and new content from the original author; adding more depth to an already raw and visceral tale that will leave you irrevocably changed after reading it.

“What I loved most about the book when I first read it-and what I cherish now-is how real the characters seem,” writes reviewer Steven Ramirez. “The author, William Peter Blatty, was a graduate of Georgetown University and knew well the world of Jesuit priests. For my money, he did a marvelous job of delving into their humor, their disappointments, and their loneliness. And when he takes a tortured soul like Damien Karras, a priest who is also a brilliant psychologist, and puts him in a room with Satan, well… Let’s just say things get really interesting.”

Jinxed by Thommy Hutson Jinxed by Thommy Hutson 

Inspired by the classic horror books and movies of the 1980s, Jinxed is the ultimate teen slasher story – in which the students of the Trask Academy of Performing Arts find many of their peers falling victim to seemingly unexplained ‘accidents’ that seem increasingly less random as the death toll mounts up. 

“Take equal parts Agatha Christie, Clive Barker, Lois Duncan, and Argento’s Suspiria and add a healthy portion of 80s and 90s slasher films and you’ll begin to understand the genius that is Thommy Hutson’s Jinxed,” writes reviewer Waylon Jordan. “This is a blood spattered love letter to fans of horror and Hutson proves he is a master storyteller as well as a faithful fan of the great horror franchises while giving us something that is all together new and excited. The pacing is brilliant, pulling the reader along in its wake with sudden gut-wrenching stops at just-gory-enough-to-make-you-wince kill scenes that can sate even the most staunch horror fan’s appetites. There is a wonderful sense of duality at every twisted turn in Jinxed. Light and dark, ugly and beautiful, tragic and comic. They’re all present. Remember that most important of horror axioms, “the sins of the father WILL be visited on the sons” and in this case, the daughters as well. You will love every page of this book. Bonus points awarded if you catch all the hidden horror treats, as well.

 Dead End Girl by L.T. Vargus  and Tim McBainDead End Girl by L.T. Vargus  and Tim McBain

A small town community in the midwest makes an unlikely venue for a serial killer – but that’s what makes the deranged murders committed in Dead End Girl that much more terrifying. With a smart and capable rookie detective on the case, this particular scary book is also a taut thriller that keeps you guessing until the very final page.  

In her 5-star review, elfshank perhaps said it better than I could: “Dead End Girl is a tightly woven, fast-paced, tension-laced thrill ride. How do I know? Because it’s 496 pages long and it felt like reading a novella. For pretty much two days I did nothing but read this book and wish it would never end. By the end of the first chapter, Violet felt like an old friend; I just wanted to hang out and watch her solve grisly serial murders forever.”

Broken Doll by Zoe BlakeBroken Doll by Zoe Blake

This book is one of the most disturbing and visceral tales of ‘body horror’ you might ever read – in which a young woman awakes from an auto accident to find herself immobile, and in the possession – literally – of a deranged stranger. It’s deeply creepy and disturbing and you’ll be flicking the pages as fast you can read to get to the end and discover how this tale plays out.

“This is dark, macabre, creepy, and definitely strange in all ways,” writes reviewer Ronda Swolley. “I loved the intensity and the creepy storyline. It was a great, mind-twisting piece of writing.”

“I did not expect to read what I read. It was surprising, different, and twisted, in a good way,” writes reviewer Amazon Customer. “This is a dark tale, not a dark romance, and I’m so glad I read it in time for Halloween, b/c this was creepy! I must admit, I’ve never read anything like this. While I like it, the story kind of jumped in another direction for me after the first chapter. While I was able to roll with the punches, I was left with questions about how Jane ended up the way she did and even what happened with her once a certain someone reappeared. Without totally giving anything away, I will say that karma is real and while I would have loved for the story to continue, I am satisfied and also a little speechless.” 

Torture Mom by Ryan GreenTorture Mom by Ryan Green

It’s chillingly true that the most terrifying horror stories are the real ones – and in Torture Mom author Ryan Green explores the real-life story of teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens – who became victim to a twisted family of psychopaths in what was later described as “The single worst crime perpetuated against an individual in Indiana’s history.”

Torture Mom was extremely difficult to read, certainly not for anyone looking for a book that’s lighthearted or inspirational,” writers reviewer InternetMom13. “The actions and words of the ‘mom’ in this true story are beyond disturbing. Her treatment of these two young girls, lashing out, encouraging others to abuse and mistreat them was and is absolutely deplorable. Her parenting of all the children, her own and the neighbor kids was disgusting. Equally deplorable is that nobody stepped in, no one made even the smallest attempt to save them from this monstrous woman and her loyal followers. I was truly hoping someone, anyone would make an effort to save Jenny and Sylvia before it was too late. And, tragically, help came too late for one of them. It’s a heartbreaking story and one that should move people to take action so horrid events never happen to a child. I was appalled that Gert wasn’t more harshly punished. She’s totally undeserving of being referred to as “mom” or “mother”

Pet Sematary by Stephen KingPet Sematary by Stephen King

With a new movie of this classic horror tale about to be released, I think it’s worth ending this list of scary books with another blast from the past. Pet Sematary is one of the most chilling tales I’ve ever read, and an entire generation grew up with their psyches indelibly marked by this tale of evil that exists beyond the grave.

Reviewer Michelle Mirick highlights one of the aspects that makes Stephen King’s writing so consistently compelling: “The characters in this book are just so complex. Each one of them feels real. One moment I am sympathetic with Jack a man who just can’t seem to get a break. But the next moment I am scared of him and what he might do to his family. Wendy is also so much more complex. I found myself really interested in her and absolutely scared for her life.”

“Prepare for the darkest form of horror,” writes Matthew Ellis. “I can’t with good conscience recommend anyone to read this book. It gave me nightmares every night that I read it. I woke up thinking about it, and couldn’t get it out of my head. I’m reading something else as fast as I can…”

Love creepy horror novels, even when it’s not Halloween? You’ll be offered as many scary books as you can read as part of the Hidden Gems Books reader review program. Sign up now and get novels just like these to read and review for free.

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