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Scary Books for Adults That Will Keep You up at Night

Published on October 3, 2021

Scary, dark setting with books, candles, and a skull

For time immemorial, people have loved true crime, horror flicks and spooky stories. If you’re one of these people, you’re likely familiar with the entertainment value, heart-pumping excitement and cathartic release that comes with a good fright. You’re also likely looking for the best scary books for adults released in 2021, and you’ve come to the right place.

Scary Books for Adults to Read for Spooky Season

While it may seem masochistic, curling up with a scary book is a great way to spend an afternoon, especially around Halloween. Whether you’re into murder mysteries, supernatural tales, or violent thrillers, there are plenty of fast-paced page turners that will have you looking over your shoulder at night in the best way possible (and no, they’re not all by Stephen King).

Without further ado, here are five scary books for adults to add to your fall reading list:

1. Velvet Was the Night  

In “Velvet Was the Night” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, we’re transported to Mexico City in the 1970s. The narrative follows a secretary named Maite as she searches for her neighbor who has just gone missing. Maite is inadvertently drawn into a web of shadowy figures, danger and darkness.

2. The Other Black Girl   

The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris introduces us to Nella Rogers, a 26-year-old editorial assistant who is “tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books.” When another Black woman named Hazel is hired, Nella is thrilled. But then Nella begins receiving anonymous notes urging her to leave the company. From there, she’s quickly thrown into a whirlwind of sinister forces threatening to overtake her. This novel will keep you guessing until the very end.

3. The Dead and the Dark   

Likened to a cross between Stephen King’s “The Outsider” and hit Netflix drama “Riverdale”, “The Dead and the Dark” by Courtney Gould tells the story of teens Logan and Ashley who team up to investigate the haunting of a town called Snakebite. The young adult novel centers on themes of grief, guilt and identity as the main characters discover sinister things lurking beneath the darkness.

4. My Heart is a Chainsaw

On the surface, “My Heart is a Chainsaw” by Stephen Graham Jones is a tale of murder in small-town America. Beneath it’s a critique of Indigenous displacement, telling the story of Jade Daniels, who is described as an “angry, half-Indian outcast” who finds refuge in horror movies. When the movies begin spilling over into real life, Jade predicts exactly how the plot will unfold in her town. The reader is pulled into her most intimate thoughts and feelings and her encyclopedic knowledge of masked murderers. 

5. Once There Were Wolves

Charlotte McConaghy’s “Once There Were Wolves” is set in the Scottish Highlands. In this heart-pounding novel, Inti Flynn and her sister Aggie help a team of biologists reintroduce 14 wolves into the wild. When a farmer is found dead, Inti makes the decision to protect the wolves from the town’s blame, but she’s soon faced with more trouble when the man she’s falling for is the prime suspect in the case.

Cheers to spooky season 🥂! Looking for more fun things to do for Halloween? Here are five fun ways to have a green Halloween, and our picks for frightfully entertaining gore-free horror movies.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.


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