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31 Books That Will Put You In The Halloween Spirit

Spine-tingling stories to get you through Spooktober.

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1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

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A frightfully beautiful horror classic.

Here's a helpful review: "The Haunting of Hill House totally got into my head to the degree that it found its way into my dreams. I was so involved with the story and characters that they made my head their home.

The characters are so superbly written. Mr and Mrs Dudley unnerved me from the get go. Through them you just knew instantly that strange things were afoot at Hill House. This living, breathing building got to me the way it got to Dr. Montague, Luke, Theo and Eleanor and even though I predicted how the story was going to end, I found myself shocked nevertheless.

The Haunting of Hill House pulls you along in its own, addictive way. It takes you on a journey. At times it is so fast that you want to slow down and other times, it puts the breaks on and you beg to go faster, but one thing is for sure, once it has you, you have no choice but to ride on until the very end."

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2. The Shining by Stephen King

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A uniquely horrifying read that just screams Halloween.

Here's a helpful review: "Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is easily one of the greatest horror movies of the 20th century. I love that film with a passion but the book is something all together different. Much of the story was not used for the film so a lot will come as a surprise. For those of you who don't know the plot Jack Torrence gets himself a caretaker job in the Overlook Hotel. He takes his wife Wendy and son Danny to stay up there throughout the harsh winter. Over the course of their stay they are terrorised by the ghosts of former residents at the Overlook caused by the special gift Danny has. He shines, which basically means he is psychic, can tell whats going to happen before it happens and can see things others cannot. This book is absolutely brilliant. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror because it won't ever get this good again."

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3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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A classic spooky read for the whole family, brilliantly spun by Gaiman's signature imagination.

Here's a helpful review: "This really is suitable for all ages, there is not the weird menace or dark element of a lot of Gaiman's material (certainly his adult reads) and it is brilliantly illustrated including characters and elements from tales and fables many will be familiar with. The main character seems to be Puss in Boots, while Red Riding Hood and the wolf, sleeping giants and wyrm dragons all make an appearance.

For fans of Gaiman there are elements which will be familiar from his books, such as the unnoticed door to a fantasy world or adventure (Neverwhere: The Author's Preferred Text and to an extent also Stardust) and friendly ghosts (The Graveyard Book). That said you don't need any knowledge of Gaiman's writing to enjoy this.

If you are reading it with a younger reader it is about one or two sentences to a page, so for someone learning to read it wont appear like it is too daunting, and the very full illustrations provide plenty of things to talk about or point out and branch out into other stories."

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4. The World of Lore by Aaron Mahnke

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Inspired by the deliciously scary podcast of the same name, this is an excellent primer on creepy creatures.

Here's a helpful review: "Beautiful book with stunning artwork and a fantastic collection of morbid, macabre, magical tales!

The podcast is wonderful, pianist Chad Lawson creates an atmosphere that is unsettling in the most brilliant of ways, which accompanies Aaron Mahnke's storytelling perfectly.

The book captures the charm of the podcast very well, and is set to become a firm favourite of mine. Along with the podcast and upcoming TV show, it's a good time to be Aaron Mahnke!"

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5. The Witches by Roald Dahl

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Delightfully, deliciously Halloween fodder from a master of children's literature.

Here is a helpful (and adorable) review: "I am 7 years old I read The Witches in about 4 days. I liked the book. It was a bit scary but I loved it. I recommend it for 10 to 13 year old girls and boys. I cant wait for the movie – it could be for Halloween??????? Bye I hope you will enjoy the book (that is if you read it)."

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6. Dracula by Bram Stoker

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A blood-curdling (and draining) Halloween essential.

Here's a helpful review: "So of course we all know the basic stuff about Dracula. This has it all: the castle high on a mountain, the bats, the Count sleeping in his coffin. Famously the Count arrives in Whitby, but most of the action is around London and his home turf in Transylvania. And quite a lot of action there is. It's written as a collection of diary entries so you get the perspective of each of the main characters. Although it's fairly long, it is a compelling read."

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7. World War Z by Max Brooks

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Zombies are terrifying year 'round, but Halloween just fans the fear, if you ask me.

Here's a helpful review: "As someone who is not a particular fan of the zombie genre itself. I have to say I really enjoyed the narrative style and writing of this book. The interview/documentary/report style really offers a unique perspective of many different peoples and cultures and their experiences. It chronicles from patient zero to the aftermath of the breakout of the zombie war. This is a great book whether you are relatively new to the zombie genre or a veteran reader of zombie novels. I would say this book definitely has something to offer/appeal to all readers.

Having also listened to the audiobook adaptation as well as having read the book I would say this is great across various media's depending on your preference. In the case of some narrative tales in this book I would say that Audiobook is actually a better way to enjoy this book as it captures the emotions and experiences of the characters a lot better than if one was simply reading the book."

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8. Grave Matter by Juno Dawson

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A short and spooky ghost story you won't be able – or need to – put down.

Here's a helpful review: "Gobbled this right up. Perfectly Halloween, creepy and delightful. A tricky treat."

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9. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

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A chilling contemporary gothic that will haunt you long after you've closed it.

Here's a helpful review: "Reading The Loney reminded me very much of the cult classic film The Wicker Man. You never can put your finger on it but there is a constant sense of unease throughout the story. Part of this is due to the events and how the characters interact, but the setting seems to dominate everything with its gloomy sense of foreboding.

Beautifully atmospheric and original, I enjoyed The Loney from start to finish and I am glad to say that it lived up to its high expectations!"

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10. Great Tales Of Horror by H.P Lovecraft

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Classically creepy, no spooky book list would be complete without a selection of Lovecraft's unnerving stories.

Here's a helpful review: "This is not as comprehensive as the beautifully leatherbound Barnes & Noble H.P.Lovecraft The Complete Fiction, nor as impressive looking as the black and gold bound Necronomicon with it's atmospheric artwork throughout and companion volume Eldritch Tales, but it IS a great collection of the key works of this important great grand-daddy of the modern horror story, and at the price a great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with the writings of Lovecraft and with its sinister stylish dust jacket will look good on any book shelf.

Weighing in at 600 pages with a brief introduction to the writer himself, included are all the greatest stories such as Dagon, The Call of Cthulhu, The Colour out of Space, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Whisperer in Darkness, The Haunter of the Dark, At The Mountains of Madness – all titles which evoke a sense of horror equal to the tales they tell."

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11. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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This modern gothic takes the tale of Dracula to new and physiologically thrilling places.

Here's a helpful review: "I have read this book a few times now and I love it more each time. It travels across time, through many settings in Europe and even America, via libraries, universities and monasteries. It's brilliantly researched. There is something for everyone, with two love stories, a range of different speakers, via letters and alternate narratives. It's part detective, part crime, part fantasy and it's a real page turner as well. Best vampire book I have ever read."

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12. Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Eatwell

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This book is full of creeptastic Halloween vibes for the true crime crowd.

Here's a helpful review: "Twenty-two-year-old Elizabeth Short was murdered in Los Angeles, on 15 January 1947. Dubbed the ‘Black Dahlia’, this sensational case became a cause célèbre, especially as her killer was never caught. Now, seventy years later, Piu Eatwell brings this historical cold case back to life in a dramatic reinvestigation, which finally exposes the likely culprit. Set in the heady days of LA glamour, the story has real-life elements of film noir, as it explores the original evidence, examines the suspects and uncovers new information.

In Black Dahlia, Red Rose, Piu Eatwell retells this iconic story expertly through meticulous research and a compelling narrative. She shares the complex details and numerous characters with consummate skill, transforming the material into a gripping read. Furthermore, she offers a fascinating glimpse into life in LA at that time, revealing corruption and hypocrisy at all levels, from the film-makers and gangsters, right through to the police department, which led to one of the most serious cover-ups in American history. This is a brilliantly-written and fascinating book - highly recommended for all true crime lovers."

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13. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Get to know the story behind one of the most popular monster costumes of all time.

Here's a helpful review: "It's a classic gothic tale. If you've never read it and like gothic, get reading! Written by Mary Shelley almost 200 years ago the style is a little stiff if you are unfamiliar with pre-1900 novels but it is still readable. The original tale of Frankenstein and his creation, Shelley delivers a powerful storyline, whilst raising issues about the nature of creation, responsibility and monstrosity. The narrative structure itself reflects the Gothic convention with a labyrinthine interweaving of narratives starting with Walton's journey of discovery that nearly mirrors Frankenstein's own journey."

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14. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

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A friend of mine couldn't sleep through the night for months after leafing through this bizarre and sinister experimental novel.

Here's a helpful review: "I'm not sure what I can say about this tremendous novel that hasn't already been said. It's genuinely chilling despite nothing much actually happening - the interweaving layers of commentary, analysis and gradual descent in madness are executed beautifully, with even the layout of the book itself becoming part of the tale.

It's not an easy read - dense and thickly annotated with a vast number of real and invented references, and a Byzantine, tightly interlinked series of footnotes and appendices. All of this is part of the execution though for the book is only part novel... it's also part code and part puzzle. There are hidden messages and secrets contained throughout the text, some of which are comical and others which hint at darker truths and revelations. Indeed, like the two protagonists in the book, you could easily go mad trying to dissect the winding and twisted passages within.

I can't recommend this book highly enough."

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15. Basic Witches by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman

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An adorable little addition to your coven of books.

Here's a helpful review: "I got this book thinking I would disagree with most of it. But I wanted to give it a chance. I'm so glad that I did. Full disclosure: I've been Wiccan since 1985 and went through a degree-system of study.

At once both relevant and irreverent, Basic Witches takes a 'bite-sized' approach to magic. This is not a Witch 101 by any means. It is a 'take back your power' book. It openly addresses cis women as well as those whose femininity takes a different route of expression. It also acknowledges women whose lack of so-called femininity might get them a triple-take at the women's restroom. It has a broad approach to what constitutes female. I really appreciated that. For me, a cis woman, I want the topic of gender to be broad."

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16. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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A timeless horror story that gets better with age.

Here's a helpful review: "I still think this is the creepiest book I've ever read, and all the more terrifying for the fact that James never articulates what's going on - he simply leaves your imagination to float free and conjure up all your worse nightmares. He's never an easy read (though this is far more accessible than Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl etc) but I think his very stately, mannered sentences and diction actually add to the horror of the story."

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17. Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

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A historical thriller with a spellbinding twist.

Here's a helpful review: "The darker themes and supernatural elements made this the perfect autumnal read and truly evoked the essence of my favourite season. I found the plot was accessible yet innovative, the world recognisable yet deftly made the author's own, and the characters felt real yet originative. This was the perfect blend of euphoric escapism and exciting engagement."

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18. It by Stephen King

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A horror classic to gobble up before you catch the film.

Here's a helpful review: "IT is the first horror from any medium that truly affected me as a consumer. The psychological impact of the horror contained within these pages truly disturbed me as a young man and continues to unnerve me as an adult.

Tying in delightfully with King's multiverse, IT is an incredible insight into the fears of growing up in small town America; nothing has ever captured the feeling of fear and isolation quite like the battle of the losers club against the sordid, omnipotent Pennywise. A must read!"

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19. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

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This literary ghost story is hauntingly good, and just won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

Here's a helpful review: "This is a rare novel which lives up to its ecstatic reviews. Lincoln in the Bardo appears at first to be about the famous US President, Abraham Lincoln, mourning his young son, Willie, who died at home of typhoid in 1862, in the second year of the American Civil War. But when Willie is brought to the Washington cemetery, he disturbs the spirits of those who cannot accept that they have died – those who are ‘in the Bardo’, a Tibetan term for the transitional state between life and the hereafter.

It is these former-human spirits who tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s intense and lonely mourning, while they continue their own ‘after-lives’ in short bursts of activity, whizzing around the cemetery, trying to grasp the essence of who they were. They hope somehow to get back ‘to that place’, the living world.

The book is narrated via snippets of dialogue between the spirits, interspersed with short quotes from contemporary newspapers, civil war diaries and more recent historians, like a series of off-stage comments from a hidden chorus. This takes a few pages to get used to, but it works really well if one persists, allowing both drama and a deeply reflective perspective."

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20. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

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A Halloween staple that will scare your socks, if not your head, clean off.

Here's a helpful review: "Sleepy Hollow has become entwined in popular culture through well known films, TV shows as well as the Disney animated version. Therefore, it was good to finally get around to reading the short story in its original form.

The character of Ichabod Crane is described is great detail, as is the setting of the story. As such, Irving is then able to set up the eery setting in which Ichabod finds himself alone in the witching hour, only to encounter the local legendary the headless horseman.

The story is beautifully written and is a must for people who enjoy 19th Century ghost stories."

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21. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Tucholke Genevieve

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This excellent anthology of modern YA horror stories is a Halloween must.

Here's a helpful review: "Overall, I'm very impressed with how original and strange some of these stories were. I feel like the authors really dared to do something different here. Although none of these short stories truly scared me, I still found them to be creepy and eerie. If you're in the mood for something fitting for Halloween, definitely pick this one up."

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22. The Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux

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The inspiration behind the creepy musical sensation is even darker and more dangerous.

Here's a helpful review: "I am slightly kicking myself for not reading this book sooner. I will hold my hands up now and own up to saying I thought I knew this story well. Like most, I’ve seen the musical and I’ve seen the film adaptation, both of which are fantastic and I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t to watch either one – but I have to say, reading Gaston Leroux’s novel was something else entirely. It is not The Phantom of the Opera I thought I knew, but guess what? I loved it even more.

This book tells the hauntingly dark tale of a man’s love for a woman that spirals into obsessive madness and violence, and a Paris Opera house tormented by a legendary Opera Ghost. Be prepared for murder by hanging, mysterious kidnappings, cries of terror and crashing chandeliers, whilst Leroux’s words fill you with horror and suspense."

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23. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

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A lovely and classically clever short story from Wilde that will warm your cold, dead, Halloween heart.

Here's a helpful review: "A nice story about an old ghost that isn't very frightening! Well written with some clear touché of Oscar Wilde but ultimately quite thin. A nice idea and somewhat similar to an early Hogwarts and Harry Potter."

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24. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

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A gripping and unexpected ghostly adventure that will leave you guessing.

Here's a helpful review: "The story of a house, the family who own it, and the doctor who gradually becomes involved with them. It's set just after WWII, and the period detail is excellent. The house is crumbling away, the family have no money, and the post-war world is encroaching upon them; literally encroaching as land around the house is sold for new housing.

And strange things start happening. Is the house haunted? Is someone doing this deliberately? Or unconsciously? Or what?

There are some very scary moments, but the power of the book lies in the increasingly close involvement of the doctor with the house and family and his attempts to understand what is happening. This culminates in an ending which is cleverly ambiguous, being capable of various interpretations. But for me, it was as if the scales fell from my eyes and I could suddenly understand what had been happening all along. It's really very, very clever."

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25. The Graces by Laure Eve

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Fans of The Craft will love mixing The Graces into their Halloween tradition.

Here's a helpful review: "After abandoning my previous two reads, I instantly sank into The Graces like I was wrapping myself in a comfort blanket. From the start, it reminded me of the books I sought out in my teens: magical with complicated friendships and brilliant twists. I loved the characters and their stories, the setting, the secrets and the magic. Everyone thinks the Graces are witches. River is new to town and is smitten with them: she wants to be one of them. When she forms a close friendship with Summer, we discover that nothing is what it seems in this story and no one is who we think they are. The story takes a very dark twist and ends in a way that sets up the next novel in the series brilliantly."

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26. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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A truly transformative read.

Here's a helpful review: "This is not your simple horror of a ghastly creature killing human life; it is far darker than that. Robert Louis Stevenson divulges into the true horror of human nature and our desperation to indulge in sins without corrupting our outward image more so in the time it was published; a time where scandal was feared by most men and blackmail was most common!

As readers, we follow Mr Utterson, a lawyer and friend to many key characters within the novella, as he investigates the mystery surrounding Edward Hyde and how he is connected to Henry Jekyll; one of Utterson's old friend. Through conversations with many including both Hyde and Jekyll, Utterson concludes a dark concept of their apparent 'friendship' however the truth is far darker and more horrific than anyone would ever believe!

I recommend that you wipe the basic concept of Jekyll and Hyde from your mind and divulge into the captivating mystery presented within the novella to gain most appreciation for the text. Not only this, by considering the publish date of the novella and what life was like at that time, you will gain a greater insight into the genius that is Robert Louis Stevenson and how brave he was for a man of his lifetime."

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27. Harry Potter: A History of Magic from The British Library

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A stunning, glossy coffee table companion to The British Library's Harry Potter inspired exhibition, documenting the history of the beloved series, but also providing an extensive exploration of magical and occult history that extends far beyond Rowling's works.

Here's a helpful review: "As a big fan of all things Harry Potter, I'm desperate to get to the History of Magic exhibition now on at the British Library in London. Unfortunately, having a young child has somewhat got in the way of this plan. As an alternative, I purchased this book to act as an illustrated guide to the exhibition, and am very happy that I did. The book is laid out in a really clear and logical order, presenting a clear story about the history of Harry Potter. After growing up reading the Harry Potter books, I found the book to be of real interest, full of interesting facts and details I hadn't previously known. The book includes an impressive number of the items present at the exhibition, each of which is clearly presented through the use of very well taken photographs and accompanying text.

Although it's never going to be as good as visiting the exhibition in person, it's an excellent way of seeing everything behind the story of Harry Potter!"

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28. Thornhill by Pat Smy

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This gorgeous unique graphic novel looks just as creepy as the story sounds.

Here's a helpful review: "Although the book comes in at over 500 pages, this is a quick read. The inclusion of a visual narrative is a fantastic tool that Smy uses to control the pace of the story. Longer or more frequent sections of the visual narrative speed up to overall story when needed. What amazed me was the attention to detail that is contained within the pictures. There are countless links to the historic plot contained within the pictures, which help to advance both narratives at once.

I can honestly say I have never had a reaction to a book like I had last night. From early on, I felt a tangible emotional attachment to both characters. Add to this the foreboding nature of both narratives and I was filled with contrasting emotions. By the end, as the pieces of the jigsaws slotted together, I just wanted to scream at the Ella and Mary, to help them . . . to stop them. Then the ending left me mulling things over instead of drifting off the sleep."

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29. The Girl with All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

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A refreshing twist on zombie tales that will please fans of Stranger Things.

Here's a helpful review: "Fantastic book with well developed characters. Completely redefines what we mean by monsters; character we love turns from loathing, horror to understanding.

A really compelling narrative and unique take on some well trodden zombie tropes."

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30. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

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A modern classic about witchcraft, sisterhood, and friendship that brings a bright twinkle to All Hallows Eve.

Here's a helpful review: "If you've seen the film, read this anyway - but go into it with a more open mind than I did, because there are substantial differences between the two. If you haven't seen the film, then I highly recommend the book. Hoffman is such a lyrical and haunting writer, and Gillian, Sally and their quirky aunts are some of the most appealing and relatable characters I've come across in her books yet. I still love the movie though!"

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31. The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders

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For a seriously macabre Halloween, look no further than this disturbing book.

Here's a helpful review: "I heartily recommend it to anyone who is interested in Victoriana, crime fiction or non-fiction, or anyone looking for an entertaining and sometimes surprisingly shocking read. The author shows how the burgeoning Victorian press was initially responsible for feeding the salacious appetite for "murder most foul" which in turn led to public outcries and fears (many statistically unfounded) over rising crime, this in turn leading to the formation of the Police Service and a veritable security 'industry'.

She also describes how authors and indeed publishers saw a new opening in the market for crime, particularly murder, fiction and were not slow in filling the gap. I must say that I was most interested in the lurid extracts from the many newspapers and periodicals of the day which didn't pull any punches in descriptions that would shock today's readers. I guess this book is aimed at readers who enjoyed the Suspicions of Mr Whicher and if only half as many who bought that book buy this one then this book will be a success. Don't expect deep psychological insight or insightful sociological explanations in this book but do expect a rollicking good read, as the saying goes."

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