Columns > Published on September 18th, 2020

Halloween 2020 Reading List

October is just around the corner. If you're a Horror Fiction Hound like me, you need plenty of time to prepare the perfect selection of books for your Halloween Reading List. Some of these books need to be pre-ordered. I have made sure to note which books are already available and the release date of books that aren't. In this list you will find full-size novels, novellas, anthologies and short story collections. I'm putting a special emphasis on more recent titles and 2020 released books, but here are some classic books I like to sprinkle in for atmosphere:

  • THE THIEF OF ALWAYS by Clive Barker
  • THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson
  • FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley
  • THE COMPLETE TALES & POEMS by Edgar Allen Poe

1. "Night of the Mannequins" by Stephen Graham Jones

I just finished this book last weekend and it's absolutely perfect for an October binge-read. Just over one hundred pages, this is a fun, fast paced, teen-slasher story with a comical narrator and some unexpected developments.

Available now.

Buy Night of the Mannequins at Bookshop or Amazon


2. "If It Bleeds" by Stephen King

Short stories from the King released in 2020? If you haven't read this yet (like me) there's no better time. An un-read Stephen King short story collection is the perfect October book. Make sure to Google this book and look up "videos." The man himself has a YouTube video of him reading from one of the stories. A Halloween treat!

Available now.

Buy If It Bleeds at Bookshop or Amazon


3. "Doorbells At Dusk" edited by Evans Light

Doorbells at Dusk is a no-brainer for horror fans looking for a Halloween anthology stuffed full of October mood and atmosphere. My favorite stories were from Evans Light, Josh Malerman, Joanna Koch, Chad Lutzke and Jason Parent, but this is one of those rare anthologies where almost all of the tales knock it out of the park.

Available now.

Buy Doorbells at Dusk at Bookshop or Amazon


4. "Halloween Fiend" by C.V. Hunt

Author C.V. Hunt has turned Halloween into a tangible being that seeks to drive its victims insane with fear and then feeds itself on that fear. This is a new annual read for me. I love the modern twists in a tale that feels like timeless folklore. A new classic!

Available now.

Buy Halloween Fiend at Bookshop or Amazon


5. "Midnight in the Pentagram" edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Considering the success of Midnight in the Graveyard, this anthology is one of my most highly anticipated books this year. The TOC boasts a wealth of talent including, Brian Keene, Laurel Hightower, Chad Lutzke, Todd Keisling and many, many more. I love that stories can be read here or there over the whole month or back to back. Really looking forward to this offering from Silver Shamrock.

Pre-Order/Release: October 13th

Buy Midnight in the Pentagram at Amazon


6. "The October Boys" by Adam Millard

I've been saving this one. I got it this summer but given the Autumn tones on the cover and the appropriate title, I decided to save it for October. This one starts on Halloween night in 1988 with a group of boys traumatized by a faceless terror. Years later one of the boys is grown-up and haunted by a horrific event that took place. I'm sold!

Available now.

Buy The October Boys at Bookshop or Amazon


7. "Maggie's Grave" by David Sodergren

I have read all three of Sodergren's available releases and all of them were no less than five stars. That's a pretty damn good record. His fourth title drops just in time for your Halloween TBR. Advertised as shocking, relentless folk-horror, I'm here for it.

Pre-Order/Releases: October 8th

Buy Maggie's Grave at Amazon


8. "The Halloween Store and Other Tales of All Hallows' Eve' by Ronald Kelly

"Seven horrific tales and two nostalgic essays… hand-picked for your Trick-or-Treat bag. With the arrival of a 2020 Halloween, there is no telling what terrifying treats and petrifying prizes may await you!"

I have not read any Ronald Kelly yet, but I am more than excited for this collection of seasonal horror to be my first encounter!

Pre-Order/Releases: September 25th

Buy The Halloween Store at Amazon


9. Weird Horror Issue #1 from Undertow Publications

This magazine promises original fiction, columns and illustrations. I'm excited to read what's in here from some of my favorite horror authors including Ian Rogers and John Langan. I'm loving this collectible Halloween cover from artist Sam Heimer. Pre-Order on the Undertow Pub website and anticipate the release in October. Subscribers to the magazine will get issues twice a year. I have one coming!

Releases in October

Buy Weird Horror #1 at Undertow Publications


10. "Dead Leaves" by Kealan Patrick Burke

This particular collection, Dead Leaves, is everything one could want out of an October/Seasonal book, but it's so much more than a Halloween novelty—these stories can be read anytime, out of season, and be enjoyed all the same. A variety of scares that tug on your heart and claw at your psyche.

Available now.

Buy Dead Leaves at Bookshop or Amazon


11. "Halloween Season" by Lucy A. Snyder

"Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty."

This will be my second time reading stories from Snyder. I have enjoyed a short story collection from her before with a cosmic horror theme. I'm looking forward to these seasonal tales!

Pre-Order/Releases: October 5th

Buy Halloween Season at Amazon


12. "Wyrd and Other Derelictions" by Adam Nevill

This book contains seven new stories from Adam Nevill, author of The Ritual and one of my favorite books from last year, The Reddening. This book comes with an assignment from the author: "It is the task of the reader to sift through ruin and ponder the residual enigma, to behold and wonder at the full horror that was visited upon mankind." I'm sold. This book is available for Pre-order and drops on October 26th. I plan on starting it on Halloween!

Pre-order/Releases: October 26th

Buy Wyrd and Other Derelictions at Bookshop or Amazon


13. "Autumn Crow" by Cameron Chaney

This collection of short stories will likely become an annual Halloween tradition for some. Autumncrow Valley is a bit of an "Eerie Indiana" or "Castle Rock" in the sense that all of these tales take place in the same, atmospheric town. There are seven Halloweenish stories here for readers to enjoy snuggled up by the fire sipping on some Apple Cider.

Buy Autumn Crow at Amazon


14. "Local Haunts: A HorrorTube Anthology"

"Nineteen authors bring you scary stories from all parts of the globe, proving that fear is universal."

The interesting thing about this anthology is that all the writers of these stories are part of one community, "BookTube." But more specifically, "Horror BookTube." I have a review copy coming because I think it's important to support people who love horror this much and I'm curious to see if they have some writing chops as well. Special shoutout to Cameron Chaney of Library Macabre and Marie McWilliams.

Pre-Order/Release: October 1st

Buy Local Haunts at Amazon

Special Mention:

Bob Pastorella and Michael David Wilson, hosts of THIS IS HORROR Podcast collaborated on a book that will release this Halloween titled, THEY'RE WATCHING. I'm so excited to be able to make this announcement. I only just heard about this book from MDW a few nights ago. Look for more info on this upcoming book by following them on social media!

I hope this list helps horror fans make the most out of their October 2020 seasonal reading. It's an important month for horror! Enjoy. If you find yourself reading any of these books and they really get you in the holiday spirit, visit me on Twitter and let me know! 

About the author

Sadie Hartmann, “Mother Horror” reviews horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Online and Scream Magazine. She is a co-owner of a curated, horror fiction book subscription company called Night Worms. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, kids and Frenchie.

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