Halloween is only a day away now and I know that I haven’t quite reached my quota in spine-tingling, don’t-turn-the-lights-off literature yet. If you’re looking for a few more books to cram onto your Halloween reading list before the season is through, this list of the top five horror and thriller books I’ve read this year might help you out. In composing this list, I considered how well developed the stories’ themes, characters, and plots were, how emotionally intense each work was, and how intensely certain elements in the story rang with me. I’ve read a lot of excellent books this year, and while many might have chilled me or impacted me other ways, if the horror/thriller aspects of a work haven’t stuck with me, I didn’t list it. As noted by the years in parentheses below, not all of these books were published this year, but this is the year I got around to reading them. I did not judge the works based on how well they were edited, but while a few of them might be a little rough around the edges, I still recommend them. Enjoy!


1. The Suffering by Rin Chupeco (2015)

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco is one of the best works of young adult horror I’ve ever read. It’s actually the sequel to The Girl from the Well, which centers around a vengeful Japanese spirit, Okiku, who avenges the souls of the innocent by killing their murderers. Both books are excellent, but I feel that The Suffering is even richer in terrifying situations and emotional intensity. In it, Okiku’s journey takes her to an ancient, wraith-ridden village hidden within Japan’s Aokigahara, better known as the “suicide forest.” There, she must help lift a curse, save her closest friend, and contend with a host of dangerous spirits. If you’re looking for a read that will make you hesitate to turn off the lights, The Suffering is it, but if you didn’t read the first book, the second probably won’t have as large an emotional impact even though it provides some brief backstory that will help orient you. Here is a link to Rin Chupeco's site: The Suffering.


2.       2. Nowhere to Run by Lady DuWright (2020)

Nowhere to Run is an intense psychological thriller with strong paranormal and horror elements. The author lists this as being “dark urban fantasy” on the book’s Amazon page and that’s an accurate description. Alli Wendy is a young woman who must face not only the diabolical demon living in her head but also come to terms with the fact there’s a dangerous world within ours that she never knew existed—and she’s more a part of it than she ever could have imagined. This is one read that still gives me chills when I think about it and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out. Everything I have to say about this was already stated in the review I wrote for Readers’ Favorite here.*


3.       3. The Casket of Stars by Sage Dudley (2019)

For me, this collection of short stories rivals the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. If you’re looking for a short but intense read that will make you cringe, squirm, and jump, this may be what you’re looking for. I will warn you, however, that this is something you’ll want to avoid reading before taking a walk alone on a dark night or heading to bed. From a man who can’t stand being in his own skin to a mysterious box that contains the secrets of the universe, The Casket of Stars is sure to delight lovers of horror. To check out Sage Dudley's Amazon page, where you can find The Casket of Stars, click here.


4.       4. The Omen Tree by Frederick Niles (2020)

The author’s synopsis of this work puts it the vein of Stephen King’s It and Stand by Me. I, personally, have never read either of those works, but I’ve watched the movies (because movies are always accurate representations of books *rolls eyes*) and I did draw a lot of parallels, especially in the area of character development. The Omen Tree follows three children from a small town who take it upon themselves to track down a mysterious monster that skulks in the forest. However, in doing so, they inadvertently run afoul of a serial killer who’s responsible for a string of ritualistic murders spread out over several states. The Omen Tree was a spooky supernatural thriller with plenty of suspenseful and heart-wrenching situations. For my full review, visit this page.


5.       5. The Suicide Killer by Zach Lamb (2020)

The Suicide Killer is a psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat and had a conclusion that blew me away. It’s a suspenseful story about a man who stumbles across a young woman’s body in the woods. He doesn’t know why, but he’s drawn to her. Soon, he starts to hear her voice in his head, and in order to sustain her, he must take the lives of other young women. At the same time, he must also contend with the detective assigned his case. This quickly becomes a game to him, but some games have dangerous consequences. To read the full review I wrote for Readers’ Favorite, click here.


Have you read any of these works? Do you have any favorite reads this year that go well with the Halloween season? Drop them down in the comments!


Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!


(Trigger warnings: The Suffering includes themes of sexual assault and, like The Omen Tree, themes of domestic abuse, including child abuse. The Suicide Killer also touches on themes of domestic abuse as well as suicide. If any of these themes bother you, proceed with caution. I don’t recall there being any such themes in the other works, but I do read a lot of books and I might have forgotten some triggering details.)

*There is a link to the books' Amazon pages in all of the reviews I link to. The reviews for Readers' Favorite will take you to their page and from there, you can find the books on Amazon. As of yet, I don't earn a commission from any of the links on either of my sites.