👻The Word Nerd Reviews Team's Halloween 2022 List 👻
Florence and I seriously under estimated the number of excellent Halloween applicable books already available and those that came out a few weeks before the day. It was a tough job choosing a manageable list, and as you can see below, we couldn't narrow it down to our usual 4 or 5 books.
The result of our inability to narrow it down to a short list, is a great selection of reads, where just about everyone should be able to find something to their tastes.
Florence, Queen of Dark Reads, has some truly chilling books listed, that give me, the resident wuss, goosebumps just reading the blurbs! As for me, for the most part, I've gone to the lighter side, although there are a few darker reads there too, and one M/F that made me jump a few times, so I couldn't help but add it.
The Word Nerd
It was so much fun putting together this Halloween post. Halloween really isn't a thing in Australia, we don't have the cultural/historical background for it, never mind that we're in spring rather than autumn/fall! Still, it's wonderful to be able to participate in a small way.
I tend to enjoy the lighter side of Halloween, so most of the books I've listed fall into that spectrum. Not to say they aren't spooky, or have creepy moments, but they will usually have a strong romance or humour (or both) thread that breaks it up a bit. The three books I've recommended from the Monsters & Mayhem series are probably as dark as I can go. I really enjoyed them all, they certainly took me out of my comfort zone, but were great experiences. I'm looking forward to reading more books in this series.
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The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings & The Quiet House (Black & Blue) ~ Lily Morton; Narrated by Joel Leslie
These are my ultimate Halloween reads. Both are spooky enough that even after multiple reads/listens, you still have to scrape me off the ceiling if something goes bump while absorbed in the stories, but with so much humour and romance, they are never overwhelmingly dark. I have a deep appreciation for British humour as I was raised surrounded by it, so I may be biased, but I think it adds an extra special layer to what are already fantastic stories causing many laugh out loud moments.
It's no surprise to anyone that I'm a Joel Leslie fan, but he really does outdo himself with these two. The voices, the emotion, and the comedic timing are all on point. There are no minor characters relegated to background noise. No matter how little they appear on the page, each character has their own unique voice and personality.
Lily Morton and Joel Leslie are an unbeatable duo, and the spectacularly spooky and creepy Black and Blue series is an unmissable Halloween read!
Dead Serious Case #2 Mrs Delores Abernathy (Crawshanks Guide to the Recently Departed) ~ Vawn Cassidy
“Oh god, here we go again”. Dusty rolls her eyes. “For the love of god, Tris, don’t touch anything, don’t eat anything, and definitely don’t drink anything.”
I honestly didn’t think Vawn Cassidy could improve on Dead Serious Case #1 Miz Dusty Le Frey, but I was so, so wrong! I haven't turned the pages in a book so quickly in ages. This book is pure joy, with surprises at every turn and events I never saw coming! The storytelling captures you from the first and doesn't let go, keeping the reader on their toes as you can't predict what will come next!
I laughed so hard in some parts and needed tissues in others. The Dead Serious books have a solid emotional core, they will never be mistaken for fluff, but they aren't heavy or intense. There is too much humour, love, and friendship between the characters for that to ever happen. Vawn Cassidy's characters leap out at you from the page; they are so alive and vital.
Dead Serious #1 is also available in audio, narrated by Joel Leslie, who takes this fantastic story to the next level. This series should be read in order, as you will need the background on characters and situations from Case #1 to fully appreciate Case #2.
The Dead Serious books are an epic combination of unpredictable storytelling, wicked humour, and captivating characters. I really can't recommend them highly enough.
“Dusty,” I say quietly, “I need to tell Danny the truth, will you help me?” “Of course I will,” she replies. “Don’t you know by now, Tris? I’d do anything for you.”
🎃 Dead Serious Case #1 is available as an ebook and/or audio from Amazon US ǀ AUS
(audio narrated by Joel Leslie)
🎃 Dead Serious Case #2 is available as an ebook from Amazon US ǀ AUS
Death's Bloom (Monsters & Mayhem) ~ Lily Mayne
“Hello, my sweet bloom.”
I'm a huge Lily Mayne fan; I adore her Monstrous series and devour them as soon as they are released. So I had pretty high expectations of Death's Bloom. I had already been assured that it was HEA, so that took all the stress off, and I was expecting a dark but sweet, probably quite spicy, engaging read with gorgeous characters.
I was not expecting a dark, spectacularly creeptacular experience! Like Lily Morton's Blue Billings series, I was not expecting this level of spook, and it was AMAZING! I'm the first to admit I'm the biggest wuss to ever wuss, but I had to stop reading this before trying to sleep as I was jumping at every tiny creak or noise from outside to the point where my dog was giving me dirty looks for disturbing her sleep!
This story is dark, though; in this respect it does capture the feeling of the horror genre. If you have any sensitivities, I urge you to read the content warnings, but for all its darkness rest assured it has a beautiful ending that keeps the dark vibe going but leaves it on a happy and very satisfying note.
The Ghost in the Hall (Beyond the Veil #1) ~ K.M. Avery
I could not believe this was a debut book! The sophistication of storytelling belies a first release. Everything about this story ticks a box and makes it an intriguing read.
First, there is a weird epidemic that, if you catch it, can have three outcomes: full recovery, death, or being turned into a supernatural being or develop powers/talents. Second, the main characters are a human medium and an orc (both affected by the virus) and fascinating secondary characters such as an elf detective and ghost who decides she will act as a liaison between the medium and the ghost world. Third, the story is just so damn spooky, even scary at stages.
The story is a well thought out ghost tale, with the added horrors of ghosts and stories from when the house was a large plantation. This combination would have me jumping one moment and with a tear in my eye the next. Underneath it all is the developing romance, and an ending I didn't see coming.
This book ends on a strong 'happy for now' with the relationship being further developed in the next books. This amazing book is a great Halloween read, and it shouldn't be missed!
(ebook listed as free as at 30 October 2022)
Monster till Midnight ~ E.J. Russell
“I really shouldn’t keep ogling him. How creepy to have a pumpkin leering at you.”
Monster Till Midnight is a cute novella. Let's face it, nothing screams Halloween more than a guy with a Jack-O-Lantern for a head!
I would happily read more stories set in this world; it was pretty well developed given the (short) novella length and had a lot of potential for further story development.
Monster Till Midnight is a perfect light Halloween read. E.J. Russell brings their signature humour to this story, making it just plain fun to read!
The Ghost and Charlie Muir ~ Felice Stevens
The Ghost and Charlie Muir was my first ever book by Felice Stevens, and it certainly whet my appetite for more. While it is a little less intense on the spooky factor than other stories in this post, it certainly has its moments! What it is, though, is a beautifully emotional story of love lost, love found, and laying the past to rest.
This is a perfect read for those like me who like their spooky tales a bit more on the light side. For those that like the truly dark reads, it's an excellent 'refresher' book between those horrific tomes.
Either way, it shouldn't be missed!
The Sceptic ~ Lily Morton
Lily Morton has undoubtedly hit her horror stride with The Sceptic. As a fan of the Blue Billings series, I was looking forward to Will's story
The Sceptic was equal parts romance and thriller. The romance was as swoon-worthy as you'd expect from Lily Morton. Jem was Will's perfect counterbalance. They were both strong but soft, both vulnerable in their own ways. When one faltered, the other was there to support and protect them. *sigh* in a word, they were perfect.
The first 50% of this book was the scariest I've read from this author. I thought The Quiet House had its moments, but it was nothing on the baby monitor scene! I love the movie Poltergeist (the original version), and this book definitely had that feeling initially. It was marvellous!
Another thing that added an extra unique element to this book was the voices in my head, no, not crazy ones, Joel Leslie ones! I've listened to Blue Billings a few times, and I couldn't help but put Joel's voices to the reoccurring cast. It wasn't a conscious decision; I'm crossing my fingers that it finds its way to audio at some point.
The Sceptic was a fantastic reading experience that quickly made a dreary winter weekend pass (the weather certainly added to the atmosphere!). I loved every moment, and just like the Blue Billings series, it will be a reread. I can't wait to read more of Will and Jem's adventures.
Hearts Lost (Monsters & Mayhem) ~ Gillian St. Kevern
“You will devour me, and with my defences in flames, I will have no resistance to your advances. When our passion burns out, you will move on without consequence – but I will struggle to return to my previous existence. Having once tasted warmth, I cannot inure myself to a lifetime of cold so easily.”
I enjoy the Gothic style of writing. Done well, it's an entirely different experience. For me, a good Gothic gives me the feeling of black and white and sepia tones. It's a mood that encompasses the entire story regardless of what is happening; it's always in the background. Hearts Lost beautifully captures the spirit of the Victorian Gothics, the classic horrors that terrified their readers at the time.
Hearts Lost captures the essence of the original tale upon which it is based, but with an entirely different story. Based in the mid-19th Century, it highlights the unfortunate reality of the insane asylums and the restrictions of societal norms. In line with the Victorian stories, Hearts Lost certainly has the horror theme running through it with the reader discovering, alongside Ira, what is actually happening. It certainly kept me guessing. It also kept me engaged, flipping the pages to see what would happen next and how Ira and Urquart could possibly survive, never mind finding a way out of their troubles.
I’ve read a few books in the Monsters and Mayhem series, and Hearts Lost is one of my favourites.
The Ghost Downstairs ~ Molly Ringle
(M/F) The premise of this book intrigued me; a haunted nursing home and a splash of romance, an excellent combination. This story is primarily a romance with a suspenseful twist. It has a spooky theme, and there are moments that make you want to check over your shoulder, but the book is not a horror.
The ghostly encounters serve a purpose in illustrating the frustrations, jealousy, and growing anger of the trapped spirit. The central theme is a love story that must defy the odds if it is to overcome what seems to be its inevitable fate.
The Ghost Downstairs was a lovely story with enough creepiness to give it a bit of an edge. It had me compulsively turning the pages to discover how Lina and Ren would beat the odds, and I was more than happy with the ending. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet romance with a dash of ghostly creepiness.
The Well ~ Marie Sexton
The Well was a skillfully crafted murder mystery with a paranormal twist. It was my first book by Marie Sexton, but if the quality of her other books matches this one, it won't be the last. The Well kept me guessing right until the big reveal. I had absolutely no idea who the killer was.
The Well had one of the nicest endings; it was a touching way to end what had been harrowing but ultimately sad events. I'd highly recommend The Well to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery with a ghostly twist.
(audio narrated by John Solo)
Gutsy ~ Ki Brightly
Pious and Journey's adventure was certainly very rocky, with nary solution in sight. I'll not discuss the form of trouble Pious and Journey find themselves in except to warn anyone sensitive to gore to be careful. I did not find the scenes gratuitously graphic (I have read more lurid descriptions in Patricia Cornwall or many other serial killer thrillers). Still, they were written in a way that the mind fills in the gaps, and this perhaps made it more chilling than if it had been spelled out on the page. I have a very detailed imagination!
I found Gutsy to be a complex story at times, and this was primarily due to not being overly familiar with community in which the story was set. I only have a vague knowledge of the type of magic used in the story, which sometimes left me feeling lost. However, the story was engaging enough that I just pushed through, and I was determined and eager to see how Pious and Journey would get themselves out of this fix!
Gutsy ends on a 'Happy for Now', and the story indicates that there is more to come. If this is true, I'll certainly be grabbing a copy, I'm completely invested in seeing Pious and Journey get their hard-won happy ending.
(audio narrated by Keval Shah)
Sexting With a Ghost (Haunted Love) ~ Ashlynn Mills
Sexting with a Ghost is a light Halloween read. It captures the mood of Halloween without the thrills and chills. Instead, it's a bit of a paranormal mystery, a whodunit if you will. It's sweet and romantic, with a few laughs thrown in.
This is the perfect refresher read between some of the more serious horror-based stories recommended in this post.
His Darkest Desires (Monsters & Mayhem) ~ Hellie Heat
I'll preface this by saying I'm a wuss. What I consider dark reads are slate grey at best....
His Darkest Desires is definitely heading towards the black spectrum of dark (for me anyway, wuss remember!), but I enjoyed it!
It certainly had the gothic feel of many Victorian horrors; the language and general writing style also had a flow reminiscent of the original Jekyll & Hyde.
Although I generally don't read 'dark dark', as long as it has a good ending, I can read most things. His Darkest Desires had a lovely ending, but as fitting this story, it had a darker edge.
If you have any sensitivities be sure to read the content warnings. This was certainly one of my darkest reads, but I'm happy I stepped out of my comfort zone to experience it.
I was so excited when we decided to make a list of favourite books for Halloween. I’m a massive fan of anything that has to do with horror. I’m the person who’s always watching an horror movie and the one who has one too many horror themed tattoos. And I always love horror in my books too, so I was super excited to put this list together. My list consists of four main categories, horror novels, dark romances, monster romances and books that are movie themed, which pretty much sums up most of the books I enjoy reading.
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Claustrophilia (The Dark Triad #1) ~ Ezra Blake
Trigger warnings: abusive relationships, blood, corpses/necrophilia, cannibalism, claustrophobia, death, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, forced captivity, graphic sex, kidnapping, rape, attempted suicide, torture, violence, watersports
If you like your dark romances with a lot of non consensual content, super intense mind break, a lot of abuse and a lot of horror elements on the side, then this book is the perfect read in this Halloween time.
As soon as we talked about making this list, I knew that this book would top my list. This book is the best dark romance, with a lot of horror elements, I have ever read and probably will ever read. And I don’t say this lightly because I adore the dark romance genre and I read a lot of books in it, but I don’t think that it’s possible for a book to top how much this book worked for me.
To put it simply, this book was just the dark romance of my dreams. This is super dark (and I don’t say this lightly, this book put most other books I have read to shame if we just compare how dark they are, so be careful about that if you do want to try it out, but it’s the good kind, I promise) and has a lot of horror elements, which is something I absolutely adore in books.
Ever since I read this book, I hold it as my standard for dark romances, and I keep trying to find something that will give me the same feelings I had while I read this book, and I’ve been unsuccessful at my every attempts so far, which is just to say how much I loved this book, because I cannot seem to find something else close to it. So, for the time being, I’ll just continue holding this book close to my heart as the best dark romance I have ever read, and I will continue to appreciate it as such. This book is truly a masterpiece of the dark romance genre and I just love every second of the content in this one, even if It’s dark and gritty and more on the fucked up side than anything else.
NOS4A2 ~ Joe Hill
Trigger warnings: Rape, child abuse, self-harm, murder, death of a child
This is just a pure horror novel about a vampire who likes to kidnap kids, and with a premise like that, I don’t know what more I could ask for, this is just everything I love reading about in a book.
I read this book for the first time when I was about 16 years old, and I’ve been holding it close to my heart as one of my favourite books since then. I have watched the TB show that was made about this book recently and it just really made me want to re-read this one, so I did. And turns out that it was still just as perfect to me. I enjoyed this re-read (almost ten years later) as much as I enjoyed reading this book the first time, if not more. This book is just a wonderful horror novel and I love how chilling and thrilling it is. This book is just a lovely ride to read, and I just really enjoy it.
(audio narrated by Kate Mulgrew)
Desperation ~ Stephen King
This wouldn’t be an accurate list of my favourite reads for Halloween if it didn’t atleast include one book by Stephen King, as I’m a massive fan of all of his work.
And while I had many good options to pick from, I ultimately settled on this book, because if I had to pick a favourite Stephen King novel it probably would be this one.
This book happens in a small town where a lot of dark and gory things happen to the main characters and I adored each and every seconds of it. This book is super unsettling and in the best of ways. This is one of those reads that really kept me on the edge of my seat and I just wanted more and more of it. This book is just everything I want in an horror novel and it satisfy my horror craving in a book that most books just don’t.
(audio narrated by Stephen King)
Pure Silence (Virtuous Sinners) ~ K.L. Hiers
There was no way I wasn’t going to include this book in my list, this is one of the best toxic romance book I have read all year.
I always love a toxic romance that has a lot of delusion and mind break, especially when a main character is using that delusion to shape their love interest into the person that they want them to be. And this book did all of those themes in such a wonderful way. I’m just obsessed with so many elements in this book and everything about it just worked for me.
Reading this book was one of the best reading experience I had all year. And it’s the kind of toxic romance with creepy vibes that is absolutely perfect for this time of the year.
Desires of Monster ~ Roe Horvat
It wouldn’t be a list of Halloween themed books without some monster romances, and this one is my favourite of them all.
This book is the perfect mix between a super sweet romance and a creepy very big and oversized demon who always gets his way and it just really works for me.
Not to mention that this book has the best monster smut scenes I have ever read, and I read a lot of them, so it’s a very big honour.
Everything about this book works for me. Not only does it have a super big demon with oversized body parts and really hot sex scenes, it also has one of the sweetest romance I have ever read about in a book. This book is just a perfect blend of everything and I truly adore it.
Slasher ~ Havendean
This book is only available in French.
J’ai mentionné plus haut que j’adore les films d’horreur et ce livre en est un exemple parfait. Ce livre est un peu comme Scream, et je pense que c’est le meilleur concept que j’ai jamais vu dans un livre.
Je ne peux même pas compter le nombre de fois que je me suis dis a quel point le concept de ce livre est merveilleux pendant ma lecture. Ce concept rassemble tellement de choses que j’adore et cela en a fait une lecture formidable.
Je pourrais lire ce livre des millions de fois et je ne me tannerais jamais, c’est juste une idée parfaite et elle est parfaitement exécutée.
Wicked Things ~ Nyla K
I don’t think I could talk about monster romances without mentioning this one. This is a anthology of 4 stories that are all a retelling in some ways. And they all some kinky elements and are all monster themed.
I absolutely adore monsters, kinky and retellings, so this book was made for me. This book includes a grim reaper retelling, a werewolf shifter Peter and the Wolf retelling with daddy kink, a Little Mermaid meets Moby Dick MMM retelling with pirates mermaids and krakens and a Frankenstein MMM retelling with aliens. And while my personal favourites are the Peter and the Wolf one and the Frankenstein ones, all of those stories were just lovely.
I always adore super smutty stories that are also very romantic and have a good plot and these stories were exactly that, and so much more.
8 Days of Monstrous Pride ~ K.L. Hiers
Talking about monster books, this one just had to make my list.
I cannot tell you how many times I went back to this book to re-read some stories in it (it has 8 in total), but it’s more than 10 times. I just adore this one. This is the best combination of so many things, with some stories being darker, some being smutty and some being super cute and fluffy. And all of this just really works for me.
This book is basically my comfort read when I need a monster shaped distraction and it always does the job for me. It’s just the best of everything and I adore every story in this one. I hold of all them dear to my heart and I love how different they all are, that really works for me.
🎃 8 Days of Monstrous Price is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon
The Calms (End of Days) ~ Meredith Spies
This is just a super entertaining zombie novel with a super cute romance, and I really enjoyed it.
This novel read exactly like a movie. I was reading it and I kept feeling like I was somehow reading the script of a movie and not a book. I’m not often able to picture books and their stories in my head, but this book was just so clear in my head. And I absolutely loved that.
This book was just so entertaining to read because of this. This was just a super fun concept and it was executed brilliantly.
The Curse of the Mummy's Heart & The Shadow of the Count (The Peculiars) ~ Julia Talbot
I mentioned before how I adore horror movies and this book just really please that part of me.
I think that these books were made for me. The premise of this series is a monster movie but make it MM. These books take us on a journey through the lives of two men who are in love throughout their many encounters with movie creatures. These books could be described as an historical romance with paranormal elements, adventure elements which also has a romance, and everything about that really worked for me.
But mostly, it’s the subject matter of these books that made me love them. These books are all about monster movies, and they also read like one. This series pays homage to the classic Universal Monsters movies like The Mummy and Dracula, which also happen to be some of my favourite movies, and movies that I have seen many many times. So these books were just super fun to read for me and I just love them, so so much.
🎃 The Curse of the Mummy's Heart is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon
🎃 The Shadow of the Count is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon
The Duke's Demon (The Starian Cycle) ~ Iris Foxglove
I think it’s fair to say that I am pretty much in love with everything that Iris Foxglove has every written. Every time that a new book of theirs come out, I just have to read it in one sitting because I just gonna get enough. And this book just has the best vibes for me.
This is a book about a man who’s posessed by a demon and they kindnap another man, but they all end up falling in love with each other.
And the premise of this book just really worked for me. I always love demons in my books and I adored how it was done in this book.
Also, this book has a super cute romance and some very hot sex scenes, all very good things in my book.
🎃 The Duke's Demon is available as an ebook, paperback and/or audio from Amazon
Elle est à toi! By Sarah West & Eva Adams
This book is only available in French.
Je ne sais pas décrire ce livre sans compter toute l’histoire, donc je vais faire ceci bref.
La seule chose que j’ai à dire sur ce livre est que j’ai fini de le livre et j’étais choquée de la tournure des événements, mais d’une bonne façon. Comme je l’ai mentionné plus point, j’aime mes romances vraiment dark et celle-ci a avait tellement de mes éléments favoris dans un livre.
Ce livre ma laissé dans un état de choc, mais d’une superbe façon, c’était une fantastique expérience de lecture et j’ai adoré celle-ci.
🎃 Elle est à toi! By Sarah West & Eva Adams is available as an ebook.