Ghosts, vampires, and monsters: 5 titles to get you in the Halloween spirit

Whether you’re looking to send a chill up your spine or uncover the secret of the vampire next door, look no further. We’ve rounded up five titles recommended by independent booksellers to get you in the spooky spirit for the season. 

‘Leave the World Behind’ by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind
"Leave the World Behind" by Rumaan Alam
Courtesy of publisher

Gretchen West of Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn., recommends the novel “Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam.

 A family of four is vacationing off the grid at a secluded rental on the East Coast, when they are interrupted by a knock at the door. The owners of the rental (so they say) have fled a mysterious blackout in New York City and would like to come stay. 

West says, “you know there’s something apocalyptic going on, but it’s not this violent, graphic apocalyptic story. It’s just very ominous and unsettling.”

‘The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires’ by Grady Hendrix

“The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix.
“The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix
Courtesy of Quirk Books

Jonah Barrett of Orca Books Co-op in Olympia, Wash., recommended “The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix. It's a southern-flavored novel set in the 1990s.

Homemaker Patricia Campbell is bored at home, and an initially attractive stranger who moves into the neighborhood is a welcome addition. That is, until children begin to go missing. Suspecting the worst, Campbell enlists her book club into helping her investigate.

Barrett said they had to scream into a pillow more than once, following both horror scenes and awkward social. All in all, they called it “a horror thriller for people who don’t like horror.”

‘Piranesi’ by Susanna Clarke

“Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke.
“Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke
Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

Chloe Deblois of Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta, Maine, recommended the novel “Piranesi” by Susanna Clarke.

The novel takes place inside “The House,” in a world of seemingly endless hallways, statues and changing tides.

Piranesi chronicles this labyrinthine world, nearly always alone — until, suddenly, someone new arrives. 

The narrator of the story is Piranesi himself, whom Deblois called “one of the most likeable characters I’ve read in a long time: very smart, but naïve in a way that makes you kind of nervous as a reader.” 

‘The Ghost Variations’ by Kevin Brockmeier

"The Ghost Variations,” by Kevin Brockmeier.
"The Ghost Variations,” by Kevin Brockmeier.
Courtesy of Pantheon

Lia Lent of WordsWorth Books in Little Rock, Ark., recommended “The Ghost Variations,” a flash fiction collection by Kevin Brockmeier.

All the stories involve ghosts in some way, but they range from scary to funny, charming to thought-provoking. And they’re short: Many of the stories unfold in 500 words, which Lent says makes this book easy to pick up for a quick story — and hard to put down. It’s full of fascinating first-lines and clever wording that kept her reading just one more, over and over.

‘A Cosmology of Monsters' by Shaun Hamill

'A Cosmology of Monsters' by Shaun Hamill
'A Cosmology of Monsters' by Shaun Hamill
Courtesy of publisher

Bookseller Aaron Cance of The Printed Garden in Sandy, Utah, says his recommendation, ‘A Cosmology of Monsters’ “is the best possible type of Halloween novel, because it will appeal both to readers of horror fiction, and to readers to don't usually partake in frightful fare.”

The novel follows the Turner family: Harry, Margaret and their three children. They “find themselves in the haunted house business,” Cance said. Their specialty is a venue called The Wandering Dark.

The monsters that lurk in the novel are both real, and metaphorical. The characters are not only dealing with hauntings but also depression and other harsh realities of life.

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