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Sweatpants & Books | 13 Scary Stories to Keep You Up At Night

By Shandle Blaha

Are you craving spooky suspense, spine-tingling thrillers, and creepy stories to haunt your dreams? These books will get you in the Halloween mood.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.

The Devil in the White City draws the reader into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters, including Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and others. Erik Larson’s gifts as a storyteller are magnificently displayed in this rich narrative of the master builder, the killer, and the great fair that obsessed them both.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, Book 1) by Tana French

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….

In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

I Remember You: A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

International superstar Yrsa Sigurdardottir has captivated the attention of readers around the world with her mystery series featuring attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir. Now, Yrsa will stun readers once again with this out-of-this-world ghost story that will leave you shivering. In an isolated village in the Icelandic Westfjords, three friends set to work renovating a rundown house. But soon, they realize they are not as alone as they thought. Something wants them to leave, and it’s making its presence felt. Meanwhile, in a town across the fjord, a young doctor investigating the suicide of an elderly woman discovers that she was obsessed with his vanished son. When the two stories collide, the terrifying truth is uncovered. In the vein of John Ajvide Lindqvist, this horrifying thriller, partly based on a true story, is the scariest novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who has taken the international crime fiction world by storm. The film rights have been sold to Sigurjon Sighvatsson, a Hollywood-based Icelandic film producer who has produced such films as Brothers and Arlington Road.

You: A Novel (Lifetime) by Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.

The Diviners (3 Book Series) by Libba Bray

Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far.

When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….

Baby Teeth: A Novel by Zoje Stage

Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.

But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s willful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.

Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger…

The Last Time I Lied: A Novel by Riley Sager

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera–the only one on the property–pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

Haunted (The Arnaud Legacy Book 1) by Lynn Carthage

Moving to my stepfather’s English country mansion sounded so promising. But the Arnaud Manor is neglected and unwelcoming, and I get the feeling it isn’t exactly uninhabited. Something wants to hurt us–especially my little sister, Tabby. Okay, so I might be a little sensitive lately. My parents act oblivious to me, my old life is far away in San Francisco, and the gorgeous guy I just met tells me terrible stories about the infamous Madame Arnaud who lived here long ago, and about missing children and vengeful spirits. The kind of stories that are impossible to believe–until you’re living in one of them, fighting to protect everyone you love…

 

Cemetery Girl by David Bell

Tom and Abby Stuart had everything: a perfect marriage, successful careers, and a beautiful twelve-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Then one day she vanished without a trace. For a while they grasped at every false hope and followed every empty lead, but the tragedy ended up changing their lives, overwhelming them with guilt and dread, and shattering their marriage.

Four years later, Caitlin is found alive—dirty and disheveled, yet preternaturally calm. She won’t discuss where she was or what happened. And when the police arrest a suspect connected to the disappearance, Caitlin refuses to testify, leaving the Stuarts with a choice: Let the man who may be responsible for destroying their lives walk away, or take matters into their own hands.  And when Tom decides to try to uncover the truth for himself, he finds that nothing that has happened yet can prepare him for what he is about to discover.

A Haunting In Wisconsin by Michael Richan

A long weekend at a remote B&B was supposed to give Eliza and Robert some downtime. They soon discover that sleeping in the building unearths the spirits of people long dead, reviving a haunted mystery that has waited many decades to be solved. Eliza and Robert’s plans to relax are put on hold while they try to help the owner of the B&B salvage his business.

Eliza and Robert both have the “gift,” but using it is difficult in the old building; something is wrong here, something that obscures their ability to see what’s truly happening. They discover a fiendish child who has taken diabolical secrets to the grave, intent on harming others. Their harrowing search for her — and the surprises buried with her — is filled with danger, as they discover much more evil and malevolent forces at work.

A Haunting in Wisconsin is a fast-paced paranormal mystery with an enjoyable cast of characters. It is full of twists and turns, as Eliza and Robert fight to save the B&B — and themselves. It is a stand-alone novel. No prior reading is necessary to enjoy this title.

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish (Author), Geoff Taylor (Illustrator)

Jack is used to danger. His asthma has nearly killed him more than once. But his new home has a danger he’s never known before – the spirits of the dead.
They can’t breathe, but in Jack’s house they chase, hide, scream.
Only Jack can see them. Only he can hear them. And only he can learn their secrets in time to save himself… and his mother…

 

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About Shandle Blaha (234 Articles)
Shandle is the Chief Operations Officer for Sweatpants & Coffee. She's a traveler, bookworm, movie lover and TV junkie. She quotes Friends in her daily life and takes her coffee extra sweet, preferably in the form of a PSL.

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