By the middle of October, there are usually many articles listing the best scary tales for Halloween’s annual celebration of the paranormal. But this year, editors seem to have less interest. Real humanitarian horrors abroad and mass killings at home may have sated the appetite for imaginary frightfulness. But I personally still welcome escape via a good ghost story’s vicarious terrors, vaporous threats that vanish with the last page. And there is a choice of new, well-reviewed spine-tingling fiction this year to satisfy that yen.
Start with Paul Tremblay’s much-lauded A Head Full of Ghosts, a tale about a reality-TV demonic possession as recalled by the troubled narrator, a young woman who was a child at the time her sister was supposedly transformed by a demon. But steel your nerves; Stephen King, per Amazon, has said, “A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell our of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare.”
Also new this year is Little Girls by award-winning horror author Ronald Malfi: A woman returns with her husband and young daughter to a childhood homestead after her father’s unnatural death, resurrecting unhappy memories and an uneasiness exacerbated by unexplained deaths, sinister neighbor children and eerie “bump in the night” events.
For less modern ghostly doings, The Uninvited by Cat Winters, another award-winning author, is set in 1918 amid the fear and panic of the great influenza outbreak, as a young woman with the “gift” of seeing uninvited ghosts of loved ones–visions always heralding an impending death–struggles with the implications of her otherworldly revelations. Don’t be discouraged by its bleak history; The Uninvited is “healing and moving rather than scary,” per the Kirkus review.
Finally, I’ll include The Visitant: A Venetian Ghost Story by Megan Chance. Its American heroine disgraces her family and is sent to nurse an ailing man in a decaying Venetian palazzo owned by his friend, an impoverished nobleman, with both men seemingly in thrall to a dark force within a house of tragic secrets. I admit the Venetian setting is my main draw. If none of these appeal, see a selection of all-time scariest books: http://flavorwire.com/419194/the-50-scariest-books-of-all-time/view-all/