Something about October always seems to bring out our desire to be frightened. Maybe it’s all the hoopla over Halloween, or the bite in the air, or night coming at 6:30, or the beginning of the season associated with death, or all of these, but October is definitely the creepiest month. So if you’d like to embrace that chill in the air, we’ve put together a list of terrifying books guaranteed to keep you up at night. Though ’tis is the season for spooky literature, for this list we decided to opt out of the horror genre. After all, the books that terrify us most are the ones that show us what humans — not vampires or werewolves or zombies — but the people you meet on the street, are capable of in their darkest moments. Click through to read our list of some of the most terrifying books out there, and let us know which novels chill you to the bone.
Room, Emma Donoghue
The very premise of this novel sends a chill down our spines. A girl, kidnapped at age 19, has been held in a secret room for the last seven years. Repeatedly raped by her captor, at the novel’s start she has a five year old boy, Jack, who has never been outside the room. Jack is the narrator, and the terrifying story unfolds in his childish tones and particular viewpoint, the reader, of course understanding much more than the storyteller. When the kidnapper visits the room in the evenings, Ma makes Jack hide in the wardrobe, where he listens, and reflects, “I always have to count till he makes that gaspy sound and stops.” On the days when Ma is overwhelmed by her plight and succumbs to a listless depression, Jack describes her as “gone,” and patiently waits for her to return. When they — spoiler alert — make it to the outside, the question becomes whether the real world is really any safer or better than the one that was all their own.