25 Spooky Books to Read This Halloween Season

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Looking for a real scream this October? Tap into your deepest fears with these books about paranormal activity, haunted houses, kidnappings, and even psychological mind games. Warning: You may want to keep the lights on.

1. DON'T YOU CRY, BY MARY KUBICA

After Quinn wakes to find her roommate Esther missing from their Chicago apartment, she ransacks her room for clues. But what she discovers is that she never knew who her best friend actually was. Elsewhere, in a small Michigan town, a mysterious woman catches the eye of 18-year-old Alex. Though he's swept up in her beauty, he quickly learns she's far more sinister than meets the eye.

2. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, BY RUTH WARE

In this novel, travel writer Lo lands her dream job covering a ship's first cruise. It starts off as smooth sailing: The champagne is flowing, the small number of guests are welcoming, and the cabins are luxurious. Then, she sees someone being thrown overboard. The twist: All passengers are accounted for. Or, so they say.

3. UNRAVELING OLIVER, BY LIZ NUGENT

When the titular character's wife Alice confronts him about his past, the charismatic children's writer loses his cool—and sends her straight into a coma. Alternating among several perspectives, from Oliver's classmates and neighbors to ex-lovers, author Nugent pieces together what really drove him over the edge.

4. EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, BY MINDY MEIJIA

Desperate to break free from her small town, high school senior Hattie strikes up a fatal online romance. Nearly a year later, she's brutally stabbed to death and her dark secrets start to come to light. Now, as they try to unearth who killed the golden girl, the three narrators ask, who was Hattie?

5. THE AMATEURS, BY SARA SHEPARD

Five years after high school senior Helena disappeared from her backyard, four wannabe sleuths try to unravel the mystery. But someone is watching—and is desperate to stop their manhunt. The Pretty Little Liars author's killer new series takes unpredictable twists until the very last chapter.

6. THE GIRL BEFORE, BY J.P. DELANEY

Following a traumatic robbery, Emma is on the hunt for a new place to call home. Enter: One Folgate Street. Sure, the house’s architect still retains control over decor and doesn’t allow for books, personal pictures, or clutter whatsoever, but she’s desperate. Then, three years later, Jane moves in, looking for her new beginning. Instead, she uncovers the mysterious death of Emma, who also happens to look just like her. Soon, she begins to experience the same terrors as, well, the girl before. 

7. THE CHILD, BY FIONA BARTON

Journalist Kate Waters jumps at the chance to investigate the skeletal remains of a baby found at a demolished London house. But as she digs through the neighborhood’s history, she stumbles across three women, each with a gripping fascination with (and connection to) the murdered infant.

8. ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

With her father ailing, Nic is yanked home to the rural, small town she thought she escaped. But her arrival opens up a decade-old cold case: the disappearance of her best friend Corinne. And within days of her homecoming, another girl mysteriously vanishes. Told in reverse over two weeks, the harrowing story seeks to tell how the two events are ominously linked.

9. WITH MALICE, BY EILEEN COOK

Jill remembers nothing. Not her school's trip to Italy, that fatal car crash or…possibly killing her best friend Simone in a jealous rage. Instead, she wakes up in the hospital with a cast on her leg, stitches in her face, and a lawyer team on her case. Now, with evidence mounting against her and the media painting her as a sociopath, Jill questions just what she's capable of.

10. HAUNTED, BY DORAH WILLIAMS

The Williams lived in constant fear. On a whim, they moved into an alluring Victorian home that just always seemed to be vacant. It doesn't take long to find out why: It's haunted. The true story is told through the perspective of matriarch Dorah, as she recalls the chilling paranormal events the family experienced and how they uncovered the backstory of their ghosts.

11. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, BY THOMAS HARRIS

There's a new killer on the loose: Buffalo Bill, who starves his victims before killing—and skinning—them. To catch him, an amateur FBI agent must rely on cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, currently locked away at a hospital for the criminally insane. The 1991 film adaption scored five Academy Awards.

12. SHUTTER ISLAND, BY DENNIS LEHANE

In the midst of the Cold War, U.S. Marshal Teddy and his partner Chuck head to Shutter Island, the home to a hospital for the criminally insane. There, the duo intend to investigate the disappearance of patient Rachel Solando, who allegedly escaped the facility. But in the gripping thriller of mind games where nothing is what it seems, Teddy is forced confront his own fatal wrongdoings.

13. GOOSEBUMPS: THE HAUNTED MASK, BY R. L. STINE

Desperate to get revenge on school bully Steve, Carly Beth buys a monstrous mask for Halloween. But as fright night goes on, she starts acting aggressively, even choking her best friend Sabrina. When she goes to remove the costume, she realizes it's become permanently attached to her face and she is now possessed.

14. CARRIE, BY STEPHEN KING

Hell hath no fury like Carrie scorned. When a bucket of pig's blood is dumped on her at senior prom, the titular character decides to use her newly discovered telekinetic powers to kill everyone in school. King's 1974 debut has been adapted into two films and a Broadway musical.

15. FRANKENSTEIN, BY MARY SHELLEY

Obsessed with the notion of giving life to lifeless matter, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates his own human using stolen body parts. However, his masterpiece is hardly a work of art. Tormented by exile, Frankenstein's hideous monster goes a murderous tear to exact revenge on his creator.

16. THE EXORCIST, BY WILLIAM PETER BLATTY

While living in Washington, D.C. with her famous mother, 12-year-old Regan begins to display some odd behavior. She stops eating, refuses to sleep, and starts an increasingly aggressive streak. Though her mom initially chalks her behavior up to teen angst, the movie star soon realizes her daughter is disturbed. She enlists two priests to help purge the girl of the demonic presence. Blatty's cult-classic spent 57 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

17. COME CLOSER, BY SARA GRAN

Amanda has the perfect life. Until she doesn't. Suddenly, she's burning her husband with a cigarette, shoplifting, cheating, and cursing at her boss. And there's a woman, reminiscent of her imaginary childhood friend Naamah, controlling her dreams. Has she lost her mind?

18. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, BY JAY ANSON

They lasted 28 days. In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new, beautiful home … that turned out to be terrorized by the paranormal. Before fleeing the harrowing mansion, they were plagued by swarms of flies, received random welts, and heard mysterious sounds. Plus, their tot Missy gained an imaginary friend Jodie, a demonic pig with glowing red eyes. The true story has launched a multi-million dollar franchise with 15 films.

19. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, BY SHARI LAPENA

Anne and Marco are going to their neighbors' for dinner. They're told they can't bring their 6-month-old daughter, but that's ok. They have the baby monitor and every 30 minutes or so, one of them will check in on their sleeping infant. After all, they're just next door. But when they return home, they find their door ajar—and their daughter gone from her crib.

20. PRETTY GIRLS, BY KARIN SLAUGHTER

Sisters Claire and Lydia do not speak. In the decades since their sister Julia disappeared, Claire has gone on to be a millionaire's trophy wife while Lydia is a single mom dating a con man. But when Claire's husband is murdered, the devastating old wounds are ripped open. How could a vanishing teenager and a dead middle-aged man be connected 20 years apart?

21. THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL, BY JAMES HERBERT

When one of their three children tragically disappears, Gabe and Eve Caleigh leave London for the coast. There's a beautiful river, a garden, and the promise of an idyllic future. That is, until their dog is perpetually spooked, the kids claim to be stalked by a man with a cane, and Eve insists her missing son is communicating with her. Soon, the quintet uncover the house's dark secrets carried over from World War II. 

22. BROKEN MONSTERS, BY LAUREN BEUKES

She thought she had seen everything. Then, Detective Gabriella Versado discovers a unique body in a Detroit tunnel: It's the head and torso of a young boy fused with a deer. As more of these horrifying creatures begin to pop up, she becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter Layla starts an online flirtation with a predator. Both their lives are thrust into a dangerous web.

23. REBECCA, BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER

The gothic's unnamed heroine cannot believe her luck when she meets—and falls for—rich and charming widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. After a quick romance and wedding, he sweeps her away to his Manderley estate. There, she encounters their sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Still loyal to the titular character, who died mysteriously in a boating accident the year before, Danvers begins to manipulate the new Mrs. de Winter, pushing her so far she begins to contemplate suicide. Alfred Hitchcock's adaption of the thriller won two Academy Awards.

24. THE WITCHES, BY ROALD DAHL

Forget what you thought: Real witches don't ride on broomsticks, wear black hats, or have warts. In reality, they're conniving creatures who disguise themselves as regular, ordinary, mundane women. And in the twisted fairy tale, they especially love to taunt children and turn them into mice. Be warned: You'll never know you've met a witch until it's too late.

25. HORNS, BY JOE HILL

Written by Stephen King's son, the horror begins with Ig waking up to find he's … different. After a drunken night, he has knobby horns growing from his head. And suddenly, when he talks to people, they tell him their darkest secrets. ("I don't want you to be my kid anymore," his mother quips.) It could easily be a mental breakdown. He's still reeling from his girlfriend's murder, in which he was the only suspect. Though he was never charged, he's still guilty in the court of public opinion. Or, is this just his new reality? After all, he has horns. So is he the devil?

15 Facts About Rushmore On Its 20th Anniversary

The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection

On December 11, 1998, Wes Anderson introduced the world to his unique brand of whimsical comedy with Rushmore. Though it wasn't his feature directorial debut—he had released Bottle Rocket, which he adapted from a short, in 1996—it was his first major Hollywood movie. And kicked off his still-ongoing collaborations with a stable of talented actors that includes Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman. It was also the second film Anderson co-wrote with Owen Wilson.

To celebrate the quirky comedy's 20th anniversary, here are some things you might not know about Rushmore.

1. Rushmore Academy was the director's Alma Mater.

Wes Anderson sent location scouts across the United States and Canada to find the perfect high school to shoot the movie. He was having a tough time trying to find the school, until his mother sent him a picture of his old high school in Houston, Texas: St. John's School. Anderson thought it was the perfect location to make the movie.

2. Bill Murray wanted to make Rushmore for free.

Bill Murray in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Once Bill Murray read the screenplay, he wanted to be in the movie so badly that he considered appearing in it for free. Murray ended up working on Rushmore at scale with the Screen Actors Guild day rate minimum for smaller indie film projects. Anderson estimated that Murray made about $9000 for his work on the film.

3. Film critic Pauline Kael had a private screening.

Pauline Kael’s film criticism was a major influence on Anderson’s view of cinema. “Your thoughts and writing about the movies [have] been a very important source of inspiration for me and my movies, and I hope you don't regret that," he once wrote to her.

Kael retired from The New Yorker in 1991, so Anderson arranged for her to have a private screening of Rushmore before the film came out in 1998. He wrote about the screening in the introduction to the published version of the screenplay, and shared what Kael told him about the film: "I genuinely don't know what to make of this movie."

4. It was Jason Schwartzman’s first film role.

Casting directors searched throughout the United States, Canada, and England to find a young actor to play the lead role of Max Fischer. Australian actor Noah Taylor was the frontrunner for the part when, on the last day of casting in Los Angeles, Jason Schwartzman auditioned. He was wearing a prep school blazer with a Rushmore Academy patch that he made himself.

5. Owen Wilson's private school experiences inspired some of the movie's plot points.

As a sophomore at St. Mark High School in Dallas, Texas, Rushmore co-writer Owen Wilson was expelled for stealing his geometry teacher's textbook (the one that contained all the answers); he went to Thomas Jefferson High School to complete 10th grade. This was the inspiration for when Max is expelled from Rushmore Academy and is forced to attend Grover Cleveland High School.

Although Wilson doesn’t have a credited role in Rushmore, he does appear as Ms. Cross’s deceased husband, Edward Appleby, in a photo in Appleby’s childhood bedroom.

6. Wilson's Dad Inspired a Moment in the Movie.

Wilson’s father, Robert Wilson, was the inspiration for Herman Blume’s speech about privilege at the beginning of Rushmore.

7. Alexis Bledel was an extra in the film.


Getty Images

Before she starred as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, actress Alexis Bledel was an uncredited extra—she played a Grover Cleveland High School student—in Rushmore. You can see her in the background in various scenes, including dancing with the character Magnus Buchan (Stephen McCole) at the end of the film.

8. Both Anderson and Wilson's brothers had parts in the movie.

Owen and Luke Wilson’s older brother Andrew plays Rushmore Academy’s baseball coach, Coach Beck. He also appeared in Anderson’s directorial debut, Bottle Rocket, playing the bully John Mapplethorpe.

Eric Chase Anderson, Wes's brother, plays the architect who designs Max’s aquarium.

9. The Movie's Editor Made a Cameo.

Rushmore editor David Moritz plays the Dynamite Salesman; he sells Max the dynamite and explosives for his stage play Heaven and Hell at the end of the film.

10. Producers Made a Deal to get a Bentley.

Producers needed a Bentley for Murray's character, Herman Blume, but Rushmore’s production budget was only $20 million and they couldn’t afford to rent one. A Houston resident was willing to lend them his Bentley if they gave his daughter a role in the film. Producers agreed; the man's daughter plays an usher who seats Miss Cross at Max’s play at the end of the movie.

11. Mason Gamble's role in Dennis the Menace almost cost him the part of Dirk Calloway in Rushmore.

Mason Gamble in Rushmore (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Wilson referred to the character of Dirk Calloway, played by Mason Gamble, as the conscience of the film. Originally, Anderson didn’t want to cast Gamble in the part because of the actor’s previous—and very recognizable—role as Dennis Mitchell in the 1993 live-action movie Dennis the Menace.

12. Rushmore Upset Francis Ford Coppola.

Director Francis Ford Coppola owns a winery, and when he first saw Rushmore, he was upset with Anderson because he used Coppola’s chief Napa Valley wine rival during Max's post-play celebration. (It probably didn't help matters that Coppola is Schwartzman's uncle.)

13. Anderson's Brother Did the Movie's Criterion Collection Artwork.

The Criterion Collection edition of 'Rushmore' (1998)
The Criterion Collection

Eric Chase Anderson did the artwork for the Criterion Collection DVD cover, an interoperation of a shot from the montage of Max’s extracurricular activities at the beginning of the movie. The Yankee Racer shot is itself a recreation of a photo from French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue, taken in 1909 when he was only 15.

14. Schwartzman waxed his chest to play Max.

Although Max only shows his chest once in the film (during the high school wrestling match), Anderson made Schwartzman wax his chest for the duration of Rushmore's filming.

15. The Max Fischer Players Appeared on MTV.

During the 1999 MTV Movie Awards, the Max Fischer Players recreated the year's hit movies—The Truman Show, Armageddon, and Out of Sight—as stage plays.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2014.

Harry Potter Star Daniel Radcliffe Says Broadway Made Him a Better Actor

Dominik Bindl, Getty Images
Dominik Bindl, Getty Images

For 10 years, moviegoers watched as Daniel Radcliffe matured on film throughout eight Harry Potter films. But the 29-year-old recently revealed that he believes the bulk of his professional growth has occurred as a result of his Broadway stage work.

“It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe told Variety. “I feel like doing theater ... it was really very important for me psychologically.”

Radcliffe starred in a number of films after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film in the franchise, including The Woman in Black, Now You See Me 2, and Lost in London. His Broadway credits include Equus, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Cripple of Inishmaan.

“There’s something about doing it without an editor to save you, or a myriad of things in post-production that can help you out, something that made me go: ‘OK, I can act,’" Radcliffe continued. "I’ve grown a little bit as an actor every time I’ve gone back to the theater."

Radcliffe crediting his professional growth to working in theater may leave some Potterheads wondering if he thinks playing Harry Potter for so long held him back.

“Not professionally, at all,” he said. “There were moments when probably I coped with the personal effects of Harry Potter not as well as I could have. But professionally, no.”

According to Radcliffe, "There are directors that were, I think, excited to—I am quoting one of them here and I won’t say who—'reinvent' me.”

Radcliffe fans can gauge that reinvention for themselves with The Lifespan of a Fact, the new Broadway play starring Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones. It is running at New York City's Studio 54 through January 13, 2019.

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