£2.99, Wordsworth Editions
You might not know that Wharton also wrote ghost stories, but they’re definitely worth a read. As elegant and class-obsessed as her novels, these are unlikely keep you up at night, but will give you plenty to ponder.
Given that the arctic is pitch black for most of the year and is about as terrifying a place as one can conceive of, it’s odd that more sinister tales aren’t set there. Dark Matter follows a group of men in the 1930s as they try to shine a scientific light on the darkness, with horrific results.
This mega-seller from 2009 doesn’t go overboard on supernatural shocks, but its themes of longing and envy play out against a backdrop of a crumbling house with more than its fair share of secrets.
The mistress of the modern ghost story has released her latest short work, just in time for Halloween. Told through the eyes of a lonely child, then his adult self, it traces the fall out of a fraught summer spent with a peculiar cousin.
Penelope Lively’s ghost, a 17th-century apothecarie whose spirit is disturbed by a modern family, is less terrifying and more curmudgeonly, but this children’s book still has the odd alarming, and poignant, moment. The main (living) character, a boy called James, is particularly charming. A great year-round read.
£5.99, Random House
The late Robert Westall did a fantastic line in scary books for young adults and this one is a fascinating period piece from the 1970s when girls were still expected to keep house (spooky, huh?). It’s a chilling account of a building with a mind of its own.
£2.99, Oxford University Press
The Bible of ghost stories, if you like a fright this should have pride of place on your bookshelf. Cambridge provost James wrote some of the finest tales ever to have creeped out readers.
£7.99, Random House
Intelligent and unnerving, this tale of the friend of an academic investigating her death focuses on the dead woman’s obsession with Sir Isaac Newton and his alchemic past. A feat of historical fiction.
£6.99, Penguin Classics
No collection of spooky stories would be complete without this novella. It has it all: a big house, scary children, almost unbearable suspense and the horrible realisation that something is wrong.
A great introduction to Mosse’s work if you haven’t read her longer novels. A young man, mourning his brother who died in the Great War, gets caught in a snow storm in the Pyreneese. He finds a village in which to take refuge and learns more about love and loss. Mosse’s book takes in 13th-century Cathar life.
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