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The 10 Best Halloween Books: From Cozy Mysteries to Magical Romances

First for Women books editor (and book lover!) shares her top 10 Halloween reads for 2023

Books are like balms — grabbing the right book at the right time can provide the perfect antidote for what you’re going through at that very moment. Whether you need a dose of hope, happiness, comfort, inspiration, courage…you name it, a great book has the power to ease worries and offer a safe haven to rest and recharge. And come Halloween, there are few things better than snuggling up with the best Halloween books to get you in the holiday spirit.

To kick off the fun, we’ve rounded up our favorite Halloween reads both new and old. Grab yourself a plush blanket, a steaming cup of something delicious (like this autumnal apple crisp macchiato) and a novel that will transport you somewhere magical. Keep reading to discover 10 of the best Halloween books in a variety of genres, from whimsical family sagas to psychological thrillers, fantastical romances, lyrical retellings and more. Happy reading!  

If you like swoon-worthy paranormal stories…

Try The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Best Halloween Books: The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling shows a black book cover with a big full moon and the book title in blue font

Wishes, witches and spells gone wrong…this steamy and festive rom-com has it all! Young witch Vivienne “Vivi” Jones uses her magic to put a seemingly mild curse on Rhys Penhallow, who broke her heart. Nine years later, the annoyingly handsome Rhys returns to town, and she realizes her hex was not so harmless after all. As local happenings turn spooky, Vivi is forced to work with Rhys to save the town and break the spell. Will love follow?

What readers are saying: “I laughed, I swooned, I laughed again. The banter between Rhys and Vivi was pitch perfect, and the Halloween vibes were exactly what I wanted to read.”

If you like quirky autumn whodunits…

Try Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly

Best Halloween Books: Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly shows a green book cover with a pumpkin and two cats playing

What would a roundup of the best Halloween books be without an adorably on-theme cozy mystery? This mysterious, spooky-cute tale follows librarian Kathleen Paulson and her baker friend, Georgia Tepper. Georgia is hired to bake cupcakes for the Reading Buddies Halloween Party at the library. But when Georgia’s mother-in-law — who recently threatened her with legal action — is found dead, she’s on the list of suspects. Now, Kathleen and her savvy cats must help find the killer and clear Georgia’s name fast!

What readers are saying: “It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish. The Halloween-themed backdrop adds an extra layer of excitement to the story, and the author’s vivid descriptions of spooky cupcakes had my mouth watering.”

If you like chilling classic stories with a new twist…

Try Horseman by Christina Henry

Best Halloween Books: Horseman by Christina Henry book cover shows a spooky tree and the title

Bestselling author Christina Henry is well-known for her eerie, otherworldly tales — and this scary page-turner follows suit! Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows the legend of the Horseman, but no one believes it…not even Ben Van Brunt’s grandpa, Brom, who was there when it allegedly happened. Now, 30 years later, Ben finds the body of a headless person in the woods and starts questioning everything he was ever told. An engrossing and beautifully written retelling.

What readers are saying: “It’s a spooky read perfect for the Halloween. I love how atmospheric it was and the mystery and magical element sprinkled made it more enjoyable!”

If you like adventurous historicals with a big dash of romance…

Try The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holten

Best Halloween Books: 
The League of Gentlewomen Witches by India Holton book cover shows a man and woman fighting with a sword and a broomstick with ivy encircling them

Miss Charlotte Pettifer is part of a top-secret league of women skilled in the “subtle arts” — but the arts are never referred to as witchcraft. This league of ladies strives to make the world a better place through good acts. But when a long lost amulet is discovered, it’s up to Charlotte to make sure this powerful talisman doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands. So when she crosses paths with a rogue Irish pirate named Alex O’Riley, the two butt heads…yet end up teaming up to find the amulet. What follows is a series of high-stakes adventures, chemistry-filled moments and oodles of fantastical charm.

What readers are saying: “This story is the perfect combination of adventure-filled and cozy vibes. Alex and Charlotte have to use their powers and knowledge to complete a quest-like adventure. It took me to another world, all from the comfort of my favorite reading chair, and that’s something I treasure in a read.”

If you like spellbinding fairy tales set in the south…

Try Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton

Best Halloween Books: Shattered Midnight
by Dhonielle Clayton book cover that shows magical purple backdrop with the title over top

Filled with magic, exhilarating action and captivating characters, this fairy tale stars Zora Broussard, who arrives in 1920s New Orleans with just a bag of clothes, a pair of enchanted red shoes and her beautiful voice. Running from her past, Zora wants to blend in and avoid her mean cousins and aunt. Then, Zora starts to perform at a jazz club and meets a pianist named Phillip. What follows is looming danger, adventure and an epic fight for true love.

What readers are saying: “The writing is so evocative of the food and music of New Orleans, it will make you want gumbo and beignets. The pacing is fast and keeps you turning the pages, so much so that I finished it in one day!”

If you like vibrant, bewitching stories about sisterhood…

Try Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Best Halloween Books: Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman 25th anniversary book cover that shows a witch boot on a golden backdrop

Practical Magic — the beloved movie filled with haunted houses and witchy spells starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock — is based on this magical novel written by Alice Hoffman. For more than 200 years, the Owens women have continually blamed their Massachusetts town for all of their problems. Sisters Gillian and Sally Owens know this all too well. Growing up as outsiders in their small town was difficult — especially with their eccentric aunts, who have a reputation of witchery. Now, Gillian and Sally want to escape. But will their family’s deep bonds magically draw them back?

What readers are saying: “All in all, I was captivated by this delightful, magical story and want more of the Owens family. Those who enjoy magical realism, women’s fiction laced with romance, and stories about multi-generations of women should give this one a try.”

If you like nail-biting vintage mysteries…

Try And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Best Halloween Books: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Ten complete strangers — each with something to hide and something to fear — arrive at an isolated mansion on Indian Island. They all show up at this location after receiving an invitation from a “U.N. Owen.” Then one of the guests is found dead, and the others are left to determine which of them is the killer before it’s too late.

What readers are saying: “I delved into And Then There Were None for a spooky Halloween read. It’s a masterpiece of mystery fiction and a book that everyone should enjoy for themselves!”

If you like electrifying science fiction stories…

Try The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Best Halloween Books: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma shows a cover image with a silhouette of a man in a top hat and the book title is written over top

Thought-provoking twists and time travel magic abound in this story that takes readers from a haunting Victorian London locale to a spellbinding reality where centuries collide. The story centers on Andrew, a man in Victorian England who goes back in time to save his true love from Jack the Ripper’s blade—with the help of H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine. But Andrew soon encounters the unforeseen consequences of his actions…

What readers are saying: “This book was an imaginative mash-up of genres—historical, science fiction, fantasy and romance. And I loved the unexpected yet satisfying ending.”

If you like creepy mystery-laced stories…

Try Holly by Stephen King

Best Halloween Books: Holly by Stephen King book cover shows an image of a spooky old house with a front porch illuminated by an orange and blue sky

Bestselling author Stephen King’s latest chilling novel marks the return of fan-favorite character Holly Gibney. When Penny Dahl desperately calls the Finders Keepers detective agency hoping for help locating her missing daughter, Holly is reluctant but agrees to take the case. Soon, Holly is drawn into a horrifying puzzle that leads her to two twisted local professors. Do they hold the secret to the disappearance in their basement?

What readers are saying: “King’s ability to take the struggles of the everyday person and spin them into terrifying yet believable yarns is why so many of us love him. Perfect read for a cool, autumn eve!”

If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense stories…

Try Everyone Here is Lying by Shari Lapena

Best Halloween Books: Everyone Here is Lying by Shari Lapena

Stanhope is a safe suburban neighborhood and William Wooler is the picture-perfect family man…at least on the surface. When an affair he’s been having ends abruptly one afternoon, he returns home upset and angry. Soon after, his 9-year-old daughter, Avery, returns home from school unexpectedly. Hours later, Avery goes missing. What follows is a puzzle full of twists and turns and suddenly the town of Stanhope doesn’t feel so idyllic anymore. As witnesses come forward with facts and information that may or may not be true, everyone feels like eyes are on them. And they all want to know: Who really took Avery Wooler?

What readers are saying: “This fast-paced and well-written book will have you turning pages quickly through the night. A top-tier thriller meant to be read under the covers around Halloween!”

For more book recommendations, check out:

FIRST Book Club: 7 Feel-Great Reads You’ll Love For October 2023

Cozy Fall Reads: 10 Feel-Good Books To Snuggle Up With This Season

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