Books to read for Halloween: from the slightly scary to full-on nightmarish

Fancy reading something scary this year, but not sure which level of spook to go for? Here are the best ghoulish reads, ranked in order of thrill.

An illustration of a horror scale of spooky books, from 'ghost emoji' to 'skull and crossbones' emoji.

There are some Hallowe’en traditions we leave behind with adulthood – trick or treating is just plain weird if you’re not accompanied by a small ghost, for instance – but books offer a fantastic way to get into the spirit. Not a big one for scares? We’ve got books for that. Only interested in the bone-chillers? We’ve got books for that too. Here’s a rundown, rated by spookiness:

Ever-so-slightly unsettling

A little scary

Chilling tales

Blood-curdling stories

Absolutely terrifying

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more