Spooktober Reads / by Madeleine

Happy Spooktober, Readers!

October is one of the best months of the year for readers who, like me, enjoy books with a haunting, gothic tone. In previous years, I've published booklists featuring great October reads. You can see those here and here. This year, I decided to put together another list of books that embody that Autumnal chill.

Note: * indicates that Top Shelf Text received a physical title from the publisher. All opinions are my own!

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt * // A fictional account of the Lizzie Borden murders and one that will definitely give you chills. I knew nothing about this infamous case before reading. This novel tells what happened after the bodies were discovered. Warning: it's a little bit gruesome and not for squeamish readers.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber* // If you're a fan of true crime podcasts like Serial, you'll want to add this to your list. A podcast features a closed case, questioning whether the verdict actually reflected the truth, but this time the story is told from the perspective of the family at the center of the crime. In addition to being a suspenseful story, this one also gave me pause and prompted me to wonder how the people on the other side of true crime podcasts feel about the sensationalized attention.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware* // This is one that I haven't picked up yet, but when I read  The Woman in Cabin 10, I was totally sucked in to the twists and turns and I'm expecting the same from this one.

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik* // Another one that I'll be reading this season. This one follows a group of friends trying to survive the Maine wilderness after a whitewater rafting accident. Fun fact: when we were seniors in high school, I coordinated a trip to the Penobscot River in Maine for whitewater rafting. The water levels were unusually high that season, every single one of our boats flipped, and I vowed it would be my last time rafting. I'm expecting this one to bring back some memories!

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore* // From Goodreads: "A magically inspiring tale of a man who is reincarnated through many lifetimes so that he can be with his one true love: Death herself." I just recently received this one in the mail and I'm really looking forward to diving in. (Plus, that cover.)

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan* // This was one of my favorite thriller reads over the summer. It's intense, literary, and totally twisty. You can read my review here.

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg // This is a good pick if you're not into gruesome stories. You can read my review of it here, but I'll say it's just slightly creepy, but also so imaginative.

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas // Earlier this year I recommended this series if you're a fan of Deanna Raybourn. I love the fall feel of this novel -- and the second one (just recently released) is even better than the first! (And yes, you do need to read them in order.)

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman // I don't know how I had never even heard of this novel until this year. It may be 20+ years old, but I loved the story of the Owens family. Highly recommended if you like tales of witches -- this one is more magical realism than fantasy, but so, so, good.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman* // And if you loved Practical Magic, you'll love this prequel, which is coming out next week. (Stay tuned for a giveaway here!) I thought this one was even better than its predecessor, but both are 100% worth reading.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber // If you liked The Night Circus, I'd recommend this one. It's young adult and not the most sophisticated, but I loved the magical elements, the world building, and I'm already impatient for the second in the series.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters // I read this one a few years ago, but it's perfect for this time of year. If you like stories about the spirit realm, you'll enjoy this one. It takes place in 1918, when America has fallen to its knees in the heat of the Spanish Influenza and a raging war. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman // This is another one that's good if you're not a fan of gruesome tales. It's hard to describe the story itself, but if you like Neil Gaiman or are wanting to read his work for the first time, I'd recommend this one.

The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack* // I just finished this one last week and it was a great escapist read for me. It follows a woman named Semele who's called to evaluate a rare collection of antique artifacts. Within the collection, she finds an incredibly rare manuscript written by a fortune teller in the time of Cleopatra. The fortune teller's writing is inexplicably tied to Semele, and soon Semele finds herself in danger. If you're a fan of past/present narratives and books like The DaVinci Code, I think you'll like this one.

Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao // I read this over the summer and just picked up the second in the series (just released last month). It has elements of mystery, the supernatural, and a Victorian setting that I just love.

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What are you reading (or recommending) this month?