Top Ten Paranormal BooksMy favorite! I love scary books (and movies and TV and haunted houses). I read a lot of really bad horror when the genre was at its pulpy, mass-market height way back when, and I love that it’s coming back now, and the books are even better. Some of the books below aren’t horror, per se, but they all have that paranormal twist, and I think you all should run right out and read them. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
1) Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp. I’m not even sure if this is still in print; I bought it at a Scholastic Book Fair at school when I was in fourth grade, and I still have my very worn, falling-apart original copy. It’s still a great read even now, which is the mark of a really good book. It’s 1912, and Louisa is taking her niece Jane to her grandmother’s house after her parents (Louisa’s sister and her husband) are killed in a carriage accident. But there’s a spirit waiting in the quiet house in Lynn, and it wants Jane … Spooky and atmospheric, and Louisa and Jane both are spunky and likeable.
2) Ghosts I Have Been, Richard Peck. The second in the Blossom Culp books, but this time the psychic Blossom has visions of the Titanic sinking. Set in 1913 – I was a sucker for historical set fiction then, and still am. Richard Peck is all-around genius, too – any of his books are worth reading.
3) The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson. One of the creepiest books I’ve ever read, and I mean that in the best possible way. Forget the movie (although the original is fantastic – please forget the horrible remake with Liam Neeson) , the book really raises the hairs on the back of your neck, and takes you so far into Nell’s experiences at Hill House, you begin to wonder if you’re going crazy with her.
4) Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr. I loved Holly Black’s Tithe, too, but Marr’s version of faerie was so richly detailed, and so surprisingly realistic in terms of character motivations and interactions, I was blown away. These are fae the way I always imagined them – sexy, dangerous, impulsive, otherworldly. A gorgeously written start to a great series.
5) The Witching Hour, Ann Rice. Oh, Anne Rice. You got me with this one. The New Orleans setting, the tangled family history, the love story between Rowan and Michael – I unabashedly love this book.
6) Ghost Story, Peter Straub. This is one of those books that’s a fabulous read and also requires, like, a doctorate if you want to actually unravel all the allusions and homages to the genre in it. (Stephen King does a great job in Danse Macabre, actually.) So fabulously atmospheric and scary.
7) Salem’s Lot, Stephen King. It took a minute to pick just one King book, because I’m a huge fan of his, but as a strictly paranormal, fantastically terrifying book, this is the one. Vampires! Really scary ones, too. So delicious.
8) A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray. Not horror, obviously, but so wonderfully paranormal. Gemma’s discovery of the Realms and her place in them – as well as the effect it has on both her and her friends – is mind-blowing. I loved this series so much.
9) White Cat, Holly Black. So incredibly original – curse workers! The whole premise captured my imagination, and Black is such a sharp, honest writer. Cassel’s voice is amazing, too.
10) Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill. Stephen King’s son! Not that he needs the name-check – this book is as horrifying as anything his father ever wrote. An aging rock star gets a “gift” in the mail, but it’s not a gift anyone would want. And it will not go away. The tension in this book is almost unbearable, and the contents of the box are both genius and seriously disturbing. Read this one with the light on.
“It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder.
That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.”
When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.
Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.
Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned