It’s the season of horror movies, Ouija boards and ghost stories told over a crackling fire. As the days get shorter and the air grows colder, people everywhere are looking for spine-chilling tales to keep them up at night. If you’re one such person, look no further — we have just the booklist for you.

When it comes to scary stories, there are few things more terrifying than the idea of an entity lurking inside your own body. The invasion of your own mind, and the uncertainty that your actions are truly yours — it’s an eerie thought. Authors throughout history have toyed with the idea of a parasitic being, from Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw to The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This trope has frightened readers for generations and continues to unnerve us today.

Between tales of demonic possession to futuristic stories of brainwashed hosts, these books have it all. Grab a blanket and get ready for some hair-raising reads!

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney (Dell Publishing)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

If you’re looking for a classic time-honored thriller, look no further. Originally published in 1955, The Body Snatchers tells the story of Mill Valley, California, where a mysterious substance has just touched down from space. Things quickly turn more sinister when the seeds grow to resemble humans. These duplicates perfectly mimic their Mill Valley counterparts, even recreating their memories and past knowledge. Their human twins, however, are soon nowhere to be found.

Unable to naturally reproduce, these creatures need to take over more and more humans to continue their species. If they spread too far, they’ll soon deplete the Earth of all its resources, leaving it a barren wasteland as they move onto the next planet. Instead of being the perpetrators of colonization, humans are now the victims. Finney uses the aliens to spark a conversation about humanity’s past crimes, and the terror not knowing whether those around you are truly themselves, or if they’ve already been overtaken.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (Harper & Row)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Another timeless classic, The Exorcist is the spine-chilling tale of a Ouija board session gone horribly wrong. Originally published in 1971, author William Peter Blatty starts things off with a bang when a priest named Father Lankester Merrin unearths the statue of an infamous Assyrian demon in an archeological dig.

Halfway across the world in Washington D.C., the daughter of a movie star is wrestling with her parents’ recent divorce. Eleven-year-old Regan MacNeil turns to playing with a Ouija board during her mother’s long filming hours, until she suddenly falls ill. Soon objects in the house are moving on their own accord, and Regan is becoming more and more unrecognizable. Desperate to save her daughter from this strange affliction, Regan’s mother calls upon Father Merrin. But the elderly priest will need all his strength to wrestle with the demonic force that’s taking a hold of this child.


The Hungry Ghost by Dalena Storm (Black Spot Books)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

After a grueling divorce, Sam is just trying to get her life under control. She’s only just re-entered the dating scene and started seeing a woman named Madeline. Then tragedy strikes, leaving Sam in a coma and her loved ones reeling. It seems like a miracle when she pulls through, until Sam’s friends notice her sudden shift in behavior. As scared as they are to admit it, it seems the person who returned isn’t Sam.

Across town, Sam wakes up to find herself in an unexpected new form. She’s now a kitten in a pet shop, with no way to tell her friends and family what’s truly happened to her. As the people of Sam’s old life struggle to understand what’s happening, Sam has to fight to take back what’s rightfully hers.

The Hungry Ghost lives up to its name as a supernatural thriller, but it also tackles difficult conversations about love and desire, and the frustrations of failing to live up to others’ expectations.


The Vessels by Anna M. Elias (Vesuvian Books)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Four strangers have been selected for a groundbreaking new experiment called the VESSELS program. Their mission is to willingly become hosts of departed Spirits who are unable to pass onto the other world of Elysium. Tal, Link, Avani and Aaron will have seven days to give these Spirits a second chance at paradise, but it’s a dangerous job—if a host fails, the results are fatal.

When one Vessel is paired with a Spirit who’s uninterested in redemption, the four will have to band together to find a way out of the experiment. It won’t be easy to escape the danger, with the vengeful specter already inhabiting one of them.

This thrilling read takes a fresh new look at the relationship between a host and the entity inhabiting them. The characters must also ask themselves some hard questions about who is deserving of forgiveness, and who has the authority to grant it.

Read our full review of The Vessels here.


The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey (Orbit Books)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

When it comes to stories of hosts and parasites, nothing gives us the heebie-jeebies like a zombie apocalypse! M.R. Carey’s The Boy on the Bridge is the prequel to his hit science-fiction novel The Girl with All the Gifts. The novel deals with a catastrophe that seems all-too familiar right now: a virus ravaging through the population. The infection starts in a fungus called Cordyceps, then passed to humans through insect parasites. The pathogen attacks the nervous system and turns humans into “hungries,” braindead creatures with a hunger for human flesh.

With humanity on the edge of extinction, only small pockets of resistance are able to survive. One such stronghold, Beacon, has sent twelve scientists into the wastelands to study this disease. Dr. Samrina Khan knows her team is the only chance humanity has, and she’s determined to do her part. But when her team makes some unexpected discoveries on their journey, Rina realizes that the stakes are even higher than she previously thought.

If this sounds familiar, we’ve covered The Boy on the Bridge on BookTrib before. Read what else we had to say about the book here.


The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (Knopf)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Anyone who’s ever heard of Jurassic Park will be familiar with Michael Crichton’s talent for science-fiction. His 1969 novel, The Andromeda Strain, tells the story of Piedmont, Arizona, which becomes the landing site for a military satellite. The scientists who designed the satellite were aiming to collect microorganisms from the upper atmosphere to use in improving America’s military weapons. But when they send a team of air force officers to retrieve the samples, the officers are never heard from again. Even worse, soon all of Piedmont has gone deathly quiet.

Dr. Jeremy Stone, leader of the Wildfire emergency task force, soon makes a grisly discovery. The sample from the satellite is a parasitic microbe called Andromeda, which infects the blood of its human carriers and manages to mutate—and grow more dangerous—with every growth cycle.

This haunting thriller shows us what can happen when people in power go too far and end up endangering the people they were supposed to protect.


Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Longmans, Green & Co.)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Since the publication of his novel in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson has shocked readers with his groundbreaking story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson hears rumors of his client Dr. Jekyll, he worries that the doctor is being blackmailed by a criminal. The suspect, Mr. Hyde, has been spotted throughout London committing assaults and murders. As Utterson looks deeper into the case, however, he soon realizes the truth — that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one and the same.

Stevenson innovated the genre of the split personality horror, shocking Victorian England and fascinating readers for generations. Utterson hunts for clues like the protagonist in a murder mystery, but the mysterious elixir that Dr. Jekyll uses to transform hints at a magical element. Even more impressive than the mystery, however, is Stevenson’s message. It seems that no matter how kind a person may seem, we can never truly know what is going on in their own mind.


Come Closer by Sara Gran (Soho Press)

AZN | B&N | IndieBound | Bookshop

Amanda shouldn’t be feeling paranoid. She’s a successful architect in a happy marriage. Yet there’s a sense of dread she can’t place — like someone’s watching her, even when she’s alone.

Soon enough, Amanda’s perfect life begins to crumble. She starts smoking again, insults her boss at work and finds herself burning her husband with a cigarette. Even when she’s sleeping, a strange woman haunts her dreams, baring her pointed teeth in a grin.

Sara Gran’s Come Closer is a haunting tale of demonic possession, as well as an eerie reminder that no matter how hard we try to control our own lives, chance can bring it all crashing down. When Amanda is faced with a force determined to ruin her life — an entity inside her, fighting to control her — she knows she only has a matter of time before the darkness takes over completely. She has to fight the demon wrestling for control, fast, before the life she loves is gone forever.