12 Spine-tingling Reads to Get You Ready For Hallowe’en 2021.

Hallowe’en this year will not be the same. I can’t see my partner, I can’t dress up and get drunk with friends, and I can’t even go out to the pub. Hopefully you’re in a better place than me and can do one of those, or maybe you can’t. And maybe, to top it all off, you can’t even take your little one on the prowl for some sweets through your town.

I’m hoping Hallowe’en 2021 will be a lot better. And what better way to look forward to it than with a nice count down? I have put together a list of 12 upcoming scary publications – one for each month until the next Hallowee’en! Genres included range from mystery to horror. I tried to focus on releases by UK Indie publishers, but eventually had to concede to across the pond publications.

November 2020

Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel by Drew Gummerson, published by Bearded Badger Publishing.

You could’ve been someone, you could’ve been a contender, yet instead you ended up here, a dishwasher at the Flamingo Hotel. From the death of your mother, to homelessness, to insanity, and back again, to an encounter with an American serial killer, a love affair with a performance artist, to the loss of your foreskin, to living in a shed, and certain bum operations, you have only ever wanted one thing…

To find someone worse off than yourself.

And now’s your chance.

You’ve got seven nights…at the Flamingo Hotel.

Due for Publication November 7th, you can pre-order by visiting the Bearded Badger website.

December 2020

Bad Penny Blues by Cathi Unsworth, published by Strange Attractor.

London 1959: Police Constable Pete Bradley has done one year in the force and dreams of moving up. His destiny arrives when the body of a young woman is dumped on the banks of the Thames. She’s the first in a series of murders whose naked victims are left in and along the river. Pete’s search for the phantom killer will lead him deep into London’s underbelly as the 1960s start to swing.

Meanwhile Stella Reade, an art student living in bohemian Ladbroke Grove, is woken by terrifying nightmares that echo the last hours of the murdered women – all of whom have been plucked from the streets around her home. Streets where fascists and Teddy boys, migrants and anarchists chase illicit thrills with gangsters and lords.

Bad Penny Blues is inspired by the ‘Jack the Stripper’ case of 1959-65, which sparked the biggest manhunt in Metropolitan Police history but was never solved.

Coming in December 2020, you can pre-order from the Strange Attractor website.

January 2021

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe by Cath Cavendish, published by Flame Tree Press.

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer. In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…

February 2021

The Project by Courtney Summers, published by Wednesday Books

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying–and failing–to prove it.

When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its charismatic and mysterious leader, Lev Warren, he proposes a deal: if she can prove the worst of her suspicions about The Unity Project, she may expose them. If she can’t, she must finally leave them alone.

But as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members, and spends more time with Lev, it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her–to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.

The Project is available to pre-order from various outlets, which can found on Courtney’s website.

March 2021

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, published by Simon & Schuster.

A lot has changed in the years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads “We need to talk about what we did that night.”

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else, and the girl who paid the price.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a shocking novel about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death. 

April 2021

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur, published by Feiwel & Friends.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.

May 2021

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Read, published by Ballantine Books.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

June 2021

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames, published by Page Street Kids.

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.

July 2021

Survive the Night by Riley Sager, published by Dutton Books.

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

August 2021

Dark Rods: A Novel by Chevy Stevens, published by St. Martin’s Press.

For decades, people have been warned about the Cold Creek Highway. Hitchhikers have vanished along it over the years, and women have been known to have their cars break down… and never be seen again. When Hailey McBride decides to run away from an unbearable living situation, she thinks that her outdoor skills will help her disappear into the Cold Creek wilderness, and she counts on people thinking that she was the victim of the killer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek to attend a memorial for the victims of the highway, but it might as well be one week for the amount of pain that Beth is still dealing with after her sister, Amber, was murdered the previous summer. Beth has quit university, is lying to her parents, and popping pills like Tic Tacs. Maybe this will finally bring her peace.

When she gets a job at a local diner where Amber once worked, she connects with people who knew her sister. Beth wants to find who killed her sister and put her own life back together, but as she gets closer to the truth, she learns that there is more than one person lying in Cold Creek.

September 2021

The Final Child by Fran Dorricott, published by Titan Books.

Erin and her brother Alex were the last children abducted by ‘the Father’, a serial killer who only ever took pairs of siblings. She escaped, but her brother was never seen again. Traumatised, Erin couldn’t remember anything about her ordeal, and the Father was never caught.

Eighteen years later, Erin has done her best to put the past behind her. But then she meets Harriet. Harriet’s young cousins were the Father’s first victims and, haunted by their deaths, she is writing a book about the disappearances and is desperate for an interview. At first, Erin wants nothing to do with her. But then she starts receiving sinister gifts, her house is broken into, and she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After all these years, Erin believed that the Father was gone, but now she begins to wonder if he was only waiting…

October 2021

Seasons of Terror, by Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Robert McCammon. Adapted by Richard Chizmar.

Spine-tingling stories that can be enjoyed all year round—this deliciously creepy and gorgeously wrought graphic anthology introduces a new generation to four literary giants—Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon.

In the spring, a young girl hears a woman crying for help from beneath the dirt in her backyard, but no one seems to believe her…During summertime, a college student inexplicably walks deeper and deeper into the thick forest, until he happens upon a stone cottage whose inhabitants lead a very particular way of life…Before the fall chill arrives, a group of friends embark on an adventurous weekend to a remote lake where a sinister force awaits…In the dark depths of winter, behind frigid enemy lines, Great Britain’s most potent weapon against Nazi Germany lives between worlds: good and evil, and man and wolf….

With evocative prose and vivid illustrations, these unforgettable stories—“The Screaming Woman” by Ray Bradbury; “The Man in the Woods” by Shirley Jackson; “The Raft” by Stephen King; and “The Man from London” by Robert McCammon—embody the seasons in which they are set, bringing you to the very edge of reality, mixing the best elements of the mythology of our youth with the perilous horrors of adulthood.


Are there any on this list you’re particularly excited for? Any not on this list?

How are you/have you spent this Hallowe’en? Let me know! This evening, I’ll be drinking cider in my bed whilst having a Skype watching party with my partner – the planned film is ‘Ice Sharks’. Trailer below!

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