Happy October! If you enjoy getting into the spooky season mood, you may still be working on that special TBR or watch list for this month. Here is a list of scary books and movies that pair well to bulk up your plans. If you’ve seen or read any of these, the similar recommendation is worth a try!
[Note: Given that the horror genre is guaranteed to contain heavy and dark content, I recommend that you look up trigger warnings for the books and films/TV shows before trying them out.]
Kindred by Octavia Butler & Antebellum
I do not want to give away too much here, so as not to spoil anyone who hasn’t read or watched, but Kindred and Antebellum (2020) have a few similarities. If you have not read Octavia Butler yet (you should change that), her work is exquisite. Janelle Monáe is amazing and defines her goal in life and work as telling the truth about Black lives. This book and film touch on the idea that true horror lies not in the fantastical and the fictional, but in the historical and tangible.
Goblin by Josh Malerman & American Horror Stories
I’m recommending this pair solely because they are both shorts! Goblin is a novel in six novellas, with stories that revolve around a small town of the same name, and all the weird and terrifying things that have happened there. American Horror Stories (2021) is a spin-off of the original AHS that was released over the summer. Rather than a single narrative that spans over a season, each episode in this anthology series is a horror story in itself. Reading or watching either of these is perfect because you can dip in and out of the stories if you’re not ready to commit to a full-length novel or season.
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab & Paranorman (2012)
I’m going to break up all the terror of this list with a middle grade recommendation and a fun movie with spooky elements. City of Ghosts features a girl who travels the world with her parents, who are paranormal investigators filming their own show. The book is pretty creepy at times, for a middle grade. I’m pairing this with Paranorman because (as we learn pretty early on), the main characters can both see and communicate with ghosts. These give the thrill of spooky season without TOO much of the spooky, which makes for a perfect balance.
My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones & Scream
My Heart is a Chainsaw released pretty recently to great reviews, and follows a main character obsessed with slasher films. If you have watched and enjoyed Scream (1996), I highly recommend you read Chainsaw. This book and film both have an awareness of themselves and their place in the horror genre, which is why they work so well. If horror is your favorite, you’ll be sure to enjoy this pairing.
Vox by Christina Dalcher & The Handmaid’s Tale
If you are a fan of the popular Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the book by Margaret Atwood, you might want to try reading Vox. It is a 2018 dystopian novel about a world where women are allowed to speak no more than 100 words per day. The main character Dr. McClellan pushes her limits to protect her daughter and herself. While these two are not technically considered part of the horror genre, they do reflect horrific situations for women.
[Major kudos to my oldest kiddo for sharing this idea with me, and for pushing me to write it!]