The haunted house is a classic horror set piece. What’s supposed to be a place of reprieve is an iron cage; ensnaring you, forcing you to confront a myriad of ghosts, ghouls, and secrets best left buried. Here are six titles starring houses to contain your worst nightmares—be they demons, a gaggle of ghosts, or unabashed intimacy.
by Kaleb Russell
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
At the behest of her estranged mother, Vera Crowder returns home in spite of the tragic memories it holds; memories of the bodies her beloved father (moonlighting as a serial killer) left buried there. One day, Vera starts finding notes written in her father’s handwriting. If it’s not the leech of an artist her mother has chosen to house leaving them, then who is? To find the truth, Vera must dig deep and uncover secrets she’s been running from all her life.
The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
To save their family’s floundering salvage company, Dahlia Dutton is tasked by her father to oversee the stripping of an esteemed heiress’s family estate. Unbeknownst to Dahlia and her crew, there’s a sinister presence at the aged estate looking to wreak chaos before the job is done. The Family Plot is an atmospheric modern Gothic that will leave you reeling.
Library of the Dead by TL Huchu
The first book in Huchu’s Edinburgh Nights series contains a bevy of haunted houses as a precocious teen explores the haunted underside of modern Edinburgh, speaking to the dead, looking for leads to find the one responsible for snatching children and leaving them empty husks. Huchu’s rendition of Edinburgh is a lush, evocative one that gives the ghosts in this story an air of wonder in lieu of abject fear.
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
One night, a young Blackfoot boy named Junior wakes up to find the ghost of his recently deceased father wandering the house dressed in full Blackfoot regalia. To prove to himself he’s real, Junior takes to meticulously diagramming the house’s interior, recording when and where his father appears. It quickly becomes apparent his father’s reappearance is something deeply sinister. Like much of Jones’ work, there is an ache to the writing that’s impossible to ignore. Espousing a kind of hurt that lingers long after you’ve turned the last page.
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller
Sole survivor of a race of necromancers, Charm is a prisoner of the Emperor with nothing but her children and her bone trees to bring her solace. One day, as the Emperor lays in his deathbed, he gives Charm one final command: learn which one of his conniving sons is his murderer. She can succeed and be set free, but that entails betraying the ghosts of her fallen people in the process. Will she follow the will of her dead master or forsake the sanctity of the empire to sate her hunger for vengeance? Trade in a haunted house for a haunted bordello and you
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
Charon House is perhaps the most ideal haunted house one would want to reside in; that is, unless you have a paralyzing fear of intimacy, the kind of warm and kind intimacy Klune’s work is best known for. Charon House is a place where the dead crossover with the help of its good natured owner Hugo and the deliciously sarcastic reaper named Mei, although not before helping themselves to hot tea and the most scrumptious scones. But our protagonist, Wallace Price, isn’t ready to pass on. Due to his dour demeanor and cold-heartedness, he’s missed out on all the goodness life has to offer. So, with the help of Hugo, he attempts to live a lifetime in 7 days. Under The Whispering Door is a heartwarming haunted house book about coming to terms with loss and seeking out new beginnings.
I enjoyed The Family Plot and The Bone Orchard sounds quite intriguing!
My fave haunted house novel of the year is Dweller on the Threshold by Skyla Dawn Cameron. Set during the early days of lockdown, the pandemic forces the narrator to take refuge in the house she inherits from her estranged father. Spookiness ensues.
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