For the avid reader, a good ghost novel has a little bit of everything to entice you: drama, romance, horror, tragedy, and a deliciously gritty backstory. The perfect way to take yourself away from the real world for a while, it can be a great choice when you fancy dipping into a different genre.
The only difficulty lies in deciding on a title. One of the oldest and most enduringly popular types of novel, ghost stories come in all shapes and sizes, from the creepy to the comical, sad, and sorrowful. So, to help you narrow down the list a little, here are three of our top picks.
The Shining by Stephen King
In real life, the existence of supernatural forces and otherworldly apparitions can be strangely comforting. Indeed, lots of us turn to mediums and clairvoyants when we need direction or want to contact someone we’ve lost, with online sites now allowing you to arrange a free psychic chat in order to connect with your dearly departed loved ones.
The ghosts in The Shining, however, are not quite so benevolent. If you’ve already seen the film of the same name, you’ll likely have a rough idea of the book’s storyline, but it’s still well worth a read. Featuring Stephen King at the height of his brilliance, it tells the tale of a troubled man who takes his family to live in a remote hotel in the Rockies. What he doesn’t bargain for is the presence of numerous malevolent spirits, who slowly drive him to insanity. Trust us when we say that you’ll want to read it with the lights on!
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
It would be a real shame if a book titled Ghost Story didn’t manage to make it onto this list. Luckily for this novel, it was never in any danger of being left off. Arguably one of the best spook-fests in contemporary fiction, it chronicles the horrors that assail a group of men, who make the mistake of gathering together to swap bloodcurdling tales of ghosts and ghouls. Sadly for them, the creatures they speak of soon began to manifest among them, terrifying and tormenting. This is one that you’ll only want to read if you have a seriously strong constitution!
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
Most good ghost stories end up being made into films, and The Woman in Black is no exception. Released in cinemas back in 2012, the Daniel Radcliffe-led horror was so frightening that some people ended up walking out before it was even finished! Unsurprisingly, its source material is just as dark, although it differs quite a bit in certain parts. It revolves around an ominously locked nursery, from which screams and calls for help abound. Set among the eerie backdrop of a marsh, the house at its centre sits close to a small village, where the children keep on mysteriously vanishing. The question is this: is it the Woman in Black who’s responsible, and why is she stealing little ones away? You might be best reading this with someone else in the room for company.
Tell us, the next time you’re on the lookout for a ghost story, which of these three fantastic novels will you choose to read first?