Read it First! Spooky Stories, Terrifying Tales, Freaky Films and Fiction

Elizabeth Graney, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Collage of scary books made into films
Watch and Read at Home: If You Dare!

With trick or treating discouraged and haunted houses officially canceled, this year’s Halloween will be a bit more low key. But that doesn’t mean it has to be less frightening! We’ve got plenty of scary books and their film adaptations to keep you up through these long dark nights. From ghosts to serial killers to the devil himself, the following stories are sure to put you in the spooky spirit.

Watch and Read at Home: If You Dare!

Book cover for Under the Skin
Under the Skin

In Michel Faber's modern horror story Under the Skin, an otherworldly woman picks up male hitchhikers on the isolated highways of Scotland. The 2013 film Under the Skin starring Scarlet Johansson is loosely based on Faber’s spine-chilling tale.

Book cover for Horns

Though officially free and clear of the crime, Ig Perrish will always be considered the main suspect in the murder of his high school sweetheart. Ever since, he has spent his days in an alcoholic daze, futilely attempting to drown out the memory of Merrin and the terrible things that happened to her. But one morning, Ig wakes up to find horns sprouting from his temples, and life gets a whole lot more interesting. Joe Hill’s Horns just might give you a little sympathy for the devil. The 2013 film Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe is a direct adaptation of Hill’s darkly comic novel.

Book cover for Ring
Suzuki, Koji

In Koji Suzuki’s terrifying book Ring, the mysterious and simultaneous death of four teenagers sends reporter Kazuyuki Asakawa on a doomed investigation to find the cause. When he discovers an unmarked videotape that warns of the impending death of any who watch it, Asakawa must find a way to break the curse. Suzuki’s horrifying tale has spawned over a dozen film adaptations. You can check out the original Japanese film adaptation Ringu or the 2002 American adaptation using our Library to Go service today!

Book cover for Stephen King's It
Stephen King's It

Something is terribly wrong in Derry, Maine. Seven kids find themselves hunted by a being that can take the shape of their worst nightmare. Harassed by a group of local bullies and beset upon by this monster, how will this group of misfits survive the summer? King’s classic horror novel It has two cinematic adaptations. You can check out the DVDs of the 2002 movie or the 2018 film here.

Book cover for Down a Dark Hall
Down a Dark Hall
Duncan, Lois

Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan. When her mother remarries, Kit finds herself shuffled off to Madame Duret’s Blackwood Boarding School. From the beginning, something feels wrong about the remote and imposing mansion, something sentient and malevolent. Soon, Kit and the other students find themselves displaying skills they never had before. While these miraculous talents seem fun at first, things soon take a turn for the worse and Kit must find a way out while she still can. You can check out the DVD with our Library to Go service today!

Book cover for Pet Sematary
Pet Sematary
King, Stephen

Pet Sematary by Stephen King. After being appointed director of the University of Maine’s campus health department, Dr. Ludlow and his family move to a new, seemingly idyllic town. Behind their beautiful old house there is a small cemetery where local children bury their dearly departed pets. But, unbeknownst to them, beyond that graveyard lies another, more sinister one, with the ability to disrupt their lives forever. Check out the DVD for either the 2006 adaptation or the 2019 adaptation today!

Book cover for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Infamous for its sparse but terrifying illustrations and chilling horror stories, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has scared the pants off kids for decades. In 2019, visionary director Guillermo del Toro helped adapt it to film. You can check out the DVD here. 

Book cover for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Finney, Jack

Jack Finney’s eerie science fiction novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers has inspired five cinematic adaptations. After strange seeds fall to Earth from space, odd plantlike pods begin to grow, harboring a dangerous and terrifying life force. As friends and neighbors begin to act strangely, Dr. Miles Bennell discovers a horrifying scheme. You can stream the 1978 film adaptation or get the DVD of the 1955 film.

Book cover for Hellraiser

Clive Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart inspired the classic horror film franchise Hellraiser. After hearing about the existence of the Lemarchand Configuration, a mysterious puzzle box rumored to be a portal to a realm of sensual bliss, Frank Cotton will stop at nothing to acquire it. But the box leads only to unfathomable, eternal pain. When his brother’s wife finds a way to save him, she unleashes a terrifying chain of events that will affect everyone around them. You can check out Hellraiser using your library card today. 

Book cover for The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House
Jackson, Shirley

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” So begins Shirley Jackson’s brilliant ghost story The Haunting of Hill House, an incredibly creepy tale of four people investigating paranormal disturbances in an old, abandoned mansion. Jackson’s chilling tale has been repeatedly mentioned by noteworthy authors, including Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, as one of the scariest and most influential stories they ever read. You can enjoy the original 1963 film adaptation, the 1999 film adaptation or the recent television series loosely based on the novel with your library card today!