Book Club Nominees

6 Haunted House Books to Read This Summer

by @Taylordactyl, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for July’s “The Horror is Coming From Inside the House” category

I had several category ideas I was looking at building to, and as I explored books that would fit, I kept finding myself coming back to haunted house stories, most of which would actually be out of place in the initial categories. As I explored more, I realized that many of these books were on my TBR anyway and had been for awhile, or I’d heard good things about them from others. Then I thought back to some of my favorite HOWLS reads and realized that several revolved around haunted house stories (The Good House, The Elementals). So I decided to run with this generic category and hope we find another fun read.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Thirty-something Colquitt and Walter Kennedy live in a charming, peaceful suburb of the newly bustling Atlanta. Life is made up of enjoyable work, long, lazy weekends, and the company of good neighbors. Then, to their shock, construction starts on the vacant lot next door, a wooded hillside they’d believed would always remain undeveloped. Soon, though, they come to realize that more is wrong than their diminished privacy. Surely the house can’t be “haunted,” yet something about it seems to destroy the goodness of every person who comes to live in it, until the entire heart of this friendly neighborhood threatens to be torn apart. (StoryGraph)


I’ve heard The House Next Door recommended in multiple places for different themes. It sounds like a fun haunted house story, and I like the idea of the “haunted” house not being the one the protagonists are living in, like seems to generally be the case.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.

Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House. (StoryGraph)


I’ve seen this listed many times as one of the scariest books ever written. Very few books have scared me, so I’m ready for the challenge. It’s been on my TBR for awhile and because of how recommended it’s been and how much I’ve wanted to read it, it’s the only book written by a man that I was willing to include in my list.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation–a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown–author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon–whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle–and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger. (StoryGraph)


I read Goodnight Moon as a child and remember it fondly. It’s all over the place, and you can get a different version for any theme you want. I love the idea of the author haunting a random house.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. 

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. (StoryGraph)


This makes the list for the simple reason that I’ve heard it recommended several times, a coworker gave me her copy a couple months ago, and it meets the criteria of being a haunted house book I haven’t yet read.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich’s latest novel, The Sentence, asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book. A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading “with murderous attention,” must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.

The Sentence begins on All Souls’ Day 2019 and ends on All Souls’ Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written. (StoryGraph)


This isn’t a haunted house per se, but I love the idea of a haunted bookstore. It would be fun to read about a nontypical haunting locale. It also sounds pretty amusing: I’ve worked retail and would absolutely hate for some of the customers to stick around forever, so a haunting by one sounds extra miserable.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago.

With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house–a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse–objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger. (StoryGraph)


I love the idea of building a haunted house instead of just moving into one.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. Discussion starts on July 10, and you can read along by joining the Discord!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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