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Feel the Fear with These 6 Female-Led Spooky Reads

by  | October 15

As a lover of horror, I tend to overlook a lot of tropes for the sake of those spooky, spine-tingling moments. There are times when it still feels like the female characters are relegated to damsel in distress, love interest, or victim. But the horror genre is an open and diverse field, and there are also plenty of books now where women are the ones beating up the monster, trekking into the haunted house, and saving the day (or destroying the town). But which ones deserve that coveted spot on your TBR list? These spooky reads with women at the helm.

Lisey's Story

Lisey's Story

by Stephen King

I could have chosen a number of different Stephen King heroines, ranging from the good-girl-gone-rogue in Carrie to empowered Charlie in Firestarter. This year, however, I wanted to shine the spotlight on one woman who tends to get less attention. Lisey, widow of bestselling author Scott Landon, is finally going through her husband’s papers when she begins being stalked by someone out to get their hands on his final writings. As Lisey slowly begins to unravel more about Scott’s life, and her own, layers of complication and depth are revealed. A twisted, thrilling story of a woman, a marriage, and a whole other world, Lisey’s Story will make you think about what, and who, you’ll leave behind.

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Abigale Hall

Abigale Hall

by Lauren A. Forry

Women tend to dominate gothic literature, which means it’s a subgenre with a lot of great stories about ladies taking on their inner demons, as well as the dark spirits in the world around them. Enter Abigale Hall, a desolate tale set in World War II, in which two sisters face off against a sinister house, where the ghostly bride that’s said to walk the halls isn’t the only threat to their lives. Author Lauren A. Forry is able to draw readers into this twisted and dangerous world with incredible descriptions, and through her vivid language make you feel as trapped and as haunted as Eliza and Rebecca are themselves.

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Eileen

Eileen

by Ottessa Moshfegh

If you’re the kind of reader who enjoys a story that is dark and bleak, with a touch of wit, there is no narrator better than Eileen Dunlop. At 24, she’s stuck in a backwater Boston suburb, working as a secretary in a boys’ prison and dealing with her alcoholic father every night. Her world turns around, at first for the better, when Rebecca Saint John is hired as a prison counselor, helping Eileen to do things she would never do, like shower and dance. But you know that this book wouldn’t be on this list if there wasn’t some horror to be found, and Eileen gets pulled into something sinister thanks to her love of Rebecca. An enthralling character study that’s sure to delight and horrify at the same time, Eileen is the perfect kind of melancholy read to sneak up on you if you give it the chance.

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Wonderland

Wonderland

by Jennifer Hillier

It’s been a time for creepy clowns, both in the arts and in real life. So, naturally, there’s been a renewed creep-ification of carnivals and theme parks, and few will give you the same sickening shivers as Wonderland. On Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, a teen boy goes missing from Wonderland, the town’s main attraction and moneymaker. When the dead body of a homeless man later appears in the park, it’s not hard to wonder if there isn’t something dark at work. And, spoiler alert, there is! Castro herself is working through her own issues, particularly her guilt surrounding her husband’s death, but when she uncovers what she believes to be a serial killer at work, she’s on the case. Jennifer Hillier masterfully creates the kind of tension that will keep you on edge, staying up to squeeze in just one more chapter, which is the best kind of read for a dark October night.

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The Nightmarchers

The Nightmarchers

by J. Lincoln Fenn

In this creepy tale of family, fear, and a mysterious island, we get not one horror heroine, but two! Julia Greer, with problems of her own, is entrusted by her great-aunt to go to a remote Pacific Island to smuggle out rare flower samples after a difficult divorce. But she’s also got another mission—to look into the suicide of Irene, her other great-aunt. It is through a series of journal entries that we learn that Irene believed her husband and daughter had joined the Nightmarchers, a group of undead warriors who rise up on moonless nights. Reality and superstition merge, with Irene’s entries highlighting her deteriorating mental state, and Julia isn’t sure what to make of it or believe. Will she be able to survive the trip? Can Julia trust the island’s Church of Eternal Light or the savvy Noah Cooper? Explore the jungle with Julia and find out what’s really happening…if you dare.

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The Children

The Children

by Carolina Sanín

Taking in a child in need is the kind of thing a good Samaritan would do, and Laura is no exception. So when she finds a young boy outside her home, she decides to take care of him, though perhaps for reasons that are more selfish than charitable. However the boy, who she calls Fidel, begins to exhibit some disturbing behavior, including talking about a parallel life that has Laura questioning what’s really happening. Is there something Laura should be remembering? Can you forget the terrible traumas that have shaped your life, or do they follow you forever? Mixing magical realism and horror, The Children is not your typical scary story, but one that seeps under your skin nonetheless.

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com