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Book List: Eerie novels that will leave you on the edge of your seat

Flyleaf Books’ Halloween selections were on display to give reccomendations to readers in Chapel Hill.

With Halloween just around the corner, an eerie feeling is in the air.

Community members — including booksellers from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews and Flyleaf Books — recommend horror, mystery and thriller novels to deepen this season’s sinister undertones. 

“Don’t be afraid to be confused," Catherine Pabalate, a sophomore double-majoring in English and comparative literature and biology, said. "I think that's my best advice because they’re genres that are usually meant to challenge your previous mindset.” 

Here are a few suggestions from UNC students and local booksellers:

“Tell Me I’m Worthless” by Alison Rumfitt 

“It is single-handedly the best horror novel I’ve ever read,” Terrance Hudson, Epilogue’s small press book buyer and book manager, said. “It’s based around the horrors of being trans in Britain and is built around a haunted house that is just utterly malefic — the tone never lets up. It’s absolutely smothering. And it’s written by a trans woman and I love that.”  

“Starling House” by Alix E. Harrow 

The story takes place in Eden, Ky. — a town made popular by the fictional 19th-century author and illustrator E. Starling who suddenly disappeared, leaving behind the Starling House. 

When the opportunity to work as a housekeeper at the Starling House arises, Opal, the book’s main character, takes the job. Starling House feels like a home to her, which is something she hasn’t had before. 

Opal and the house’s last heir must work together to uncover the secrets of Starling House and face the converging evil forces in Eden. 

“Starling House is an absolutely stunning and intoxicating take on the Southern Gothic tradition, wonderfully wrought and imbued with secrets,” Jordan April, a bookseller and receiver at Flyleaf, wrote on a bookseller’s recommendation card in the store. 

“Kala” by Colin Walsh 

This story unfolds through the eyes of three narrators — Helen, Joe and Mush — who spent the summer of 2003 in a close-knit friend group with three other teenagers, until one of them disappeared. 

Now in their 30s, their friend’s remains are discovered in the woods, causing them to reflect on that summer when everything around them — including themselves — changed. 

“It’s very melancholic, it’s very atmospheric,” Emma Holland, bookseller and events coordinator at Flyleaf, said.  "I loved reading it now because the book felt like the weather outside, and it was just kind of perfect. Very dark, very gritty, but just also very emotional, in-tune read.” 

“The Near Witch” by Victoria Schwab 

For her whole life, Lexi has been told three truths about her hometown: There are no strangers, the Near Witch is nothing but a folk tale and one should not listen to the wind.

One night, a ghost-like boy materializes outside of Lexi’s home. And when children begin to disappear, the mysterious boy becomes the first suspect. 

Lexi begins to search for the children and quickly learns more about the folk tale, the wind and the peculiar boy. 

“It's got a lot of fantasy elements to it, but it's also got a sort of dark, eerie mystery element, as well as a little bit of romance too, which is a cute little aside,” Pabalate said. “I feel like it's a fun blend of genres that ends up with a very Halloween-esque product.”

“The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle” by Stuart Turton 

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Turton’s debut novel follows Aiden Bishop, who begins to wake up in a new body every day. He is given eight days to inhabit eight suspects in the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. 

The only way to escape the cycle is to find the killer, or else Evelyn will die every day at precisely 11 p.m. 

“It spurs a lot of critical thinking, I feel,” Pabalate said. "You have to really think outside of the box to solve the mystery with that one. But it's really rewarding at the end because you get that moment where everything lines up."


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