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The horror genre is going through a bit of a renaissance at the moment. Between the latest Halloween reboot/sequel and the hit new Netflix adaption of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, the horror genre is absolutely thriving right now.
For real fans of the genre though, most of the best scary content comes courtesy of on-the-page thrills. BOOKS, PEOPLE.
While most horror novels are some pretty good reads in general, it's clear that some of the scariest are the ones are born from the truth. Because, let's face it—the real possibility of something happen is far more sinister than something based off of a creative thought (my apologies, Stephen King).
Luckily, there are plenty of books about real hauntings out there just waiting to spook you into oblivion. So let's go through some of the absolute scariest, just for, you know, good measure.
The Mammoth Book of True Hauntings by Peter Haining
The Mammoth Book of True Hauntings stays true to its name—it's pretty freaking mammoth-like. The collection contains a multitude of credible accounts sharing their truly haunting stories. The book covers a range of tales; some of which are of the popular urban legend nature, while others are a bit more obscure. If you consider yourself a real fan of ghost stories, this collection is a must have.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
This classic non-fiction book covers perhaps one of the most famous hauntings in modern history—the Amityville Horror.
If you're not familiar with the story, in 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family at 112 Ocean Avenue. Following the slaughter, another family, the Lutz family, moved into the residence. Shortly after, they reported paranormal activity in the home, which became the basis of the novel by Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror. The famous haunted house story was also adapted into several films, as the tale remains one of the most gruesome, real-life paranormal experiences over the last century. Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped other families from trying out the house, because recently, someone bought the 'Amityville Horror' house!
The Myrtles Plantation: The True Story of America's Most Haunted House by Frances Kermeen
The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is widely considered the most haunted house in America, making it a no-brainer to think that it would eventually be adapted into a non-fiction novel. There have been reports of floating furniture, random footsteps, and paintings flying across the room; not to mention plenty of ghost sightings. If you want to really get into a rabbit hole of the paranormal, however, you're going to have to read this book for yourself. It's certainly one of the eeriest real hauntings EVER.
Beware the Night: A New York City Cop Investigates the Supernatural by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool
This book is particularly interesting because of the way it merges two vastly different fields of work. The book, written by 16 year NYPD veteran, Ralph Sarchie, talks about his second job—investigating reports of paranormal activity and unsolved mysteries. It's sort of a best of both worlds-type deal, which brings almost a neo-noir, grounded feel to the topic of the supernatural and ghost stories in general.
American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus
American Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus also brings a fresh new perspective when it comes to supernatural entities—blood relation. In this real life story, Nordhaus finds out her great-great-grandmother famously haunts a hotel in Santa Fe. She then decides to research the haunting herself, resulting in some pretty terrifying and eye-opening results along the way.
The Bell Witch by John F.D. Taff
The Bell Witch (not to be mistaken with the Blair Witch), has been a longstanding urban legend embedded in American mythos. It's based around the Bell family from Robertson County, Tennessee, who claimed to have experienced a haunting from a paranormal entity on their rural estate in the 19th century. What separates this book from other ghost stories regarding the Bell Witch Haunting is the fact that author Bracken MacLeod chose to tell the story through the witch's perspective, while still staying true to the legend's deep cultural roots.
Grave's End by Elaine Mercado
Grave's End is another example of a haunting novel written by the person actually experiencing said haunting. The book follows the story of author Elaine Mercado and her family, as they move into their new Brooklyn home back in 1982. However, the ensuing 13 years would prove to be nightmarish in its own right, as the family would struggle to fend off the paranormal for the rest of their time at the house.
Weird Hauntings: True Tales of Ghostly Places by Joanne Austin
Weird Hauntings: True Tales Of Ghostly Places is another collection of true ghost stories, this time courtesy of the authors from the popular Weird US series. The collection's primary focus is on some of the more well-known haunted locations throughout America, with firsthand accounts from the people who have experienced them. Lucky for you, most of these haunted places are actually accessible, so if you want to experience the paranormal for yourself, go right ahead. If you dare...
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
This particular novel deals more with the afterlife, and what some of the prominent "experts" in the field know, rather than just straight-up hauntings. Nevertheless, it's a thrilling, albeit somewhat morbid, reading experience that ranks up there with the scariest nonfiction ghost stories to read right now. Nobody truly understands the nuances of the afterlife, but Mary Roach does a solid job of gathering and curating the ideas we DO have. It might not fall under the umbrella of "ghost stories," but it's certainly scary in its own right.
Haunted by Dorah L. Williams
Another tale of a family forced into the role of paranormal investigators in their own right, Haunted depicts one Canadian family's ghastly experience of living in a haunted house. Again, it is one of those true, riveting firsthand accounts, which qualifies it as one of the best books about real hauntings available to the public.