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Halloween is creeping up, and in the spooky spirit, we’ve rounded up nine books that make scary movies look like child’s play. We’re talking seriously hair-raising stuff, so maybe don’t read these right before bed.

RELATED: The 15 Best (Not Scary) Halloween Movies

scary books blatty

“The Exorcist” by William Peter Blatty

The book isn’t too far from the movie, but you’ll get more background information on some of the supporting characters, which makes the whole thing just a little more unsettling—if that’s even possible.

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scary books poe

“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

This one is super short, but super scary. Set in Italy during carnival season, this terrifying tale concerns revenge and being buried alive. Told from the perspective of the murderer, it’s cold and vengeful…and it will make you pray you never piss anyone off as much as the story’s victim did.

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scary books carr

“The Alienist” by Caleb Carr

Set in the late 19th century in New York City, The Alienist is thrilling and almost impossible to put down. Concerning a crime reporter’s investigation of a series of gruesome murders with the help of the titular alienist (basically a criminal psychologist), it’s historical and creepy as hell.

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scary books mccarthy

“Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy

An epic anti-Western, Blood Meridian is about a teenager’s experience with a horrific group of “scalp hunters” who murdered Native Americans between 1849 and 1850. McCarthy’s prose is aggressively violent, and this book is not for the faint of heart. But if you can get through it, it’ll stick with you.

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scary books millhauser

“Voices in the Night” by Steven Millhauser

These 16 stories from Pulitzer Prize winner Millhauser are the definition of dark. Some are about familiar figures like Buddha, the biblical Samuel and even Rapunzel, while others hit much closer to home, making for a creepy contrast that keeps you off balance just about the whole time.

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scary books capote

“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote

In the aftermath of the 1959 murder of the Clutter family, Capote and Harper Lee traveled to Holcomb, Kansas, to research and write about the crime. Capote’s finished product is a chilling account of a real-life nightmare.

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scary books dumaurier

“Don't Look Now” by Daphne du Maurier

The most famous story in Du Maurier’s collection is probably “The Birds” (you know, the basis for Hitchcock’s film of the same name), but Don’t Look Now offers tales much scarier than that—namely one about a couple’s Venice vacation from hell.

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scary books king

“Pet Sematary” by Stephen King

Any number of King’s books deserve a spot on this list, but we’re partial to his 1983 novel about the Creed family, recent Maine transports who encounter endless horrors in their new neighborhood, not limited to freak accidents, murder and more than a few dead animals.

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books james

“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James

This gothic novella about two young, possessed children was written in 1898 and it’s just as spooky and horrifying today. Sinister and weird, it blurs the lines between sanity and insanity a little too well.

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