DBF Recommends… Halloween Reads 2023


Spooky season is here and Halloween is almost upon us, and whether you’re out dressing up for some frights and spooks, or hiding away inside in the warmth, we have a selection of books that some of our #DBF23 authors ensure will put you in the perfect Halloween mood.

Sarah Davis-Goff recommends:

There’s only one book I can in good conscience recommend as my favourite frightening Halloween read, and that is Sophie White’s Where I End (full disclosure: I’m co-publisher at Tramp Press, which released this book last year). A young woman lives on a remote island that she’s never left. Her mother is silent, bed-bound, the wreckage of some disaster that nobody will speak about… When artist Rachel moves to the island with her baby, Aoileann finds a focus for her relentless love… Where I End has this great, clear voice that pulls you into the story from the get-go, and there are twists and horrifying turns till the last page. IT’S SO GOOD! It also won the incredibly prestigious Shirley Jackson Prize (first Irish writer to do so!), and got this rave in the Guardian. If you haven’t read it yet you’re in for such a treat. 

Hear Sarah discuss her own unsettling book Silent City at The Unsettling Supernatural on Friday November 10th. TICKETS HERE


Declan Toohey recommends:

Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is harrowing, electric, playful, bold. It’s also true. An experimental memoir, the book charts the author’s doomed relationship with an abusive ex-girlfriend – known to us only as ‘the woman in the dream house’ – whose emotional abuse is as terrifying as it is subtle. The chapters are short, the tension excruciating, the writing superb; it doesn’t so much grip as seize you. A multifaceted work, the book nods to various forms and genres – literary criticism, personal history, travelogue, novel, ghost story – but I can think of no better time than Halloween to dive between its chilling pages.

Hear Declan in discussion about his own captivating novel Perpetual Comedown at our Emerging Writers event on Thursday November 9th. TICKETS HERE


Colm O’Regan recommends:

The single scariest thing I read that I remember is James Herbert’s The Rats. I got it as a prize for an essay in school. I’d asked for The Best of Calvin And Hobbes so you can imagine, The Rats caught me by surprise. It’s set in a grim early 70s London. I was entranced by the gore and a bit of sex thrown in. It was like a night watching something on Channel 4. Literary critics were sniffy about it but the biting and the discovery of a procession of rapidly worse ‘ick’ made it entrancing for a school child who was all set originally to read about a cuddly acerbic tiger. There are sequels with nuclear war, bigger and smarter rats but the punch of the first one always stays with me.

Catch Colm discussing the power of writing in literature, including his own book Climate Worrier: A Hypocrite’s Guide to Saving the Planet, in addressing themes including climate change and the environment at Words for Change on Sunday November 12th. TICKETS HERE


Amy Clarkin recommends:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic is the story of Noemí, a young socialite in Mexico City. After receiving a letter from her cousin Catalina begging her for help as she believes her English husband, Virgil Doyle, is trying to poison her, Noemí’s father sends her to the Doyle estate. Noemí arrives to an unwelcome atmosphere, an eerie house, a supposedly sick cousin who she cannot see, and a mysterious family whose secrets she’s determined to unravel. A chilling gothic tale that descends into horror, Mexican Gothic draws on familiar gothic elements reminiscent of Rebecca while creating a unique and twisting tale with a vivid atmosphere and a memorable heroine. Unnerving and suspenseful, this is a book that inspires a creeping sense of dread and will stay with you long after you finish it – a perfect Halloween read.

Amy will be reading from her own chilling book What Walks These Halls at our booked-out Ghostly Stories event but you can still hear her discussing spooky goings in her book at our Haunted Tales event on Thursday November 9th. TICKETS HERE

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween, curled up by the fire with a good book that’s sure to send chills down your spine!