Halloween Reading Recommendations for 2020!

2020 has been scary enough with everything going on. A global pandemic, murder hornets, near-misses by asteroids, natural disasters and doomscrolling the internet for bad news to see what catastrophe might happen next. You name it, 2020 has had plenty of events that qualify.

Instead of focusing on how apocalyptic it all feels, how about we have some scary FUN instead? Halloween is only days away and what better time to find some great creepy and frightening reads to enjoy while sitting in the safety and comfort of our own homes?:

Book Title: Pale Reflection: A Collection of Dark Fantasy by Gustavo Bondoni

Halloween Category: Supernatural, werewolves.

“Scent of the Night” – Jason wants to see his paramour Carmen and meet up in Spain. But this coincides with a full moon, which Jason doesn’t like. It’s too dangerous for him to do so, but he does it anyway, knowing that there will be trouble. Embarking on a wild adventure the likes of which he’s never experienced, Jason’s secret is eventually revealed and his life is on the line!

This one presents a mystery as to why Jason is so reluctant to be near his lover when the full moon is out. But the author gives these ideas a bold twist that I didn’t anticipate. My heart was pounding as Jason was struggling to survive against a more experienced predator. I felt like I was right there in the story with Jason, running for my life.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: Murder in Montague Falls – Noir-Inspired Novellas by Russ Colchamiro, Sawney Hatton & Patrick Thomas

Halloween Category: Murder, Supernatural, Satanic rituals.

Sawney Hatton’s “The Devil’s Delinquents” – Cal and Derry are teenagers who like to listen to heavy metal, smoke dope, disregard authority, like demons and generally get into trouble. But they meet someone in detention, Natalie, who knows more about Satan than they do. An outcast like them, Nat has grand plans to get Satan to favor her and it involves the two of them. Once the plan is set in motion, a sacrifice has been chosen, there are secret rituals, death, bloodshed and horror as all previously hidden motivations are revealed.

Worshiping Satan and performing rituals to gain his attention is an interesting one, as it involves a lot of faith in evil and powerful forces. It held me rapturously with its raw power, the queasiness it induced at what happened and its unexpected twists and turns. I was quite disgusted and horrified at the sacrifice but also astonished at the hidden reasons why this ritual was being done to begin with. The delicious ending will leave you wondering whether all their efforts were successful or not.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 38 – published by Daniel Arthur Smith, with stories by Steven Van Patten, Amy Grech, Teel James Glenn, Jessica West & Daniel Arthur Smith.

Halloween Category: Science Fiction. Horror.

Amy Grech’s “EV 2000” – On the eve of unveiling the world’s first computerized blood donation center, Harold encourages his wife June to donate. But when she does, at first, things seem normal. But as the EV 2000 begins to act strange and something unnerving happens! What is going on here and can it be fixed before it is too late?

Running underneath all of this is the thread of Harold and June’s emotions and how they drive their lives, from their work to their marriage. This adds a deeper resonance to contrast the horror of what we’re witnessing and why this is happening.

It’s partly a horror story and partly a story about artificial intelligence running a blood donation center without any human staff being present. As a result, it is a deft blending of both these genres, told in an engaging and stomach-wrenching way.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Short Story: Pod Fifteen by Philip Harris

Halloween Category: Science Fiction, Horror.

Ellis is piloting a ship filled with dead bodies across space. His only company is the tragic memories of his past and the ship’s artificial intelligence. But when something unexpected happens, all of this coalesces into a gruesome and terrifying tale that glues you in your seat with its intensity and its unexpected surprises around every corner.

I couldn’t help but hear the stark soundtrack music from the movie “Alien” while reading this. Experiencing the loneliness of my thoughts and the cramped quarters of the ship making me feel confined and alone as I drifted unaccompanied through space. Or maybe I only thought I was alone…

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Short Story: Ruby by Ernie Howard

Halloween Category: Supernatural, Horror.

Victor and his wife Sara went to high school together. His childhood friends Scott, Mary, and Chuck also live in town and one by one, all of them have gone missing. Ruby also went to the same high school with them and they all knew her too. But, Victor thinks Ruby murdered his friends! Suspicious, Victor decides he needs answers. What will happen to him once he finds what he seeks?

I don’t know how this story crawled into my head and took up residence there. All I know is that the shivers lasted for a long time after I finished reading it. It’s an electrifying tale that built its suspense up with little clues to draw you in and then adds it all together into a superb and satisfying conclusion.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: A Flutter of Darkness by Jason LaVelle

Halloween Category: Murder, Supernatural, Serial Killers.

The darkness that resides in the soul of each and every one of us is a fascinating concept. This short story collection examines those ideas with ambition and even with gleeful abandon. You get stories of paranormal possession, serial killers in nightclubs, tattoos that have unusual effects on people’s lives, a startling journey into dementia, near-death experiences and a homeless girl who comes to idolize an unusual man.

Each tale is unique, standing out from one another distinctively. This is a fantastic collection of fifteen short stories and novellas. It’s the perfect blend of different genres, bold storytelling and imaginative concepts that stimulate your senses while causing your heart to flutter with each one.

Each one also features astonishing, gut-punching twists that blindsided me when I discovered what they were. I wholeheartedly recommend this collection to anyone who wants to read highly original and brilliantly twisted stories that will make you want to consult with a cardiologist after you’ve finished reading it.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: The Princess and the Zombie and Other Stories by Lyndon Perry

Halloween Category: Zombies, Supernatural.

In this short story collection from author Lyndon Perry, there’s a nice variety of tales to enjoy. There are light horror tales with the zombie stories, as well as tales with great twists, paranormal occurrences and intriguing characters. Overall, there six short stories here to enjoy. 

In these stories, zombies haven’t overrun the planet and here just roam the wilderness like wild animals. Civilization is thriving and normalcy rules the day. These are gentler zombie stories without the grimness that usually comes with this genre. It makes it that much more refreshing to read and harder to guess where the story will go next as a result.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks

Halloween Category: Alien Viruses, Possessed Animals, Gruesome Horror

It’s a lovely night in rural Falls Breath, Michigan when the meteor showers begin and create a spectacular show in the sky. Soon after, a strange thing happens with the animals in the area, they start to attack and kill the humans!

In the meantime, Lauren’s father, deputy Matthew Scott, is trying to keep order downtown when a plane crash decimates it. With the crash comes the breakdown of order and it becomes a battle of survival as animals attack and the entire town struggles to find a way to survive even as the drastic body count rises.

The plot itself is something straight out of a horror movie given a science fiction twist. It’s given some strong and scientific plausibility, giving it an explanation that most horror movies don’t spend a lot of time on. It effortlessly takes a standard horror movie plot and elevates it to the next level while also infusing it with a sense of horrific fun.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

Book Title: When the Cat’s Away by Rysa Walker & Caleb Amsel

Halloween Category: Psychological horror, Altered Reality, Monsters

From page one, we pick up almost immediately from where we left off in the first book, “As the Crow Flies”. Chase is a resident at the Hillcrest psychiatric hospital. He’s quiet and mostly unresponsive, moving his finger around on a broken tablet screen that’s powered off. Also, in there with him as a patient is Daisy. Chase’s father, Benjamin is a group therapist there at Hillcrest too. Tucker is a security guard working at Hillcrest and he seems to be one of the few people who remember what happened that led to him being here!

As their lives and their memories shift between their reality inside Haddonwood to the real world outside of the game, it becomes clearer how critical Chase’s abilities are to control Haddonwood. Raum wants to keep Chase on task to keep the Haddonwood game reality running smoothly. Can Chase keep it all together as reality threatens to fall apart at the seams?

The intensity factor ratchets up several notches over the course of the book. Not just in terms of suspenseful situations or terrifying encounters either. At first, this book felt like the first one: disparate characters trying to figure out what is going on and reacting to their situation. However, this book takes that idea and switches it up. There’s an excellent, in-story reason for this change as well.

Inside the game, reality is constantly shifting around them as are their memories. Their memories can be used against you and reality is constantly being rewritten. When you can’t even trust your own memory of reality, it constantly kept me off balance as the story kept shifting under my feet. This is the most bonkers aspect of the story, as anything that can happen, will happen.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, click here.

I hope you enjoyed this selection of spine-tingling Halloween reads!

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