5 Spooky Reads for Summer

by Kelsey James

While some may save their spooky reads for Halloween, I’m a fan of thrills and chills year-round. Case in point: My gothic suspense novel, Secrets of Rose Briar Hall, comes out June 25! Here are the creepy reads I recommend adding to your pool bag this summer – and that I’ll be adding to mine. You won’t have to worry about the heat with these books giving you goosebumps.

The Devil and Mrs. Davenport by Paulette Kennedy

In 1955 Missouri, Loretta Davenport is an unhappily married mother who’s seeking something more out of life. When she starts receiving messages from the beyond, including from a local girl who recently disappeared, she finds the purpose she sought—but trying to bring peace to the dead will also mean angering her fanatically religious and controlling husband. This was a propulsive read with an ending that was both horrifying and satisfying. It was a frightening reminder of the danger women can find themselves in when their basic freedoms are denied. Suspense, romance, and feminism? This had everything I adore in a story. I stayed up late into the night reading this one.

In the Lonely Hours by Shannon Morgan

Fans of ghost stories and gothic settings will love Shannon Morgan’s newest novel. Set in a haunted castle in Scotland, it follows Edie and her daughter Neve as they work to unravel the secrets of their family history—including the identity of Edie’s biological parents and the location of the famous, cursed Maundrell red diamond. A dual narrative allows the reader to get to know the ghosts as full characters as well. In the Lonely Hours is a captivating mix of dark family tragedy, haunting atmosphere, and very lively ghosts. 

The Last Witch in Edinburgh by Marielle Thompson

The Last Witch in Edinburgh is set in an alternative version of 1820s Scotland where women’s rights and witchcraft elide. Any woman is at risk of being hung as a witch, but the employees at Rae’s Apothecary Shop have more reason to fear than most—they actually are practitioners of the craft. The protagonist, Nellie, finds community and romance within the shop, and the book follows her journey through the centuries as she learns what it means to find her power. I adored this witchy, feminist, atmospheric story. Fans of The Once and Future Witches and The Lost Apothecary will devour this novel. 

The Book of Thorns by Hester Fox

This dual-POV book tells the story of two long-lost sisters, Cornelia and Lijsbet, united by a magical mysterious connection to flowers that gives them the ability to heal. Cornelia runs away to France when her cruel uncle tries to marry her off to one of his cruel friends. Once there, she and her sister will find themselves on opposite sides of the Battle of Waterloo, and both will begin to untangle the mystery of their pasts and power. I’m just diving into this one now, and I can already understand why fans are saying this is Hester Fox’s best novel yet!

Return to Wyldcliffe Heights by Carol Goodman

This one doesn’t come out until July 30 so I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it’s going to go straight to the top of my TBR! I’m a long-time Carol Goodman fan (my first Carol Goodman read was The Widow’s House, which I heartily recommend). Her newest book tells the story of a young editor who travels to the dilapidated Hudson Valley estate of the famous author Veronia St. Clair in order to transcribe her long-awaited sequel—only to find that the story might ring a little too true, and hit a little too close to home. This promises to be a delicious gothic mystery with echoes of Jane Eyre and I can’t wait.

In this Gilded Age gothic homage to “Gaslight” starring Ingrid Bergman, a wealthy young newlywed in early 20th century New York is isolated within her opulent, yet ominously empty mansion by the charismatic and controlling new husband plotting to undermine her sanity…

1908, Long Island: For Millie Turner, the young and beautiful wife of a powerful New York stockbroker, Rose Briar Hall—a gleaming edifice of white marble on the North Shore—is more than a home. Every lavish detail speaks of Charles Turner’s status and wealth, and its stylish interior is testament to Millie’s sophistication. All that’s left is to prove her worthiness to be his bride. What better way than to throw a grand party for New York’s social elite?

After painstaking planning, the night of the event arrives and all is perfection—until Millie wakes to a cold, eerily quiet house, and a gray cloud where her memory should be. Can it be true that she has been in and out of consciousness for weeks, ever since the party took a terrifying turn? Millie recalls nothing. But her friends have shunned her, and it soon becomes clear that if she can’t find out what really happened that night, much more than her reputation will be at risk . . .

As the house that promised so much happiness begins to feel more like a prison, Millie wonders whether a woman alone, even a wealthy one, can ever be entirely safe. And if she succeeds in finding the truth, will it bring relief, or shake her marriage, and her life, to the core?