Whether you’re in front of a campfire in the middle of the woods or at home with the lights out and nothing but a flashlight to cast some eerie shadows, swapping good ol’ fashion ghost stories is a classic way to have some scary fun. And what better way to dive into a haunting tale, than to read a book based out of the Lone Star State–or better yet, in Houston?
Explore the hauntings of Market Square, get chicken skins with Galveston’s ghostly past, or simply read a friendly-monster children’s book to your kids. Whatever the case may be, these books will send chills up your spine and might even make you question if your house is haunted. Here are eight scary books that’ll get you in the spirit of the month.
The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories By Alan Brown
If you have zero knowledge into haunting stories set in Texas, this book is a great introduction. It consists of about 141 short stories—most of them only a single page. It covers places set in larger cities, like the haunting of the Driskill Hotel in Austin, as well as out in the boonies, with the story of the Stampede Mesa. Other stories that are featured include Spirits of the Alamo, The Black Hope Horror, and The legend of El Muerto. If you’re a ghost-story connoisseur and know a decent amount of hauntings in Texas, this book may be better as a collectors item rather than an in-depth story book.
Ghost Agents By Nita DeBorde
Sometimes the best way to learn about a city is by taking a ghost tour. That’s the approach that author Nita Deborde took when writing this Galveston-based ghost trilogy. The plot focuses on efforts from Claire Abelard, a junior bureau agent stationed in Galveston, to find out why several of Galveston’s “rogues”—projections (or ghosts) who, for whatever reason, have opted not to register with the bureau—have been disappearing. As she fights with unruly projections, a team of overbearing ghost hunters, and a fellow prejudice agent against rogues, Claire uncovers secrets that turn her world upside down. Galveston island’s spooky cemeteries, shadowy wharves, and drafty Victorian buildings make it an ideal setting for a ghost story, although the projections in her book tend to find the term “ghost” demeaning.
Ghosts of Houston's Market Square Park By Sandra Lord and Debe Branning
Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the energy at Market Square Park in Downtown Houston is undeniable. Author and historian Sandra Lord, also locally known as “The Tunnel Lady” and Travel Channel’s Ghost Stories and Ghost Adventures director Debe Branning joined forces to create a book solely on The Ghosts of Houston’s Market Square. The first part of the book goes into the history of Market Square: war, murders, and conspiracies. Expect stories of the 1876 bell, the 1903 Seth Thomas clock, the four city hall buildings or the old sawpits, and the many historic figures (now dead) lingering amongst the living today. Reading Ghosts of Houston's Market Square Park may not frighten you or give you full-on chicken skins, however, it will leave you feeling nostalgic. Lord and Branning say it best in their book: “If you don’t feel alone, even when there’s no one else in the park, it’s because you are standing with thousands of ghosts.”
Texas Ghost Stories: Fifty Favorites for the Telling By Tim Tingle and Doc Moore
Prepare to take Texas Ghost Stories on your next camping trip. The book has fifty legendary ghost stories that are told in various voices and tonality to truly capture the diversity of Texans. You’ll find classics like the Hispanic-American tale of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)—a vengeful ghost who is said to roam waterfront areas mourning her children whom she drowned, and the North-American “urban legend” of the vanishing hitchhiker, with a Texas spin. And what’s a spooky story without a few mysterious murders and disembodied limbs? This book has it all.
Safe from Harm By Stephanie Jaye Evans
Safe from Harm is a fiction-mystery thriller, and the second of two books written by Stephanie J. Evans that’ll keep you turning pages (The first in her Sugar Land Mystery series is Faithful Unto Death, which is also narrated by the fictitious Texas minister Walker "Bear" Wells.). Safe from Harm starts with Wells receiving an ominous text by his daughter Jo that says, “Come home,” only to find her cradling the dead body of her estranged friend Phoebe. The death rocks the town and you’ll question, along with the community in the book, if this is an open-and-shut case of suicide…or a red-handed murder.
A Halloween Scare in Texas By Eric James
Giving your kids a friendly scare for Halloween is acceptable, and this picture book has some not-so-frightful spooky tales that are friendly for ages 4-8 to enjoy. The book is packed with colorful illustrations of witches, critters, pumpkins, ghouls, and monsters on broomsticks and buses that gather in Dallas to begin a spook-filled night together. There are charming rhymes to read aloud of iconic places and landmarks in Texas like Houston Space Center, San Jacinto Monument, and the Alamo. A cute excerpt from the book includes: “From Houston, El Paso, Fort Worth, and McKinney, The tall and the small and the large and the skinny. All gathered together for one spooky night, To seek out the living and give them a fright.”
A Cosmology of Monsters By Shaun Hamill
A Cosmology of Monsters follows a suburban family in this Gothic horror meets familial melodrama novel. Noah, the youngest member of the Turner family, sees monsters. But, unlike his family, Noah chooses to let them in. His father saw them—and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates out of their backyard in the fictitious Vandergriff, Texas to make ends meet. His practical mother has caught glimpses of terrors but refuses to believe and is too focused on keeping the family from falling apart due to financial issues. And his eldest sister Sydney, the most dramatic and vulnerable of his family, won't admit to seeing anything but the “beckoning glow of the spotlight,” which eventually swallows her up. Good luck not having nightmares of your own after this read—chills!
Blood Meridian By Cormac McCarthy
Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, Blood Meridian traces the fortunes of a 14-year-old kid who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is at an all-time high. The horror in this book lies, not in ghosts or demons, but in the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. The novel follows the southwestern Glanton gang, a real-life group of bounty hunters who collected scalps from the Apache Indians they killed. Keep in mind that the scalp hunters are the main characters of this gory story, so you can only imagine what the antagonist is like.