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Five awesome spooky beach reads

Who says beach reads need to be light and fluffy? Sometimes there’s nothing better than feeling the chill of a spooky book on a hot summer day.

Jaws sets the standard, of course, but here’s five others to make this summer a little creepier.

Five spooky beach reads1. Gotta start with the King. Bag of Bones is, for some reason, extremely underrated. I’ve never understood that, since it’s one of my all-time favourites. Mike Noonan, a best-selling novelist, suffers from writer’s block after his wife dies and decides to spend the summer at their lake house. He soon realizes the house has its fair share of ghosts, and that his wife’s death may not have been so natural after all.

2. If you haven’t read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier yet, there’s no better time to discover this wonderfully atmospheric thriller. A young woman agrees to marry a much older man, only to discover the lingering ghost of her husband’s first wife and a sinister housekeeper are part of the deal. This is as good as ghost stories get.

3. Patricia V. Davis’s Cooking for Ghosts blends real ghost stories from the Queen Mary, California’s legendary haunted ship, with a tale of four women who start a café together. It’s a great ode to female friendship, with plenty of paranormal action to keep the spook quotient high.

4. Also set in California, Stephen Blackmoore’s Dead Things features a sarcastic, world-weary, heavily tattooed necromancer who must solve the mystery of his sister’s death and get revenge on her killers. Blackmoore’s novel lures you in from the first page with an anti-hero you can’t help rooting for.

5. Hunter Shea’s latest, Just Add Water, is retro horror at its best. Inspired by those sea monkey ads at the back of ’80s comic books, this novel is the perfect creature feature. Shea also has one of the most entertaining newsletters of all time. When you sign up, you get Dark Master, a free alien abduction story.

What are your favourite books to read on the beach? Do you have any planned reads this summer? What are your top picks for spooky beach books?

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Five Awesome Horror Movies You Probably Missed.

Five spooky beach reads

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41 Comments

  1. First, I am not a beach goer. But I am a reader and Rebecca is one of my favorites, as are most of Du Maurier’s works. Not a fan of Stephen King. Cooking for Ghosts sounds interesting. I’ll add it to my list.

    Reply
    • JH

      Awesome, Denise. It’s a fun book.

      I’ve got other Du Maurier novels in my TBR closet. Good to know the quality is strong with all her books.

      Reply
  2. Ah, Rebecca. Great book and a great movie. Dead Things sound interesting. I love sarcastic characters.

    Reply
    • JH

      Then you’ll adore Blackmoore’s Eric Carter. I never thought I’d be interested in a book about a necromancer, but it’s sooo good.

      Reply
  3. It’s too hot in the summer for the beach, but the reads sound chilling. I always wondered if those little sea monkeys were real.

    Reply
    • JH

      Me too. I always wanted them, but I suspect Hunter’s book will make everyone feel otherwise.

      Reply
  4. I need to get that Stephen King book and Rebecca. I read The Shining (my first ever Stephen King) when I was at the beach in Mexico, then on the airplane heading back to frozen MN. Loved it!

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, that’s right! Glad you enjoyed it. I think you’ll love Bag of Bones.

      Reply
  5. While I’m not a beach goer as such (I go on a beach and Japanese whaling fleets go into a frenzy…) but I do enjoy a good read while sitting by the water. I’ll be visiting Cape Cod in a couple of weeks for a few days writing, reading and relaxation. I’ll be taking Joe Hill’s “Heart Shaped Box” and Paul Tremblay’s “Head Full Of Ghosts” with me.

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, that’s not true Dave!

      Cape Cod would be an awesome place to visit for summer vacation. I loved the Hill book. Please let me know what you think of Tremblay’s.

      Reply
  6. Now I want to go back and re-read Bag of Bones and Rebecca. I read them both ages ago – and liked them! – but I don’t remember them really. Sigh. I’m getting old!

    Reply
    • JH

      Not old, you just read too many books. It happens to me too. All but the very best/memorable grow fuzzy after a while.

      Reply
  7. Rebecca was my favourite book when I was 12!

    Reply
    • JH

      Welcome, Kirsten. You must have had an interesting childhood. 😉

      Reply
  8. Rebecca is actually on my bookshelf, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It’s one of my bucket list books, though. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, time to rectify that. You will love it.

      Reply
  9. Love your descriptions of these books! They all sound like good reads. I don’t expect much opportunity to read this summer. I have Isaac’s Storm, by Eric Larson picked out for my summer read. He wrote Devil in the White City, which I read this past spring.

    Historical fiction is another vein I enjoy and have always been a little fascinated with the Hurricane of 1900. Mother would often of it and Hurricane Carla. Then, six months after Ike leveled Bolivar Peninsula, I took the kids to Galveston and had such mixed feelings as we drove along the coast.

    Horror, that all that had been there throughout my life was now mostly gone.
    Thrill and awe to see the coastline unobstructed to man-made things. To think I was seeing the coast as it was long before.

    Then we crossed on the ferry to Galveston and the water was the most beautiful emerald green! The storm had scoured the bottom and left it clean and pristine.

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, that sounds like an extremely powerful experience, Barbara. It’s like seeing a glimmer of hope in a world of darkness.

      Devil in the White City has been on my TBR list forever. The story of H.H. Holmes is fascinating.

      Thanks for such an awesome, thoughtful comment.

      Reply
  10. I read all but two and they were so much fun. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Hopefully that convinces you to read the other two.

      Reply
  11. I like to read my favorite spooky books written by one J.H Moncrieff when out on the beach (or the deck, or in the basement, it’s cooler there after all). Okay, that was cheesy of me.

    Reply
    • JH

      Not at all. Best response EVER. It would be cheesy if I said it.

      Reply
  12. I’m actually too scared to read a a Stephen King horror book. I enjoyed Rebecca…the book and the movie. I haven’t figured out which books I will read as I usually go with what entices me. I don’t read on the beach either…too hot:)

    Reply
    • JH

      Have you ever tried some of his non-horror stuff, like Mr. Mercedes (crime fiction), Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (prison drama), or The Green Mile (prison drama)? I think you’d like it. He also tends to set his stuff in the past, typically the 1920s to ’60s, which might also appeal to you.

      Reply
  13. Those all look pretty good. I’ve read Bag of Bones and also loved it.

    Reply
    • JH

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one. It’s a fantastic story, and if I hadn’t read Bag of Bones, I’d probably never have read Rebecca.

      Reply
  14. The kids don’t usually give me a lot of time to relax and/or read whilst on vacation, but I did finally get “A God in the Shed” by JF Dubeau, which I hope to read at the cottage next month. It’s set up like one of those f*cked up Swedish thriller/mysteries (which I love) but it has a dark supernatural bend, so I’m pretty stoked.

    Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, sounds right up my alley. Please let me know how it is. No one writes horror like the Scandinavians.

      Reply
  15. They all sound chilling, and I’ve only heard of one of them. Going to have to go check them out.

    Honestly, I don’t distinguish my beach reads from my regular reads, so they’re all the same. It all boils down to what kind of story I’m in the mood for at the moment. Then I go through my TBR list and find the perfect title.

    Reply
    • JH

      Makes sense, Crystal. I think a lot of people prefer a lighter read on the beach, so it doesn’t matter if they get distracted and have to put the book down, but the ones suggested here are definitely darker.

      Reply
  16. Dead Things sounds like my kind of story! Now I just need to find a beach…

    Reply
    • JH

      A backyard, café, or nice patio/deck could work just as well.

      Reply
  17. I just got Rebecca from a book sale. It may take me a bit to get to it, but I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      You will love it. It’s so good.

      Reply
  18. I love Mr. Mercedes. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. I really enjoyed the rest of the trilogy as well.

    Reply
    • JH

      I did as well. Best stuff he’s written in a long time, IMO. I just think Mr. Mercedes is the most accessible for people who don’t like horror. The other two books start to get a bit closer to the rest of King’s oeuvre.

      Reply
  19. I remember first reading excerpts from Jaws in Saga magazine. They used the action scenes. When I read the whole book, I didn’t like the sexuality. I’m glad they made Hooper a nice guy in the movie.

    Reply
  20. Definitely adding them to my TBR 🙂 Though, I’ll start reading the chilling tales once the nights become shorter again here in the southern hemisphere – no need for my imagination to make things scarier than they need to be 😉

    Reply
  21. I read two awesomely spooky books during my beach vacation and am still feeling guilty that I haven’t put together reviews on them. Guess whose? 😉

    Reply
    • JH

      I admit it; you totally made me bawl. Thanks, Tamara. This touched me so much.

      Reply

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