From creepy costumes to bobbing apples, there’s much to love about Halloween. But the best thing about the spooky season? Scary stories.
As the evenings turn dark and long outside, who doesn’t love keeping it cosy indoors, curled up with a hot drink and a book so scary you’ll need to keep the lights on?
But so many Halloween spine-chillers have women as hapless heroines meeting their sorry fate through dangers they’re just too weak to overcome.
And that's not every woman's truth.
This is why it's always a thrill when you come across a book in a genre you love that centres women's stories, their power, and the way in which they must navigate and resist societal expectations or gendered violence.
So, for a treat this spooky season, we've rounded up some of the best halloween books with a feminist twist in your favourite, darkest genres.
The Female Gothic
The Female Gothic maintains the spooky symbols we love so much in traditional gothic literature.
These include a distressed heroine (usually orphaned), a menacing man, (supposed) supernatural terrors and a mysterious mansion.
But where Count Drac' and the pack cast women as either victims or monsters, the Female Gothic boasts leading ladies who are complex and able to fend for themselves or save the day.
Often these books are thrilling tales of a young heroine's rite of passage into womanhood. As she awakens to the world around her, she finds herself challenging the role society expects her to take - marriage, motherhood, and mistress of a home - the stuff of both dreams and nightmares!
Is it possible to have a best Halloween books list without mentioning witch-lit? We don't think so!
Books brewing plots of magic and mayhem or based on real-life medieval witch trials have been piling up bookshelves these last few decades.
Their popularity might come from female readers who want to dive into enthralling stories of women at their most potent, primaeval selves. Or reexamine a horrific time in our history when witch hunts raged across our world killing thousands of (mostly) women.
Whatever the reason, there's a riveting selection of witch-lit to choose from this Halloween. Read our 25 Spellbeing Books about Witches for some witchy fiction favourites.
Hardboiled heroines and femme fatales who give a damn? This is the dark, seedy world of feminist noir.
An intoxicating genre that delves into the post-war noir world of toxic masculinity and gendred violence.
This time, though, it's women’s stories and perspectives that step into the spotlight, even while the murder, mayhem and ever-lonely metropolises remain the same.
More Halloween Books with a Feminist Twist
Of course, these are not the only halloween books with a feminist twist - there are shelf-loads of exquisitely scary stories to keep you up all night (and possibly the rest of the year!) in other genres such as as feminist horror and feminist dystopian fiction.
So if you thought there were no spine-chilling books that put women's stories, struggles and agency front and centre - think again!
And this spooky season, start reading the wealth of women writers penning tales about witches, ghosts, monsters and murder wrapped up in the scariest thing of all (to some!) - a feminist agenda!