Everyone loves a good haunted house story — but usually, you can calm yourself at bedtime by reminding yourself the stories aren’t true. Not so with the following eight books: These tales of haunted houses, from annoying spirits to demonic possessions to one actual documented murder-by-spirit, are the real deal. Which, of course, only makes them more bone-chillingly terrifying. Read on to find your next spooky read — and to figure out which towns to avoid on your next road trip.
I'm Looking Through You, Jennifer Finney Boylan
Boylan’s 2008 memoir deals with two hauntings: One, the actual haunted house she grew up in during the ’70s, which she explores with a team of ghostbusters; and two, the “haunting” of her own body. Born James, Jennifer transitioned to female in 2000 (and now makes occasional appearances on Caitlyn Jenner’s show I Am Cait).
American Ghost, Hannah Nordhaus
It’s one thing to hunt for a ghost that’s an absolute stranger, but it’s another when the ghost is actually connected to you: When Nordhaus finds out that her great-great-grandmother famously haunts a Santa Fe hotel, she embarks on a quest with psychics and diviners to meet her spectral relative, find out why she died — and why she’s been sticking around.
Haunted, Dorah Williams
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The Williams family moves into a house in which no one has stayed for too long, and soon they find out why. The house is absolutely haunted. As the family works to stop the freakish occurrences, they also seek to learn why the haunting started.
The Haunted, Robert Curran
Written by a priest, The Haunted details the chilling haunting of the devoutly religious Smurf family’s home from all sides: They hear phantom pigs squealing in the night, smell foul odors, feel they’re being watched while in the bathroom, and see floating people. Don’t read this one at night, folks.
The Bell Witch, Brent Monahan
Monahan’s book, based on a found manuscript written by local teacher Richard Powell, chronicles the story of the Bell Witch, who tortured the Bell family beginning in 1818 — leading to the only documented case in America of a spirit actually killing a human.
The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson
You’ve seen the movie: Now read the book! While the veracity of some of the events in the book has been called into question, Anson’s telling still terrifies. The Lutz family moves into a steal of a home in 1975, in which a year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his family: parents, brothers, and sisters. The haunting that follows the Lutz family’s arrival is so vicious, they stay in the house less than a month.
Grave's End, Elaine Mercado
In 1982, Mercado, her husband, and their two daughters moved into a new house in Brooklyn. Little did they know, they’d spend the next 13 years enduring traumas like suffocating dreams and phantom maniacal laughter that undeniably haunted house. As they attempt to cope with their environment, a medium and a parapsychologist help them find out the tragic truths at the root of the terror.
The Uninvited, Steven A. LaChance
When the house in question is literally called “The Union Screaming House,” you know this one’s going to be good: LaChance and his three children finally leave their home after the demons within kill pets and cause inhabitants to be institutionalized. The story doesn’t end when the family escapes — LaChance ends up trying to save the next homeowner from madness, too.