When I think of the truly spooky aspects of autumn, the picture of a deep, dark, eerie forest is the first to come to mind. What could be more spine-chilling than a fog-filled wood with secrets hiding behind every tree? If you can't imagine going through the fall and winter months without at least one spooky forest filling a spot on your autumn reading list, you're in luck. Inspired by Bustle's Book Club pick for October, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I've compiled a list of books that feature fearsome forests and magical woods. You'll be lost in the darkness in no time.
Whether you're interested in witches wandering through haunted woods, fairytales filled with sinister snowy forests, or murder mysteries that take place in dark woods, you'll find tons of stories about dark magic, evil forces, and heroines who will fight all of the above. Take one of these along on your fall picnics or road trips for an added scare factor, or just grab one to snuggle up under the covers with during a night late reading sesh. Just don't forget to leave the light on.
'Uprooted' by Naomi Novik
Agnieszka loves her valley home, but the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power. Her people rely on the wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for 10 years. When Agnieszka is chosen, she discovers more magic and darkness than she knew was possible.
'The Bear and the Nightingale' by Katherine Arden
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year. But Vasilisa doesn't mind — she spends the nights huddled around the fire with her siblings. But when her father brings home a new wife, she forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. When evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, Vasilisa must call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed in order to protect her family.
'The Waking Forest' by Alyssa Wees
The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the edge of her backyard. To the Witch, it is home, a place where she waits for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a deadly truth surfaces.
'The Hazel Wood' by Melissa Albert
After Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies, Alice's mother is stolen away ― by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture into the world where the fairy tales began.
'Winterwood' by Shea Ernshaw
Some say the woods surrounding the tow of Fir Haven are magical. Haunted, even. Rumored to be a witch, Nora Walker has always had a special connection with the woods. And it’s this that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman — the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago. Now Nora must unearth the truth behind how he survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place.
'The Devouring Gray' by Christine Lynn Herman
When Violet Saunders moves to Four Paths, a town buried in the woodlands of rural New York, her new neighbors are less than welcoming. When she meets other children like her who are descended from the town's founding families, she sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak. But when bodies start to appear in the woods, they must solve the mystery of Four Paths before another calamity strikes.
'The Lost Coast' by Amy Rose Capetta
When Danny arrives in Tempest, California, she meets the Grays, a group of friends who have cast a spell that called her halfway across the country. Danny has something they need: She can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, who has been missing since she wandered into the woods alone.
'Through the Woods' by Emily Carroll
In this spooky graphic story collection, Emily Caroll shares five spine-tingling and unsettling tales that take readers into the darkest depths of the woods.
'In the Woods' by Tana French
Rob Ryan was just a kid when he was found clawing a tree, bloody and unable to recall the previous hours or remember what happened to his two friends. Twenty years later, he is a detective in charge of investigating a chillingly similar case.
'The Sisters of the Winter Wood' by Rena Rossner
When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, sisters Liba and Laya are left behind in their home in the woods. Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell, despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers.
'The Wood' by Chelsea Bobulski
When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, she can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told. She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry, who knows more than he should, and discovers that the wood is poisoned. Now Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth — and her dad.