The 10 Scariest Books About Possession To Read This Halloween

Cover of 'The Merciless' by Danielle Vega, courtesy of Penguin Random House

Lots of people fear losing control over their bodies — so many, in fact, that there's a whole category of horror fiction devoted to it. If you're one of those people, you might want to check out these books about possessions that will absolutely cause you to lose your cool this Halloween. After all, who doesn't love a good scary story when the weather turns cool?

Stories of demonic and spectral possessions have been around for thousands of years, even appearing in the Christian Bible in the tale of Legion, a demonic force that Jesus exorcises. And as The Atlantic reported in December 2018, Catholic exorcisms are in higher demand in the U.S. today than at any time in recent memory. In fact, the demand for exorcisms has become so high that the Catholic Church has begun to train new exorcists. Atlantic reporter Mike Mariani writes: "The Church has been training new exorcists in Chicago, Rome, and Manila. [Fr. Gary] Thomas told me that in 2011 the U.S. had fewer than 15 known Catholic exorcists. Today, he said, there are well over 100. Other exorcists I spoke with put the number between 70 and 100. (Again, no official statistics exist, and most dioceses conceal the identity of their appointed exorcist, to avoid unwanted attention.)"

If that doesn't have you running for Holy Water, keep reading for 10 mostly fictional stories of demonic and ghostly possession.

'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson

Ahead of inheriting his family's creepy estate, a man journeys inside the supposedly haunted residence with three companions — a paranormal researcher and his two assistants. Whatever lurks inside Hill House isn't interested in letting its visitors go, however, and it will do anything to make them a permanent fixture in the home.

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'Come Closer' by Sara Gran

Amanda has it all — a good career, a happy marriage, and a stable home. But when each area of her life becomes erratic, disintegrating the ties that bind, Amanda realizes that something very old and evil may be at work.

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'The Merciless' by Danielle Vega

After falling in with a new clique, Sofia realizes she's gotten in over her head when her friends propose an exorcism for a schoolmate named Brooklyn. Sofia doesn't think Brooklyn is possessed, but now she's trapped in the house with girls who are willing to torture their victim in order to drive out her demons.

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'Seed' by Ania Ahlborn

Years after Jack Winter escaped a malevolent force, it returns to torture his family in this 2012 novel by Brother author Ania Ahlborn. Jack's wife and their children survive a car crash, but he recognizes the thing that caused it, and he knows it won't let go until it gets what it wants.

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'Bad Girls Don't Die' by Katie Alender

A high school student begins to notice unexplained changes in her younger sister's behavior in Katie Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die. When 12-year-old Kasey's eyes suddenly begin to switch back and forth from blue to green, and strange phenomena affect their household, it's up to Alexis to figure out what's gone wrong — and whether or not her sister can be saved.

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'The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel' by Felicitas D. Goodman

The basis for the horror film The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Felicitas D. Goodman's The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel tells the story of a young German girl who died in 1976 following a series of exorcisms designed to rid her of six demons who supposedly inhabited her body.

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'The Moon Will Look Strange' by Lynda E. Rucker

The 11 stories contained in Lynda E. Rucker's The Moon Will Look Strange wrestle with strange occurrences and inexplicable events, including possessions.

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'Wakenhyrst' by Michelle Paver

Sixty years after his wife died tragically in childbirth, a convicted murderer, now deceased, becomes the focus of the contemporary art world, prompting new investigations into his life and downfall.

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'The Salt Roads' by Nalo Hopkinson

Deeply rooted in Afro-Caribbean folklore, Nalo Hopkinson's The Salt Roads follows three women — a lesbian midwife in Saint Domingue, a mixed-race Parisian dancer, and a Greek-Nubian sex worker in Alexandria — who are possessed by Ezili, the goddess of sexual desire and love.

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'The Hungry Ghost' by Dalena Storm

In this novel based on Buddhist tradition, a ghost inhabits the body of Sam, a comatose woman, who appears to miraculously waken. Her friends and loved ones soon discover that this is not the Sam they once knew, but figuring out what has gone wrong is no easy task.

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