13 Perfect-For-Halloween Books With Female Heroines

by Kerri Jarema

It's October, which means it's officially the start of "spooky season." If you're a fan of all things scary, you're probably going to be adding a ton of horror, mystery, and eerie supernatural fantasies to your reading stack. But when you think of some of the biggest spooky book writers around — from classic favorites like Edgar Allen Poe to modern luminaries like Stephen King — a wildly vast majority of them are men. As a consequence, these creepiest of creepy tales often feature a male lead, equally as often avenging a female victim. Are there any "scary" books by women that put them at the forefront, making them the heroes of their own stories? Why, yes, there are and I've got 11 of them below.

Each of these modern books are perfect for your eerie autumnal reading list and they range from straight-up horror to mystery, supernatural magic, and fantasy but all have one huge thing in common: female heroines. If you want to be sufficiently spooked but are over the idea that creepy books are entirely the realm of male authors and characters, this is the only list you'll need on the run-up to Halloween and beyond.

'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville — derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. Now, families around Baltimore County are going missing, and Jane finds herself caught in the middle of a conspiracy — and a desperate fight for her life.

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'Feed' by Mira Grant

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. Now, 20 years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives — the dark conspiracy behind the infected.

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'The Boneless Mercies' by April Genevieve Tucholke

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies — girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and dreams of a bigger life. When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out.

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'Sawkill Girls' by Claire LeGrand

Three girls' stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires and girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight — until now.

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'Akata Witch' by Nnedi Okorafor

When 12-year old Sunny befriends Orlu and Chichi, she is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven and their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children.

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'Rebel Belle' by Rachel Hawkins

After a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper Price becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with super strength and lethal fighting instincts. Just when life can't get any more crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, subject of a mysterious prophecy and her least favorite person.

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'Her Body and Other Parties' by Carmen Maria Machado

In Machado's short story collection she draws on fairy tales and urban legends to weave together creepy images like green ribbons and girls with bells sewn over their eyes to brings attention to women and women’s bodies — while also challenging the way both are portrayed in fantastic fiction as a whole.

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'My Best Friend's Exorcism' by Grady Hendrix

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, but when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen.

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'Bruja Born' by Zoraida Cordova

Bruja Lula Mortiz's world is turned upside down when a bus crash kills all of her classmates, including her boyfriend, Maks. But Lula was born to heal and she can bring Maks back, even if it means defying Death herself. But when the dust settles, Maks isn't the only one who's been brought back.

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'White is for Witching' by Helen Oyeyemi

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, Mirandahas a new appetite for chalk and a keen sense for spirits, more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

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'Undead Girl Gang' by Lily Anderson

When three girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that they were involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

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'A Room Away From The Wolves' by Nova Ren Suma

Bina lives at a young woman's residence where she is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As nightmare and memory get tangled, Bina will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave.

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'She Walks in Shadows' by Various Authors

This collection of short stories by all female writers attempts to reimagine the horror conventions of H.P. Lovecraft (without all the racism) through tales of defiant, terrifying women — from monsters to mothers and heroes to devourers.

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