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THE B-LIST: Witches, vampires and creepy beasties: Spooky reads for fall

"Harrow County" is a gloriously dark southern gothic fairy tale.
"Harrow County" is a gloriously dark southern gothic fairy tale.

Once you've binged the 12 "Friday the 13th" films, the 10 installments in the "Halloween" franchise, the nine "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies and, of course, both seasons of "Stranger Things" for the umpteenth time, you may find yourself in need of a breather.

if you're feeling burned out from too many slasher flicks — and the longer nights are making you eager to curl up with a good book — don't worry!

Turn off that TV and let your DVD player cool down, because there are plenty of creeps, chills and screams to be had between the covers of the following superb fall reads...

5. "A SEASON WITH THE WITCH: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts" by J.W. Ocker. Since the infamous trials of 1692, Salem has been synonymous with witches. But the past few decades have seen it boom as a pop culture-tinged holiday mecca full of haunted tours, museums and occult shops. In the fall of 2015, author Ocker moved his family to Salem to experience the seasonal madness firsthand, collecting numerous interviews with locals, shop keepers and tourists to reveal the sometimes unsettling dichotomy of commercialization and historical tragedy.

4. "MRS. WAKEMAN VS. THE ANTICHRIST: And Other Strange-but-True Tales from American History" by Robert Damon Schneck. If you're not in the mood for a full-fledged novel, how about this collection of assorted weird and wacky but totally true stories from America's past? Schneck covers everything from bloody cure-alls to Ouija board panics to magical ape-men. There's even a bit on the origins of the van-driving evil clown urban legend. This is a fun read if you're looking for a crazy factoid or four to drop at parties.

3. "DRACUL" by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker. What if Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was based in fact? That's the premise of "Dracul," told via journal entries and letters from Bram and his siblings Matilda and Thornley, penned by one of Bram's descendants. It seems that the Stokers' nanny, Ellen Crone, wasn't exactly human — but does that make her incapable of love? "Dracul" is largely a retreading of a familiar story, but the way Stoker and Barker weave the actual facts of Bram's life into the narrative is fun, the monstrous atmosphere is perfect for a chilly October night and the action-packed story unfolds at a crackling pace.

2. "HARROW COUNTY" by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. This graphic novel series, a dark southern gothic, is both beautifully atmospheric and grotesquely creepy. On her 18th birthday, Emmy — who has always known the woods around her home crawl with ghosts and hungry creatures — realizes she's connected to these unsettling monsters. This isn't for small children, but it is a frequently frightening fairy tale perfect for spooky-minded teens and adults.

1. "LAST DAYS" by Adam Nevill. Documentarian Kyle Freeman is hired by a reclusive millionaire to make a film about the Temple of the Last Days, a cult rumored to dabble in the supernatural that collapsed with a bloody massacre in 1975. But the deeper Freeman digs, the more he begins to suspect the cult's dabbling released something truly sinister... Nevill, sometimes called "the British Stephen King," is also the author of "The Ritual" (which was turned into a pretty great movie last year). Of all his books, this one is by far the scariest, with some heart-in-your-throat moments that are sure to keep you up into the wee hours of the night. It's one of the few books to genuinely disturb me — and I mean that as a compliment.

• ANGIE BARRY is a page designer and columnist for The Times. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers pop culture, history and literature, contact her at

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