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The Virago Halloween reading list 👻

Looking for a spooky story to get you in the mood for All Hallow’s Eve? Here are just a few suggestions in our Halloween reading list.



Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

With one of the most famous first lines in literature, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca has all of the elements that make for a chilling tale, so much so that Alfred Hitchcock adapted the novel for the big screen.

Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place.  Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man.  And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

the magic toyshop 2016

The Magic Toyshop, Angela Carter

One night Melanie walks through the garden in her mother’s wedding dress. The next morning her world is shattered. Forced to leave the home of her childhood, she is sent to live with relatives she has never met: gentle Aunt Margaret, mute since her wedding day; and her brothers, Francie and Finn. Brooding over all is Uncle Philip, who loves only the toys he makes in his workshop: clockwork roses and puppets that are life-size – and uncannily life-like. Celebrating fifty years since it was published in 2017, The Magic Toyshop is Angela Carter’s writing at its best.

the doll daphne du maurier

The Doll, Daphne du Maurier

Although perhaps most famous for Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier was also a prolific writer of short stories. This collection features stories written mostly in du Maurier’s early twenties. Read The Doll here.


The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, has all the hallmarks of a chilling tale.

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners – mother, son and daughter – are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.


The Snail Watcher, Patricia Highsmith

Read this short story from Strangers on a Train author Patricia Highsmith, perfect for the spooky season.

angela carters book of fairytales


Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales

Once upon a time fairy tales weren’t written just for children, and neither is Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales.  This collection contains lyrical tales, bloody tales and hilariously funny and funny, bawdy stories from countries all around the world-  from the Arctic to Asia  – and no dippy princesses or soppy fairies. Instead, we have pretty maids and old crones; crafty women and bad girls; enchantresses and midwives; rascal aunts and odd sisters.

lolly willowes

Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner

In Townsend Warner’s first and most magical novel, spinster Lolly Willowes breaks free from the shackles of her dependent family and escapes to a Bedfordshire village. Finally alone, she discovers a secret vocation– witchcraft – and with her cat and a pact she makes with the devil, is finally free.