Haunted Hardbacks: Summer Reading 2024

12 horror books you can use for Summer Reading Bingo! Full list in the blog post.

It's Summer Reading season again! Every year the Boston Public Library releases a summer reading bingo card for adults. You can learn more about this challenge, which runs June 1 to August 31, at our bingo page.

Anything you've read or done since June 1 can be added to your bingo card. Today, Haunted Hardbacks is here with horror-filled recommendations for every reading square on our traditional card. (If you want to complete the all-books Read More card, check out our other posts for more horror recommendations.)

Happy reading!

Title/Author: When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

Bingo Square: Author of Color.

When a 30-something Black woman named Mira returns to her segregated southern hometown for a childhood friend’s wedding, she learns that it will be held at a plantation-turned-resort. Mira had seen a ghost there herself as a teen, and can sense something even bigger brewing. History has been partially erased and partially re-written, and the spirits have had enough.

Title/Author: Ghost Lake by Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler 

Bingo Square: Book with a Purple Cover.

Nathan Niigan Noodin Adler, a Two-Spirit member of Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation, flips horror tropes on their heads in this collection of short stories. Tales vary from unexplained deaths, supernatural beings, the horrors of nature, and more! All stories are interconnected and, while set in a fictional Ontario town, have roots in Anishinaabe culture. 

Title/Author: The House That Whispers by Lin Thompson 

Bingo Square: Children’s Chapter Book.

A trans tween named Simon and his two sisters spend a week with their grandma in rural Kentucky while their parents work on their problems. But this isn’t like the siblings’ usual summer visit: there’s a strange smell, mysterious ceiling stain, spooky noises, and even a shadowy figure lurking. As Simon investigates the possible haunting, he also learns more about himself and his family. 

Title/Author: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Bingo Square: Indigenous Author.

Stephen Graham Jones, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, is quickly becoming regarded as a modern horror master. You can’t go wrong with My Heart Is a Chainsaw or The Only Good Indians, but at only 131 pages, Mapping the Interior is a compact tale of spookiness and grief. The 15-year-old protagonist Junior (recounting the story a few decades later as an adult) is convinced that his father is haunting his family’s house and tasks himself with finding out how. But the more he explores, the more danger he puts his younger brother in… if it’s even real. Like Jones’s other works, this blends psychological horror with discussions of the very real systemic and internalized issues Indigenous communities face. 

Title/author: The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon 

Bingo square: New England Author.

This Frankenstein-inspired contemporary horror novel begs the question: is 'podcaster' the new profession for protagonists in horror novels who need an excuse to dig into mysteries? If it is, we're on board. Podcaster Lizzy Shelley travels to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. Forty years earlier, a psychiatrist brings home a strange girl to play with her grandchildren and join their monster-hunting club. 

Title/author: My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due 

Bingo square: First in a series. My Soul to Keep kicks off the African Immortals series. Followed by The Living Blood, Blood Colony, and My Soul to Take. 

Tananarive Due's latest novel The Reformatory just won the 2023 Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a Novel! But did you know she's also the author of a legendary vampire series? We highly recommend sinking your teeth into the African Immortals, starting with My Soul to Keep. 

When Jessica marries David, she never expects their new life to be clouded with mysterious deaths... or for her groom to confess that more than 400 years ago, he and others in Ethopia traded their humanity for immortality, and they do not approve of this marriage, while David is willing to do anything to keep his new family. 

Title/author: Chlorine by Jade Song 

Bingo square: LGBTQ author.

"I dreamt myths larger than my girl body could hold." We tell people, especially high school students, to be true to themselves. For competitive swimmer Ren Yu, that means dreams of chlorine, man-eating mermaids, and freedom. Coming of age as a queer child of diaspora is complicated enough without the challenges of the transformation Ren seeks, but she's willing to spill blood to get where she needs to be. 

Title/author: Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Bingo square: Disabled or Neurodivergent author.

An unfinished cult film. A legendary director. It's the perfect chance for Montserrat to break into Mexico City's boys' club movie scene, and her childhood friend Tristán to act again. The director says it's also a chance to lift the curse on his career, blaming his downfall on Nazi magic imbued into the film itself. But surely that's sheer fantasy. 

This slow burn horror novel asks and answers: What's the worst that can happen? 

Title/author: Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana

Bingo Square: Under 200 Pages.

Super fans. Groupies. Stalkers. These people will give anything for the idols they worship, be they rock stars, actors, or authors. Or even serial killers. Lori is just such a fanatic. Her obsession is with Edmund Cox, a man of sadistic cruelty. She will do anything to get close to him, so when he gives her a task, she eagerly accepts it.

Edmund tells her she must go to his cabin in the woods of Killen and retrieve a key to deliver to a mysterious figure known only as The River Man. She has no idea of the horror that awaits her.

Title/author: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Bingo Square: Banned or Challenged Book.

Georgetown, Washington D.C. Actress and divorced mother Chris MacNeil starts to experience 'difficulties' with her usually sweet-natured eleven-year-old daughter Regan. The child becomes afflicted by spasms, convulsions, and more. Medical science is baffled by Regan's plight and, in her increasing despair, Chris turns to priests and the Church.

Is the book better than the movie? You'll have to read to find out.

Title/author: End of Watch by Stephen King

Bingo Square: Main Character Over 60.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, is awake from a five-year vegetative state, and now he's in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room. If Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

Title/author: Maeve Fly by CJ Leede

Bingo Square: Award Winner.

By day, Maeve Fly works at the happiest place in the world as every child’s favorite ice princess. By the neon night glow of the Sunset Strip, Maeve haunts the dive bars with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, imitating her misanthropic literary heroes. But when Gideon Green — her best friend’s brother — moves to town, he awakens something dangerous within her, and the world she knows suddenly shifts beneath her feet.

Untethered, Maeve ditches her discontented act and tries on a new persona. A bolder, bloodier one.