Halloween Takeover: Jo Spain

Jo Spain chooses her five favourite books for Halloween

Posted on October 24, 2018 in Author Recommendations
Tags: halloween

In the lead up to Halloween, we asked some of our favourite authors to recommend the most frightening and unnerving books they’ve read. Take a look and tell us if you’ve dared to read any of these chilling stories.


Jo Spain

Jo Spain has worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish parliament. Her first novel, With Our Blessing, was one of seven books shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition and her first psychological thriller. The Confession, was a number one bestseller in Ireland. Joanne lives in Dublin with her husband and their four young children. Jo’s next novel, Dirty Little Secrets, is coming in February 2019.





The Valley of the Squinting Windows by Brinsley MacNamara

Not your traditional horror thrill, but far scarier than bump in the night. Based in Ireland, this captured the real horror of small town gossiping and the damage it can do. It reads like a horrible car crash unfolding and it’s made all the worse because it’s is totally plausible. Anybody who grew up here and knows the tales of the girls who ended up in Magdalene Laundries or psychiatric institution because a rumour was started about them, will know exactly what I mean.




Alex by Pierre LeMaitre

One word, Rat. Second word. Lots of them. Not only spine-tinglingly terrifying, but also with an absolute tremendous twist. If you’re squeamish about killing live rodents with your bare feet, this one might not be for you. But then you can try one of his others – maybe Blood Wedding. The clue is in the name.






The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier

Normally I like my horror plausible. But I see nothing wrong with birds directed by aliens. You never know. I could have put anything by Ms. Du Maurier here, let’s be fair. She’s the queen of psychological suspense and you know what they say – it’s the living you need to watch out for. But I can honestly say I’ve never looked at birds on telephone wires the same after reading this book. What are you doing, birdies? What are you planning… Get your beak away from my eyes!!!





And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

An island, a killer amongst you, deepest darkest secrets revealed, no escape. The strength of Agatha Christie is that she makes you look beneath the veneer and when she does, it’s always nasty and covered in creepy crawlies. I think it was the sheer claustrophobia that got me with the book. You’re safe but you’re not safe and the tension builds faster than Regan’s spinning head in The Exorcist. It turned me right off my goal of getting my hands on Kirrin Island when I grew up. Who wants to rely on a boat to get you to the mainland?





The Stand by Stephen King

Some books never leave you. This one still makes me shiver. As a crime writer, you often go dark. But sometimes I feel I’m stopping myself from going too dark. Because my imagination is so vivid, it scares even me, and I want to put my books on the shelves and not jump when I see them. Stephen King is much braver than I. And this is one of those books that actually scares the life out of you because, again, it’s not completely supernatural (completely, I said) but it has that same awful scrutiny of humanity in tough circumstances that, say, The Walking Dead has. And basically, we’re all only one step away from machete-ing our neighbours post apocalypse. Enjoy!



See more Halloween recommendations from Sarah Hilary, Phoebe Locke, Elodie Harper, Douglas Lindsay, Allen Eskens, Charlotte DuckworthAnna Mazzola, David Mark and Jenny Blackhurst.


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