Welcome to Part Two of our round up of spooky Scottish reads to get you in the mood for Halloween. If you missed Part One you can find it here where we brought you recommendations for dark tales, short stories and wee reads. So, lets get on with it then…
Too Near the Dead by Helen Grant
This is one of my favourite creepy books from this year! Blurb? Sometimes it’s terrifying, loving someone this much…For Fen Munro and her fiancé James, it is a dream come true: an escape from London to a beautiful house in the stunning Perthshire countryside. Barr Dubh house is modern, a building with no past at all. But someone walks the grounds, always dressed in lavender. Under a lichenous stone in an abandoned graveyard, a hideous secret lies buried. And at night, Fen is tormented by horrifying dreams. Someone wants Fen’s happiness, and nothing is going to stop them – not even death…
Read our review here.
The Whistling by Rebecca Netley
Alone in the world, Elspeth Swansome takes the position of nanny to a family on the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea. Her charge, Mary, hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William – just days after their former nanny disappeared. No one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies sung in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night…As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself trapped. But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past?
Pine by Francine Toon
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone. In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago. Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
House of Spines by Michael Malone
Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who had been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew grew up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-uncle Alexander has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman. A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and a reminder that lust and betrayal can be deadly…
I feel like with any run down of Scottish horror you have to start with the two classics that always spring to mind – The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Dr Jekyll and Hyde.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg
A wretched young man, ‘an outcast in the world’, tells the story of his upbringing by a heretical Calvinist minister who leads him to believe that he is one of the elect, predestined for salvation and thus above the moral law. Falling under the spell of a mysterious stranger who bears an uncanny likeness to himself, he embarks on a career as a serial murderer. Robert Wringhim’s Memoirs are presented by an editor whose attempts to explain the story only succeed in intensifying its more baffling and bizarre aspects. Is Wringhim the victim of a psychotic delusion, or has he been tempted by the devil to wage war against God’s enemies? Hogg’s sardonic and terrifying novel, too perverse for nineteenth-century taste, is now recognized as one of the masterpieces of Romantic fiction.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R.L. Stevenson
In seeking to discover his inner self, the brilliant Dr Jekyll discovers a monster. First published to critical acclaim in 1886, this mesmerising thriller is a terrifying study of the duality of man’s nature, and it is the book which established Stevenson’s reputation as a writer.
Shrike and Bane by Joe Donnelly
There’s a few you could choose from with Joe Donnelly but I’ve picked out Shrike and Bane specifically because they’re the two I’ve read. In Shrike, a wee Scottish town is being terrorised by an evil that was awoken during a dark seance that had gone terribly wrong. There’s a LOT going on in this one from a crime fiction element to a psychic to a monster to the occult but if you’re a fan of old school paperback horror of the Stephen King ilk give it a go. In Bane, a wee Scottish down is being terrorised by evil…It’s a theme but it works.
(If you subscribe to that unlimited subscription service on that site that’s named after a river you’ll find Shrike and Bane included…just sayin’)
The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley
Edinburgh 1827. In the starkly-lit operating theatres of the city, grisly experiments are being carried out on corpses in the name of medical science. But elsewhere, there are those experimenting with more sinister forces. Amongst the crowded, sprawling tenements of the labyrinthine Old Town, a body is found, its neck torn to pieces. Charged with investigating the murder is Adam Quire, Officer of the Edinburgh Police. The trail will lead him into the deepest reaches of the city’s criminal underclass, and to the highest echelons of the filthy rich. Soon Quire will discover that a darkness is crawling through this city of enlightenment – and no one is safe from its corruption.
The Fall of the House of Thomas Weir by Andrew Neil MacLeod
Edinburgh, 1773. A storm is coming. A storm that will shake the Age of Reason to its very foundations. When rumours spread of ghouls haunting Edinburgh’s old town, there is only one person who can help. Dr Samuel Johnson: author, lexicographer… and a genius in the occult and supernatural. With his good friend and companion, James Boswell, Dr Johnson embarks on a quest to unravel the hellish mysteries plaguing the city. But what they uncover is darker and more deadly than they could have ever suspected, an evil conspiracy which threatens not just the people of Edinburgh, but the whole of mankind. For the tunnels under Edinburgh’s Old Town hide a terrible secret…
Maggie’s Grave by David Sodergren
The small Scottish town of Auchenmullan is dead, and has been for years. It sits in the shadow of a mountain, forgotten and atrophying in the perpetual gloom. Forty-seven residents are all that remain. There’s nothing to do there, nothing to see, except for a solitary grave near the top of the mountain. MAGGIE WALL BURIED HERE AS A WITCH reads the faded inscription. But sometimes the dead don’t stay buried. Especially when they have unfinished business.
The Trickster by Muriel Gray
Life is good in Silver, a small town high in the Canadian Rockies. Sam Hunt is a lucky man. with a loving family and an honest income, he has everything he wants. But beneath the mountains a vile, demonic energy is gathering strength and soon it will unleash its freezing terror upon Silver. In the eye of the storm, one man struggles to bury the private horrors of his childhood. He knows nothing, yet seems to know everything: Sam Hunt. All he loves may be destroyed by an evil beyond imagining. An evil from the buried, hated past. An evil named the Trickster.
You might also be interested in checking out our round up of dystopian fiction – find it here
Unsettling Tales set in Scotland
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke
Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse. A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms. Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation. Coincidence? Or curse? Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left. Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .
Banquet for the Damned by Adam Neville
Few believed Professor Coldwell could commune with spirits. But in Scotland’s oldest university town something has passed from darkness into light. Now, the young are being haunted by night terrors and those who are visited disappear. This is certainly not a place for outsiders, especially at night. So what chance do a rootless musician and burned-out explorer have of surviving their entanglement with an ageless supernatural evil and the ruthless cult that worships it? A chilling occult thriller from award-winning author Adam Nevill, Banquet for the Damned is both a homage to the great age of British ghost stories and a pacey modern tale of diabolism and witchcraft.
By These Ten Bones by Claire B. Dunkle
A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for wood carving soon wins the admiration of the weaver’s daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves. There is an evil presence in the carver’s life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most to her-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.
Black Cathedral by L.H. Maynard and M.P.N Sims
At an old manor house on a remote Scottish island, six managers of a large corporation arrive for a week-long stay. Within days they will all suffer horrifying deaths and their bodies will never be found. The government assigns the case to Department 18, the special unit created to investigate the supernatural and the paranormal. However this is no mere haunted house. The evil on this island goes back centuries, but its unholy plots and schemes are hardly things of the past. In fact, while the members of Department 18 race to unravel the island’s secrets, the forces of darkness are gathering… and preparing to attack.
Madam by Phoebe Wynne
For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’. Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be. But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.
Swansong by Kerry Andrew
Polly Vaughan is trying to escape the ravaging guilt of a disturbing incident in London by heading north to the Scottish Highlands. As soon as she arrives, this spirited, funny, alert young woman goes looking for drink, drugs and sex – finding them all quickly, and unsatisfactorily, with the barman in the only pub. She also finds a fresh kind of fear, alone in this eerie, myth-drenched landscape. Increasingly prone to visions or visitations – floating white shapes in the waters of the loch or in the woods – she is terrified and fascinated by a man she came across in the forest on her first evening, apparently tearing apart a bird. Who is this strange loner? And what is his sinister secret?
White Pines by Gemma Amor
A woman, returning to her roots. A town, built on sacred land. A secret, cloaked in tradition and lore. Welcome to White Pines. Don’t get too comfortable.
Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge. One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?
City of Ghosts by V.E. Schwab
Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead…and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost. So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger. When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift”, she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil – and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.