In thinking about putting together my own TBR for fall, I started to make a list of different categories that I want to cover in order to truly capture the ultimate fall vibe. I was then inspired to put together recommendations for each of those categories in case anyone else is working on their fall TBRs. My own TBR will be posted next following these same categories.
Of course, witches are the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about fall because I am a witch girl at heart. There are so many witchy books that I could have recommended but I tried to choose four that I think would work for different types of readers.
If you are looking for a cozy, classic witchy story, I have to recommend Practical Magic and the entire series, even though I talk about it every year. The books and the movie adaptation are the epitome of fall to me. It does not feel like Halloween season for me until I watch the movie! The books in the series just get better and better. I have also noticed that a lot of newer witchy books are compared to Practical Magic, so why not read the book that has inspired so many amazing witchy stories?
If you are looking for a unique take on witches, I think that One For My Enemy is a good one to try. It is a Romeo and Juliet retelling that follows rival families who happen to be witches. It does some interesting things and there are references to Baba Yaga. Because it is based on Romeo and Juliet, there is obviously a romance, which almost felt like YA in some moments, especially since we see text messages sent back and forth. The tone shift was a little jarring but I was in for the ride!
The Lighthouse Witches is one of my favourite books and I will find any excuse to talk about it! It is set on a Scottish island and is told in two timelines. We follow a woman whose sister went missing when they were children and she gets a call that her sister has been found but she has never grown up. We also get glimpses to the past where witches were horrible mistreated on this island and what that lead to. It is incredible and different from other witchy books I have read!
There are so many witchy rom-coms I could recommend, but I chose to highlight A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon because the sequel, A Demon’s Guide to Wooing a Witch, comes out in November, so now is the perfect time to read it! I also love that we are getting both witches and demons in this book and there is an interesting plot outside of the romance. Also, give me all the books with a main character who is a witch who can’t control their magic!
I have a post coming where I recommend vampire novels, so I will just give you have glimpse at three of my favourites!
Though I have enjoyed everything I have read from Silvia Moreno-Garcia so far, Certain Dark Things remains my favourite. I appreciate her original take on vampires and I was enraptured by the lore that she managed to create in so few pages. I always say this, but she did so much groundwork in this story that I hope she continues to write in this world.
I don’t think you’ll be surprised to see A Dowry of Blood on this list, but it deserves all of the hype that it gets. I finally read it this year and it was so heartbreakingly beautiful and I appreciated seeing Dracula from a different perspective. This book follows Dracula’s first bride, Constanta, and we slowly come to see how she recognize how unhealthy her relationship is. This is one of the most quotable books I have ever read!
When someone asks me for my favourite vampire book, I always say it is Immortal Rules. I think it is worth noting that I read this ten years ago, but in some ways it feels like yesterday. I distinctly remember how I felt about the characters and their relationships and it is a series I need to reread but I am always scared to do that with these older books.
I am newer to monster romances but it is a niche I want to look into more, especially since I loved That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon as much as I did. I fell in love with the entire series this year and each of the love interests is a different monster. We have a demon in book one, a werewolf in book two, and a dragon shifter in book three! These are cozy but steamy romances and I couldn’t love them more.
Into the Drowning Deep does feel more like a summer horror but I do think it is perfect for anytime of the year. You might not consider mermaids monsters, but that is certainly what they are in this book! I was so tense the entire time I was reading this and there were some jump scares that really got me, which I think is hard to do in books.
I just read I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me, so this is my first time recommending it! I think this is a book where you just have to experience the monster element for yourself but wow this book was intense. I was rooting so hard for the main character even when she was making terrible choices. I love a good villain origin story and cannot wait for the sequel, I Am the Dark That Answers When You Call.
This Delicious Death is the kind of YA horror that I love and will always recommend. It is campy and sapphic and just a good time. The monsters in this are teenage girls who were effected by a pandemic that made them want to eat human flesh. It all takes place at a music festival and is a book I think you could read in one sitting.
There are so many cozy fantasies I could recommend, so I tried to share a good mix of things so hopefully you’ll find one that appeals to you.
Baking Bad is the first book in a long, self-published series that is classified as a cozy mystery with dragons. All of the titles in this series are super punny and the dragons themselves have such amazing personalities. The books reads like your classic cozy mystery but the dragons make them feel like something different.
I am sure you have seen Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries everywhere at this point but it wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mentioned it! I loved it so much that I read it twice this year, which is something I have never done before. It is like Memoirs of Lady Trent but with faeries instead of dragons and is more whimsical. I love the slow burn romance and cannot wait for the sequel!
I am just now realizing how many cozy fantasy books I have read that also have dragons! Give me cute dragons over big scary ones any day. Scales and Sensibility is a Regency romance with dragons and I hihgly reocmmend it as well as its sequel, Claws and Contrivances.
Clown in a Cornfield is a popular slasher and is the book that always comes to my mind when I am recommending something like this. It takes a minute for everything to get set up but once the slashing starts to happen it becomes such a page turner. It also has a clown, which is probably my biggest fear.
The Only Good Indians is probably the first slasher I ever read and it is the book that made me realize I love horror that has social commentary. I would describe this book as brutal and haunting but never over the top. I tend to prefer my slashers to be campy and ridiculous, but this is the exception.
I am currently reading There’s No Way I’d Die First and all I have to say is that we get to the slashing so quickly and it is fun! I am in no way attached to this characters so have yet to care what happens to them but that is often the case in these type of teen slashers and I am okay with it. I don’t think the point of this is to make you emotional, you are just supposed to want to keep turning the pages.
I had to put another C.J. Cooke book on my list because The Ghost Woods is probably my favourite haunted house story. I don’t think anyone writes atmosphere quite like Cooke does and her writing just works for me. There are strong themes about motherhood and it is set in the 60s and the house in this book is actually a home for unwed mothers, so be aware of that before picking this up. There is also an intriguing mystery woven through the story that kept me intrigued.
I just read an ALC of Starling House and it was my first book from Alix E. Harrow and I absolutely loved it! It is the kind of haunted house story where the house is a character in and of itself and there is nothing I love more than that. I will talk more about it in my wrap up, but I recommend preordering this if you can. It comes out on October 3rd!
What Moves the Dead was the first horror I read from T. Kingfisher and what a book to start with! I think I am a fan of “sporror”, which The Ghsot Woods also has a touch of. This is a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher (side note: I just watched the trailer for the Netflix adaptation- looks scary!), but I think it adds some freshness to that story.
House of Salt and Sorrow is a YA retelling of Twelve Dancing Princesses and it is way more chilling and atmospheric than you might expect. I fell in love with all of these characters and the sisterhood between them. I was fully invested in their story and it had me on the edge of my seat. I also just read the sequel, House of Roots and Ruin, which is not as haunting as book one but is certainly disturbing and I LOVED it!
I discovered this year that SciFi is my favourite subgenre of horror and Mira Grant is my go-to author when I am in the mood for a book like this. I recommend all of her novellas that I have read but Square Cubed is the one I read most recently and haven’t had the chance to recommend enough. There is a law of talk about physics but I don’t think you have to overanalyze that too much, It is ultimately the story of two sisters who were torn apart because of a rift and one sister’s desperate attempt to find the other.
I think that Dead Silence is a good one to pick up if you are interested in trying SciFi horror. I was not overwhelmed by the science because it is pretty much an isolated mystery/horror that happens to take place on a ghost ship in space. I found this to be super creepy and tense but I could have done without the romance if I am being honest.
Dark Matter is definitely more of a SciFi thriller than a horror but I had to mention it. If this has been on your TBR, I think now is the perfect time to pick it up. This book is super accessible and one I would recommend even if you don’t consider yourself a SciFi reader!
This wouldn’t be an ultimate fall recommendations list if I didn’t take about dark academia! Plain Bad Heroines is one my favourite books of all time and I would say it fits into this subgenre. It is told in two timelines. One in the past at an all-girls boarding school where things go down and you’ll never look at wasps the same way, and one in the present following actresses who are making a movie about what happened in the other timeline. It is so brilliantly done!
If We Were Villains is a classic of the genre out this point, so I am sure you have heard of it, but it is one of my favourites so I couldn’t not mention it! It has all of the staples of the genre and an ending that I cannot stop thinking about all of these years later.
I was going to do an entire category for “good for her” thrillers, but I just decided to highlight They Never Learn because it is my favourite and I would also consider it dark academia. I love a morally grey character who you can’t help to root for!
Never Let Me Go is my favourite book of all time and I would definitely consider the first section to be dark academia. If you are lucky enough not to have been spoiled by this book, just pick it up now while you still can!
Are you a seasonal reader?