Top 5 Tuesday || Spooky Atmospheres

Top 5 Tuesday

Top 5 Tuesday has been a little slow this month here at The Words Gremlin, if only because spooky season is mostly not my thing (and because the two other prompts this month were for booktube and audiobooks, neither of which my brain allows me to consume without CONSTANT DISTRACTION 😩). Atmosphere, though, is, and Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm Blog has made sure today’s prompt is perfect for Halloween sitting just around the corner!

So let’s get spooky, shall we?

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase Cover

Time after time, this one makes it onto my T5T lists, but that’s because I STAND BY IT. It’s got snark, spookiness, and a hint of suspicious subplotting, which unfurls in full force as the series goes on! It actually forced me to stop reading about 2/3 in because the spookiness started to ramp up, and I was this close to being the only person awake in the house. Not a good combo when you’re a chicken like me, but proof it was definitely spooky enough to satisfy!

Also, it’s got a haunted mansion. You know, the quintessential spooky location?


The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

The Luminous Dead Cover

While the heavy psych horror elements of The Luminous Dead meant it wasn’t the book for me, I can’t deny how effectively terrifying the atmosphere is. Gyre Price spends the entire novel in the depths of a cave with no human company save for the voice of her handler over her comm systems, and the isolating effect is eerie as all hell. Time is also uncertain down in the dark, where all the normal touchstones for marking the hours are gone, and it makes it hard to tell how long Gyre’s been down there.

And if she’s really alone…


Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Sawkill Girls Cover

A sequestered island and secret societies and ravenous monsters? Sawkill Girls pretty much follows the recipe for the perfect amount of ominous. It’s got more of a gothic horror feeling to it than an outright scary story sense, but the creeping dread is still creeping dread, and the monsters in the dark aren’t always unfamiliar, which can be pretty damn unsettling in its own right.


Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Before the Devil Breaks You Cover

The entire Diviners series could feasibly stand here, but Before the Devil Breaks You is the one that features an island home to a mental hospital, an island now overrun with dangerous, emotionally volatile ghosts. Add in the man in the stovepipe hat moving his pieces across the chessboard, the threats concerning Project Buffalo, and some secrets come at long last to light, and the ghosts aren’t even the scariest forces at work in this book.

You know, I think I’ve convinced myself it’s time for a reread before King of Crows comes in 2020!


This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab

This Savage Song Cover

Maybe not spooky in the traditional sense, but the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I imagine trying to get through streets that brim with monsters after dark, streets that only let you pass unharmed when you pay your dues to the protection racket holding the monsters at bay. It’s a grim world in This Savage Song, teeming with all kinds of darkness, and forget traditional spooky when you can have this monstrous dystopian spooky breathing down your neck!


So, what are your top spooky pics? And on a scale of 1-10, how pumped are you for Halloween? I’m actually at a 2 (only because the third Luigi’s Mansion game comes out on Halloween, or else I’d be at a one because I don’t like Halloween 😅), but I know there’s a lot of you out there THIS CLOSE to an 11!

4 thoughts on “Top 5 Tuesday || Spooky Atmospheres

    1. Tbh, I recommend Sawkill Girls more, but that’s because TLD is psych horror and it was a case of it’s not you, it’s me when I read it and didn’t love it. I hope you can get to both soon though!

Leave a Reply