The Book of Séances: A Guide to Divination and Speaking to Spirits
Kicking off with a bit of memoir-style background that was instantly relatable to me as a millennial magic-lover, Claire Goodchild's Book of Séances is a crash-course look into the powers of divination and connecting with the spirit realm in the format of an easily digested handbook. On top of being highly readable, charming, and entertaining, the aesthetics throughout – illustrations, color schemes, myriad fonts – give this the esoteric feel you want when brushing up on your practice.
Witch Hunt: A Traveler's Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch
Written in gorgeously lyrical prose, as is standard for spectacular writer Kristen J. Sollée, this book is a real witch's account of traveling across Europe and the U.S. to find the most intriguing stories related to the history of witchcraft. Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France all hold sacred grounds where celebrations, condemnations, and several other magical activities leeched into the very ground, cultivating a rich history of sorcerous happenings you'll want to devour while curled up with a mug of hot tea or cider.
Universal Harvester is likely the more October-friendly choice (i.e. scarier) from Darnielle's catalog. Still, if you want something challenging, unexpected, and a story that grapples with the morality of the true crime genre in a fascinating way, this is the ticket. It's non-linear, discombobulating, and frankly a weird read, but one that rewards your patience and stamina by teaching you new ways to view deconstruction as art. True horror fiends will appreciate the gnarly descriptions of gore sprinkled throughout.
Any Grady Hendrix book is bound to suck you in with his quick-witted quips, delicious pacing, and commitment to the spooky bit, but The Final Girl Support Group is a standout in his collected works for subverting common horror tropes with a perspective shift that lends unexpected twists. It's a huge risk to have the main character so deeply unlikeable at certain points, but you'll eventually grow to understand why Lynette Tarkington and her survivor cohorts put up the walls they must, leading to a blockbuster ending that will have you devouring pages at breakneck speed.
One of the most visually stunning books I've ever held, The Witch's Feast is the ultimate must-have guide to keep in your kitchen, on your coffee table, or displayed proudly on an office shelf that captures the mystical enchantment of culinary spell-casting perfectly. The treats inside are captivating, rich with colorful detail, and hold special nostalgic magic similar to what you'd find in a retro cookbook – minus the weird gelatin recipes. In addition to drooling over the tempting imagery, you'll have a whole new source of inspiration when creating meals for yourself and your loved ones throughout the season and well beyond it. It also makes a gorgeous gift for your foodie friends!
The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Tales
As a West Virginian by birth, I'd be remiss to not suggest this classic collection of ghost stories and other eerie tales gathered from the rich tapestry of horrors that haunts the hills of my home state. Most of the stories have been passed down by word of mouth for generations, twisting and mutating with each iteration to take on new lives and afterlives of their own. Lilac Bush has been in print since 1965 so if you don't trust a clearly biased source such as myself, you can at least trust the nearly 60 years of staying power this tome has had on the finicky book market.
High-brow literature it's not, but something about the character of Charlie Payne and her charming southern family comprised entirely of powerful witches is warm, inviting, and goes down like sweet apple pie.
Charlie sees and speaks to the dead, a skill she uses to help local woman Susan Tate whose newly inherited mansion is spilling over with restless spirits. The adventure they embark on together leads to a grim truth about a local killer that nearly sees Charlie meet her own end, but her supernaturally talented cousins step in to save the day in the story's heated climax. Once you see how this clan operates, you'll likely – like me – get roped into their world and speed through the rest of the collection.