If You Like….

Since Halloween is coming up this week… how could I resist doing an If You Like about ghost stories? As you know, I’m rather devoted to the genre. (They go so well with a rainy afternoon and a hot cup of tea.) Some of these on this list are old friends, while others are new discoveries.

If you like ghost stories, you’ll probably like….

— The traditional ghost stories of E. F. Benson and Edith Wharton, excellent examples of the art of the bonbon sized ghost story;

— John Boyne’s This House is Haunted, a classic, Victorian-set ghost story about a governess who finds that her new post is somewhat more than expected;

— Susan Hill’s incredibly creepy The Woman in Black, also in the classic tradition;

— John Harwood’s The Ghost Writer, a twisty, turny, literary ghost story with a bit of the modern and a bit of the late Victorian;

— Simone St. James’s two 1920s set ghost stories, The Haunting of Maddy Clare and An Inquiry Into Love and Death;

— Shirley Jackson’s classic The Haunting of Hill House (is it a ghost? or is it a mental breakdown?);

— Susanna Kearsley’s The Shadowy Horses, which has a ghost component to it (this is something of a friendly ghost);

— Barbara Michaels’s The Crying Child (which gave me shivers in my teens), Ammie, Come Home, and The Walker in Shadows, or, for a twist on the genre, Someone in the House;

— and Wendy Webb’s modern ghost stories, set on misty islands, The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Tale of Halcyon Crane.

Do you have any good ghost stories to recommend? There’s a new Simone St. James, Silence for the Dead, coming out in April, but anything to tide me over until then would be much appreciated….

Happy Halloween, all!


  1. Joanne M. on October 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I highly recommend The Restorer, The Kingdom, and The Prophet, a trilogy by Amanda Stevens (called The Graveyard Queen series). Delightfully spooky with southern gothic elements about a girl who restores historic cemeteries in the south….and sees ghosts who are trying to interact with her. Throw in a little murder, mystery, and romance and you’ve got a great read. (I have these on my shelf next to my Susanna Kearsley books to read again and again!)

  2. Patricia on October 28, 2013 at 9:31 am

    “Ammie Come Home” is one of my favorite books!

  3. Sue G on October 28, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I have noticed Susanna Kearsley is mention quite a bit in If You Like.
    Which one of her books should I read first? Has she written a series?
    All ideas welcome. 🙂

    • Christine on October 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

      Not so much a series, but some of the books are related. You definitely want to read Winter Sea before Firebird, and it helps if you read Shadowy Horses before Firebird, but not necessary. The rest are all standalone and all fantastic.

      • Am7 on October 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm

        What about The Rose Garden? Isn’t that connected to the Winter Sea?

        • Christine on October 30, 2013 at 9:41 am

          I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. The Rose Garden was the first one I read so the details are a bit fuzzy.

          • Sue G on October 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm

            Thank you ladies!

  4. Ellen S. on October 28, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Manning Coles wrote four ghost stories that I love. One, The Far Traveler, is a “stand alone”, the other three – Brief Candles, Happy Returns, Come and Go – follow the same pair of cousins. They are a delight to read and not at all scary!

  5. Nancy Kvorka on October 28, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Hi, I recommend the following: Annette Blair Vintage Magic Mystery series. Among other things there is a resident ghost but the main character “reads” vintage clothing. the main character is coming into her own as a witch too, so two genre’s in one; Christina Skye’s Draycott series and all Hailey Lind and Juliet Blackwell series. Hailey Lind is two sisters and Juliet Blackwell is one of them under a different pseudonym. One of them is also a series on witches and another one of them is on a female contracter that sees ghosts. Tjere are three series that take place in the San Francisco Bay area. I guess more good topices for this week.

  6. Valerie on October 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I also like “The Graveyard Queen” series. I would also suggest Charlaine Harris’ “Harper Connelly” series. They are both pretty good!!

  7. Pat D on October 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Yes, the Amanda Stevens trilogy is great, as are the Simone St James books. So glad to hear another one is coming out. You might like Dorothy Macardle’s “The Uninvited”. They made a movie of it in the 1940s with Ray Milland. Anyway I read the book when I was a kid and found it stored at my grandparents’. It was good! Also, “Graveminder” by Melissa Marr; Helen Dunmore’s “The Greatcoat” is very atmospheric and strange! Finally, there is a YA Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. She’s written two so far: “In the Name of the Star” and “The Madness Underneath.” I’m waiting for the next one to appear!

  8. Pam on October 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Susan Hill has a number of other really great, spooky stories (The Man in the Picture, The Small Hand, Dolly, among others). Oxford Press also has a few anthologies: The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories, the Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories, etc.

  9. Betty S. on October 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Sharon McCrumb deals with legends and sometimes ghosts in Appalachia – She Walks These Hills in which the ghost of Katie Wyler, captured by the Shawnee in 1789 is still roaming the hills in modern day; also The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.
    Darci Hannah has written two beautiful novels set in Scotland that have ghostly and angelic appearances: The Angel of Blythe Hall – Noblewoman Isabeau Blythe begins to experience the otherworldly beings that have been her family’s downfall; The Exile of Sara Stevenson – unmarried and pregnant Sara is banished to a remote lighthouse in 1814 where she encounters spirits/ghosts that also involve time travel.
    Finally Lisa Kleypas’s modern romances – Dream Lake in which main character Alex Nolan is haunted by a ghost and Crystal Cove which deals more with magic and curses. All of the above are wonderful stories and so different.

  10. Sarah H. on October 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    If you’re looking for a really good scary read, pick up The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. It’s set in a decaying English country house between the wars- and it is CREEPY.

  11. jeffrey on October 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    In the spirit of the season I am reading a beaut of a ghost story entitled Haunting Ellie, a contemporary thriller about a woman who buys an ancient hotel in a small town in Montana that just about everyone knows is haunted. I’m only about 1/3 the way through but it has me hooked.

    I’d heartily recommend High Spirits At Harroweby by Mary Chase Comstock. Yes, definitely a ghost story but full of humor, romance and a little terror thrown in. The adorable little 10 year old sister of the heroine is befriended by the ghost who is actually her great-great grandmother. Together they must solve a family mystery.

  12. Christine on October 30, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. The Rose Garden was the first one I read so the details are a bit fuzzy.

    • Christine on October 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

      ACK this showed up twice and in the wrong place.

  13. Pam on October 31, 2013 at 8:29 am

    M.R. James’s Collected Ghost Stories (description suggests that they are very British and classic) are on sale today (10/31) on Amazon as one of the Kindle Daily Deals: http://www.amazon.com/Collected-Ghost-Stories-ebook/dp/B005WSNYEY/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383222422&sr=1-5

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