A scary house - descriptive essay
samuraitom 23 / 18 Sep 23, 2007 #1 Prompt was to describe a place. I think I did a good job with that. I tried not to use too many "I" but that proved to be a bit difficult. I'm trying to get rid of all the vague sentence starters that my teacher informed me about. 1) Is my thesis statement ok? 2) Is my conclusion alright? Critique as always, please. The Scary House As I stood, gazing at the dilapidated house. I shivered, as though, ice had replaced my spine. The cold air enveloped the entire body. The multiple layer of clothing could not protect against the deathly cold. The walkway leading up to house were cracked. Weeds and dandelions poked out from these cracks. Red roses grown wildly in thick batches by the gate. The moonlight cast a ghoulish glow on the house. Vines formed a twisted maze upon the side of house, reaching their tentacles towards the roof. The house's walls showed black decay by neglect. Splotches of original paint hinted at the house former prosperity. Cobwebs covered the corners of the doors, tiny black spiders threading towards their prey. The house is fit for the kings and queens of the supernatural. The door begrudgingly creaked open. A musty, dank order creep into my nose. The house was dead silence except for the intermittent creaks and moans. Black and brown mold dotted the ceiling in clusters, evident of rain seeping through the roof. I quietly entered the dark living room. Windows covered with grime and dirt, the calm moonlight struggled to penetrate the darkness in thin thread rays. Sharp shadows roamed around the room. The sofa and chairs overturned revealing deep grooves on the ground where they used to sit. Wallpaper lay curled on the floor. A large jagged hole dug through the wall stood as though daring any to enter. Picture frames hanged off-centered. Sharp shadows roamed around the room. A misplaced grand bookcase stood the corner of the room, undisturbed for a long time. Selecting the correct book could reveal a secret doorway into a labyrinth. I made my way back into the hallway, a slimmer of light came from behind a door. I approached and opened the door. I had reached the bathroom. The single window was mildly dirty, a flood of light flowed into the room. Dust swirled around the room as I made my way inside. The medicine cabinet mirror lay shattered in pieces on the floor tile. Empty medicine bottle lay in the porcelain sink. The only sound to be heard is the drip, drip of the faucet. A closer look revealed the discoloration of the water, a brownish concoction. A lone mouse stood sentry at the bottom of the tub. Never having a visitor in a while, it curiously eyed me before scuttling away. Approaching the bathtub, a violent odor made it way to my nose. Pinching my nose, I leaned over and peered inside. Crusty rags filled the bathtub, little hints of movement underneath them. It would be unadvisable to see what is under the rags. I arrived at the foot of the staircase. I stood and peered at the top, wondering when a twisted head person will crawl down and have me for dinner. I summoned strength and tiptoed my way up the stairs. Each step intensified the moaning and creaking as if the steps could collapse at any moment. I turned to the right, and met my final destination. The door did not give way easier, a forceful push was needed. Stepping inside, a dresser seem to have been pushed against the door, attempting to deny anyone entry. I could make out the silhouette of bed, edging in closer for a better look. A toy dinosaur lay missing its head on the bed. The sheet was splattered with a dark color. The wind intensified outside, the rustling of the leaves and branches were louder. In the corner, a little chair began to rock slowly. The room had once belonged to a boy. The thin strips of wallpaper showed little trucks. Crayon markings scrambled upon the wall where wallpaper used to stick. The carpet squished as I walked. Little picture frames remained facedown on the carpet. A howl echoed throughout the house. It was time to leave, I told myself. I closed the bedroom door behind as I carefully walked down the stairs. I hoped I did not disturb anything or its somber rest. I made my way outside where my group of friends was standing. They asked me what took me so long; I replied that escaping the ghosts was difficult.
Descriptive essay example: the haunted house.
Pushing the heavy gates open the touch of the iron bars, as cold as ice, seized up my hand completely. Even though I could feel the unevenness of the old cobbled path beneath me, they were smooth in contrast to the crunching of the odd dead leaf that I stepped on. Carrying on up the path the grass carried on forever into the horizon, a dull grey color as if it had lost the will to live and stopped growing altogether.
One lonesome Oak tree stood by the house swaying in the wind and as the windswept by the tree whispered to the air and its surroundings. The moon shone bright white, in the cloudless sky, it was the only source of light that could be seen for miles. Owls occasionally fluttered by overhead, their silhouettes passing over the grass. The air was cold and numb and with every breath I drew a misty, chilly exhale followed.
As the house drew nearer everything around me became quieter and more distant. The trees murmuring couldn’t be heard anymore and the cold iron gates were far, far back in the distance. Owls couldn’t be heard anymore and there were no leaves on the ground, just some aged concrete steps, and a doorway that stood in front of me.
From the outside, the house was tall and thin, made from large dark grey stones that had a rough feel all of this sandwiched together by crumbling cement. Climber Plants grew up the house winding around the drainpipes grabbing for the little sunlight that reached this desolate place. The windows rattled vigorously from the howling wind, as though they were about to fall out of the frames which were made from rotting wood being eaten away by wood worm. A few potted plants lay next to the door, once there for neat presentation now wilted and brown, almost certainly dead. The door had been left ajar perhaps for many years, or maybe someone was already in there.
The hallway was dull and smelt of dust mixed with old age. Paintings hung up of what looked to be important rich people, their eyes following my every move. To the left was an old wooden stairway leading upwards to the second floor each step looked so delicate and worn that if you were to walk up them you would step right through them. Straight ahead led to two more rooms, which looked to be a kitchen, from all the cups and plates left out, a dining room, and to the right of me was the lounge area. The lounge had large bookcases on each wall stacked with thick data books caped in dust. There was no television just a sofa, two chairs and a fireplace; the thick smell of charcoal from the once burning fireplace had spread around the room choking me up on the inside. The chairs and sofa were made from black leather once soft and comfy now thin and worn away from all the use. Under the chairs and in front of the fireplace lay a red and dusty grey rug stained from the charcoal and shredded at the sides from mice living in the bottom of the sofa.
As I entered the kitchen I could see the moonlight shining through the windows casting a reflection on the wall opposite. Mugs and plates lay on the surface cold and stained by tea. The sink and taps made from brass, eroded and layered in dirt, still leaking water into the sink and every time a drop of water fell an echo passed around the house as though symbols were being smashed together. I could feel the coldness from the musty orange and black tiled floor even though I was wearing shoes it felt as though it had frozen over.
I moved on to the dining room – a big table made from oak and six chairs filled the room. The table had been laid, the plates and silverware lay there untouched and unused like a forgotten date. Above the table hung a beautiful chandelier twinkling in the moonlight. The walls plastered with cream wallpaper curling in at the corners.
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True Ghost Stories: 3 Terrifyingly True Tales From Living in a Haunted House
Posted: October 31, 2023 | Last updated: October 31, 2023
Growing up in a haunted house proved terrifying on many occasions. It’s nothing you ever get used to, but something you learn to live with when given no other choice. The home had multiple spirits and another supernatural being with a darker, evil presence.
Not only did I grow up in the home, but as an adult, I moved back into the house with my daughter when my dad remarried and moved out. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you willingly move back into a haunted home?” I was a single mom with limited options and a loving father. Nonetheless, I have decades’ worth of stories. Here are three of the creepier moments.
1. My True Ghost Story: The Tale of the Bed-Shaking Ghost
I remember pleading with my father about my bed shaking every night, and he would always send me back to bed. I can’t fault him. All kids are scared of “monsters” under the beds at some point, right?
So, Dad comes in to appease you with a search, and then you’re supposed to drift off to sleep like you didn’t just experience what you experienced. But — what if what kids are calling monsters are actually ghosts and other supernatural forces?
By the time I hit middle school, I’d been dealing with my bed shaking for several years. I could never explain it to my father in terms he understood, but as an adult, let me clarify.
Every night, and I do mean EVERY night, I would lay down in my bed, and it would subtly shake me into a pit of pure terror. I had a metal daybed, and you could feel vibrations in the cold hollow bars that confirmed the bed was moving.
Deep and Lurking Darkness
As shadows crept through the darkness, frightening me to the core, I mentally argued back and forth with myself about hiding my head under the blanket or jumping to the foot of my bed and flipping the light switch on.
My heart rapidly pounded at my chest, begging for me to get the courage to flip the switch because as soon as I turned my light on, it stopped without fail. But that involved blindly plummeting toward the foot of my bed. I feared that was where whatever was doing this may be standing. I was petrified and often found myself praying.
Holding My Dog Hostage
This was a nightly occurrence, and I felt so alone. Many nights, I forced my beautiful black spaniel, Beaux, to sleep with me. He would start off on the bed next to me. God, I loved that dog, and he loved me so much.
But love didn’t deter him from jumping off the bed and scratching frantically at my door to get out. It was phenomenally worse when he would hop down and turn his attention to under my bed — baring teeth and viciously growling—two things he never did otherwise.
It was a horrifyingly frightening experience, and I felt so alone. I’ll never forget the validation I received one night with a friend sleeping over. For the sake of the story, I’ll call her Jess.
A Tweenage Sleepover
Jess was quickly becoming my best friend when her mother agreed she could spend the night. It was exciting to be making a new friend, and I was grateful not to be alone. We went late into the night, watching movies and eating various junk food.
When we lay down to go to sleep, we were giggling back and forth about whatever it is that tweens find funny when, all of a sudden, Jess lept up over me and jumped out of the bed! A shiver shot down my spine as she excitedly asked, “What was that?!” Demanding I turn on the light, I watched her frantically jump up and down, waving her arms at her sides in pure panic.
My heart raced as I replied, “Oh my God! You felt it, too?” I had told my sister about it, and because of her own experiences, she believed me. But never was there a time that I had been validated as it happened.
Long Before Technology
This was long before the internet. I didn’t have a computer in the palm of my hand that could help me decipher anything that I was going through. I suppose I could have visited the library in search of something, but my young self didn’t know any better. Nonetheless, sometimes information would stop you in your tracks at the least expected times. For example —
A Spine-Tingling Development
Moving forward in our friendship, sleepovers with Jess went down at her house down the road and around the corner. One night, we lay in her bed and watched a ’90s paranormal television show called Sightings . It had similar vibes to Unsolved Mysteries but without the crime story highlights.
I swear, I have never jumped out of bed as quickly as I did when the woman telling her story stated, “I mean. I’ve heard of ghosts shaking beds…” Were my ears deceiving me? NO! A TV show gave me further vindication that this wasn’t me making up stories. It was a real thing, and I wasn’t the only one haunted by a sinister bed shaker.
2. My True Ghost Story: The Tale of the Taunting Jack-in-the-Box
Have you ever felt the hair on the back of your neck stand up and know that you were not alone in the room you occupy, despite no visible being? It’s easily one of the scariest experiences you’ll ever encounter.
I am uncertain of the reason (though I’ve speculated many). But the supernatural activity in the house amped up in October and was heavier through the fall and winter seasons.
Scary Movie Temptation
Despite loving the horror genre, I rarely consumed scary films at home because of the paranormal occupants. I feared the spirits might feed off the energy because of other experiences I had as a kid after watching Arachnophobia and It .
Still, it was nearing Halloween, and AMC was running scary movies around the clock when I decided to entertain one. I know better, but there is an odd fascination (temptation) with the supernatural when experiencing things for yourself.
My daughter was asleep on my bed, and I sat in the family room, preparing to be safely frightened with the classic — Halloween . But nothing could prepare me for what was about to unfold.
The Little Red Monster’s Giggling Voice
I wasn’t long into the film when my toddler’s Elmo Jack-in-the-Box toy started playing from the toybox in the room with me. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Elmo will be there soon,” taunted his little voice.
My heart immediately sped up as I quickly sprung from the chair and scanned my surroundings. It continued to torment: “Ha. Ha. Ha. Elmo will be there soon!” — “AHH!” I screamed out loud.
Searching for a Logical Explanation
My mind frantically raced with ways to rationalize how the toy was going off on its own, but I came up blank. The Jack-in-the-box is a toy with a crank that requires you to turn it to play and release Elmo. It was impossible for the Jack-in-the-box to play without turning the crank.
After convincing myself to “Be brave,” I picked it up and out of the toy box and shook it. Shaking it produced no sounds. To ensure it wasn’t activated by some other toy possibly pressing on the crank (yeah, right), I set it on the fireplace mantle. As I turned around to walk back to my chair (and put on something a little more Saved by the Bell’ish ), my entire body chilled to the bone.
A Definitive “Peek-a-Boo” — A Spirit Is Here With You
Goosebumps spread across my skin. The hair on my arms stood up, and I let out a silent yelp as the Jack-in-the-Box completed its cycle, popped open, and Elmo exclaimed: “Yaaaaay! Peek-a-Boo Elmo Sees YOU!”
My heart lept from its chest as I fleetly turned around and walked backward in disbelief. I immediately shut the television off and raced to hold my sleeping baby girl in the bedroom while watching some Scrubs reruns — in an attempt to calm my trembling body and mind down.
3. My True Ghost Story: The Smoking Man
If those first two stories didn’t get you, this one is bound to send chills down your spine. I saw an actual apparition! Ooooo, this one gives me serious willies. It wasn’t uncommon for us to smell smoke without a source in the hallway leading to the bathroom.
Let me briefly paint a picture. The hall was no bigger than a five-by-seven-foot space. When approaching the hallway from the family room, the tiny bathroom was straight ahead behind a pocket door, and there were bedrooms to the immediate left and right.
The room to the right had been my bedroom for many bed-shaking years when I was younger, but I had made my way to the rec room by this point in life, and the bed-shaking ceased.
The Devil’s Hour
One night, in the early three o’clock hour, I made my way through the dark laundry room, kitchen, and hallway to get to the bathroom. As soon as I hit the light switch, the hair on my neck stood up, and I was chilled to the bone.
It wasn’t uncommon in that house, and I rushed to do my business and return to my room. As my finger touched the light switch on the way out, I was completely overcome by fear. At the time, I didn’t understand why, but after years of analyzing it, my soul recognized that another spirit was standing in front of my old bedroom door.
The Spirit in the Hallway
As soon as I turned off the light and walked out into the hallway, I was hit by a thick, nasty-smelling cloud of smoke. A man wearing much older attire was malevolently smiling at me with a cigar in his hand, held out a few inches from his curled mustache.
His other hand traced up and down a suspender strap that slightly popped against his chest. He wore a brown suit, a bowler hat, and a pocket watch.
Panic and Processing
To this day, heavy sleeper or not, I don’t know how my father (in the room to the left) didn’t hear the hysterical scream I bellowed out before running to my bedroom and slamming two doors behind me!
I flew into my bed and began assessing the situation. Mid-run, I looked back, and the man vanished into thin air right before my eyes. I wasn’t running for my life because a man broke into my home. I was sprinting from a ghost and had no way of knowing if he was in my room with me.
Was this the bed-shaking ghost that had tormented me through my early childhood? He was standing outside my old bedroom door, which, coincidentally, is where — the foot of my bed — was when you walk into the bedroom.
Only a Glimpse
I never saw him appear again, but whenever I walked into the bathroom, I feared him being there. Every time I flipped the light switch off, I darted through the tiny hall space — terrified to look back.
I’ll always remember the surrealness of consuming so many details of a man in a brief second before fleeing at full speed. The image is permanently seared. And I’ll never forget the feeling that sinks into your stomach when watching someone disappear before your eyes. Unironically, the best way to describe it is — haunting .
Do you have a ghost story to share?
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WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®
Helping writers become bestselling authors
Setting Description Entry: Haunted House (inside)
May 23, 2009 by BECCA PUGLISI
Sight Dust, cobwebs, sheets on furniture, broken tables, chairs, windows, lamps, peeling wallpaper, gaps in the floorboards, holes in the walls, flickering lights (if there’s electricity) chandelier with broken strings of crystals, broken glass on the floor, spiders, cockroaches, rust, mildew, ripped curtains, shadows, gloomy staircases, old portraits & paintings, cracked…
footsteps on the stair, creaking doors, window shutters rattling on the outside, wind scattering/rustling paper through a broken window gap, words whispered in ear, screams, crying, wailing, laughter, glass smashing, the scrap of a chair moving, the scritch of tree branches scraping at the windows, rats squeaking, movement in the walls, a…
Phantom perfume or cologne, burning smells, pipe or cigarette smoke, mildew, rot, dank, rusty or metallic smells, wet wood and stone, rancid breath, yeasty beer smell, food, dust, dry rot, rat/mice feces, urine
Sour & dry mouth from fear, dust floating in the air and coating the tongue, salty tears
A phantom hand on the shoulder, the puff of breath on the earlobe or the back of the neck, the sensation of being grabbed on the arm, pushed, pulled, pinched, poked, slapped, burned, a feeling of light-headedness and nausea, hair rising on arms or the back of the neck, the body’s reaction to a drop in temperature (chills, shivering, breath puffing out…
–The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.
Example 1: I cringed at each creak on the old warped stairs, but it didn’t sway my determination to make it to the bedroom on the second floor. Halfway up, a shadow flickered at the corner of my vision. I froze, and as I stood there, caught a woody scent lingering in the air. Tobacco smoke? A shiver curled through the hairs on the back of my neck then cascaded down my backbone. It was all I could do to not hurl myself back down the stairs toward the front door…
–Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.
Example 1: (Metaphor ) The dining room chair suddenly jolted back and tilted toward me, a gracious invitation by an invisible host…
Think beyond what a character sees, and provide a sensory feast for readers
Setting is much more than just a backdrop, which is why choosing the right one and describing it well is so important. To help with this, we have expanded and integrated this thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers.
Each entry has been enhanced to include possible sources of conflict, people commonly found in these locales, and setting-specific notes and tips, and the collection itself has been augmented to include a whopping 230 entries—all of which have been cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. So if you’re interested in seeing this powerful Setting Thesaurus , head on over and register at One Stop.
On the other hand, if you prefer your references in book form, we’ve got you covered, too, because both books are now available for purchase in digital and print copies. In addition to the entries, each book contains instructional front matter to help you maximize your settings. With advice on topics like making your setting do double duty and using figurative language to bring them to life, these books offer ample information to help you maximize your settings and write them effectively.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers —a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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May 14, 2021 at 1:51 pm
May 8, 2021 at 6:48 pm
Oh wow. It hadn’t occurred to me to make a list of all the things to do with my settings. Thank you for this. Brilliant!
May 10, 2021 at 5:53 am
It’s so much easier to get the setting exactly where we want it when we know beforehand what to aim for :).
March 12, 2021 at 5:58 pm
I really love this Thank you so much for doing this
March 2, 2021 at 2:17 pm
February 18, 2021 at 8:34 am
Thankyou soo much…it really helped me
February 13, 2021 at 5:04 am
omg!! Thankyou so much, this helped with my assignment!!!
February 10, 2021 at 6:25 am
thank you so much, helped me alot during lockdown!!
February 11, 2021 at 8:29 am
Well thank goodness for that!
December 22, 2020 at 12:24 am
Thank You really helpful
December 12, 2020 at 5:30 am
December 4, 2020 at 11:38 pm
Thank you so much, there are totally enough ideas for me for my essay
November 22, 2020 at 10:04 am
November 10, 2020 at 5:41 pm
thank you so much i needed ideas and this gave me so much.
October 21, 2020 at 4:50 pm
I am doing a descriptive writing project and this helped me so much! Thank You!
October 21, 2020 at 7:01 pm
Glad it helped!
March 20, 2021 at 6:59 am
October 8, 2020 at 11:51 am
I love the website I had to write a paper about Halloween and I used this website to find my d Description Word I need . Who ever made this website I don’t know what I would tell him or her but it’s one of my favorite it gives me great description of what words I don’t understand and I then I can use it later if I could rate it 5 stars
October 8, 2020 at 1:07 pm
Zachary, I am so glad you like this website and it’s a help to you!
September 26, 2020 at 5:48 pm
thank u a lot s helps me in my writing
September 19, 2020 at 1:49 am
Thanks! It was quite helpful for my paragraph. 😊
March 25, 2020 at 1:17 am
This was SOOO helpful. Thanks a lot. It was very helpful.
This was SOOO helpful. Thanks a lot.
January 2, 2020 at 5:56 am
this helped me with my essay A LOT!!!!!!!!!!! 😊
December 3, 2019 at 2:51 pm
This is awesome！👌
March 31, 2021 at 11:41 pm
November 18, 2019 at 1:32 pm
This is so helpful for everyone . People can use them in essays while describing a haunted house .
November 10, 2020 at 5:43 pm
That is exactly what i used it for
November 11, 2019 at 7:02 am
This is so helpful! Definately the best website for writing! Thanksssss❤️❤️
November 11, 2019 at 10:42 am
Happy this helps!
November 3, 2019 at 7:28 am
October 25, 2019 at 4:58 am
I really like it. It’s really good.for.young children and writers. I love it do much
July 1, 2019 at 6:21 pm
wow I really needed this thank you sooo much
May 25, 2019 at 11:22 am
Amazing. Im a 14-year-old writer and all these descriptions inspired me on how to write my mystery book. Thanks so much Becca
February 9, 2019 at 6:29 pm
I really liked it because it helped me a lot to inspire me with my writing for greater depth.It was all very creative and amazing 😃👍🏻
January 28, 2019 at 11:34 am
very good descriptions
January 3, 2019 at 11:03 pm
This is too helpful
November 11, 2018 at 4:21 am
June 6, 2019 at 2:08 am
Good descriptive terms and phrases!!
October 24, 2018 at 1:23 pm
Thank you so much you have helped me so much.
October 23, 2018 at 10:49 am
This story describes the house and starts to leave an image of what the inside of the house looks like. I get shivers reading it.
October 22, 2018 at 11:10 am
I love this website it helps me
July 22, 2018 at 8:38 am
Thank you so much.. It helped me a lot… I am very happy about this web page😊
November 19, 2018 at 11:04 pm
yeah me too it helped alot
December 13, 2017 at 7:04 am
Thank you so much it really helped write my writing assessment and get full marks, don’t worry i didn’t cheat that much!
October 25, 2019 at 12:17 pm
lmao “that much”
November 9, 2017 at 5:32 pm
It Game Some Ideas What To Write
April 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm
Its just awesome because I get a idea to write it in my suspense story??
March 19, 2017 at 11:49 am
thanks alot it really helped me in my suspense story writing and it did really gave me some ideas to write it thanks 😉
December 3, 2016 at 8:15 am
Thank you very much. This is helpful to do my English HW. Zabit Khwaja
September 12, 2018 at 2:01 pm
October 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm
Thank you !! This has really helped me to do my homework and to inspire me for different t ideas.
October 6, 2016 at 9:45 am
this helped me do my English course thank u sooo much
September 1, 2011 at 9:32 am
this is awesome! 😀 helped me do my coursework for English! thanks a lot 😀
October 14, 2010 at 8:47 pm
this story is awsome i want to read another one.
September 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm
Thanks Aloot It Helped Me In My English Homework:) But I Think It Would Be Better If There Were More Examples Of Haunted Houses:D x
April 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm
this has helped me a great deal with my story for my English class 🙂
May 27, 2009 at 11:34 am
I love the image of the child riding a phantom rocking horse — very effective.
May 25, 2009 at 11:48 pm
This one was so fun to do. There are so many unusual settings to explore–stay tuned!
May 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm
You gals cover some of the greatest topics!!! Hope you can get these out in book form soon or eventually! Keep up the good work!
May 24, 2009 at 7:21 am
I can hear the wind moaning around corners…whhoooooooooowhoooooo.
May 24, 2009 at 7:14 am
May 23, 2009 at 4:09 pm
Gives me the shivers too. =)
May 23, 2009 at 1:35 pm
Gives me shivers just reading it. 😉
Home — Essay Samples — Life — Personal Experience — My Own Experience in a Haunted House
My Own Experience in a Haunted House
- Categories: Fear Personal Experience
About this sample
- Bader, C. (2014). Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture. NYU Press.
- Dickey, C. (2016). Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. Penguin Books.
- Hargrove, R. (2013). The Haunted House: A True Ghost Story. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
- Holzer, H. (2017). Ghosts: True Encounters from the World Beyond. Black Dog & Leventhal.
- Klinger, L. (2014). The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. Liveright Publishing Corporation.
- Michell, J., & Rickard, R. (Eds.). (2016). Paranormality: Why We Believe the Impossible. Overlook Press.
- Radford, B., & Nickell, J. (2012). The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead. Prometheus Books.
- Randles, J., & Hough, P. (2016). The Paranormal, the new guide to understanding and working with the unexplained. Watkins Media Limited.
- Tucker, E. (2016). Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses. University Press of Mississippi.
- Underwood, P. (2013). Haunted London. Amberley Publishing.
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Scary House Story Starter
- February 8, 2021
- No Comments
I love this story starter by Taylor Sapp. Also called unfinished stories or stories without end, or even story prompts, a story starter is a creative writing prompt in the form of the beginning of a story. Students read and then finish the story!
What makes them so great is that they give students a lot of support, more than a traditional one sentence prompt. A story starter creative writing prompt has a setting, characters, the beginning of a plot, maybe even a theme. So there’s a lot to work with. Even reluctant writers or students lacking confidence will have help. But there’s still room for students to take the story any way they want!
I’m going to be showing you our most popular story starter, “Scary House” which you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers . However, this will give you an idea how our Stories Without End story starters work and thoughts on using them in the classroom. Browse all the story starters on Teachers Pay Teachers or check out our two books of creative writing prompts :
- Four pages of teacher notes and suggestions for using the different parts of the activity (some of these ideas are duplicated here and on the Teachers Pay Teachers product descriptions, too). These activities are highly flexible and adaptable so you can easily fit them in your classroom. These are just a few suggestions to get you started. And if you want a low-prep activity, just follow our teacher notes and go!
Before You Read
The first thing you’ll see is a hero image and some Before You Read questions to get students thinking about the theme of the story, discussing some issues related to the story, and activating schemata.
This story shows an abandoned, maybe haunted house and asks students to describe what they see and talk about ghosts and haunted house. You can use this activity to see what vocab students have, how they feel about scary stuff, and what they think about ghosts. I always like to know what vocab my students might need (haunt, spirit, scream, creak, terrified) and their tolerance for horror.
A simple matching activity introduces some of the vocabulary in the story students may not know. We’ve kept it simple so you can supplement it how you like. I like pairing students off and seeing how many definitions they know between the two of them. They can also use process of elimination and part of speech to guess others. Follow-up by going over the answers and discussing answers.
The Story Starter: Reading in Class
The story itself is 282 words and approximately a 410 – 600L Lexile level or K/L in the Fountas Pinnell scale. It’s a fairly straightforward haunted house story. Three friends are walking past a scary old house when they hear a strange noise. After talking about some of the rumors surrounding the house, the new kid, Parker, decides he’s going to go inside!
What is waiting for him inside? Ghosts or criminals? A deep, dark secret or something ridiculous? Your students can decide. They are sure to have opinions and ideas after this set up!
Having students read in class can be tricky. Here are some ways to do it ensuring comprehension and not wasting class time!
- Have students read the story for homework before class. Or have them do an initial reading at home and then read it again in class.
- Divide the text into sections and ask students to read the first part to themselves. Then call on a student to summarize what happened. Ask a few students to make predictions about what will happen next. Then go on to the next section.
- Put students in reading groups, organized by reading level, with stronger readers together and weaker readers in separate groups.
- Read to the students out loud as they read along silently. Pause periodically to check comprehension or elicit questions.
After You Read
Each story is followed by after-you-read questions to ensure students understand the story, and also lead them toward deciding on an ending. In the case of Scary Hou se, students are asked about the characters and how scared they are!
Writing the Ending
Now students are ready to write. Notice that some guiding questions are provided which students can use or ignore, whatever they’d like! Depending on your classroom and what your students are used to, you can handle the writing in different ways. And you can have them do this in class or in a group-I’ve heard of students doing groupwork online independently, which is pretty impressive!
- Students can write a short outline or summary and workshop it in groups before writing.
- They can use a graphic organizer or story map to map out their story.
- Have students brainstorm ideas or an outline in groups that they can then use individually. They can also write a group story by swapping ideas and choosing the best ones.
- Start with a mini-lesson about a relevant writing skill, such as describing people, writing a coherent story, or building tension. Then ask students to practice that skill in their writing.
- Have students being their ending and stop at another cliffhanger or key moment. Students switch papers, read what the last person wrote and finish the story. This adds an extra layer to the project!
Here’s two pages of my ending idea but there are hundreds of ways this story could go. The only limit is your students’ imagination. Let students share their endings
Besides finishing the story, there are other creative projects and students may want to do these before or after writing the end. Students can do a character analysis, taking information from the text but also from their own imagination.
Here’s one I did for Parker. I’ve underlined in red the questions that are not in the story. Doing this really helped me with my story. Once I decided Parker was a bit skeptical of ghosts and fantasy in general, I knew how he would act inside the house. That took me a long way in writing.
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What makes a good haunted house? Haunted house pros weigh in on the fun of fear
A husband-and-wife team are the brains behind ScareGrounds, a series of haunted houses in the Portland area. They also do sets for horror movies and got married inside one of their own haunted houses.
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
Around Halloween, millions of people across the country pay for the chance to be terrified as they enter all things haunted - from houses to mazes to amusement parks. Katia Riddle went to the ScareGrounds scream park in Portland, Ore., and reports that for people who work in the industry, the trick is to scare people but not too much.
KATIA RIDDLE, BYLINE: It's a dark, wet, cold night. That hasn't stopped hundreds from flocking to this amusement park. They're touring three so-called haunts. This one has a twisted medical theme.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Right this way. The doctors are ready for you. Question is, are you ready for them?
RIDDLE: There's just enough light inside this maze to make out the plastic body parts hanging from the ceiling. A woman in bloody rags jumps out.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I see you.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Screaming, inaudible).
RIDDLE: Tucker Morrison and her friend Brianna Hendrickson were some of the screamers in that crowd.
TUCKER MORRISON: I thought it was horrifying.
BRIANNA HENDRICKSON: Yeah. It was so scary.
RIDDLE: In a good way or a bad way?
HENDRICKSON: In a good way.
RIDDLE: Vincent Sherrill brought his date here tonight.
What is it about being scared that's fun?
VINCENT SHERRILL: I think it's mainly the adrenaline that comes with being scared, but also knowing you're safe.
RIDDLE: Adam Rominger manages the cast.
ADAM ROMINGER: We're not trying to traumatize people. That's not our goal.
RIDDLE: Rominger's also an actor. This year, he's playing Dr. Buttonhole - a cross between a clown and a deranged doctor. He describes his interactions with guests as a kind of dance.
ROMINGER: The people make eye contact, and you hold that eye contact, and then they turn their head. They've clearly been scared, and then you start following them.
RIDDLE: If people seem too agitated, he says, he backs off. A good haunt requires more than talented actors, though. There's a whole production company behind this - Vendetta Productions. Staff plan out the sets, characters and narrative. It's a year-round thing.
ROMINGER: Going into December, we'll already be talking about what haunts are we going to do next year.
RIDDLE: In July, they start auditioning actors. Estelle Fulmor is one of the lead producers of the company. She says they rehearse for weeks in advance.
ESTELLE FULMOR: Actors know who the protagonist is. They know if - are they the person who's hunting? Are they the person who's an accomplice? Are they a victim? So it all adds to a storyline.
RIDDLE: That storyline, she says, makes for a more structured and authentic experience. The team also has to understand their audience. They found younger generations especially hard to scare.
FULMOR: You can tell them that like, oh, I'm going to throw you into a woodchipper, and I'm going to kill you. And they're just like, oh, yeah - like, I've watched Chucky kill 50 people.
RIDDLE: They have discovered one useful tool. She says that people get more scared when you tap into something that's familiar from everyday life.
FULMOR: And we understand that millennials really are attached to their pets. Like, we have a generation where their pets are their babies.
RIDDLE: Often, actors will sneak up on visitors and whisper in their ear.
FULMOR: Just telling some people that you being here makes your pet sad, makes them go, oh, my goodness - like, it might.
RIDDLE: Fulmor fell in love with this industry 15 years ago.
FULMOR: You make people scream. You make people laugh. And you make all the friends. And you're just like, I got to keep doing this.
RIDDLE: She even met her husband working on a haunted set. They got married in a haunted house. Adam Rominger, the evil clown doctor, officiated. She loves the community she's made here, and she loves watching other people come here too.
FULMOR: Getting to actually experience a moment in life together with your friends.
RIDDLE: Even if that moment is running away from an evil clown doctor. For NPR News, I'm Katia Riddle in Portland, Ore.
(SOUNDBITE OF KATY PERRY SONG, "E.T. (feat. Kanye West)")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
- Main content
I believe I lived in a haunted house for 2 years. Furniture seemed to move on its own and I'd wake up with mysterious scratches.
- In my 30s, I moved into an upstairs apartment in a large building.
- I heard whispers, furniture moved on its own, and scratches formed on my body.
- After two years, I moved out because I couldn't take the haunted house anymore.
I was in my early 30s, teaching elementary school and living a relatively humdrum life. I had my head on straight, and life was good.
To top things off, I had just been offered a place to live that was outstanding. I was a friend of a family who remodeled the upstairs of an old building they owned. It was one of those buildings that every small town on Main Street seems to have. The large brick building in Illinois had been constructed in the late 1800s. After renovations, it now looked more like a modern loft building that you might find in the big cities.
I moved in, but I wish I hadn't because I think it was haunted .
In the beginning, it seemed like the perfect home
I hate to even call it an " apartment ." The place was a bit over 2,000 square feet, on the second level with original hardwood floors, and the ceilings were 12 to 13 feet high. I was the only one living in the building, but during the day, two antique stores operated on the first floor.
I moved my things in and couldn't have been more thankful. The family that provided me with this opportunity could not have been nicer. In fact, on my first day there, one of the sons mentioned he might be going out on the town that night. I invited him to stay at my place that night if he needed to.
Something strange happened the first night
I am an extremely heavy sleeper. On top of this, I always have a small fan running to block out most sounds. Still, about 2 a.m., I heard heavy booted footsteps approaching my bedroom. With the whole place having hardwood floors and the ceilings so high, there was an echo to them that jostled me awake.
At first, I believed it to be my friend. But the footsteps kept coming through the darkness and right up to my bed. As I lay face down on the mattress, it occurred to me that my buddy might have had a few too many.
Without turning over, I said aloud, "Someone here is about to get their ass kicked if they are planning on messing with me."
I waited for about 30 seconds, and still nothing. I finally flipped over — no one. I searched the whole place. My front door was still locked. I even went out to the parking lot and my vehicle was the only one there. I was all alone.
It's odd how you can convince yourself in the daytime that the night before wasn't so strange. I called my friend later, and he mentioned he didn't end up going out the night before and never came over. I didn't tell him about what had transpired.
The next 6 months were much worse
That first night was a precursor to what was to come. I experienced strange shadows on the walls, whispering coming out of the darkness, furniture moving by itself, appliances kicking on, cabinets opening and slamming in the kitchen, and faucets turning on by themselves.
I kept it all to myself. I was concerned about my reputation and worried people would think I was nuts.
The nightly visits were becoming more aggressive as well. The ghost now sat on my bed, pulled on the blankets, and even pinned me down. There were nights when I would flip on every light in the place and sleep with one eye open. Finally, I started confiding in close friends when I began waking up with scratches on my body.
Friends started to ask if they could spend the night
It wasn't long before it seemed like most of the town had heard. Many didn't believe in ghosts and wanted to prove there was nothing to it by sleeping over.
In the end, the majority of the people who spent the night experienced something quite severe, including seeing figures. In fact, a few of them had to leave in the middle of the night because they could not take it.
After 2 years, I decided to move
When you're all alone suffering through these nights by yourself, it's not so much fun.
It took me another year to finally find a house I wanted to buy and for all the paperwork to go through. But finally after two years, I moved away.
I sometimes watch the paranormal shows and see how the hosts will freak out when they hear a sound in the next room. I think to myself, this is with a camera crew following and usually two or three other hosts with them. I think I experienced much worse — by myself.
The house I eventually purchased was secluded in the middle of the woods. People often came by and asked how I could live in such a place, out in the middle of nowhere, with creatures walking around at night. I'd just smile and know I'd already survived a much spookier place.
Watch: $135 million Japanese art apartment on Billionaire's Row, NYC
What an actual house of horrors looks like
The scariest haunted house might be closer than you think. have you checked your refrigerator lately.
A Halloween-themed “Stranger Things” house in South Jordan on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
I’ve spent most of October trying to get a good spook. I’ve watched several classic horror movies, visited graveyards at night, swapped stories about paranormal encounters, and even flown to a reportedly haunted ranch . The movies have been good for jump scares, and the graveyards for letting my imagination run wild, but nothing has delivered a real, lasting haunt. I haven’t even bothered trying any of the local haunted houses because I’m not interested in being touched by teens who may or may not have washed their hands in the past week, and the few times I have gone I’ve felt nothing more than shame for having wasted 20-plus dollars.
Now, as the Halloween season comes to a close, and none of my efforts have delivered true terror, I’ve realized that no purchased or manufactured frights can come close to the horror that everyday life occasionally has to offer.
So I’ve imagined a true house of horrors. Tour it with me, room by room.
The mailbox is full of political mailers, an insurance statement that is either an invoice or just an FYI, it’s impossible to tell which, and an ominous, plain white envelope with Internal Revenue Service as the return address.
A few houses down, you spot a male who looks to be in his early 20s, wearing a black polo shirt embroidered with a logo. He’s holding a clipboard. If he spots you, you’ll have to think of a good excuse for why you don’t need solar panels. You need to get inside and hide.
Once we enter the house, the first room on our right is the study. Someone is sitting at the desk, staring at the computer monitor. They’ve somehow found your LiveJournal from 2005 and every post is a poem you wrote about what you thought was unrequited love but was really just a few Gchat conversations.
Next, they open your Facebook profile and scroll through your posts all the way back to when you opened the account and find the post from the time you thought you were typing someone’s name in the search bar but accidentally posted their name as a status update.
A Slack message appears in the corner of the screen. It’s from your boss, and it just says, “Call me.”
You have half a gallon of milk with a sell-by date of 10 days ago. It’s probably fine? It smells fine. You need the milk to make dinner in the next hour, and the internet says the only acceptable substitution is cream and you’re out of cream. Normally you would just throw your hands up in defeat and declare you’re going to In-N-Out again, but you did that last night and you’ll feel very guilty and financially irresponsible if you do it again. So you decide to just use the milk, a decision that will either be totally fine or catastrophic. Like Russian roulette but scarier.
Also, while you were debating whether or not you were willing to play fast and loose with dairy, you spotted a forgotten container in the top corner of the fridge and you don’t know what’s in it. Is it bulging? It kind of looks like it’s bulging.
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- Uncovering the secret of Skinwalker Ranch
School starts in 20 minutes, and no one has clean underwear. The sock basket is full of one sock of every color. The clean pile is full of shirts that need to be ironed.
Also, what is that smell coming from the washing machine? Oh my gosh, you forgot to move the whites to the dryer again.
This room is scariest at night, a few hours after everyone has gone to bed. You’re deep in a REM cycle when suddenly a dark shadow appears in the doorway. Slowly it enters the room, inching closer to your bed, until it’s mere inches from your face. “Mom, I frew up,” it says. Turns out the milk was not fine.
Then, a second, slightly taller shadow appears in the doorway. This one, in a panicked tone, says, “My science project is due first period tomorrow. I need poster board and hydrogen peroxide.” Walgreens is closed and 7-Eleven doesn’t sell poster board. You know because this has happened before.
To access Disney+ you need the input set to HDMI1, but you can only find the remote that controls the volume. The remote that controls both channel and source is nowhere to be found, and while you wait, the weird Samsung channel that only plays “Dateline” on repeat is running ads for the moderate to severe plaque psoriasis medication. You’ve seen these ads so many times that you’ve become convinced the algorithm knows you better than you know yourself so you must have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis despite having none of the symptoms listed on WebMD.
You start the car to drive to the store because now you know for sure that the milk is bad and you need a fresh gallon. But the tire pressure light blinks on even though you just filled your tires last week. Which means you need a new tire. Or four.
Also, what’s that sound outside? It’s the garbage truck driving past your house. You forgot to take the blue can to the curb.
So you back out past the already over-filled garbage can that will somehow need to hold another week’s worth of trash, and head out to get not just milk, but tires as well, making what was originally a $5 errand a $500 errand.
I’d like to see any haunted house deliver a horror like that.
The best adviser for everything
How would you describe a haunted house?
Dust, cobwebs, sheets on furniture, broken tables, chairs, windows, lamps, peeling wallpaper, gaps in the floorboards, holes in the walls, flickering lights (if there’s electricity) chandelier with broken strings of crystals, broken glass on the floor, spiders, cockroaches, rust, mildew, ripped curtains, shadows.
How do you describe a horror story?
horror story, a story in which the focus is on creating a feeling of fear. Such tales are of ancient origin and form a substantial part of the body of folk literature. They can feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, witches, or vampires, or they can address more realistic psychological fears.
What are verbs for a haunted house?
What is another word for haunted house?
How do you write unsettling horror?
But these tips on writing horror will help you find your own method of adding fear to the world:
- There are three types of terror.
- Use your own fear.
- Get inside your narrator’s head.
- Don’t worry about being “legitimate”
- Take your nonsense seriously.
- Go where the pain is.
- The scariest thing is feeling out of control.
What are some descriptive words for a haunted house?
Are there any spooky words associated with Halloween?
What are the four main categories of Halloween vocabulary?
Which is the best haunted house story of all time?
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How To Describe Surroundings In Your Horror Story
by Horror Tree · Published August 25, 2021 · Updated August 18, 2021
HOW TO DESCRIBE SURROUNDINGS IN YOUR HORROR STORY
This is as true in the horror story genre as it is anywhere else. Remember that you don’t have the luxury of using jump scares like a screenwriter. Yours is a subtler trade, engaging the reader’s senses and imagination to instill gripping fear.
To succeed in this, you should be able to make your fictional world seem convincingly real and intense, perhaps even more than the real world itself. Vivid descriptions are necessary to achieve this effect. The locations, buildings, materials, trees, weather, rooms, and everything else that makes up the environment should not only be believable, but emphatic and engaging components of the overall mood.
The real challenge, then, is to know how to do this. You can read about this on various essay writing websites that offer horror story samples to get an idea. It boils down to understanding a few key principles and then practicing. Over time, as you write more, you will become a master at writing compelling descriptions for horror story environments. Your readers won’t be able to put your books down!
Start your descriptions early
Photo by Eleanor Styles on Unsplash
Because descriptions are important to setting the mood, they should ideally come first. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many essay writers start scenes with little or no useful descriptions, only to begin adding details later. Usually, it’s too late by then, as they have already lost the precious reader. When you read a story without an adequate description, it often feels like the characters have been placed in an empty white room or a nameless generic street. There’s no setting – no anchor and the reader’s mind is at a loss.
The solution is to tell the reader where they are at the beginning, or very close to it. If they are in a haunted house, let them know through your descriptions. Not a generic haunted house, but a unique one that they feel they could recognize among the thousands of others. Use environmental cues, like creaking stairs or musty air to frequently remind them that the house is frightening.
Be specific with your descriptions
As mentioned above, your descriptions shouldn’t be generic. Instead, they should focus on the unique aspects of the environment that make it stand out, as opposed to similar environments. What’s so special about your haunted house? Does it have a unique architecture? Is there something special about the doors and windows, or the smell when you’re inside it? What feelings does it evoke? This is an opportunity for rich descriptions with extensive use of similes and metaphors.
Don’t describe everything
Part of being specific is holding yourself back from describing everything. Don’t give the dimensions of the coffee house where the characters are seated, or the exact material used to make the seat cushions or every single artwork displayed on the walls. Only do any of that if it is a crucial part of the story you’re telling. Imagine if Stephen King described every aspect of Pennywise the Dancing Clown’s lair in the novel ‘IT’. It would take away from its mystery and sense of terror. As it is often said, we fear the unknown, and part of the business of horror is to peddle the terrifying unknown.
At any rate, descriptions that cover every detail can be long-winded and cheerfully help you lose your readers. While descriptions are indispensable to setting the mood, the focus is still the story and the characters. Use only descriptions that help to move the story forward. No more. No less.
Engage all the senses with your descriptions
A common pitfall many beginning writers fall into is to only use visual descriptions in their storytelling. While visuals are important, they limit you to a very small slice of the human experience. We have 5 senses, so a story that engages two or more of them will be more immersive than a narrative that engages just one.
Back to our haunted house example: Are there any special sounds and smells that characterize it? What about tastes? Can you taste something sinister in the air? How does it feel when the characters touch things in the house.
Note that you can also use metaphors and other devices to work the different senses in your story. This allows you to use senses in places where they are not typically used, like a “deliciously blue wall” or an “oil painting that had taken on the patina of rotten eggs”. Such seemingly contrasting descriptions help to drive home the exact experience the character went through as they beheld these elements of their environment.
Infuse some action into your places
When setting the atmosphere of a place with your description, consider making it feel dynamic for the reader, almost as if the place is coming to life. This is especially useful when you want to build up the tempo, and the reader’s anticipation along with it. Take the following description from Above Suspicion , for example:
“Reaching for the bedside lamp, she stopped and withdrew her hand. The photograph of her father had been turned out to face the room. She touched it every night before she went to sleep. It was always facing towards her, towards the bed, not away from it. … In the darkness, what had felt safe before now felt frightening: the way the dressing-table mirror reflected the street-light through the curtains and the sight of the wardrobe door left slightly ajar.”
The description here manages to turn a comfortable apartment into a place teeming with shadows and malice, spawning drama out of nothing.
If you would to take only one thing from this article, then take the fact that your environment is as much a character of the horror story as anyone else. Flesh it out with the same level of detail, chop off the redundant things, and season it with delicious metaphors. It will make your story pop in a way that might surprise even you.
Author Bio Leon Collier is a blogger and academic writer from the UK who offers assignment writing services and various dissertation services . For his essay writing service , he likes trying new subjects and is always focused on proving his worth as a writer in new and challenging writing areas. His hobbies are reading books and playing tabletop games with his friends. You can reach him via Twitter @LeonCollier12.
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The Horror Tree is a resource for horror authors which was created in 2011. The main goal when starting the site was to include all of the latest horror anthologies and publishers that are taking paying submissions. A resource useful for both new and experienced publishers alike looking for an outlet for their written material!
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Haunted House - Descriptive Essay
3 Pages 755 Words September 2015
As I am standing, I am gazing at the haunted house. I am shivering with fear. The thin layer of clothing cannot protect me from the coldness of the air, which makes me cross my arms to get warm. As I walk towards the deadly house, the red roses becoming black are growing widely in batches by the gate. The moonlight glows down the haunted house. As I approach the door, there are spider webs on the corner of the front door. When I am opening the creepy door, there is a wind of must that comes through my nose, which makes me cover my nose with my white sleeve. The house interior is dark with a dead silence. A black interior is throughout the house, with a molding clustered ceiling as if it is ready to collapse. As I make my way to the living room, the sofa and chair is covered with dust, which make my eyes red as if I woke up. The wallpapers are peeled off and are curled on the floor and picture frames dangling on the wall. As I make my way into the hallway, I start to hear footsteps behind me. I suddenly stop. It shakes my spine and freezes my heart. As scared as I am, I run up the stairs. I see a slim light behind the door. I approach and open the door, and I enter the bedroom. The bedroom consist of a king bed and a wooden floor that appears to have a layer of dust for years. As I make my way under the bed, I wait patiently for the unknown person to approach. No one comes. I start to hear drip drip as if it were coming from the faucet in the master bathroom. I make my way to the bathroom and a lonely wet mouse stands in the center of the sink. Afraid, I pick up the toothbrush on the marble sink with my right hand. Blood splattering everywhere, I start too heavily bash the mouse with the toothbrush. After I finish, I wipe my face with my white long sleeve. Then, I gradually start to walk out the bathroom. Staring in the room, I then go to lie on the bed like a starfish. My eyes drawn to the mirror reflecting my image is making me think ...
Essays related to Haunted House - Descriptive Essay
27 Best Haunted House Books To Totally Creepy You Out
By Author Sheree Strange and Christine Frascarelli
Posted on Last updated: August 9, 2023
Get ready to travel around the world with enthralling haunted house books to read right now. We dare you not to get the shivers.
From historic homes and old hotels to creepy boarding houses and churches converted into rentals, you’ll never find a shortage of books about haunted houses.
The recipe for the perfect haunted house book usually includes some inexplicable paranormal activity, a murder mystery, and a few unreliable narrators.
Are there really ghosts hiding in the walls or is something or someone manipulating their surroundings? Is this the work of witchcraft or vengeful lovers?
Below, head to the Mexican countryside, secluded Scotland, and across the U.S. in the best haunted house books sure to keep you awake all night – whether from reading or in sheer terror.
Of course, “best” is subjective, and we’d love to know your favorite haunted house novels in the comments. Let’s get started!
Read even more creepy and spooky books to keep you up at night.
Grab your favorite books about haunted houses here:
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Table of Contents
27 Engrossing Haunted House Books
1. The Haunting Of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
You can’t put together a list of the best haunted house books without including The Haunting Of Hill House – the clue’s right there in the name!
Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic horror novel has become a classic of the genre, widely considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th century, and with good reason.
Jackson was inspired by the true story of a group of “psychic researchers” who solemnly reported their “scientific findings” of a haunted house to the Society For Psychic Research.
In Jackson’s version, one such researcher – Dr. Montague – rents the supposedly – haunted Hill House for the summer.
He invites several friends who he believes have had genuine supernatural encounters, with the hopes of proving that the ghosts of the mansion’s horrific past are real.
If you enjoy The Haunting Of Hill House , don’t miss these fantastic books with ghosts .
Read The Haunting Of Hill House : Amazon | Goodreads
2. The Shining by Stephen King
Before it was a terrifying Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining was one of the best haunted house books of the ‘70s.
It was Stephen King’s third published novel, one that established him as the King Of Horror, master of the psychological thriller, and the contemporary Gothic.
King drew inspiration from his own visit to The Stanley Hotel in 1974, and his own struggle with alcoholism, to develop this haunted house book.
It’s the story of Jack Torrance, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a job as a winter caretaker of a hotel with a horrific past – a past that his psychic son has the preternatural ability to sense.
If you love books like The Shining , explore even more books set at hotels – both creepy and luxurious.
Or, find another King novel on our werewolf reading list . Read The Shining by Stephen King : Amazon | Goodreads
3. The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James
Henry James called The Turn Of The Screw a “tale,” but it’s really the haunted house book that inspired all other haunted house books, from its original publication in Collier’s Weekly magazine in 1898 to the present day.
The plot is what we now consider to be the classic Gothic ghost story, but at the time, James actually turned a lot of the usual tropes on their heads.
Instead of explicitly inventing actual ghosts to service the plot, he left the “haunting” of his novel ambiguous.
Perhaps the new governess, looking after two young orphans, really did experience a paranormal torment – or maybe it was something entirely natural, a day-to-day trick of the mind that drove a young woman to madness…
Readers are still arguing about the “truth” of The Turn Of The Screw to this day. Read The Turn Of The Screw : Amazon | Goodreads
4. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
You might be more familiar with The Amityville Horror from the film franchise of the same name, but that cinematic universe was actually based on the 1977 book by Jay Anson.
At the time, Anson presented his haunted house book as non-fiction, but (unsurprisingly) a number of complaints about its veracity emerged soon after publication.
It’s now most often shelved in the horror fiction section. What’s not in doubt is the true crime story that kicked things off.
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in their large Dutch Colonial house, a mighty shock in the Long Island suburb of Amityville.
A year later, the Lutz family moved into the cursed house – only to flee shortly thereafter, claiming to have been chased away by terrifying paranormal phenomena. Read The Amityville Horror : Amazon | Goodreads
5. White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
The best haunted house books don’t just give you chills – they give you something to think about, too.
That’s what you get with White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, a story about what can only be described as a racist haunted house (one that even serves as a narrator, in part!).
The prologue reveals that the protagonist, Miranda, is missing – dead, actually, with a chunk of apple in her throat, and homesick (or “home sick ”, as the house puts it).
Oyeymi then takes the story back to the beginning, with Miranda and her twin, Eliot, moving into their mother’s childhood home – which is the racist house, the one that chases away the guests and staff that upset its xenophobic sensibilities.
This is a particularly strange and unconventional haunted house book, with hints of the vampiric and allegorical. Read White Is For Witching : Amazon | Goodreads
6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Haunted house books don’t always feature literal ghosts. Sometimes the haunting is metaphorical, as in Rebecca , where a nameless narrator’s marriage is haunted by the death of her husband’s first wife.
The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, resents the arrival of a new young bride at the Manderley estate and will go to great lengths to keep Rebecca’s memory alive.
Rebecca seems to be hiding around every corner of the Manderley mansion – so why does her husband refuse to so much as mention her name?
This 1938 Gothic novel has become a classic of the genre, and it has never gone out of print.
It was the basis for a 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation, which was rebooted by Ben Wheatley for Netflix in 2020. Read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier : Amazon | Goodreads
7. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
If you’ve ever found yourself lost in IKEA, you’ll immediately appreciate the premise of Grady Hendrix’s 2014 horror-comedy (books about haunted houses can be funny, too–who knew?).
Horrorstor is set in a fictional ORSK store, quite closely based on the real-life Swedish furniture empire, which seems to be under attack by supernatural forces.
The store manager and a few of his staff decide to stay overnight in the store, to try to get to the bottom of the random acts of vandalism that have plagued their workplace, but they might find more than they bargained for…
(Psst: the paperback design, by Quirk Books, is particularly clever and visually stunning–this haunted house book is worth checking out for that alone!) Read Horrorstor : Amazon | Goodreads
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8. Bone China by Laura Purcell
If you’re looking for the best haunted house books to curl up with on a cold winter’s night, look no further than Bone China .
In Laura Purcell’s homage to Daphne du Maurier, a dangerous experiment might prove to be the cure for the illness that ravaged the Pinecroft family… or it could be their undoing.
The patriarch of the family, Dr. Pinecroft, moves his daughter Louise to the Cornish seaside, believing (as many did at the time) that the salty air and ocean spray would protect her against the disease of consumption.
Forty years later, Hester arrives at that same Pinecroft home, to care for the near-paralyzed and totally-mute Louise.
It’s here the nurse finds strangely superstitious staff and dark secrets from the past. Read Bone China : Amazon | Goodreads
9. The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware
As the title suggests, Ruth Ware’s 2019 book The Turn Of The Key is a contemporary adaptation of the classic haunted house book Turn Of The Screw .
All the essential ingredients are there: two young children, a new live-in nanny, and a house that holds far too many secrets.
Ware carefully combines classic gothic elements with modern technology to produce one of the best haunted house novels to genuinely scare anyone with a “smart” device in their home.
Plus, the frame of the novel is cleverly turned on its head in the final pages; you’ll be gripped, and left guessing the truth of this haunted house book until the very end.
If you enjoy The Turn Of The Key , find even more books based in Scotland – funny, scary, and full of thrilling and suspenseful mystery. Read The Turn Of The Key : Amazon | Goodreads
10. The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
There is perhaps no spookier setting for a haunted house book than an abandoned sanatorium – unless it’s one that’s been refurbished with ultra-modern conveniences to host paying guests.
That’s the premise of The Sanatorium , Sarah Pearse’s 2021 atmospheric winter thriller .
Elin Warner is on leave from her job as a detective, plagued by anxiety from the trauma she experienced on the job.
She heads to the Swiss Alps, the sanatorium (now branded as a luxury hotel, Le Sommet), to celebrate the engagement of her estranged brother.
But when his new fiancée disappears, and a fearsome storm isolates them all from even the nearest town, Elin has no choice but to put her detective skills to use.
Unfortunately, uncovering the truth might be worse than not knowing…
Read The Sanatorium : Amazon | Goodreads
11. Beloved by Toni Morrison
There aren’t many haunted house books that have received the literary acclaim of Toni Morrison’s Beloved –but that’s not all that makes this heart-wrenching and thought-provoking story of a former slave unique.
Morrison’s novel is actually based on the real-life of Margaret Garner, an escaped slave who fled to the free state of Ohio.
Margaret chose to kill her children rather than have them returned to plantation life under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
In Morrison’s version, the protagonist, Sethe, is haunted by the ghost of the daughter she killed, a child known only by the one word Sethe could afford to have engraved on her tombstone: Beloved.
This essential book is dedicated to “sixty million and more” – the estimated number of Black men, women, and children killed in the African slave trade.
Explore even more of the most notable books published in the ’80s . Read Beloved : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information
12. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
In Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup , an award-winning homage to classic haunted house books, a young “psychic” con woman gets more than she bargains for when she visits the Victorian home of the wealthy and enigmatic Susan, her latest mark.
Carterhook Manor, according to Susan, is under the control of a malevolent spirit. The narrator goes along with it, pretending to believe, but soon finds she doesn’t need to pretend at all.
Susan’s 15-year-old stepson, Miles, doesn’t help matters – he has a grisly imagination, and something has clearly disturbed him.
Fans of Flynn’s realist thrillers will find the spook factor turned way up in this story.
Although a short horror novella , The Grownup still features all of the hallmarks of Flynn’s other best-sellers: an unreliable narrator, a curious mystery, themes of vengeance, and heart-stopping scares. Read The Grownup : Amazon | Goodreads
13. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave Mckean : When Coraline’s family moves into an old mansion, (relatively) recently converted into flats, she can’t shake her curiosity about what’s behind the locked door.
The “crazy old man upstairs” tells her not to go in there. The two elderly women next door see danger when they read her tea leaves.
But still, Coraline’s curiosity overcomes her.
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a dark children’s fantasy for fans of haunted house books that – like a spoonful of sugar – help the story go down.
This is a story about innocent curiosity gone wrong, and a warning against anything that seems too good to be true.
Sometimes, doors are locked for a reason! (Be sure to pick up the original version, with beautiful and iconic illustrations by Dave McKean.)
If you adore Coraline’s feline friend, don’t miss these books with cats for adults .
And, don’t miss the animated film ! Read Coraline : Amazon | Goodreads
14. Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
Plain Bad Heroines combines the best of dark academia and haunted house books, with a queer love story and Hollywood glamour to boot!
The story is set across two timelines.
In 1902, at the Brookhant’s School For Girls in Rhode Island, two young girls are infatuated with each other and with the writing of bisexual feminist author Mary MacLane.
They meet a young and tragic death when they are stung by eastern yellowjacket wasps in the orchard where they had clandestine trysts.
In the present day, a film crew has taken over the abandoned Brookhant campus to make a movie about the school’s strange history.
Two celebrity actresses are cast as the young girls, and they work closely with the author who wrote a best-selling book about the school.
It’s not long before the past and present become entangled, and the haunting of Brookhant becomes all too real.
This is an illustrated story-within-a-story that places strong queer women front and center. Read even more fabulous LGBTQ+ books for teens . Read Plain Bad Heroines : Amazon | Goodreads
15. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Audrey Niffeneggger is perhaps best known for her romantic stories about true love ( The Time Traveler’s Wife – one of the most well-known time travel romances ), but in Her Fearful Symmetry , she proves she’s got the chops to write brilliant haunted house novels, too!
The story is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery (where Niffenegger once worked as a tour guide) — what better setting for a spooky haunted house book?
When Elspeth dies, she leaves her apartment overlooking the cemetery to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina.
The two American girls move to London, to their aunt’s apartment, and slowly become enmeshed in the lives of her former neighbors.
Only, it would seem that their aunt isn’t quite ready to leave them, or the apartment, behind…
Her Fearful Symmetry is a wonderfully moving haunted house book, one that explores the bonds of sisterhood and the strength of secrets. Read Her Fearful Symmetry : Amazon | Goodreads
More Books About Haunted Houses From Christine:
16. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
One of the most talked about haunted house books of 2020, head to the Mexican Countryside during the 1950s in Moreno-Gacia’s Mexican Gothic .
It’s here you’ll meet Noemí Taboada, one kick-butt woman in historical fiction , as well as the creepiest home on this list, High Place.
High Place’s walls are filled with dark demons and swirls of death.
Noemí receives a disturbing letter from her cousin, Catalina, warning that home is taking a toll on her health.
When Noemí arrives, she instantly realizes that something much more sinister is at play.
The depressing atmosphere masks secrets and possibly even murder. Will these cousins escape the home alive?
Find dazzling details juxtaposing gore with the brilliant and golden darkness. The suspense and imagery promise to engross unsuspecting readers. Read Mexican Gothic : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information
17. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Travel across the 50 States to Vermont with Sager’s ghost thriller and haunted house book, Home Before Dark.
Upon the death of her father, Maggie begrudgingly returns to her childhood home, Baneberry Hall — her inheritance that is in dire need of restoration.
Unfortunately, it’s also been foreshadowed that Maggie will die on this visit.
No one wants her there. Maggie’s father’s bestselling and famous nonfiction book changed all of their lives — and not for the better.
Plus, general consensus is that Maggie’s father lied about Baneberry Hall’s paranormal activity to make a few extra bucks.
Still, something more is wrong. Was daddy dearest also covering up something darker and deadlier?
If you love spooky books with haunted houses, dressers you’ll never want to open, and Ouija boards, Home Before Dark is for you.
Read Home Before Dark : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information→
18. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
Feeny’s Rock Paper Scissors is one of the best slower-paced, keep-you-guessing, and suspenseful haunted house novels on this list.
Find a story chock full of surprises you won’t see coming.
Similar to the storyline of Goodnight Beautiful , meet multiple unreliable, unhappy narrators — each with their own agenda.
Adam and Amelia are hoping that a weekend getaway to Scotland will ignite the quickly diminishing spark in their marriage.
Mysteriously, Amelia won a free stay at a historic church converted into a creepy home and rental property. Something or maybe someone is out to get them. (Please know that Bob the dog will be OK.)
Those traditional anniversary gifts and fluffy white rabbits are much more hellish than they appear.
A book about stories — the ones we write as well as the ones we tell ourselves — Rock Paper Scissors questions if can ever really know the person we married.
Heck, can we distinguish the truth from the lies we tell ourselves? Encounter themes of raging revenge and guilt in one of our most-anticipated books of 2021 . Read Rock Paper Scissors : Amazon | Goodreads
19. The Widow of Pale Harbor By Hester Fox
For books with Salem Witch Trials themes , travel to Maine in Hester Fox’s The Widow Of Pale Harbor.
Fox, the author of The Witch of Willow Hall – an equally creepy haunted house book set in MA – is back at it with another eerie story filled with Gothic romance and murder.
Castle Carver – the setting for this story – is based on real-life Castle Tucker , which is located in Wiscasset, Maine.
It’s here in small-town Maine, ruled by fear and hatred, that Sophronia Carver stays self-imprisoned in her home, accused of murdering her husband.
Of course, the story of a spinster and witchy maid paired with a reclusive, stunningly beautiful, and deadly widow fits right in 1846.
To the conservative townspeople, something is brewing between the two outcasts and alleged occultists .
As Sophronia manages her husband’s literary magazine, disturbing and threatening gifts arrive at her front door: hurt birds and candles with notes promising fatal outcomes.
Is this merely the crime of bored school children? Unlikely .
And now, people are dying and all of the murders mimic scenes from Edgar Allan Poe’s stories and poems.
Add in a love affair with an alleged minister, and The Widow of Pale Harbor has a cauldron full of suspenseful and mysterious elements perfect for a wickedly enchanting haunted house novel. Read The Widow Of Pale Harbor : Amazon | Goodreads | Review
20. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Simone St. James is the goddess of paranormal books about haunted houses, hotels, and boarding schools.
In dark academia novel, The Broken Girls , St. James takes readers to a petrifying and dilapidated closed boarding school that’s about to be reopened by a mysterious donor.
Beginning in Vermont in the 1950s, Idlewild Hall was where families would abandon their ‘unwanted’ or secret children.
The worst part, though, is that – to this day – Mary Hand haunts the school, and Mary is not a happy, peaceful soul.
Terrorizing the four main characters, all young women, one will eventually end up dead.
Flash forward to 2014. Fiona Sheridan is determined to find answers about the murder of her sister. An assigned story takes her back to Idlewild where the past and present collide.
Also from St. James, The Sun Down Motel is one of the most haunted hotel stories set in New York – complete with a murder mystery and double timeline.
Explore more books demonstrating the power of friendship .
Read The Broken Girls : Amazon | Goodreads
21. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling
For non-spooky haunted house books, travel to Wales and small-town Georgia in The Ex Hex . If you enjoy spell-binding and wickedly witchy romances , this recommendation is for 100% you.
“Never mix vodka with witchcraft,” which is quite sound advice when heartbroken teenage girls are involved.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Vivi does when her summer fling, Rhys, breaks her heart. Rhys is betrothed to someone else and just happens to conveniently leave out that part.
As Rhys returns home to Wales, Vivi jokingly places a hilarious curse on him. Of course, it won’t work. Cough, cough .
Nearly a decade later when Rhys returns – and he seems completely out of luck – he must enlist the help of Vivi and her quirky family to rid him of the curse.
Can Vivi and Rhys re-kindle their romance too?
Meet angry ghosts, a haunted house, and a talking cat. Plus, shop at the best witch store in town.
For a light-hearted rom-com, especially perfect for the fall, The Ex Hex promises all of the fluff.
Read The Ex Hex : Amazon | Goodreads
22. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Although a repeat author on this list, you cannot overlook 2022 book release , The Book of Cold Cases . This is the ultimate thriller, murder mystery, and haunted house book.
Shea Collins is a doctor’s office receptionist. At night, Shea transforms into an intuitive true crime blogger, fascinated with serial killers since her traumatizing childhood abduction.
One day, Beth Greer — the alleged 1970s Lady Killer (who was acquitted) — walks into the office. Shea cannot resist dropping back into the black hole of details and research about the case.
Even more enticing, Beth grants Shea an unheard-of interview at her creepy Oregon mansion. Spoiler alert: the mansion is both haunted and dangerous.
Does sexy AF and cold make for a murderess or merely the perfect scapegoat? Is Beth innocent? And if so, who is the real Lady Killer?
The Book of Cold Cases is full of thrilling and chilling suspense with quite a few plot twists. The character depth and development make for one unforgettable and thought-provoking paranormal story.
Read The Book of Cold Cases : Amazon | Goodreads
23. A Castle In The Clouds by Kerstin Gier
Translated into English by Romy Fursland : We know our readers pretty well, and along with The Ex Hex , we knew that we needed at least one or two more light-hearted and sweet haunted house novels on this list.
Travel to the Swiss Alps in Gier’s YA romance and mystery novel, A Castle In The Clouds .
Of course, this castle is more of a hotel than a house; however, many of the staff live permanently on-site – so, put those thumbs away and back away from our comment section!
Sophie is a high school dropout and a new hotel intern. As internships tend to go, along with her housekeeping duties, Sophie is also tasked with the hotel’s surplus of children.
Between paranormal activities, the Forbidden (possibly immortal) cat, and rather wealthy guests with large diamonds, Sophie is in for one wild ride, including a little romance with the hotelier’s son.
You might also get Janet Evanovich vibes here when you meet Sophie’s other love interest…
It doesn’t help that the hotel isn’t making money and there might be a criminal (or two) on the loose.
Can Sophie help save the hotel, her heart, and this luxury Swiss hotel? Encounter secret identities, and waltz on the rooftop. Read A Castle In The Clouds : Amazon | Goodreads
24. The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas
Fans of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca retellings will devour 2022 book release The Hacienda.
Set in Mexico after the Mexican War of Independence, Beatriz knows that she must strategically marry to save her mother and herself.
Marrying Don Rodolfo Solórzano is clearly the answer, even though his wife mysteriously died in their country estate, Hacienda San Isidro.
For books about haunted houses, San Isidro is chock full of horrors, including a skeleton with glowing red eyes and one ticked-off and vengeful spirit. No wonder the house staff sleeps elsewhere.
Who is haunting this family, and can the local priest perform a secret exorcism before it’s too late? Clearly, Beatrix is next to die.
Find romance and a story about witches in this chilling and thrilling haunted house book for historical and Gothic fiction lovers.
Read The Hacienda : Amazon | Goodreads | Book Information
25. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
TWs for sex, violence, and drink spiking
When looking at haunted house books, we have to talk about those nightmarish 2023 book releases too. And trust us, we have just the book for you…
Alex wants nothing more than to be a published author and make amends with her former best friend Wren.
When she’s added to a coveted spot at her favorite author and role model’s writing retreat, her dreams might finally come to fruition.
However, Roza Vallo is a bit unorthodox in her ways, and her secluded mansion might be a tad haunted following the tragic deaths of its former inhabitants.
Even more stressful, Roza makes this retreat high-stakes: one of the five women invited will get their book published.
However, something sinister is at play here, and as a blizzard closes them off to the world, it’s debatable if everyone will survive.
From quirky charm necklaces to desperation and manipulation, The Writing Retreat is a book about writing and books and the struggles and pressures of being an author.
How far would you go to be famous and get a book published? Read The Writing Retreat : Amazon | Goodreads
26. How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix
CWs: graphic violence
One of the scariest haunted house books we’ve read in a long time – that goes slightly off the rails – people either loved Hendrix’s 2023 release or felt it was his weakest title.
However, besides the fact that dolls and puppets are creepy AF – just like clowns – we largely enjoyed How To Sell A Haunted House … although we could have done without Mark’s college detour backstory.
When her not-quite but almost estranged brother Mark calls Louise letting her know their parents are dead, Louise heads home to South Carolina to help with the logistics.
Of course, to her, childish Mark hasn’t changed a bit, and she’s devastated to learn that her mother left Mark everything except her art, including their terrifying childhood home filled with bad memories and possibly even demons.
So, how do you sell a haunted house that is literally trying to kill you? The puppets come alive, and let’s just say, there is a lot of violence, blood, and gore before the resolution.
Hendrix has penned one of the best haunting books sure to chill you to the bone about families, secrets, the selfish lies we tell ourselves for self-preservation and generational trauma.
It’s a terrific book about sister relationships with their brothers too.
With 39-year-old Louise at the heart of the novel, we’d also say this is a pretty solid “middle-aged character” read , especially as she navigates her parents’ deaths and raising her own daughter, Poppy.
Read How To Sell A Haunted House : Amazon | Goodreads
27. The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin
CWs: sick/hurt animals (Reaper will be OK), suicide, murder, alcoholism, and more
For new books about haunted houses (2023) with despicable characters that you will still find yourself rooting for, The Stranger Upstairs makes for a riveting and suspenseful mystery.
Sarah Slade and her husband have just purchased Black Wood House, a murder home in Melbourne, Australia, where a husband viciously hammered his wife to death and attacked their daughter before killing himself.
But therapist and bestselling self-help author Sarah Slade doesn’t care. With a crumbling marriage and failing career, she only sees dollar signs.
Yet, is even awful Sarah evil enough to withstand the legacy of this haunted home, including someone possibly poisoning her cat and trying to kill her?
The police will find dead bodies… who will they belong to? Haunted house novels don’t get any darker than this, and for debut novels, this is a strong start for Lisa Matlin.
Discover even more great books from, about, and across Australia .
Read The Stranger Upstairs : Amazon | Goodreads
We have even more spooky treats for our haunted house genre fans…
If you love haunting books, be sure to visit our haunted house movie list , filled with funny, scary, and suspenseful movies about the creepiest houses out there. You’ll even find a few titles from this list that were adapted into horrifying films like The Shining , The Amityville Horror , and The Haunting of Hill House . Maybe just leave the lights on, and hold on tight to your popcorn…
Grab the best haunted house books for later:
Do you have a favorite haunted house book?
Which haunted house novels will you never forget? Are there any that fell flat for you? Let us know in the comments.
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Sheree (pronouns: she/her) is a writer and book reviewer living on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation (known as Sydney, Australia). She has been reviewing books on her blog, Keeping Up With The Penguins , since 2017. She reads books of all kinds and shares her thoughts on them all across the internet.
Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge.
With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.
Wednesday 27th of July 2022
My very favorite haunted house book is by Jo Kaplan, "It will just be us". One of the only books I can remember after I have read it.
Thanks so much for sharing! We will have to check it out!
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Haunted House for Sale Writing Activity and Craft Ideas
If you are an elementary teacher looking for a haunted house for sale writing activity and craft ideas, then you found the right place! I came up with the idea for the Haunted House for Sale writing project as a first year teacher. After MANY years of use and improvements in my own second grade and third grade classrooms, I made it available for other teachers to easily download, print, and use too.
Since then, it has been used in over 10,000 classrooms!
Halloween makes October one of the best months for engaging and motivating students to improve their craft as authors. This is a great resource to help you do just that! Read below to learn more about this popular Haunted House for Sale writing activity and craft.
This post about the haunted house for sale writing activity answers the following questions:
- What is the haunted house for sale writing activity?
- Why should I use the haunted house for sale writing activity in my classroom?
- How do I implement the haunted house for sale writing activity in my classroom?
What is the Haunted House for Sale Writing Activity?
This Haunted House for Sale writing activity and craft is a great way to engage your elementary students and get them excited about writing. It offers a fun, engaging, and creative way to teach descriptive writing and adjectives to your students. Even your most reluctant writers will enjoy describing and creating a haunted house!
This Haunted House for Sale writing project includes the following:
- teacher guide that explains how to use all of the included printables
- Halloween and October writing prompts and story starters you or your students can choose from, which increases student engagement
- brainstorm activities to help your students generate strong word choice (nouns and verbs) for their writing
- sensory details planner that guides students through using their senses to describe a haunted house
- graphic organizers to help students plan out their writing in a strategic way
- drafting pages that come in three different templates so you can choose which ones work best for your students
- publishing pages that come in two different template papers so you can differentiate based on your students’ needs
- class book covers so you can create a keepsake that students can refer to throughout the year and remember this fun activity
- bulletin board resources that will help you create a beautiful classroom display showcasing your students’ work
- art project directions and examples that walk you step-by-step through how to create five different art craft projects that can go with your students’ writing activities
- digital resources so your students can complete this activity at school or for remote learning
5 Reasons Teachers Love this Haunted House for Sale Writing Activity
Here are 5 reasons elementary teachers love this writing project:
- The printable resources are quick and easy to prep – just copy and go!
- It is easy to differentiate using the different templates so you can meet the needs of all your students.
- The brainstorming and planning pages help reluctant writers generate ideas and get started.
- They help disorganized writers plan their writing, which leads to their future success with writing.
- This resource includes a digital version so your students can access it at home or in school.
How to Implement the Haunted House for Sale Writing Project in Your Classroom
Here are 4 steps to implementing this October writing project in your classroom:
1. Build Schema for the Haunted House for Sale Writing Project
Although it is optional, I always love to start any activity by reading a related book. I used to opt for Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli or In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting. Both are great options.
However, once I discovered, My Haunted House by Angie Sage it quickly became my favorite. It is a fabulous choice if you have a bit of time to work in a short chapter book read aloud. I also fill my seasonal thematic library with related titles to maximize their interest and motivation to read. Reading these books helps to get them engaged and to activate their schema, so they are ready for the activities that follow.
2. Engage Your Students with a Haunted House for Sale Craft
In the past, I always began with the writing portion and then we did a creative craft project to display with their final copies. In more recent years I found great value in starting with a Haunted House Art Project before introducing the writing portion. There were a few benefits to this.
- It increases their interest in the project as a whole.
- It gives their hands something to do while I read aloud the book.
- I do not display individual artwork until the writing is finished which is a motivator for completing the writing portion.
There are so many fun options for October craftivities. Here are five I have personally done and recommend.
These come out beautifully and look amazing when all displayed together. You could do these in your classroom. Another option is that you can ask your art teacher to collaborate with you and have the students work on them in the art room.
Start by making a circle with white paint. Add a bit of color (blue, purple, or teal look best) to the white paint and make an outer circle around it. Continue adding a bit more color and making circles until reaching the edge of the paper with the paint becoming increasingly darker as you go.
When the paint is dry, the students can add a paper cutout of a black haunted house with yellow paper windows and doors for an illuminated look.
If you don’t want to break out the full “roll up your sleeves” and paint kind of paints from the first project, but still want a really cool looking project these watercolor resists are a perfect option.
Have your students outline a haunted house and moon lightly in pencil. Instruct them to color the house in with a black crayon and the moon in yellow. They may want to add details (like the tree and bat above) to the picture as well. Then they simply paint over the entire page with watercolor paints. The wax from the crayon prevents the color from sticking in those areas.
I love how these look like a cute, little, haunted town when displayed altogether because each looks a bit different. I opted to stand them up and place each writing sample in front of the house. Another option would be to make a reduced-size copy of the writing and attach it to the top so it opens like a card.
This was my tried and true original craft activity that I used for many years as the complement to the Haunted House for Sale writing project. Have your students sketch a haunted house onto paper (brown, grey and purple look good) and then outline it in black Sharpie. This makes the project pop. Next, have them add elements to create a scene. Some suggestions include bats, pumpkins, cats, bats, trees, etc.
I would love to say I was responsible for directing fantastic pencil drawings, but artwork is not my area of expertise. Instead, I had my kids follow along with a YouTube video. It worked out so well and they enjoyed the experience so much I made it a regular activity each week. It only takes a few minutes and being able to observe your students take direction from someone tells you a lot about them and their skills.
3. Review Nouns and Adjectives With This Free Halloween Activity
Let’s be honest friends. Every single teacher on the entire planet teaches nouns, verbs, and adjectives. That is a fact.
Another fun fact is that every single kid on the face on of the Earth who is asked about a noun, a verb, or an adjective will claim that no teacher prior to you has ever uttered any of those three words to them. My point is that you will probably need to review them. Use this free Halloween nouns and adjectives activity to do it!
Get the free Witches’ Brew activity !
Start by having your students listen to the song, “Witch’s Brew” by Hap Palmer. Use the lyrics from that song to identify nouns and adjectives. It’s chock full of those two parts of speech and has a fun, catchy beat. It’s perfect for kicking off some Halloween writing.
I like to also create an anchor chart with my students to brainstorm what is found inside and outside of a haunted house.
Next, give the students the Haunted House for Sale nouns and adjectives brainstorming pages . I find it helpful to give them some time to come up with ideas independently and then work collaboratively as a whole group to expand on their thinking. This activity is great because it not only reviews the concept, but also develops vocabulary, helps the kiddos who struggle with idea generation, and serves as a word wall for spelling (which then enables them to write without getting caught up on how to spell words).
After the whole class lesson, the students can then add to their own pages or access the words from the reference charts we created together as needed.
4. Use the Printable Activities to Work Through the Haunted House for Sale Writing Process
Students’ struggles as writers typical stem from three reasons:
- not having ideas to write about
- getting caught up by wanting to spell words correctly
- not knowing how to start and stop or even what to include
If you choose to use my Haunted House for Sale Resource Packet you will find it includes everything you need to take the project from start to finish.
As a teacher who has changed grade levels many times, and knowing that teachers typically have many levels of ability within their classroom each year, I strive to include differentiated options, so you can use the resource year after year in any grade level. This specific resource includes several styles of organizers and writing papers for that reason.
Additional Writing Resources You May Find Helpful
It is important to provide a lot of writing opportunities for your students throughout the school year and there is great value in documenting their progress by comparing similar writing samples over the course of the school year. I do this through a combination of:
- Consistent weekly writing activities. I use Paragraph of the Week and Monthly Writing Prompts in journals that are ongoing all year.
- Four seasonal pieces to assess and truly show their growth as writers. Check out my Seasonal Writing Bundle !
- One monthly writing project complemented by a craftivity that is displayed in the classroom. My September writing project is a descriptive piece based on the picture book, A Bad Case of Stripes. In October, I have them use this Haunted House for Sale writing activity to expand their descriptive writing skills.
- Read more about: SEASONAL IDEAS AND ACTIVITIES FOR ELEMENTARY TEACHERS
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Hey there! I’m Jodi. I am a National Board Certified teacher with 17 years of experience in the classroom.
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