Disclaimer: My fear tolerance is like my spice tolerance: a cautious medium level — somewhere between finding Scooby Doo villains to be amateurs while still second-guessing every sound in the house not caused by me after watching Paranormal Activity. That being said, the following books aren’t for the faint of heart, but they won’t leave you sleeping with one eye open. These three spooky books set in NYC are just what you need to put you into the Halloween mood.
One more thing before we get to the books: I only recommend books and products I would read/use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that I may earn a small commission from at no additional cost to you.
From the alleged alligators in the sewers to the rumors of gold at the bottom of Hell Gate, this book is a primer of New York state’s most popular legends. Being that New York City is by far the most interesting place in New York state, eight out of the fourteen chapters of this book take place in NYC, but the other chapters are worth reading too. If you read it, let me know what you think of the legend of the Leather Man.
This book is billed as a retelling of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1925 tale The Horror at Red Hook, but besides retaining a couple of key characters and the fascination with the Cthulhu mythos, the Ballad of Black Tom is a completely different — and far superior — story than The Horror at Red Hook. And I’m not just saying that because Lovecraft was a raging racist. The Ballad of Black Tom skillfully ties together themes like hustling, police brutality, and injustice and adds magic to it, literally.
If gentrification is creeping you out and you have a theory that there’s something more sinister at work disenfranchising New Yorkers of color in addition to market forces and historical disadvantages, then this is the perfect spooky season book for you. But be forewarned, it takes at least 50 pages for this book to get to its first spooky moment. Though if you really think about it, is there anything scarier than being forced out of the neighborhood you love?
Which of these NYC books do you think is the spookiest? Share your thoughts and your favorite spooky books set in NYC in the comment section!
But before you go start reading these spooky books set in NYC, if you like what I do here at Shiloh in the City and want to continue getting to know New York’s history, culture, and things to do with me, sign up for my email list and follow me on social media. Thanks for reading!