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Spooky reads for Halloween

By Christian DuChateau, CNN
updated 3:29 PM EDT, Fri October 21, 2011
A paranormal private eye, a girl in the afterlife and zombies populate the pages of
A paranormal private eye, a girl in the afterlife and zombies populate the pages of "Black Light," "Damned" and "Zone One."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New bone-chilling best-sellers are perfect Halloween reads
  • Colson Whitehead's "Zone One" is a darkly comic take on the apocalypse
  • Chuck Palahniuk's "Damned" follows a young girl as she navigates the underworld
  • Two "Saw" movie authors have joined a third writer for "Black Light," a supernatural noir

(CNN) -- Zombies, ghosts, even the devil himself are jumping off the page in this week's hot reads for Halloween. So if you're in the mood for something wicked, we've got you covered with some brand-new bone-chilling best-sellers.

Although they're never actually called zombies in Colson Whitehead's "Zone One," this is a zombie novel with real brains, a panache of pop-culture references and post-9/11 New York gloominess.

n this darkly comic take on the apocalypse, a plague has killed off most of the world's population, leaving behind a wave of walking dead, called skels and stragglers.

One of the survivors and the narrator of the novel, Mark Spitz, leads a team of "sweepers," clearing the undead out of Zone One in lower Manhattan.

Colson Whitehead\'s \
Colson Whitehead's "Zone One" is a darkly comedic tale, complete with zombies.

While on its surface, this appears to be a zombie tale, it's really a survivors' story; most suffer from PASD, post-apocalyptic stress disorder.

While the novel is speculative, it gives you a very realistic sense that the apocalypse, zombies and all, could happen anywhere, anytime.

Whitehead, an up-and-coming voice in American literature, is not your run-of-the-mill horror writer. He's an award-winning novelist, a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, author of a series of online essays on competing in the World Series of Poker and a frequent, funny and sardonic contributor to Twitter. You can follow him @colsonwhitehead. But he was raised on horror and science fiction stories, comic books and movies.

He counts George Romero's classic "Night of the Living Dead' as a key influence. While Whitehead puts his own fresh spin on the genre, the touchstones are there for old-school horror fans. Whitehead himself says, "I like my zombies like I like my women: slow and implacable."

Read an excerpt from "Zone One."

"Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison," begins the 11-year old narrator of Chuck Palahniuk's new novel, "Damned."

It's the story of a little girl, the daughter of a film star and a billionaire, who dies unexpectedly and then has to navigate her way through the underworld. Accompanied by hell's version of "The Breakfast Club," she treks through the Dandruff Desert, across the River of Vomit and up the Mountain of Toenail Clippings to face off with Satan.

Like most of Palahniuk's work, it's not for the faint of heart or the easily offended.

Chuck Palahniuk returns with \
Chuck Palahniuk returns with "Damned," a journey through the underworld.

With a career spanning 15 years and 11 novels, including the iconic "Fight Club," here, Palahniuk imagines hell as a bit like "Dante's Inferno" meets "South Park," a land where "The English Patient" plays on endless repeat and the damned constantly interrupt your dinner from their afterlife call center. Palahniuk, who's lived through some pretty tough episodes himself, says his mother's battle with cancer was the inspiration for "Damned," leaving him wondering about heaven and hell and what the afterlife holds.

Here, he's come up with a thoroughly original vision, satiric and horrifying, enough so you'll want to repent after you read.

Read an excerpt from "Damned."

The "Saw" movie franchise has been a favorite of horror fans for years. Now, the authors behind several in the slasher series have moved from the big screen to books.

Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan wrote the screenplays for "Saw IV," "Saw V," "Saw VI" and "Saw 3D." They've teamed up with Stephen Romano, an acclaimed author, screenwriter and illustrator, on their debut novel, "Black Light," which comes across like "Ghostbusters" on steroids.

Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano all wrote \
Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano all wrote "Black Light."

Paranormal private eye Buck Carlsbad sees dead people in this supernatural noir. He's an exorcist for hire, ready to get rid of your ghosts, for a fee.

Haunted by his past, Buck has spent years seeking out the person, or thing, that murdered his parents and left him for dead. In his latest case, Buck is hired to ride shotgun on a high-tech bullet train as it speeds across the desert version of the Bermuda Triangle at 400 miles per hour.

The triangle is a place where Buck almost died a few years ago and where he swore he would never return. Now he's back to brave myriad ghouls, ghosts and spirits and hopefully solve the most harrowing unfinished case of his career.

Visceral and cinematic, "Black Light" is over-the-top fun, the action nonstop, and a bit like a haunted house ride at an amusement park.

Read an excerpt from "Black Light."

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