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Heebie-Jeebies: 8 Seriously Creepy Or Unsettling Book Covers

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Jamie Canaves

Contributing Editor

Jamie Canavés is the Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator and Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter writer–in case you’re wondering what you do with a Liberal Arts degree. She’s never met a beach she didn’t like, always says yes to dessert, loves ‘80s nostalgia, all forms of entertainment, and can hold a conversation using only gifs. You can definitely talk books with her on Litsy and Goodreads. Depending on social media’s stability maybe also Twitter and Bluesky.

Have you ever really wanted to own a book, but the cover was just a wee bit too unsettling so you were like, “Nope, that can not live in my house!”? Or maybe you had no interest in the book but the cover was so creepy you were like, “Yes, my pet, you come home with me.” Maybe the cover wouldn’t be classified as creepy or unsettling based on people’s first thought of scary/horror but maybe it just makes your brain do a wiggle to shake it off. I’m talking about all those things, and probably more, here. But only in relation to the cover, none of this “what’s inside that counts” nonsense.

You’re probably thinking I went with clowns and dolls and only scary horror covers, but there’s a romance on this list because the only criteria was if the image stayed swirling around in my brain even after the book wasn’t in front of me. Don’t follow me, creepy cover! Okay, maybe some of you can.

Slice of Cherry cover

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

This one is creepy not for what’s on the cover so much as what’s not being shown. Did someone drink the blood in the teacups and then neatly stack them back up when done? Who the hell is out here drinking blood at tea parties?! I mean a vampire tea party doesn’t sound scary, I’d attend (sans ingesting any blood) but like real life humans with a bloody tea party I will not stand for.

Hot Under His Collar cover image

Hot Under His Collar (The Nolans #3) by Andie J. Christopher

Would you have absolutely lost money on betting this list would not have romance on it? Most certainly. But look at the cover. Seriously, is the priest a giant? Is she the incredible shrinking woman who now fits in the palm of his hand? Does the shrinking woman dating the giant priest sound creepy to me? Yup. And Yup. I think that his eyes saying “I’m gonna eat you” while she’s the size of an appetizer doesn’t help. Was this the first book I thought about for this list? Maaaaaaybe.

Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw book cover

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

This one doesn’t really need much explanation, I just really, really, don’t like looking at whatever that is which will certainly eat my soul after nibbling on all my limbs and licking under my nails — I just freaked myself out typing that! Also, it absolutely, certainly, makes a high pitched terrifying sound as it snacks. ON YOU. No thank you!

Out cover image

Out by Natsuo Kirino

That knife tip so close to poking that eyeball just made me do a shoulder shake to get the creepy crawly feeling off of me. Okay, have you ever just had your own eyelash poke you in the eye? It’s the most uncomfortable feeling and so irritating and that’s a single little eyelash — this is the blade of a knife! A sharp, pointy, kills-things knife! I can’t even talk about this anymore because I can’t look at that cover any longer so moving on.

Alena cover image

Alena by Kim W. Andersson

That’s a lot of blood on a teenage girl’s face that is clearly not hers. Because it obviously got sprayed up at her. And she does not look upset. Or scared. But rather slightly amused. I like her, but from afar. The farthest afar you can imagine.

 Appointment with Death cover image

Appointment With Death (Hercule Poirot #19) by Agatha Christie

There’s plenty to talk about on this 1980 cover by Fontana that is probably casting a wide net of things to creep people out with. Starting with anyone who has a fear of spiders. But not just any spider, apparently there is a kind that will pop out of your sliced upon skull. To be honest neither of those points are creeping me out. It’s the look in her eyes! She’s inviting you to what? Play with her brain spider? Absolutely not. But don’t actually look into them she may really hypnotize you and then I’d feel responsible and we can’t have that.

Killing Auntie cover image

Killing Auntie by Andrzej Bursa, Wiesiek Powaga (Translation)

Making it a graphic designed cover doesn’t change the fact that someone chopped off their aunt’s foot. (I’m assuming based on the title) Before or after she was dead? Does it matter?! On my list of desires there is no mention of staring at severed body parts. Not even if they look like cartoons — you can see the bone!

NOS4R2 cover image

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

I refer to this book as the license plate book because there is no way I can ever remember a string of letters or numbers, let alone a mix, as a title. Not going to happen. (I also will never remember Nosferatu.) However the cover with the license plate on it isn’t the one that creeps me out. It’s this particular one by Orion with the Christmas wreath that does. The subtly is why this creeps me out. You’d pass this house while walking your dog and just be like “Oh look, they put out their Christmas wreath” and definitely wave hello if they were on the porch. You would not notice that it has bloody skulls in it. And those aren’t just “Hey let’s mix our Halloween decor with our Christmas decor” skulls. That blood is real and they got no problem displaying their victims on their front door. That’s messed up and no one is safe around that house. It’s a serial killer trophy Christmas wreath!

If you’re wondering why I didn’t credit the artists for the covers, it’s a thing I went back and forth on a bit and ended up feeling better about not attaching a name to something that could be read as negative when my opinions aren’t meant to attack someone’s hard work. I do strongly urge you to look up the cover artist if you love any particular book’s cover and want to find more of their work.

If now you need more creepy, here’s 35 New YA Horror Books To Devour!