Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and the Halloween Book Festival Grand Prize.

Now available in a smaller, more affordable paperback!

Every year, children and adults alike take to the streets dressed as witches, demons, animals, celebrities, and more. They carve pumpkins and play pranks, and the braver ones watch scary movies and go on ghost tours. There are parades, fireworks displays, cornfield mazes, and haunted houses—and, most important, copious amounts of bite-sized candy. The popularity of Halloween has spread around the globe to places as diverse as Russia, China, and Japan, but its association with death and the supernatural and its inevitable commercialization has made it one of our most misunderstood holidays. How did it become what it is today? In Trick or Treat, Halloween aficionado Lisa Morton provides a thorough history of this spooky day. She begins by looking at how holidays like the Celtic Samhain, a Gaelic harvest festival, have blended with the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic All Souls’ Day to produce the modern Halloween, and she explains how the holiday was reborn in America, where costumes and trick-or-treat rituals have become new customs. Morton takes into account the influence of related but independent holidays, especially the Mexican Day of the Dead, as well as the explosion in popularity of haunted attractions and the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration today. Trick or Treat also examines the effect Halloween has had on popular culture through the literary works of Washington Irving and Ray Bradbury, films like Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons. Considering the holiday in the context of its worldwide popularity for the first time, this book will be a treat for any Halloween lover. Includes both color and black and white illustrations, references, bibliography, and index.


Winner of the 2012 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non-fiction, presented by the Horror Writers Association.

Winner of the Grand Prize at the 2012 Halloween Book Festival.

Recommended by Halloween historian Lesley Pratt Bannatyne at

“A sparkling investigation of ‘the most misunderstood of festivals’…Morton’s excellent history explores Halloween’s origins and traditions as well as its place in popular culture…” – The Guardian, 10/25/19

“Morton is an accomplished horror short story writer, and her ability to draw readers in quickly and keep them turning the pages shines through in her nonfiction as well. Lavishly illustrated, this solidly researched and concise work is fun to read and a great choice for readers who want to know why we seek out the scary each October.” – Becky Spratford, Library Journal

“Like a candy bag full of historical nuggets and strange folklore, Lisa Morton’s Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is the perfect bible for all devoted disciples of the holiday.” – Michael Dougherty, Writer & Director, Trick ‘r Treat

“In a modern world, increasingly filled with pop culture fads and gimmicks, Lisa Morton reveals much of the underbelly history and unknown facts regarding the biggest pop culture event in history – Halloween. Her sheer delight and well-researched enthusiasm in tackling many of the unrecognized aspects of this monstrous topic makes one wonder what we don’t know about everything else that should be as commonplace to our psyche as a bag of candy.” – Del Howison, Bram Stoker Award-winning editor of Dark Delicacies and Book of Lists: Horror

“With Trick or Treat Lisa Morton gives us a charming, creepy, insightful and thoroughly fascinating history of Halloween. It’s a delicious blend of cultural history and pop-culture savvy that is a true delight to read!” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Flesh & Bone and Assassin’s Code

“This is an excellent survey of the Hallowe’en scene, informative and accessible, far more treat than trick.” – Kim Newman, author of Nightmare Movies and Anno Dracula

“Simply the best book about Halloween I have ever read and if you are a fan of the holiday like I am, this is a must add to your library!” – Tim Janson,

“From an authority on Hallowe’en lore comes all you need to know about this ‘misunderstood’ festival…Well-written and illustrated, informative and entertaining.” – Fortean Times, October 2014