Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Reading Ideas For Spooky Season

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's spooky season. Break out your horrifying, mysterious, and magical books. Not sure what to read? I have recommendations.

👻  Spooky Season Book Recommendations  👽

The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

Middle Grade Fantasy

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned.
Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts . . . and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: If you like Tim Burton's movies, you need to read this middle grade fantasy novel. It spooky, but in a whimsical, quirky way that won't give you nightmares, but will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are so many plot twists!

Buy it on Amazon

Joyland Stephen King

Adult Mystery

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: If you want to try Stephen King but don't like horror, then start with this book! It's a mystery. It's not scary or gory at all. (Actually, I would have like more blood and guts because I'm a weirdo.) I had a great time with this book because it's pure entertainment. I could shut off my brain and enjoy the mystery.

Buy it on Amazon

A Game Of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Middle Grade Fantasy

After an incident shatters their family, eleven-year old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin are sent to live in rural Oregon with an aunt they've never met. Sam wants nothing more than to go back to the way things were . . . before she spoke up about their father's anger.

When Aunt Vicky gives Sam a mysterious card game called "A Game of Fox & Squirrels," Sam falls in love with the animal characters, especially the charming trickster fox, Ashander. Then one day Ashander shows up in Sam’s room and offers her an adventure and a promise: find the Golden Acorn, and Sam can have anything she desires.

But the fox is hiding rules that Sam isn't prepared for, and her new home feels more tempting than she'd ever expected. As Sam is swept up in the dangerous quest, the line between magic and reality grows thin. If she makes the wrong move, she'll lose far more than just a game.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: The fox is so sinister! I have a massive amount of respect for this novel because it handles a terrifying topic in a way that children can understand. The fox and squirrels are obviously stand-ins for abusers and the people (or squirrels) they abuse, but the abuse is shown in non-gratuitous ways. The human characters learn to spot the signs of abuse and stand up for themselves.

Buy it on Amazon

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Adult Literary Fiction

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it's their house, and they've arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it's hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another?

Why it's perfect for spooky season: This novel has no plot or character development; just scary vibes. I know that sounds like a bad thing, but I couldn't stop reading. I like the vibes! They're extremely unsettling. I suspect this is one of the most realistic apocalypse stories I've read. If all of humanity's communication systems go down, we won't know why strange things are happening. We'll just have guesses and paranoia. This book will make you tense.

Buy it on Amazon

This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith

Adult Classic Suspense

David Kelsey, a young scientist, has an unyielding conviction that life will turn out all right for him; he just has to fix the Situation: he is in love with a married woman. Obsessed with Annabelle and the life he has imagined for them—including the fully furnished cabin he maintains for her—David prepares to win her over, whatever it takes.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: The book is terrifying because of its realism. David is obsessed with Annabelle, even though she shows 0 signs of being romantically interested in him. Annabelle attempts to be friendly with David, but her attention is never enough for him. He always expects more from her. Eventually, his obsession spirals into murderous rage because she won't give him what he wants. It's every woman's nightmare. I can see why this book is becoming a modern classic. Read it if you enjoyed YOU by Caroline Kepnes.

Buy it on Amazon

The Devil In The White City: Murder, Magic, And Madness At The Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

Adult History Nonfiction

Bringing Chicago circa 1893 to vivid life, Erik Larson's spell-binding bestseller intertwines the true tale of two men—the brilliant architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair, striving to secure America's place in the world; and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: It's absolutely fascinating! I love the juxtaposition of the two men. They're similar in a surprising number of ways. The author shows how a person's skills can be used for good or evil. Both men were ambitious, powerful, creative, and money hungry, but one of them murdered people, and the other didn't. The book reads like a historical thriller that you have to remind yourself is true.

Buy it on Amazon

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Adult Horror

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in. 
Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: If you love horror or true crime, this is a fun novel. The book club ladies read the classics of those genres. Their opinions on familiar books are hilarious. On the surface, this is a campy novel about slaying vampires. If you want to look deeper, it's social satire. The real villain isn't the vampire. It's the rigid social hierarchy of the early 1990s American South. It's a vampire novel that will make you think.

Buy it on Amazon

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Adult Historical Horror

In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan's ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.

Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan's demons straight to Hell. But something awful's brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.

Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?

Why it's perfect for spooky season: It deserves all its awards! The imagery will stay with me for a long time. It's vivid and graphic. A woman gets dissected alive! Then there's a butcher demon with tiny mouths all over his body. It's gross! I loved it, but its gross! I like that the author takes real historical events and twists them into something paranormal. I also like that he finds hopeful moments in tragedy. This is a horror story, but it's not a depressing story.

Buy it on Amazon

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Young Adult Fantasy

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere . . . else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced . . . they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Why it's perfect for spooky season: The cover and synopsis sound sweet and innocent, but the insides are dark and bloody. I like it! Every character is a weirdo because they’ve spent years in worlds that don’t make sense. The characters are eager to get back to their portal worlds, even though some of the worlds are horrible. I guess it’s easy to overlook creepy things when you’re an important person who’s having adventures.

Buy it on Amazon

Recommend some books for spooky season!


  1. Great list! Leave the World Behind sounds particularly unsettling. Loved Devil in the White City and Book Club.

  2. LOL, I am glad you enjoy the Halloween season! These are a little too spooky for me. Have a great day!

  3. Every Heart a Doorway is a great choice for spooky season. So is A Game of Fox and Squirrels, which is a wonderful book though I found it hard to read because of the abuse. The Luck Uglies was on my TBR list for a while, but I never got hold of a copy. Maybe someday. The others, however, are probably a bit more spooky or creepy or downright horrifying than i'm comfortable with. I lean toward more of a cozy-spooky vibe.

  4. Good post. I didn't even know about This Sweet Sickness - yikes spooky. I liked Leave the World Behind -- it's excellent. I'm not sure what I'll read yet for a scary read .... will ponder.

  5. Joyland would be perfect for me beause I've never read King. And that cover! Southern Guide sounds amazing too.

  6. You know I don't read scary books, but this line! I love it-> This novel has no plot or character development; just scary vibes

  7. I am not big on spooky books, but I think Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City" is a classic. The way he wove the stories together is amazing. I have enjoyed every book I've read by him. -Jeff https://fromarockyhillside.com

  8. Great recommendations! I loved Devil in the White City. And Joyland's been on my TBR list for too long. I always look for some supernatural/ghost stories this time of year myself. :D

  9. I haven't read any of these, but I have a few mysteries on my October reading pile to get me in the mood.

  10. Some of these sounds neat! I do like Tim Burton movies. Think I'll pass on the woman being dissected alive though lol.

  11. Oh you reminded me that I NEED to read Ring Shout! I own it so that one is definitely going on my "Read ASAP" list. Also I have Leave the World Behind! I had heard mixed things but it does sound like my jam, and if you liked it, I am bumping it up! Devil in the White City sounds amazing too. And Southern Vampires! Gah too many books, too little time!

  12. The Grady Hendrix book is the only one of these I've already read and I enjoyed it. Ring Shout is one I'm definitely interested in reading at some point.

  13. Love this list! Also--YAY for a shoutout for Seanan McGuire--that book was FABULOUS and I immensely enjoyed reading it! Happy spooky season to you!