Kiddosphere: Thrills and Chills: Horror Reads for Halloween

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Do you love a good scare? Does the anticipation of Halloween make you giddy? 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of “Frankenstein,” making it the perfect time to revisit old classics and discover some new reads that will keep you up long past your bedtime.

But first, what exactly is a horror novel? Classic monsters like “Dracula” come to mind, as do the gothic short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and the works of the modern master of horror, Stephen King.  Some might remember childhood favorites, such as R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series. The Horror Writers Association defines horror as “… not only blood and gore, but psychological horror, suspense, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, supernatural terror, and so much more.”

Whether you are looking for suspense, mystery or a tale of the supernatural, you will find a wide range of choices at your local library, with options for readers of all ages.

At age 80, Mary Downing Hahn remains the queen of children’s scary stories. While you can start with any title, All The Lovely Bad Ones is one of her most popular works. Two siblings decide to play pranks in their grandmother’s haunted inn, which awakens young ghosts.

The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh is one of my favorite creepy reads in years.

Twelve-year-old Mary is excited to finally be adopted, until she learns that her new mother is the notorious and fearful Baba Yaga, the legendary Russian witch. If you’re into scrumptious descriptions of feasts with a Russian flair (or think you might be), you’ll love this one.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste book cover

Does a supernatural story set in the Caribbean entice you? The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste features a brave eleven year old girl as she attempts to save her community from a devious spirit.

Consider the Notebook of Doom series by Troy Cummings, part of Scholastic Inc’s “Branches” line if you are looking for beginning chapter books. Alexander’s new school is not like any other school—for one thing, it’s located in a hospital morgue, where he finds a notebook filled with information about monsters. Desmond Cole, Ghost Patrol is another fun supernatural series for newly independent readers; written by Andres Miedoso, it follows eight-year-old Desmond as he investigates ghosts and monsters in his neighborhood.


Kendare Blake’s Anna series is a hardcore, knock-your-socks off scare. Beginning with “Anna Dressed in Blood,” Blake introduces readers to Cas, who is following in his father’s footsteps to rid the world of the murderous undead; although Anna has killed anyone who dares to enter her old home, she decides to save Cas, leading to devastating consequences.

Obsessed with zombies? Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation should be on your list. This tale of young people training to become attendants to kill the dead is set in Baltimore County during the Civil War, and has received outstanding reviews. Thirsting for more gruesome zombie tales? Give the works of Darren Shan a try.  Cautionary note: both Blake and Shan’s works contain violence and mature language.

I was in high school when I read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” for the first time, and it’s remained one of the most vivid and freaky short stories I’ve ever read.  A thick book of Poe’s stories and poems can be intimidating. Instead, try Gareth Hinds’s Poe: Stories and Poems, a masterful graphic novel adaptation of Poe’s classics.

Looking for something totally unique? Pick up Ying Chang Compestine’s collection of ghost stories, A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts. Not only are these spine-tingling ghost stories, but each one incorporates Chinese food, history and culture (so perhaps don’t read when you are hungry!)


A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal turns vampire fiction on its head: what if vampires were the elite of society (rather than being chased by townspeople clutching torches)? When the first “Gloaming” runs for governor, the world is upended like it’s never been before.

In the southwestern town of Night Vale, ghosts, aliens, and conspiracies are not extraordinary. A young pawn shop owner is focused on solving the mystery of a man in a tan suit who handed her a piece of paper that only read “KING CITY.“ Her quest to discover his identity and what “KING CITY” means launches an offbeat and unique paranormal series by Joseph Fink, launching with Welcome to Night Vale.

In the mood for a supernatural read, but not one that will give you nightmares? Consider Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Jane Austen’s beloved heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, fights zombies, but will the dashing Mr. Darcy distract her? Grahame-Smith Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is in the same vein, as is Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters. If zombies are your thing, but you want something that will raise goosebumps, Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War might be for you.

Flight or Fright, a new compilation of horror tales edited by Stephen King, might not be something you pack in your carry-on case for your upcoming holiday travels. King has collected tales (previously published and original) about the nightmares of flying….and I don’t mean delayed flights or cramped cabin space.

Jennifer Schultz, Collection Services Development Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

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