Now that we are officially in the Halloween season, what better way to get in the mood than to savor some creepy classics? First, let’s take a look at some Halloween-themed literature for younger readers and teens.
For Juvenile Readers
Scary, Scary Halloween : This story is told from the point of view of a mother cat hiding with her kittens under the porch, while dressed up Trick or Treaters march by. The cat doesn’t understand that the “monsters” are all kids in costumes who have come by to ask for candy. It’s colorful and charming from beginning to end.
Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep : Poetry accompanied by simple but effective black and white hash-mark drawings, each focused on a different archetypal monster: vampires, ghosts, skeletons, werewolves, witches, and many other creatures that go bump in the night.
Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark : This collection of folk tales by Alvin Schwartz is accompanied by shockingly grotesque illustrations by Stephen Gammell, disturbing enough to keep readers of any age up at night with a flashlight. For more squeamish readers, try the 30th anniversary edition with tamer illustrations by Brett Halquist.
The Witches : A classic from author Roald Dahl, The Witches is as creative and adventurous as it is unnerving. In other words, typical of Dahl’s signature style. The witches in this story are genuinely scary at times, but Dahl’s finds a way to keep the story fun.
The Halloween Tree : One of my all-time favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, has a gift for capturing both the magic and creepiness of Halloween. This collection of vignettes, each focused on a different Trick or Treater, is a great example, and a nice introduction to this author for younger readers.
And the Trees Crept In : One of the most unsettling books I have ever read. A young girl and her little sister escape an abusive homelife to take shelter in their aunt’s house. Cautiously recommended for those with a strong constitution. It is relentless and demands your full attention at all times.
And I Darken : Not, strictly speaking, a horror story, but a fascinating alternate history of the real life Vlad Dracula, if he had been a teenage girl. I reviewed this book in full when it was first released. Also be sure to check out the sequel, Now I Rise.
Coraline : Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite writers, and Coraline is one of the first books of his that I read. It’s a fast read, and has the feel of a more macabre Alice In Wonderland with lots of magic and monsters.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown : The book vampire fans like me didn’t know we were waiting for. Whether you’re into the contemporary, more romantic incarnations of vampires, or the classic monsters from centuries ago, this story has something for you to enjoy.
Warm Bodies : Both a reinvention of Romeo and Juliet told in reverse, with zombies; and a surprisingly moving look at what it truly means to be alive. The movie strikes a more light-hearted, modern tone, but both ask the same questions about humanity, and both are worth tracking down.