Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays. It was a huge disappointment the first year that I was no longer able to go trick-or-treating. Luckily for me, my friends and I looked quite young for our age, so we managed to continue most of the way through high school before finally being forced to stop. I actually don’t really like to be scared and my worst nightmare this time of year were the creepy masks that some people would wear to school, even though masks were generally banned. I love this time of year because of all the decorations, the TV specials (at least the ones that aren’t too scary), and of course, the candy!
When it comes to books and movies, I love a Halloween theme but nothing too scary. My favourite Halloween-ish movies have always been The Addams Family, but I also loved Beetlejuice, and others like that which blend the creepy with quite a bit of humour. With books, I don’t mind when they are a bit darker and scarier. I love psychological thrillers, but I’m not a huge horror fan. For this week’s topic, I decided to look ahead at my TBR and find 10 books I haven’t read yet that I think fit the Halloween theme.
Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1) We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This is a very recent addition to my list, which I added after it played such a prominent role in a book I read not too long ago. I’d heard of this book quite a long time ago, but never really paid much attention to it until I saw the plot summarized in Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. This book is about a girl named Merricat who lives on her family’s estate with her sister, Constance, who has been acquitted of murdering other family members with poison. Merricat attempts to protect her sister from the hostile villagers. It is quite a short book, but the cover art reminds me of The Addams Family. It is a book that I’m likely going to fit into next year’s reading challenges.
2) The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke
This book reminds me of Halloween primarily because of the cover art, but also because of the blend of horror and mental health. This book is about a 10-year-old boy named Alex whose best friend is a 9000-year old demon. Alex meets a child psychiatrist who fears for his sanity, and attempts to convince him that the demon cannot possibly exist. I think this book sounds like such a fascinating story that blends the boundary between reality and imagination. The main concept of this book seems to be whether Alex’s demon is real, or all in his head. It sounds like such a fascinating concept! This book has been on my TBR for quite a long time, and I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to read it.
3) Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler
I was first drawn to this book because of the interesting title, which means “fear of the dark.” This book is about an architecture student, Callie, who moves into a house in Southern Spain with her husband. Callie decides to research the history of her new home, and becomes convinced that it must be haunted. These kinds of books tend to be very atmospheric and creepy. I can definitely relate to the fear of the dark angle, since I was very afraid of the dark when I was younger. This is another book that has been on my list for a couple of years already, but I keep putting it off without any real reasons.
4) Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville
Fairy tales have always had a bit of a creepy element to them, especially the original Grimm’s tales which were quite dark! This book is set in Vienna, focusing on a psychoanalyst who encounters a strange case of a girl who claims not to be human. Several years later in Germany, a young girl named Krysta plays alone, obsessed with fairy tales, whose life becomes quite terrifying. The synopsis is quite vague about the details of the storyline, but I’ve always loved the idea of creepy fairy tales. As far as I understand, this book also uses the fairy tale elements as a parallel to Nazi Germany, which sounds like an interesting angle.
5) Beside Myself by Ann Morgan
It is not only stories about demons and monsters that creep me out. Sometimes the scariest stories are psychological thrillers, which are that much creepier because they seem so possible. This book is about identical twins, Helen and Ellie, who decide to switch places for a day, until one of them refuses to switch back. Part of what seems so fascinating about this story is how the twins’ identities seem to be contingent on their names. Aside from the interesting concept, the book has a very creepy cover with childish stick figures. I’m curious to see how the author manages to create such a convincing switch that others don’t realize the girls have switched places. It sounds like a great thriller!
6) Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
This book seems most Halloween-ish because of the cover art, with the lone slide against a dark night background. The plot itself is more of a typical mystery/thriller. The book is about a mother who rushes into a burning school building to save her teenage daughter, and tries to discover the identity of the arsonist while protecting her children. On it’s own, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it it a very Halloween-themed story, but it does seem like the perfect time of year for thrillers. The reviews on this one seemed pretty mixed, but that seems to be the case for many thrillers. It seems like it could be a creepy one, but just the cover art alone makes it perfect for the Halloween theme.
7) 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter
This is another recent addition to my TBR, and a book that just came out in August of this year. It is another case of a book that seems most Halloween-ish because of the cover art, featuring a silhouette of an empty swing, and a child with a single red balloon. This book is about an 8-year-olg girl who goes missing from a candyshop on her way home from school, and the ensuing police hunt to find her. An ageing widow sees the child’s picture in the newspaper, which reignites her obsession with another child who has gone missing. It sounds like a key plot point in this book is figuring out whether these two cases are connected in some way, and the idea of getting a perspective from the other woman watching the story unfold from a bit more of a distance seems intriguing.
8) Meddling Kids by Egdar Cantero
I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Scooby-Doo. I simultaneously thought the show was so entertaining, but also found it very stupid at times. My favourite was “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo,” mostly because of Vincent Price’s voicework for one of the main characters. I was drawn to this book because of the title, which reminded me of the classic Scooby-Doo villain line about how they would have gotten away with it “if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” This book definitely seems to be an homage to the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons, focusing a club of teen detectives who have now grown up, not seeing each other since their last case in the late 70s. I love the concept of this book, following the teen detectives into their adult lives, reuniting to face a past threat. I will definitely have to fit this one into my reading challenges next year!
9) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
I’ve been hearing about this book for well over a year now, and it’s received rave reviews from many of the reviewers I follow. Unlike the other books listed here, this one is a graphic novel, which includes five creepy stories. I’ve seen Emily Carroll’s brilliant illustrations in Baba Yaga’s Assistant (a book I would highly recommend, and another great Halloween read for people who don’t want a scary story), and I was very impressed. I’m not such a fan of short stories in general, but paired with these kinds of creepy illustrations, I think they would work quite well!
10) Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe
I added this book to my list not long after reading the terrifying Little Girls by Ronald Malfi, and have actively avoided it ever since due to my aversion to ghost stories. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good ghost story, it’s just that they legitimately scare me and make it really difficult for me to sleep. This book is told from the perspective of Charles, a father whose 4-year-old daughter, is murdered, who is trying to uncover what happened to his daughter as well as the strange, paranormal activity going on in their house. It definitely sounds like the kind of story that would terrify me and possibly give me nightmares, but hopefully one day I will be brave enough to give it a chance.