Do you feel that? There’s a chill in the air and everything smells like pumpkin. Halloween is just around the corner and while your friends might be prepping their bloodiest costumes and scoping out haunted houses, you’re just hoping no one drops a bucket of pig’s blood on you. We get it. Scary isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Which is why we’ve put together this list of slightly spooky stories where something’s just a little off – paranormal books that will get you in the Halloween spirit without keeping you up all night.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Our first recommendation in the land of easy-to-stomach scary stories is Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star, the first novel in her Shades of London series. When Rory Deveraux arrives at a boarding school in London from her sleepy hometown in Louisiana, the last thing she’s expecting is a resurgence of the Jack the Ripper killing spree from over a hundred years ago. And Rory thinks she can help catch the man responsible. The only problem is she’s the only person who can see him. Hungry for more? Check out the rest of Johnson’s fast-paced series by reading The Madness Underneath and The Shadow Cabinet. You’ll be devouring these books well into November!
The Diviners by Libba Bray
If 1920s New York and flappers are more your speed, check out The Diviners by Libba Bray. Bray’s young adult novels consistently knock it out of the park and this book is no exception. At 496 pages, it’s a meaty work of historical fiction about jazz, murder, and a museum of the occult. It’s delightfully spooky and gentle all at once. If you’re craving more Diviners magic, complete the trilogy with Lair of Dreams and Before the Devil Breaks You.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
When you pick up a George Saunders book, you know you’re in for a story that grabs you by the heart and threatens to never let go. It’s up to the reader to determine whether that’s a good feeling – a jolting embrace or a strangling. In Lincoln in the Bardo, Saunders assembles a cavalry of spirits, teeming to cross over into the afterlife. One of those spirits is 11-year-old Willie, a favorite son of President Lincoln. If you enjoy a little historical fiction with your ghouls, this book is for you. It’s packed with masterful language, brilliant storytelling, and just a dash of paranormal history.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
After Sethe, an escaped slave, kills her two-year-old daughter to prevent her from being captured by plantation owners. Years later, the daughter, called Beloved, comes back to haunt her mother’s home in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s a novel heavy with the desolation of slavery in the United States and its implications in a post-Civil War society, but, like The Underground Railroad, it’s an essential novel for today’s readers. The heavy presence of the supernatural throughout this book makes now as good a time as any to read Toni Morrison’s magnificent novel.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Graham-Smith
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Hang on, that can’t be right. Sword-wielding Bennett sisters? A Mr. Darcy known not for his wealth, but for his zombie hunting? An abundance of braiiiiiiiiiiiins? We’ll urge you to skip the movie because it’s gory and full of things the go bump in the night, but Seth Graham-Smith’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice for a horror-seeking audience is the perfect balance of Halloween carnage and Austen comfort. If you’re craving more Quirk Classics, check out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Meowmorphosis, and Android Karenina.