Thrills and Chills: Your Halloween Reading List

Fun, spooky, and chilling tales for readers of all ages.

*****

Monsters 101, by Cale Atkinson (Picture Book)

About the the book: Monsters! They're so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant--a zombie named Tina--as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monsters facts never uttered outside a crypt! For example:
  •   Monsters love competitive board game nights!
  •   Favorite monster foods include clam pudding with fish heads and pickled ant ice cream!
  •   In addition to cauldrons and spider gardens, monster homes often include homemade collages!
  •   Werewolves hate the sound of vacuum cleaners!
  •   Monsters aren't all scary! Try being nice to one for a change! Offer them a compliment!
Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop sidesplitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children--and adults--eager to enroll, time and time again!

*

Cabin Girl, by Kristen Butcher (Middle Grade)

About the book: Sixteen-year-old Bailey is working at her first summer job, as a cabin girl at a fly-in fishing camp at Witch Lake. She struggles with the job at first but enjoys hearing the stories of the area, including the legend of a local ghost. Then April, an older waitress with street smarts, takes Bailey under her wing and the two girls become friends. It’s all good until another waitress burns her arm and has to leave. Bailey gets a sudden promotion, and April is asked to help clean the cabins. April becomes far from friendly and Bailey finds herself alone again and messing up on the job—and possibly seeing the ghost.

*

The Hush Sisters, by Gerard Collins (Fiction)

About the book: Sissy and Ava Hush are estranged, middle-aged sisters with little in common beyond their upbringing in a peculiar manor in downtown St. John’s. With both parents now dead, the siblings must decide what to do with the old house they’ve inherited. Despite their individual loneliness, neither is willing to change or cede to the other’s intentions. As the sisters discover the house’s dark secrets, the spirits of the past awaken, and strange events envelop them. The Hush sisters must either face these sinister forces together or be forever ripped apart.

In The Hush Sisters, Gerard Collins weaves psychological suspense with elements of the fantastic to craft a contemporary urban gothic that will keep readers spellbound until the novel whispers its startling secrets.

*

Screech! Ghost Stories from Old Newfoundland, by Charis Cotter and Genevieve Simms (Middle Grade)

About the book: There is no dark like the Newfoundland dark. These ominous words beckon young readers onward in this spooky collection of ghost stories by celebrated ghost story-teller and award-winning middle-grade author Charis Cotter. Reimagined from family stories told across Newfoundland and passed down over generations, these ten spine-tingling tales traverse centuries and introduce readers to the Rock's nooks and crannies. From a ghostly blueberry-picker on the barrens to a visit from the notorious Old Hag, from a mysterious ballet troupe in a St. John's mansion to a haunted house in an outport community on the cusp of resettlement, these stories bring the island of Newfoundland to vibrant new life (and death) as the thread of these years-old yarns is unravelled for a whole new generation.

Featuring ghostly black-and-white illustrations from Newfoundland artist Genevieve Simms, as well as an overview of the Newfoundland storytelling tradition, and a Story Behind the Story for each tale including context on the story's history, its original teller, its featured ghost, and setting, along with tips for spooky storytelling and a Glossary of Newfoundland terms, Screech! is equal parts eerie and educational, making it a riveting read as well as a great resource for budding historians and storytellers.

*

Be Scared of Everything, by Peter Counter (Essays)

About the book: Horror essays that read like Chuck Klosterman filtered through H.P. Lovecraft.

Slinging ectoplasm, tombstones, and chainsaws with aplomb, Be Scared of Everything is a frighteningly smart celebration of horror culture that will appeal to both horror aficionados and casual fans. Combining pop culture criticism and narrative memoir, Counter’s essays consider and deconstruct film, TV, video games, true crime, and his own horrific encounters to find importance in the occult, pathos in Ouija boards, poetry in madness, and beauty in annihilation.

Comprehensive in scope, these essays examine popular horror media including Silent Hill, Hannibal, Hereditary, the Alien films, Jaws, The X-Files, The Terror, The Southern Reach Trilogy, Interview with the Vampire, Misery, Gerald’s Game, The Sixth Sense, Scream, Halloween, The Blair Witch Project, The Babadook, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Slenderman stories, alongside topics like nuclear physics, cannibalism, blood, Metallica, ritual magic, nightmares, and animatronic haunted houses.

This is a book that shows us everything is terrifying—from Pokemon to PTSD—and that horror can be just as honest, vulnerable, and funny as it is scary.

*

Cascade: Stories, by Craig Davidson (Fiction)

About the book: Reminiscent of Stephen King's brilliantly cinematic short stories that went on to inspire films such as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, here's a collection crackling with Craig Davidson's superb craft and kinetic energy: in the visceral, crystalline, steel-tipped prose; in the psychological perspicacity; and in the endearing humour.

Set in in the Niagara Falls of Davidson's imagination known as "Cataract City," the superb stories of Cascade shine a shimmering light on this slightly seedy, slightly magical, slightly haunted place. The six gems in this collection each illuminate familial relationships in a singular way: A mother and her infant son fight to survive a car-crash in a remote wintry landscape outside of town. Fraternal twins at a juvenile detention center reach a dangerous crisis point in their entwined lives. A pregnant social worker grapples with the prospect of parenthood as a custody case takes a dire turn. A hard-boiled ex-firefighter goes after a serial arsonist with a flair for the theatrical even as his own troubled sister is drawn towards the flames. These are just some of the unforgettable characters animating this stellar collection of tales--Davidson's first in 15 years, since Rust and Bone, which inspired a Golden Globe-nominated film.

*

Glory on Ice: A Vampire Hockey Story, by Maureen Fergus, illustrated by Mark Fearing (Picture Book)

About the book: A centuries-old vampire decides to bring his crushing-and-destroying skills to the ice in this hilarious story about the newest (and oldest) member of the local peewee hockey team.

After centuries alone in his old castle, Vlad is ready to try something new. When he hears the local hockey team gushing about how they'll crush and destroy their opponents in the next game, he knows he's found the activity for him! Vlad immediately gives the game his all, but he soon realizes that super-human powers don't mean much in hockey without a mastery of the basics.

After weeks of practice, he's finally ready for the big game...but can a hundreds-of-years-old vampire really learn new tricks? This hilarious, energetic picture book encourages teamwork, perserverance, and a love of hockey that will last a lifetime, even for an immortal being.

*

Lucy Crisp and the Vanishing House, by Janet Hill (Young Adult)

About the book: It has been a year since Lucy Crisp graduated from high school and she still hasn't found her calling. That is, until she discovers an exclusive arts college called Ladywyck Lodge. On a whim, she applies and is thrilled to be accepted into their program. Lucy moves to Esther Wren, the charming little town where it's based, and stays in the house her father buys as an investment: a magnificent building built by a sea captain in 1876. The house has history and personality—perhaps too much personality...

Strange things start happening: Lucy hears voices and footsteps in empty rooms. She sees people and things that should not be there. Furniture disappears and elaborate desserts appear. What's worse is that the strange events are not restricted to her house. Lucy begins to understand that the town and its inhabitants are hiding many secrets, and Ladywyck is at the heart. As the eerie happenings escalate, Lucy fears she is being threatened—but she is determined not to let fairy potions, spells and talk of witchcraft scare her away.

Janet Hill's enchanting debut novel is part mystery, part supernatural thriller and all fun.

*

The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass, by Adan Jerreat-Poole (Young Adult)

About the book: Even teenage assassins have dreams.

Eli isn’t just a teenage girl—she’s a made-thing the witches created to hunt down ghosts in the human world. Trained to kill with her seven living blades, Eli is a flawless machine, a deadly assassin. But when an assignment goes wrong, Eli starts to question everything she was taught about both worlds, the Coven, and her tyrannical witch-mother.

Terrified that she’ll be unmade for her mistake, Eli seeks refuge with a group of human and witch renegades. To earn her place, she must prove herself by capturing the Heart of the Coven. With the help of two humans and a girl who smells like the sea, Eli is going to get answers—and earn her freedom.

*

When Pumpkins Fly, by Margaret Lawrence and Amanda Sandland (Picture Book)

About the book: The air is cold, the nights are long, and Halloween is just around the corner. This is the time of year when pumpkins fly!

In the remote, fly-in community of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, the last cargo flight of October brings some strange orange guests for the children. Seeing a pumpkin for the first time, the local kids eagerly carve and light their first jack-o-lantern.

But when everyone adjourns to the community hall for the Halloween dance, the pumpkin is left alone outside. The land around Sanikiluaq is home to many spirits who love to cause mischief, especially this time of year. But what would a land spirit do with a pumpkin? This adorable book gives young readers a window into how Halloween is celebrated in an Arctic Inuit community, incorporating contemporary celebrations and Inuit folklore.

*

You Will Love What You Have Killed, by Kevin Lambert (Fiction)

About the book: Faldistoire’s grandfather thinks he’s a ghost. Sylvie’s mother reads tarot and summons stormclouds to mete her witch’s justice. Behind his Dad of the Year demeanour, Sébastien’s father hides dark designs. It’s Croustine’s grandfather who makes the boy a pair of slippers from the dead family dog, but it’s his father, the cannily-named Kevin Lambert, who always seems to be nearby when tragedy strikes, and in the cemetery, under the baleful eyes of toads, small graves are dug one after the other: Chicoutimi, Quebec, is a dangerous place for children. But these young victims of rape, arbitrary violence, and senseless murder keep coming back from the dead. They return to school, explore their sexualities, keep tabs on grown-up sins—and plot their apocalyptic retribution.

Surreal and darkly comic, this debut novel by Kevin Lambert, one of the most celebrated and controversial writers to come out of Quebec in recent memory, takes the adult world to task—and then takes revenge.

*

Elijah's Super Halloween, by Heather Main, illustrated by Jazmine Gubbe (Picture Book)

About the book: Halloween is almost here! Elijah is excited to go trick-or-treating in his community of Arviat, Nunavut. His anaana even made him a special superhero costume. But just before Halloween, a polar bear is spotted near town. It is not safe to go trick-or-treating. Will Elijah ever get the chance to show off his super costume?

*

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Fiction)

About the book: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. 

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   
 
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
 
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 
 
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

*

The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt, by Riel Nason, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler (Picture Book)

About the book: When you're a quilt instead of a sheet, being a ghost is hard! An adorable picture book for fans of Stumpkin and How to Make Friends with a Ghost.

Ghosts are supposed to be sheets, light as air and able to whirl and twirl and float and soar. But the little ghost who is a quilt can't whirl or twirl at all, and when he flies, he gets very hot.

He doesn't know why he's a quilt. His parents are both sheets, and so are all of his friends. (His great-grandmother was a lace curtain, but that doesn't really help cheer him up.) He feels sad and left out when his friends are zooming around and he can't keep up.

But one Halloween, everything changes. The little ghost who was a quilt has an experience that no other ghost could have, an experience that only happens because he's a quilt . . . and he realizes that it's OK to be different.

*

The Ghost in the House, by Sara O'Leary (Fiction)

About the book: What if a ghost were haunting your house? What if you were the ghost?
 
Everything in Fay's life is perfect--living in the house she dreamed of as a child, married to a man she loves, and planning her life as an artist. Her life seems full of possibility. Then, late one night, Fay realizes that something has gone wrong.
 
Things have altered in the house and some­how time, and Fay's husband, Alec, seem to have gone on without her. Fay--who thought her life was on the verge of beginning--finds it has abruptly ended. And she comes to learn that sometimes the life you grieve may be your own.
 
This glimmering and darkly comedic novel explores both the domestic and the existential, delving into the dark heart of marriage and the meaning of a life.

*

All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny (Fiction)

About the book: On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.
It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit. In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past. His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

*

Magic Dark and Strange, by Kelly Powell (Young Adult)

About the book: Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them.

*

The Residence, by Andrew Pyper (Fiction)

About the book: In this terrifying ghost story based on true events, the President’s late son haunts the White House, threatening all who live in it—and the divided America beyond its walls. From the bestselling author of The Homecoming.

The year is 1853. President-elect Franklin Pierce is traveling with his family to Washington, DC, when tragedy strikes. In an instant, their train runs off the rails, violently flinging passengers about the cabin. When the great iron machine finally comes to rest, the only casualty is the Pierces’ son, Bennie. The loss sends First Lady Jane Pierce into mourning, and casts Franklin’s presidency under a pall of sorrow and grief.

As the Pierces move into the White House, they are soon plagued by events both bizarre and disturbing. Strange sounds seem to come from the walls and ceiling, ghostly voices echo out of time itself, and visions of spirits crushed under the weight of American history pass through empty hallways. But when Jane orchestrates a séance with the infamous Fox Sisters—the most noted Spiritualists of the day—the barrier between this world and the next is torn asunder. Something horrific comes through and takes up residence alongside Franklin and Jane in the very walls of the mansion itself.

Only by overcoming their grief and confronting their darkest secrets can Jane and Franklin hope to rid themselves—and America—of the entity that seeks to make the White House its permanent home.

*

Yaga, by Kat Sandler (Drama)

About the book: She’s more than just a wicked old witch. Baba Yaga is a legend, usually known as that elderly woman who lives alone in the woods and grinds the bones of the wicked. But what if she was actually a sexy, smart, modern woman operating off of morally ambiguous motives? 

A detective finds himself in a small, isolated town asking, what does the disappearance of the young heir to a yogurt empire have to do with some random lore about an old witch? Matched by an apprehensive local sheriff, a university professor with a taste for younger men, and a whole cast of curious characters, the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga twists into a new labyrinth of secret lives, ancient magic, and multiple suspects. 

This genre-bending comedic fairy tale meets thrilling whodunit gives voice to an antihero of epic proportions while interrogating how her story has historically been told by men. From now on, you’ll remember the name Baba Yaga for the right reasons.

*

Immortal Angel: An Argeneau Novel, by Lynsay Sands (Fiction)

About the book: For almost two centuries, Ildaria Garcia has been on the run, a trouble magnet with a knack for taking down bad guys. Lately, her vigilante tendencies have drawn unwelcome attention to her fellow Immortals. Forced to relocate, Ildaria is supposed to lay low in a new town. Instead, she quickly entangles herself with six and a half feet of muscular, tattooed trouble.

Joshua James Simpson Guiscard, aka G.G., knows a lot about Immortals—enough to make him wary. Yet from the moment Ildaria walks into his club, he feels desire stronger than anything he’s known. Accepting the fact that they might be life mates is disconcerting. But when her past catches up to them, G.G. faces a choice—confront his demons at last, or lose a passion that’s hot as hell.

*

Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast, by Barbara Smith (Fiction)

About the book: In this spine-chilling companion to Campfire Stories of Western Canada and Ghostly Campfire Stories of Western Canada, Barbara Smith takes readers on a cross-country trip of sinister spirits, urban myths, haunted houses, ghostly shipwrecks, and other unexplained phenomena, just in time for camping season. With over forty hair-raising tales set in every province and territory, Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast combines fact and legend, with truly terrifying results. From an ancient spirit that haunts a Cape Breton lake to a Manitoba hitchhiker who encounters a UFO to a Tofino surfer who receives a fateful warning from a stranger, this collection is a celebration of all things creepy and Canadian. Ideal for camping trips, slumber parties, or lonely nights when you just want to scare yourself silly, Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast is sure to become a family favourite.

*

Haunted Canada 10, by Joel A Sutherland (Middle Grade)

About the book: Even more chilling ghost stories from all across our spooky land. Moody black-and-white illustrations and photographs enhance the hauntingly eerie read.

In Victoria, British Columbia, the spirit of a killer haunts Fan Tan Alley.
The ghost of a little girl with long dark hair inhabits a hockey arena in Canmore, Alberta.
Mysterious knocking at the door of a home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, signals the start of a series of strange happenings.
With its first volume published in 2002, the Haunted Canada series is now an award winning ten-book series with over 400,000 copies in print. Kids can’t get enough of these spooky tales that allow them to learn about the eeriest corners of our country.

 

 

October 29, 2020
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