With Halloween this coming weekend, if you’re looking for a spooky read for your All Hallow’s Eve festivities, I have a great selection for you, including five of my personal favourites, and five CQ titles that are on sale for 99 cents as part of The Kindle Book Review’s Halloween Party.
The Spook’s Stories: Witches, by Joseph Delaney
In my opinion, Delaney writes some of the best spooky children’s/ young-adult novels there are!
I came across his series while in the library with my oldest one day, and was instantly intrigued by the cover and synopsis for The Spook’s Stories: Witches. By strange coincidence, one of the stories in the collection, Grimalkin’s Tale, was on offer for free on Google Play books a few days later. I read the story, and was instantly drawn into Delaney’s world. Grimalkin, the witch assassin, became one of my favourite characters.
This short-story collection reveals Grimalkin’s backstory, along with that of fellow witch Alice Deane (my other favourite character from Delaney’s Wardstone Chronicles), and three other witches that appear in the series.
Each witch is unique in how they gain their power - either via blood magic, taking the bones of their victims, training to be an assassin, or having the blood of mythical monster Lamia - and each tale offers its own brand of Delaney chilling with witches drinking blood, cutting off people’s thumbs and boiling them in a cauldron or deriving their power from symbiotic enteritis called familiars, some of which attach themselves to people’s heads and eat their brains!
The Spook’s Stories: Witches, by Joseph Delaney is the perfect jumping in point for people looking to get into the series, and will appeal to adults and children alike in the same way the Harry Potter series does.
Charming, by Krystal Wade
They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s great… as long as you don’t die.
Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine had it all: top-notch school, fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left.
Chris Charming has it all: a powerful CEO for a father, a prestigious school, and a fortune at his fingertips, but none of that matters when he lands a reputation as a troublemaker. Struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps, he reaches out to the one person he believes truly sees him, the one person he wants: Haley.
Little do they know someone’s determined to bring the two together, even if it means murder.
Everything’s Eventual, by Stephen King
Confession time: I’m not a fan of Stephen King. I’ve read a couple of his books, and couldn’t get into them.
But, one of his spooky short-stories has stayed with me in the ten years since I read it.
“The Man in the Black Suit” from the short-story collections Everything’s Eventual and Six Stories.
The image of the Man in the Black suit - who smells of burnt match heads, has pale skin and claw-like fingers, and when he grins, exposes horrible, sharp, shark-like teeth - is one not easily forgotten, and then when you discover who the Man in the Black suit probably is … well … I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I’m not surprised the story’s protagonist, Gary, lived his life in fear of him!
Exacting Essence, by James Wymore
Remember waking up late in the night after a nightmare? Your mother holding you tight and whispering it’s all just a dream and everything would be all right? She lied.
Evil clowns haunted Megan’s dreams for years. Even though nobody ever said she was crazy, she knew they were all thinking it. With her life falling apart, she turns suicidal until a new therapist suggests the impossible: dreams are real. Nightmares are living, breathing predators, feeding on dreamers’ fears by Exacting Essence.
Most, of course, forget theirs as soon as they wake up. Megan is not so lucky. She’s also not so powerless. But is even a power nurtured within her dreams enough to fight off the horrors lurking just beyond the veil of sleep?
The Witches, by Roald Dahl
One of my favourite books (and movies) of childhood, Roald Dahl weaves and chilling tale of child-hating witches who plan on turning innocent little kids into mice!
Aside from the child-hating, mouse turning plotting of the witches, another thing that makes them appear so terrifying is that they look and act like human women. In reality, they’re “demons in human shape”; hiding their bald heads under wigs, covering their clawed hands with gloves, and covering up the fact they have toeless feet by forcing them into shoes too small and painful for them!
Rex’d: Welcome to Scholomance, by J.B. Skelter and Jack Reher
MONDAYS. Oh, the horror. Going back to school after a nice weekend. Homework. Tests. Gym class. It’s even worse for Rex Gerard, the “new kid” at Scholomance High. Making friends, navigating the rough halls, avoiding trouble…
But on this particular Monday, it’s also Halloween. Rex’s favorite holiday. It was his mom’s too before she passed away. And today, Rex will learn exactly how she died and what his purpose is in this life as he unlocks the hair-raising mysteries and lurking monsters of Scholomance.
But is he… is ANYONE… ready?
The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice
Are you noticing a theme with the type of spooky books I love? While some people enjoy vampire fiction, and others are drawn to tales of werewolves, for me it’s witches and often accompanying them, demons from whom they draw their power!
Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour is no different, and I can easily say this is my favourite book ever. It combines everything I look for in a good read - a sprawling backstory (covering the history of the Mayfair family from the first time one of the family calls the spirit, Lasher, in 1689, right up until the thirteenth witch in the story’s present of the early 90s), lots of history and different time periods, supernatural powers, mystery and even a little romance!
The Dead Detective, by J.R. Rain and Rod Kierkegaard Jr
Medical-school-dropout police detective Richelle Dadd is… well, dead.
But that won’t stop her from trying to hold on to her house in a divorce battle with a bitter husband. Or keep her from digging into her own murder, to discover who put the bullet into her heart. Or from coming to terms with her Gypsy heritage. And it certainly won’t stand in the way of finding out the reason she’s been reanimated as a zombie assassin, no longer in control of her life.
Richelle will face off against Romani shamans, double-crossing ghosts, a partner she can’t trust, and her own undead nature in a journey into the depths of the occult world and out the other side without losing her sense of humor - or humanity - along the way.
It’s a good thing her deductive skills - and her aim - are still up to par.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
More witches (and wizards too), and while there are many spooky parts in the Harry Potter series - Voldemort’s graveside resurrection and Dumbledore and Harry fighting off the inferi, and anything with dementors instantly spring to mind - it’s actually the magic (pun intended) of the holiday that has it featuring on my list.
If Rowling’s vivid description of the great hall, with enchanting pumpkins floating above the tables and the ceiling charmed to look like the night sky, as ghosts swishing in and amongst the students, who’re tucking into candied apples, black cauldrons of big lollipops and goblets of pumpkin juice, doesn’t put you in the mood for Halloween, I don’t know what will!
Wolf, by Jim Ringel
Johnny Wolfe carries his dog Sindra in a vial that he keeps in his pocket. He carries her out of loyalty. He carries her out of guilt. He carries her because there are no more dogs in this world. And he carries her to connect to her feral nature, so that he might take her inside himself and feel her animal wildness.
Johnny’s life is in shambles. His sales career at Bulldog Enterprises is on the blink. On his way to work one day he comes across a colleague who is killed by a dog. But with dogs now extinct, how is this possible? Going through his colleague’s dead body, Johnny discovers the colleague is carrying a rather sizeable sales order. Figuring “he’s dead, I’m not”, Johnny decides to place the order as his own.
Except he can’t figure out what product the colleague is selling. As he gets closer to understanding the product, Johnny starts to realize it has more and more to do with why the dogs might be returning, and why they’re so angry.
Then he starts to wonder if maybe the dogs know more about him and Sindra, and if maybe they’re angry with him.