This is my favorite list of the year! I can’t get enough of books with a little of the dark and twisty to them. There’s something for every taste, from spooky fun to cringe-worthy. Check it out and happy scary reading!
This list was used for a Studio 5 segment. See the video HERE.
It’s that time of year again — pumpkins, cold nights, and scary stories. No October is complete without the reading of a chilling supernatural tale. This book list has something for everyone, young and old. And with an easy reference scare scale, you’ll be able to pick the book that’s just right for you.
Spooky Fun – Great for kids, more fun and cute than creepy.
Cool & Creepy – Great for older kids and teens, a little scary, but nothing too intense.
Spine Tingling – Perfect for those who love more suspense and supernatural scares. Nothing too gory, but a promise of chills.
Cringe-Worthy – For those who love a little more serious horror. Chilling, scary, and a little bit gory.
“A Teeny Tiny Halloween” by Lauren L. Wohl, illustrated by Henry Cole (spooky fun, ages 3-8)
In the big forest, lives a teeny tiny woman. Every fall her poor little house is buried in leaves. So she cooks up a sweet surprise for the trick or treaters to come find her. This is the perfect read-a-loud book, with lots of fun text.
“Sid the So Sad Skeleton” by Kelly Jeppesen, illustrated by Ryan Jeppesen (spooky fun, ages 3-8)
Poor Sid the Skeleton, he is so, so sad because he is so, so lonely. So off he goes to find a friend. This is such a cute story, with really vibrant, entertaining illustrations. Written and illustrated by local Utah brothers.
“Amulet: The Stonekeeper” by Kazu Kibuishi (cool & creepy, ages 9-14)
This is the first book in the best-selling graphic novel series. After a tragedy, Emily’s family moves to an ancient home owned by the family. But there’s something a little strange about this house, and especially about what lies beyond the basement door. Loaded with quirky magic and cool characters.
Content note: Just a little creepy. Great for ages 9-14 (or anyone).
“Cuckoo Song” by Frances Hardinge (cool & creepy, ages 11-16)
After a mysterious accident, everything in Triss’ world is a little bit wrong. Her confusion quickly turns to dread as terrifying things start to happen, such as her dolls coming alive, her new fear of scissors, the leaves always in hair, and letters from her dead brother. This book is so cool! It’s loaded with vivid imagery and creative scenes that are astonishing and creepy.
Content note: A little creepy and suspenseful. Some of the creepiness may upset younger/more sensitive kids. Great for ages 11-16 (or older).
“The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon (spine tingling)
An old murder mystery. A small town in Vermont haunted by mysterious legends. A secret diary. And beautiful words. I’m in love with Jennifer McMahon’s books. This one is fast-paced and intricately plotted, with fascinating characters and crisp, chilling scares.
Content note: Intense suspense, mild descriptive murder gore, some sexual references, and a few uses of foul language.
“The Elementals” by Michael McDowell (cringe worthy)
This Southern gothic horror novel starts with the funeral of Marion Savage. Fleeing Mobile, seeking solace, the family heads to a remote Alabama beach known as Beldame.
At Beldame there are three ancient Victorian houses standing in the sand. The third house, abandoned as long as anyone can remember, is nearly filled with sand. No one goes in the house, no one should. For lurking inside is something no one wants to meet.
“The Elementals” is a fantastic haunted house tale, loaded with dread, eerie moments, and good characters. Plain white sand has never been this scary or malevolent. It’s the perfect book to read this October.
Content note: Frequent swearing, including the F-word, a couple brief sexual references, and, of course, scary moments and some creepy gore.
“At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft (spine tingling)
HP Lovecraft is hailed as the father of modern horror. He’s influenced almost every horror writer since his time, including the greats like Stephen King. This story is about a research team who travels to Antarctica. There they uncover some unusual fossils and an ancient, deadly terror.
Content note: Mildly intense suspense and scary situations
“Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories” edited and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger (spine tingling to cringe worthy)
If you’re looking for some great short stories to read here and there this Halloween season, you can’t go wrong with this collection of ghost stories. From eerie horror to comedy, and haunted houses to the odd black cat, here you’ll find stories from Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and more.
Content note: These stories range quite a bit, from clean or gory.