6 Spooky Reads for Halloween

Last year, I did my best to capture a wide array of the horror landscape that would satisfy those familiar with the genre and those new to it. This year, I indulged myself in lots of thrillers; something about the safety of the cozy, autumnal season excites the imagination. It must be the evenings that start earlier and earlier, the days getting darker and cooler. Try out these reads, for an exciting evening with a cup of coffee under a blanket.


Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Illustrated by Dave McKean)

A modern-day youth classic


A young girl’s fairytale slowly morphs into a nightmare.

Age Range: 10+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Body horror, Confinement, Death

Moderate: Kidnapping, Child death, Child abuse

Minor: Animal cruelty, Animal death, Blood


When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader as a means of escape from the stresses of life and school. Young Coraline also finds escape from her life – through a portal to another world, found hidden in the walls of her home. But this magical place is not all that it seems, and if Coraline wants to keep her family and her life, she’ll have to outsmart (with the help of her oddball neighbors) an ancient evil. The way that the narrative of this charming book captivates the reader as well as the protagonist is nothing short of genius. We are with Coraline through every step of her adventure, and the creepy illustrations by Dave McKean only enhance the terror with every turn of the page.



Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Illustrated by Lisa Sterle)

Mean Girls + Teen Wolf = YA Horror Graphic Novel


A high school student joins a girl-gang pack of werewolves in this enjoyable thriller.

Age Range: 13+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Murder, Violence, Death

Moderate: Sexual assault, Sexual harassment, Body shaming

Minor: Racism, Homophobia, Eating disorder


Making friends as a young person transferring to a new school can be tough! But thankfully for Becca, a group of girls seem to welcome her with open arms right away. What she doesn’t realize is the price for fitting in…


This graphic novel makes the most of the Riverdale craze, and masquerades with the cheery aesthetic inspired by Archie comics; but just like these sweet girls, there’s more to this style than meets the eye. Action scenes are stylish, and tension in the writing is matched with pacing that will leave you turning page after page to see what’s next. Return to the horrors of high school this spooky season with Squad.



Battle Royale: Remastered by Koushun Takami (Translated by Nathan Collins)

Bloody good action in a YA Graphic Novel


Junior high school students must fight to the death in this graphic novel update to a classic franchise.

Age Range: 16+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Violence, Gun violence, Gore

Moderate: Rape, Suicide, Sexual assault

Minor: Homophobia, Child abuse


You may be familiar with the cult-classic film based off this idea but have you ever read the material? This spooky season might be a good time. With over 600 pages of dark, tense action, Battle Royale: Remastered will get a reader through all 31 days of October with plenty of content to spare. For those unfamiliar with the original, the concept has been taken, adapted, and twisted over time in many sci-fi dystopian thrillers, such as The Hunger Games or Dangan Ronpa. High schoolers are sent by their government to a deserted island, and are forced to kill one another until only a lone survivor remains to win the spoils. Don’t miss out on this addition, if you’re prepared for shocking violence, and grotesque imagery brought to life by dark illustrations.


Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Monstrous, Fantastical Short Stories to Scratch A Magical Realism Itch


12 Short Stories in a Witty Anthology that tackles big themes and offers interesting insight.

Age Range: 18+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Domestic abuse, Toxic relationship, Death

Moderate: Suicidal thoughts, Suicide, Violence

Minor: Child death, Death of parent, Body horror


I spent an afternoon with the nearly 200-page anthology – And I’ve been trying to convince all my friends to read excerpts I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. If you’re a fan of shows like The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, you might be interested in this dark and reflective anthology, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. Each tale explores new and interesting themes, often overlapping with dangerous circumstances and uncertain outcomes. There’s something inside for everyone, those looking for something more wearily unsettling, fast-paced and deeply enjoyable fantasy and science-fiction are wrapped up in one place.


Penance by Kanae Minato (Translated by Philip Gabriel)

A Chilling Japanese Psychological Thriller Novel


Teenage girls learn a fatal lesson: sometimes, what isn’t our fault can wind up our responsibility regardless.

Age Range: 18+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Child death, Murder, Child abuse

Moderate: Rape, Pregnancy, Miscarriage

Minor: Incest, Body shaming, Infertility


A group of teenage girls lose their friend to an encounter with a murderer that they themselves narrowly escape. The mother of the victim couldn’t be more heartbroken – and her grief turns to anger when she realizes that it’s this group of friends that failed her daughter. Each girl left alive, Sae, Maki, Akiko, and Yuko, are unique and distinct from one another making for a gripping chapter each, delving deep into their perspective, and their fears. This psychological revenge drama will leave a reader deeply unnerved well past Halloween.


Devil House by John Darnielle

A Californian Fictional True-Crime Novel without Equal


Explore and investigate a murder from Milpitas’s Satanic Panic stricken past.

Age Range: 18+


Content Warnings via The StoryGraph:

Graphic: Murder, Violence, Domestic abuse

Moderate: Child abuse, Mental illness, Physical abuse

Minor: Vomit


Devil House, taking advantage of it’s fictional mirror of our reality, reminds readers of the humanity sacrificed to the content mill of true crime. Many crimes reported on and later, written about, or made into movies, are distorted by the process, and turned into something unrecognizable.


With this novel, that truth is put on display, and examined, by the protagonist true crime author, Gage Chandler, who, by moving to the sleepy California town he’d meant to make his subject, learns the toll of disrespectful, improper investigatory practices. There’s discourse to be engaged in, about true crime as a genre, as a market, as a method of storytelling – and as a means of ‘reporting’ ‘fact’. Sharply written, this spellbinding mystery reveals it’s secrets exactly when it means to, and does so with a lyricism completely iconic to the book’s author, lead man of the indie band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle. In the audio-book edition, there are original music compositions to be enjoyed as well.


This isn’t that kind of article, but to sum up my thoughts: I give Devil House 5 stars.



 

Works Cited

“Battle Royale: Remastered by Koushun Takami.” The StoryGraph, The StoryGraph

Ltd., 2014, https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/d92d4fe7-a3a6-43ba-a4bb-

b77c927abcb2.

“Coraline by Neil Gaiman.” The StoryGraph, The StoryGraph Ltd., 2012,

https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/547909eb-c85f-4532-

a917-2d92d5c86bf3.

“Devil House by John Darnielle.” The StoryGraph, The StoryGraph Ltd., 2022,

https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/263c8de4-bf80-4717-98dd-

72b00e8ac8a7.

“Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu.” The StoryGraph, The

StoryGraph Ltd., 2022, https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/2bca0ffa

d0e7-40c1-bf9a-ccc053da0be7.

“Penance by Kanae Minato.” The StoryGraph, The StoryGraph Ltd., 2012,

https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/ce7f5866-74ff

42ad-94a3-8a8fb7d8c133.

“Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall.” The StoryGraph, The StoryGraph Ltd., 2021,

https://app.thestorygraph.com/books/3e572425-1d3e-423c

b9b3-6f3267f84b0c.

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