If you’re anything like me, a little scare goes a long way. I don’t want to lie awake all night after reading (I’m looking at you, The Iliad. So. Much. Killing…). But the allure of a spooky story at this time of year is undeniable, as the leaves whither and crumble, and the moon rises, full and mysterious. Here are seven suggestions for stories that are light on fright but heavy on entertainment:
A Consternation of Monsters by Eric Fritzius
Can we just bask in the fact that WV writer, Eric Fritzius, invented the collective noun for monsters? A consternation?! Fantastic. These stories capture the quirky creepiness of all the bogeys you see in the woods out of the corner of your eye… The story of the man who accidentally shoots a Mothman, mistaking it for a coyote, is pure gold. Equal parts cryptozoology, tall tale, and campfire story, grab this book for a guaranteed fun read.
These Haunted Hills: a Collection of Short Stories
Full disclosure: I haven’t read this one, yet, because it’s newly released. The always-wonderful Granny Su Holstein is one of the authors featured in this anthology. There’s just something special about scary mountain stories, right?
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (for Sci-Fi lovers)
Before the tv show, there was a tv show. But before that tv show, was the book! A dark and stormy night, a ghost, a robotic monk, quantum mechanics, and…Coleridge? Dirk Gently is, to put it nicely, a con artist. But his bumbling, rough, and rude confidence in the interconnectedness of all things will keep you firmly in his corner for the duration of this unexpected and eerie case. A word of warning–unless you’re an English literature professor, you may have to google the ending… Uhm, I did.
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause (for teens)
Before there was the Twilight Series…there was The Silver Kiss. When I was a teen, I’m pretty sure I checked out this book so many times from my library that I wore out their copy all by myself. It’s kind of got a bit of a punk vibe. The platinum-haired protagonist will remind you of The Lost Boys. The novel examines friendship in the face of a parent’s terminal diagnosis. Plenty of macabre, without the over-the-top angst or gore. Give it a try for a different spin on the vampire romance.
The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman (for kids and families)
When first released, this picture book garnered a pile of awards. I missed it when it was new, but discovered it a couple of years ago. The illustrations will maybe be a little unsettling for your youngest kiddos, but older kids will delight in the theme and imagery. (Ain’t no stinkin’ wolves gonna take our house!) Gaiman has said the idea for the book was inspired by a nightmare his daughter had, and you’ll agree the nightmarish plot has a satisfying conclusion.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey (for kids and families with a dark sense of humor)
If you’re a fan of Masterpiece Mystery!, you’ll recognize this illustrator. With a name like Gorey, you know he’s going to explore the dark side. Although I promised a not-too-scary recommendation, this book makes fun of all the warnings our most over-protective adults cast at us when we were little. It’s also in rhyming couplet. So, yeah, it’s a sing-song, sarcastic, ABC book of childhood dangers. Each character’s name begins with a different letter of the alphabet.
How the Trollusk Got His Hat by Mercer Mayer (for younger kids)
Okay, so this one’s not really THAT spooky. But I so loved Mercer Mayer’s dragonlike monsters when I was little. I’d stare at the illustrations for ages. A monster who collects stamps will delight your kids, too. There’s even a narrated, musical video available on YouTube. Mayer’s amusing lexicon of creatures are fun to read aloud.
Celebrate the changing seasons by trying one of these creepy reads…even if you have to leave on the night light!
NOW YOU: What’s your favorite spooky story? Why does it give you the heebie-jeebies?
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Early on in our relationship, I lured my husband into (a love of) reading by feeding him a steady diet of Stephen King books. Together we loved The Shining, The Stand, It, ‘Salem’s Lot, and Pet Cemetary. From there I persuaded him to read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. We don’t read the same books any more but we are both still avid readers.
Diane, I’m due for another SK book. I have to let about 3yrs pass between reading his. Listened to Duma Key on audiobook in the daylight and it still had enough power to make me cringe every time I see a…lawn jockey! Who does that?! Who can make me afraid of lawn ornaments?? And, oh, the grief in that book. He always keeps our eye on the danger then suckerpunches us with some horrific side plot. Maybe I’ll wait another year!