Halloween is a unique holiday with exciting features. You get the creepy, scary and goofy nature of costumes and horror movies, while also enjoying all the comfy-cozy quirks of the fall season. Sweaters, pumpkin spice and everything nice is my kind of Halloween.
But I also like to get in the spirit with a good spooky-ish kind of book. Not the kind that will haunt my dreams (this is why I haven’t watched the last season of Stranger Things), but the kind that leaves iconic fall-themed images in my head for seasons to come that I can’t wait to come back around to next Halloween (think more like Hocus Pocus).
Here are a few of my favorite not-so-scary books for your Halloween reading list. Bonus: Most of these you can even read within the next week before Halloween is over!
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1. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
I’m the rare person who grew up in the 90s and never saw the movie Practical Magic starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. How, I don’t know. But I picked up the book in 2017 and fell under Alice Hoffman’s spell. Practical Magic is the story of the Owens sisters, who are believed to be witches by their peers. It’s a story of love, family life and witchy things that is so enjoyable to read. I often miss these characters so much that I want to read the book again.
2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
This is a dark, unsettling tale about a peculiar girl named Merricat and her family’s secret. The story follows the struggles that ensues when a cousin arrives at the family’s estate. It’s a quick read with an eery tone, as Shirley Jackson is so good at.
3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Be warned: my next 3 picks are by Neil Gaiman! But how can these three not make this list? Gaiman is great at making creepy tales thrilling but light enough to be marketed for young adults and even middle grade. Coraline leans toward the younger crowd, and fun fact, the character was born from the author getting his letters mixed up when addressing a letter. A young girl steps through a door to a world that is similar to her existing one, only better – or so it seems.
4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Another classic for book clubs, this story is told by an adult narrator who returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn back to another place of his childhood that now feels to hauntingly real. This is a book about memory, truths, friendship and sacrifice. It’s another quick read that packs in so much imaginative storytelling.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Another popular Neil Gaiman book that is for young readers, The Graveyard Book is a creative ghost story. Nobody Owens, known as Bod, lives in a graveyard and is being raised by ghosts. His guardian belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. The book follows Bod’s adventures in the graveyard, but if he leaves the graveyard he risks danger from the man who has already killed his family.
6. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Okay, this is borderline keep-you-up-at-night material, so be warned. But the writing is so good that I don’t care how creepy it is. Gillian Flynn, the mastermind behind the incredible hit thriller Gone Girl, gives all the spooky feels in her psychological thrillers. In Sharp Objects, reporter Camille Preaker must return to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story.
7. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
I came across this book during my middle-grade reading binge earlier this year and was pleasantly swept away by the magic and enchantment. With multiple plotlines and layering, it’s one I didn’t want to put down. Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the Forest, Xan, is kind. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge–with dangerous consequences.
8. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
This novel, a first in the 13-book series, inspired the hit vampire show True Blood. I cannot handle the show, too graphic and sexual for me (😂) but the book was doable. Sookie Stackhouse is a fun character to hang out with. She’s a cocktail waitress with a fun power – the ability to read minds. This makes dating difficult until she meets Bill Compton, whose mind she cannot read. Of course, he’s a vampire, and he has a bad reputation.
9. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Who doesn’t love a good zombie love story around Halloween? “R” is a zombie who falls for his non-zombie house guest, Julie. It’s the classic Twilight dilemma of I want to eat her but I love her, but there’s more depth and comedy to Warm Bodies.
10. When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill
The dragon element feels fitting for Halloween. When Women Were Dragons is one of the best books I’ve read this year and would recommend for any season, but why not read about women becoming dragons during Halloween? Set in the 1950s, Barnhill’s adult novel centers on the theme of female rage, female expression, and all the things we females are not supposed to do or talk about. Warning: You’re likely to get mad reading it 😊
Shop Halloween Books
Grab any of these spooky Halloween books from my Bookshop online store to support Changing Hands, a wonderful independent bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona. Let me know which of these books you’ll read this season. What spooky Halloween books would you add to the list?