It’s Elliot’s favorite time of the year so this week she is bringing you a special rundown of what she’s been reading so far this glorious spook-tober month.
Night of the Mannequins, by Stephen Graham Jones
Jones’ talky first person narration style in this novella makes it feel like the main character, a teenager on the cusp of graduation, is sitting across from you telling a story. And what a story. This one is best to go into blind, so without saying too much this tale has plenty of creepy stuff to put you on edge, a visceral feeling of apprehension, and an unfolding horror that makes the pages fly by. This one delivers plenty of punch for its small page count, and unlike some novellas it was the perfect length for the story it was telling. If you’re a fan of horror movies, or just want something fast and gruesome, this novella is a sure win.
The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest
I’m a sucker for a good haunted house story, especially when the leaves begin to turn and the pumpkins come out. This book delivered in spades. Priest’s description of the Withrow estate was vivid and unsettling, transporting me back in time to the old houses I’ve lived in. She captures every unnerving creak and crack, evoking such a strong sense of place I felt like I was there. Every locked door, half seen shadow, and fingerprint in the dust was deliciously eerie. The ghost story itself was fairly by the numbers, but I found I didn’t care. This is one of those books that’s a slow burn, full of dread, and you just keep waiting for the shoe to drop. If you like haunted houses put this one on your to read list and be sure to dig in when the night is extra dark and the house is quiet.
Horrid, by Katrina Leno
How can you not pick this one up with a gorgeous cover like that, am I right? Thankfully the story delivers as well. This is one of those haunted house stories that walks the line where you’re not sure if the culprit is ghosts or madness. (You’ll have to read it to make up your mind.) The North manor yawns open like a maw and every corner feels shadowy and claustrophobic. The smell of roses hanging in the air feels ominous. And our heroine’s rage feels palpable and unsettling, just like the books she slowly eats to cool her temper. Intrigued? It’s worth the ride. This one evoked such a striking atmosphere it kept me turning pages well into the night.
Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas
This book is one of those rare reads that is perfect for October and the Halloween season, but isn’t scary. It has a nice spooky vibe, but also a gentle warmth evoked in large part by all the vibrant descriptions of food, color, and culture that saturate this story. This is a teen love story but also a story of yearning for acceptance and coming of age. There is magic, plenty of ghosts, a fairly obvious mystery (the identity of the killer isn’t really what this is all hanging on), some sweetness, and plenty of Dia de los Muertos saturating the setting and story. If you’re looking for a read with diverse characters, a queer love story, and a dash of spooky ambiance this should satisfy the itch.
You can purchase any or all of these spooky reads by clicking on their titles above.