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5 Spooky books for readers of all ages

Candace Levy

How do you get ready for Halloween? Spooky stories can get you ready for a fun, spooky holiday.

After the pumpkins have been carved and the costumes have been put together, set aside an evening to enjoy hot cider, pumpkin muffins and a spine-tingling story. Set the mood with one of these spooky books; there’s something for everyone in your family.

1. Dead Boy by Laurel Gale

Dead boy by Laurel Gale
Image: Amazon

Crow Darlingson seems like an ordinary 11-year-old: He lives with his mom, is home-schooled and looks forward to Halloween. But if you look closer, you just might notice that Crow never eats, doesn’t breathe and has a strong odor. That’s because Crow isn’t fully alive. Don’t worry, he’s not a zombie — he’s just cursed. When Melody and her dad move in next door, Crow makes his first friend in years, and together they think they’ve discovered a way to bring Crow back to life. Middle-grade readers will love getting to know Crow and Melody and trying to solve the puzzles that will reverse Crow’s curse. Although Dead Boy has some spooky elements, this dark tale is full of adventure and humor, focuses on friendship and encourages us to be kind to one another.

2. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Image: Amazon

Grace Mae, of sound mind and body, is in a living nightmare. Her father, a famous politician, committed her to a Boston lunatic asylum to protect his reputation and guard his secrets. Just as Grace begins to truly go mad, she is visited by Dr. Thornhollow, who is experimenting with a surgery that will later be called a frontal lobotomy. Saving Grace through a series of deceptions, Thornhollow takes her to Ohio, where he has been collaborating with law enforcement to solve the most horrific murders. While helping the doctor track down a serial killer, Grace struggles with overcoming the darkness of her own past. This action-packed Gothic psychological thriller, set about a century ago and written for a young adult audience, will have you questioning the difference between sanity and madness and wondering who to trust.

3. Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier
Image: Amazon

Seaside, Washington, is a sleepy little town that’s financially dependent on Wonderland, an amusement park that boasts the oldest Ferris wheel, scariest clown house and most fun midway in the Northwest. When offered the job of deputy police chief of the tourist town, Vanessa Castro was happy to escape her troubles in Seattle. But after she starts to investigate her first case, the apparent murder of a homeless man, she discovers something much more terrifying than the park’s haunted dollhouse. This murder mystery-thriller will keep you guessing right up to the end, as Hillier carefully builds the tension and sets up the potential suspects. You’ll never look at an amusement park in the same way again.

4. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Image: Amazon

In 1991, Julia, a college freshman, walked out of a bar and was never seen again. Twenty years later, her family still has hope, monitoring every missing person report and recovered body. Although the two remaining sisters have been estranged, they reunite after Claire is suddenly widowed and discovers that her husband, Paul, was under investigation for embezzling funds from his company. As the sisters sort through Paul’s files and field questions from the police and FBI, they stumble across what looks like a deep, dark conspiracy that may have ties to Julia. Slaughter’s masterful pacing draws us, step by step, into a terrifying world with few safety nets. Be warned: You might be sleeping with the lights on after you finish this thriller.

5. The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
Image: Amazon

Nonfiction lovers will be fascinated by the true-life story of the year a small New England town executed 19 people who were convicted of being witches or wizards. The truth of the Salem witch hunt is both less dramatic and more disturbing than the picture painted in the novels and movies it has inspired. Reading almost like a novel, this well-researched account focuses on the personalities of the people involved and places the trials within the religious and social contexts of Colonial America. Besides presenting theories of what brought on the community-wide fear of witches, Schiff also includes some of the quirkier facts; for example, even animals were tried and executed for witchcraft. As you hand out candy to your neighborhood witches, you’ll be thankful for living in modern times.

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