Need some books to get you ready to go for Halloween? Something spooky? Something thrilling? Something magical and eerie? I recommend these ten books for the month of October. (P.S.: Especially perfect for aspiring witches.)
1. The Graces, by Laure Eve
A new girl in town, with an unknown but haunted past. A mysterious family with secrets, grudges, and maybe even a hint of magic. When you desperately want to fit in, and magic is on the table, what will you do and how far will you dare to go?
Eerie, chilling, with a promise of witches, missing persons cases, and murder charges, The Graces will get you ready to cast some spells and also never trust anyone ever again.
2. Iron Cast, by Destiny Soria
Set in 1920s Boston, Iron Cast shows us a world of hemopaths — those with an “affliction” in their blood that allows them to create illusions with their literary, musical, theatrical, and artistic talents. Best friends Corinne and Ada have been helping their boss run this underworld of hemopaths, and doing a good job of it. And then their world is shaken apart. With the law closing in, the girls must decide who to trust, who to save, and who to love.
A new spin on the power of magic at one’s fingertips, Iron Cast features an incredible female friendship, magic created by poetry and music, and illusions beyond our wildest dreams.
3. Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard
Something strange is happening in Philadelphia. Eleanor’s brother is missing. The dead are rising. The infamous Spirit-Hunters are on the case, and she’s been dragged along (okay, volunteered, insisted, persisted, prevailed). The biggest problem: All her mother can worry about is whether or not Eleanor will be engaged by the end of the year.
A great steampunk rendition of the recent pop culture zombie craze, Something Strange and Deadly features a strong and rambunctious female lead, steamy romance, and necromancy to chill you to the bone.
4. A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
Shipped back to England from India and enrolled in an upright, proper boarding school, Gemma Doyle is feeling a bit odd. Which has a lot more to do with her dark, vivid visions of death and evil than it does with learning to stand straight or handsome Kartik following her all the way from India. When she discovers an ability to access a magical but threatening other-world, mysteries abound and death and love threaten.
Evil spirits, ghostly Victorian manors, and white nightgowns flashing through the trees at night — Bray’s Gemma Doyle series has been known to keep me up at night, and it’s an incredible whirlwind of eerie, other-worldly fantasy.
5. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
A tragedy of prophecies, political ambition, bloody murder, and tyranny, Macbeth lets us in on the psychological and emotional trauma of its title character as he hopes, schemes, murders, and crawls his way to kingship with the help of his brilliant and ruthless. murder queen wife
The play opens on three (naked, depending on the production) witches, chanting “Double, double toil and trouble” over a steaming, frothing cauldron. And then regicide — murder plots — suicide — battles to end all battles — and the stage is awash with blood. What more could you want in the month of October?
6. Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones
When she gatecrashes a funeral at age ten, Polly meets the strange but alluring Tom Lynn. Through letters and shared books, the two develop a relationship — which, ten years later, has been wiped from her memory because of something terrible she did. What did she do? And how can she fix it? To save herself and her true love, Polly must uncover the secret and defeat the evil fairy court.
A modern retelling of the “Tam Lin” folktale, Fire and Hemlock is a wild ride of threatening fairy queens, people creepily following other people, and the power of words and reading and one’s self.
7. Varjak Paw, by SF Said
Varjak is the youngest cat in his family. He is small and he is timid. He has never been Outside. All of this changes when the Gentleman and his two menacing cats force themselves in Varjak’s home and he is forced to flee. On his own Outside, the young cat must learn to protect himself on the streets, from the elements and gangs, all while helped by a mystical ancestor.
With incredibly vivid and ominous illustrations by Dave McKean, Varjak Paw combines a cat’s terrifying new world with fascinating mysticism and self-empowerment. (Great for witches and their black cat familiars.)
8. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Nobody Owens is a perfectly normal boy. Other than living in a sprawling graveyard, raised and nurtured since he was a toddler by a whole slew of ghosts. And he can never leave because the man Jack who killed his family is still hunting him.
Terrifying undead creatures, murderers on the loose, and ghosts galore. In The Graveyard Book, we inhabit the interstice between the living and the dead, the ghost world and the real world, a quiet normal boy and a brave empowered boy. Get ready to see ghosts floating just over your shoulder every time you close this book!
9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
A mysterious desert island off the coast of Wales. An eerie abandoned orphanage. Missing children. A strange collection of peculiar photographs. Protagonist Jacobs explores this crumbling ruin and discovers the children living there were more than just peculiar — they may have been dangerous. And they may still be alive.
Have you seen the found vintage photographs included throughout Peculiar Children? Actually all you need this Halloween. Or ever.
(And don’t forget the new Tim Burton movie based on the book! Out now in all its big-eyed, grotesquely color-schemed Burton-esque glory.)
10. Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig
Girlfriends are missing. Secrets are being hidden. Cops are asking questions. And Flynn has no answers. He only has secrets of his own. As he struggles to uncover the truth about his girlfriend’s disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t read this book yet. But the author told me it’d be “a perfect Halloween night read.” I’m definitely going to take him up on that suggestion and I can’t wait!
What other great October and Halloween books would you recommend? Share below!
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Featured image produced and copyrighted to Daniel Vazquez, known as American Ghoul.