Celebrating Halloween, here’s a list of spooky books for readers of various ages, to read under the covers with the lights turned up high. These are listed in rough order of the age range that I’d recommend these for, from juniors to middle grade, YA and adult.
- Which Witch? by Eva ibbotson
Arriman the Awful, feared Wizard of the North, has decided to marry. But his wife must be a wicked witch skilled in black magic. Belladonna desperately wants to be a wicked enchantress but her magic is hopelessly white. Terrence Mugg is an unattractive orphan with a worm for a pet. This lighthearted read is intended for junior shut has enough humour to keep adult readers engaged as well.
- The Haunting of Cassie Palmer by Vivien Alcock
Cassie is the seventh child of a seventh child and her medium mother expects supernatural powers from her. When Cassie experimentally tries to raise a spirit she accidentally raised the wrong one: a sinister man named Deverill.
- Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr
This was read to me when I was eight by by class teacher. Perhaps a bit spooky for some eight-year-olds but I loved it. Whatever Marianne draws with a magic pencil she visits in her dreams: a house, a boy, food and toys. But when, in fit of temper, she draws eyes on the stones surrounding the house, her dreams enter a new and terrifying phase.
- Why Weeps the Brogan? by Hugh Scott
Wed 4 Years 81 days from hostilities… so reads the clock in Central Hall. For Saxon and Gilbert, though, it is just another day in their ritualized indoor existence. Together they visit the Irradiated Food Store, guarding against spiders. Among the dusty display cases, however, a far more disturbing creature moves. What is the Brogan… and why does it weep? This book works a dark and mysterious way to a dark and devastating conclusion.
- The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
I fell in love this book when I was ten and dressed in black and called myself “Arha the Eaten One”. Arha is a child priestess serving the Nameless Ones in tombs under the earth. When a wizard arrives in the catacombs she confronts everything she had learned about herself, the gods and magic. This is an Earthsea novel but it stands alone.
- The Owl Service by Alan Garner
Alison and her brother Roger are spending their summer holidays in Wales. While ill in bed Alison hears noises from the attic above. Gwyn, a local boy, is sent to investigate and discovers a set of plates with a complex floral design around the edge of each piece. Alison discovers that when she traces the design and cuts it out, it can be folded into the shape of an owl. But each new paper owl disappears and so does the design from the plates. This novel builds the tension slowly but surely and its mystery has stayed with me since I first read it as a young preteen.
- The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
The ghost knows she is one of four sisters, but which one? She also knows there’s been an accident. As she struggles to find her identity, she becomes aware of a malevolent force stirring around her. Something terrible is about to happen. One of the sisters will die – unless the ghost can use the future to reshape the past. But how can she warn them, when they don’t even know she exists? This is the Diana Wynne Jones book based the most closely on the author’s own peculiar family and is full of haunted echoes of her own past.
- Transformations by Anne Halam
This is the second book of a trilogy but it stands alone. Sirato, a child of a mining family, is endlessly criticised by her strict family. Her older teenage brother Holm is indulged in all sorts of whims. Then Zanne of Garth, a Covenanter known for her work to end the poisoned machines of the past, arrives in Minith she begins to uncover a twisted secret beneath the town’s stony exterior.
- Del Del by Victor Kelleher
This terrifying story of a child’s personality unravelling, told by his older sister, is one of the most sinister YA novels I have read.
- Fade by Robert Cormier
A story about a power of invisibility inherited through the generations and the malign effects it has on its possessors.
Special offer! Halloween 2014: Little Witches Bewitched, Rhiannon Lassiter’s novel for juniors is discounted by 80% on Kindle in the UK and the US. From 27 October to 3 November this set of short stories for junior and middle grade readers is discounted to £0.99 in the UK and $1.99 in the US.
“Small, but brave.” – Ann Giles, The Book Witch
“These stories are ideal for children who love dressing up, imagining curious castles and dreaming up magical shops.” – KM Lockwood, Serendipity Reviews
In the first story, Little Witches and the Trick-or-Treat-Trick, the heroines meet each other for the first time on Halloween. Dulcie’s au pair is a fashion student who has dressed her up as a modern witch – “occult casual” she calls it. Verity has lost the battle with her sisters for first choice from the dressing up box and ended up with pirate boots and a witches hat and broom. While out trick-or-treating they accidentally annoy a mysterious old woman who casts a spell on them Dulcie and Verity gain magic powers for real. In Little Witches and the Wandering Shop they work together to find a way to reverse the spell.
There are three more Little Witches stories in this collection. Little Witches and the Family Ghost is a ghost story which takes place in Dulcie’s grandfather’s stately home. Little Witches and the Cat Burglar is a crime story in which they meet a strange black cat. Little Witches Back in Time is a time-travel adventure in which they meet Shakespeare.
For more about the book visit the Little Witches book page.