Unconventional Spooky-Time Books

Okay, yes. Spooky books are inherently unconventional in content. But what if there’s something about them that makes them even more unique?

I’ve seen reading guides on YouTube, blogs, and Instagram recommending what you’d typically expect: Stephen King, slashers, Riley Sager, etc. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these, I thought I’d switch things up.

SPOOKY-TIME READS: THE REMIX.

If you are looking for a Halloween/spooky book with a twist, check out one of these! Reading is supposed to be a fun adventure, so who said that reading has to be in the generic format?

*All synopses come from Goodreads. The Goodreads page for each book is linked in the novel’s title.

**The books with star ratings are the ones I have read, and the ratings for these are my own. If I have not read and rated a book yet, I have marked it as “on my TBR” (to-be-read list) and provided the Goodreads rating.

  1. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: “Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . . What if their last shift was an adventure?”

My Thoughts: This young-adult, graphic novel is colorful, charming, and funny, and will have your heart feeling full by the end. Plus, the illustrations are full of life. Teenage crushes are awkward, but with a Halloween, pumpkin-patch twist it turns into such a cute story! This is not even close to a scary book, but will put you in a lighthearted, cheerful mood for Halloween!

  1. Fangs by Sarah Andersen

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis: “Elsie the vampire is three hundred years old, but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets Jimmy, a charming werewolf with a wry sense of humor and a fondness for running wild during the full moon. Together they enjoy horror films and scary novels, shady strolls, fine dining (though never with garlic), and a genuine fondness for each other’s unusual habits, macabre lifestyles, and monstrous appetites. First featured as a webcomic series on Tapas, Fangs chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different. Filled with Sarah Andersen’s beautiful gothic illustrations and relatable relationship humor, Fangs has all the makings of a cult classic.”

My Thoughts: SO. DARN. CUTE. While there isn’t really a plot to this graphic novel, it provides brief glimpses into everyday, at times monotonous, moments of a romantic relationship – except this time, it’s between a vampire and a werewolf. It is all black and white, but this brings out the simplistic nature of their interactions. Also, Fangs will make you laugh because it’s relatable (despite the werewolf-vampire part, obviously) and filled with ridiculous irony (if you don’t love a good pun, something’s wrong with you; get help).

  1. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

**Still on my TBR; Goodreads rating: 3.65 / 5

Synopsis: “Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking. To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination. A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör is designed to retain its luster and natural appearance for a lifetime of use. Pleasingly proportioned with generous French flaps and a softcover binding, Horrorstör delivers the psychological terror you need in the elegant package you deserve.”

My Thoughts: Horrorstör caught my attention because 1) IKEA and 2) thinking about the crazy maze that is IKEA. While I have yet to dive into this one, I am fascinated with the idea of a catalogue structure to the book, as well as the idea of “retail hypnosis” within this maze (like a haunted house!). It’s totally unconventional, and yes, the images inside look like the directions and description-images that IKEA provides. Truly a ridiculous nightmare, and I’m here to try it.

  1. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis:‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’ Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss. These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll. Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…”

My Thoughts: Looking for a graphic novel with breathtaking, rich illustrations? Here you go. Through the Woods is visually haunting and sometimes breaks the barriers of the traditional comic-strip-structure of many graphic novels. It keeps your eyes wandering through its chaos. A few of the short stories resonated with me more than others (as is typical for a short story collection), but it’s truly spooky with terrifying imagery and stories. If you are looking for a creepy graphic novel, this one’s your pick.

  1. Night Film by Marisha Pessl

**Still on my TBR; Goodreads rating: 3.79 / 5

Synopsis: “On a damp October night, 24-year-old Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror film director Stanislaus Cordova–a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years. For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself. Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world. The last time he got close to exposing the director, McGrath lost his marriage and his career. This time he might lose even more.”

My Thoughts: Night Film has been on my TBR list for quite a long time now. Multimedia pieces intrigue me, as they combine traditional text with images and other supplementary elements throughout. This is a longer book, and now that I have my hands on a physical copy, I’ve been able to flip through it; I’m surprised that there are less multimedia elements than I expected and mostly traditional text. If you are looking for an introduction to this genre, this may be for you since it isn’t overwhelmingly structured in a different way. Keep an eye out for a review in the future!

  1. Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis: “Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death. A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires.”

My Thoughts: Curiosity got the best of me, and now I can never unread this book. If you are looking for an MA-rated, graphicly disturbing, “Human Centipede” kind of a book that will scar you, then look no further. This novella is easy to read in one sitting, but difficult to forget. While I do not have it highly rated (mostly because I’m a wimp and it wasn’t necessarily a masterpiece), it does have the shock factor you may be looking for. Good luck.

WARNING: explicit sexual encounters; graphic violence; graphic animal abuse; gory

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