Spooky Season Recs

What better way to bring back the blog than in my prime season – spooky season!

There’s atmosphere, creepiness, witches, magic, and unhinged, scary fun… How can someone not be in the mood?

Whether you are embracing the season already or need some help getting into the vibe, I got you covered.

This list is based on my TBR (to-be-read) cart. Many of these books are newer releases and a few are ones that I’ve been eagerly awaiting for the perfect time to read.

Is my TBR cart ambitious? Yes. Will I have time to read all of them? Probably (aka most definitely) not.

It’s the season of dreaming, and a girl can dream, okay?!

Let me know what else I should add to my cart and which you have already read from mine!

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

The Perfect Child by Lucinda Berry

Synopsis: “Christopher and Hannah are a happily married surgeon and nurse with picture-perfect lives. All that’s missing is a child. When Janie, an abandoned six-year-old, turns up at their hospital, Christopher forms an instant connection with her, and he convinces Hannah they should take her home as their own. But Janie is no ordinary child, and her damaged psyche proves to be more than her new parents were expecting. Janie is fiercely devoted to Christopher, but she acts out in increasingly disturbing ways, directing all her rage at Hannah. Unable to bond with Janie, Hannah is drowning under the pressure, and Christopher refuses to see Janie’s true nature. Hannah knows that Janie is manipulating Christopher and isolating him from her, despite Hannah’s attempts to bring them all together. But as Janie’s behavior threatens to tear Christopher and Hannah apart, the truth behind Janie’s past may be enough to push them all over the edge.”

My Thoughts: Creepy children – Sign me up. There’s a reason I don’t teach small children. Those little ones sense things, and I don’t trust it. If you are someone who enjoyed The Push by Ashley Audrain, then this one is a great pick for you.

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Synopsis: “In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die. Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up. Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?”

My Thoughts: I’m currently reading this one, and – Y’ALL – this one is for the gore lovers out there. Don’t read this if you have a weak stomach! But the metaphorical commentary on the KKK = A masterpiece.

Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Synopsis: “Peyote Trip has a pretty good gig in the deals department on the fifth floor of Hell. Sure, none of the pens work, the coffee machine has been out of order for a century, and the only drink on offer is Jägermeister, but Pey has a plan—and all he needs is one last member of the Harrison family to sell their soul. When the Harrisons retreat to the family lake house for the summer, with their daughter Mickey’s precocious new friend, Ruth, in tow, the opportunity Pey has waited a millennium for might finally be in his grasp. And with the help of his charismatic coworker Calamity, he sets a plan in motion. But things aren’t always as they seem, on Earth or in Hell. And as old secrets and new dangers scrape away at the Harrisons’ shiny surface, revealing the darkness beneath, everyone must face the consequences of their choices.”

My Thoughts: This book is giving me the same vibes as Robert Olen Butler’s Hell, which has an intriguing perspective and the darkest humor. You can’t tell me you aren’t a little bit curious about life (death?) in hell.

Thistlefoot by GennaRose Nethercott

Synopsis: “The Yaga siblings–Bellatine, a young woodworker, and Isaac, a wayfaring street performer and con artist–have been estranged since childhood, separated both by resentment and by wide miles of American highway. But when they learn that they are to receive a mysterious inheritance, the siblings are reunited–only to discover that their bequest isn’t land or money, but something far stranger: a sentient house on chicken legs. Thistlefoot, as the house is called, has arrived from the Yagas’ ancestral home in Russia–but not alone. A sinister figure known only as the Longshadow Man has tracked it to American shores, bearing with him violent secrets from the past: fiery memories that have hidden in Isaac and Bellatine’s blood for generations. As the Yaga siblings embark with Thistlefoot on a final cross-country tour of their family’s traveling theater show, the Longshadow Man follows in relentless pursuit, seeding destruction in his wake. Ultimately, time, magic, and legacy must collide–erupting in a powerful conflagration to determine who gets to remember the past and craft a new future.”

My Thoughts: Well, this one is weird. Therefore, I will read it. Russian folklore is not something I’ve immersed myself in before, and this gal with Ukrainian/Russian roots is ready. Also, I think it’s time I start saving for a downpayment on a home on chicken legs.

The Change by Kirsten Miller

Synopsis: “In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment… After Nessa James’s husband dies and her twin daughters leave for college, she’s left all alone in a trim white house not far from the ocean. In the quiet of her late forties, the former nurse begins to hear voices. It doesn’t take long for Nessa to realize that the voices calling out to her belong to the dead—a gift she’s inherited from her grandmother, which comes with special responsibilities. On the cusp of 50, suave advertising director Harriett Osborne has just witnessed the implosion of her lucrative career and her marriage. She hasn’t left her house in months, and from the outside, it appears as if she and her garden have both gone to seed. But Harriett’s life is far from over—in fact, she’s undergone a stunning and very welcome metamorphosis. Ambitious former executive Jo Levison has spent thirty long years at war with her body. The free-floating rage and hot flashes that arrive with the beginning of menopause feel like the very last straw—until she realizes she has the ability to channel them, and finally comes into her power. Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover a teenage girl whose body was abandoned beside a remote beach. The police have written the victim off as a drug-addicted sex worker, but the women refuse to buy into the official narrative. Their investigation into the girl’s murder leads to more bodies, and to the town’s most exclusive and isolated enclave, a world of stupendous wealth where the rules don’t apply. With their newfound powers, Jo, Nessa, and Harriett will take matters into their own hands…”

My Thoughts: Magical realism + female empowerment = perfection. Women deserve recognition at all stages in life and this one creates an interesting twist on that narrative!

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Synopsis: “Edinburgh, 1817. Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry. Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die. When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect. Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then. But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society. A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.”

My Thoughts: Gothic fiction is right up my alley and I am excited to read it in the form of young adult, historical fiction. This novel has received impressive reviews, and it gives me comfort to know that other people also want to read about people and dead bodies.

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda

Synopsis: “Lydia is hungry. She’s always wanted to try Japanese food. Sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and iced-coffee, ice cream and cake, and foraged herbs and plants, and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But, Lydia can’t eat any of these things. Her body doesn’t work like those of other people. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London–where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated. Then there are the humans–the other artists at the studio space, the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men that follow her after dark, and Ben, a boyish, goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can’t bring herself to feed on them. In her windowless studio, where she paints and studies the work of other artists, binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and videos of people eating food on YouTube and Instagram, Lydia considers her place in the world. She has many of the things humans wish for–perpetual youth, near-invulnerability, immortality–but, she is miserable; she is lonely; and she is hungry–always hungry. As Lydia develops as a woman and an artist, she will learn that she must reconcile the conflicts within her–between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans if she is to find a way to exist in the world. Before any of this, however, she must eat.”

My Thoughts: Do I really know what I’m getting myself into? No. I am ready for the new twist on vampire fiction (get out of my way, Edward Cullen) and this one makes me hungry. Thus, here we are.

Mary: An Awakening of Terror by Nat Cassidy

Synopsis: “Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman doing her best to blend into the background. Unremarkable. Invisible. Unknown even to herself. But lately, things have been changing inside Mary. Along with the hot flashes and body aches, she can’t look in a mirror without passing out, and the voices in her head have been urging her to do unspeakable things. Fired from her job in New York, she moves back to her hometown, hoping to reconnect with her past and inner self. Instead, visions of terrifying, mutilated specters overwhelm her with increasing regularity and she begins auto-writing strange thoughts and phrases. Mary discovers that these experiences are echoes of an infamous serial killer. Then the killings begin again. Mary’s definitely going to find herself.”

My Thoughts: What is a spooky season TBR without some serial killer content? I have heard this one is gory, so beware.

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

Synopsis: “Fresh out of rehab, Mallory Quinn takes a job in the affluent suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey as a babysitter for Ted and Caroline Maxwell. She is to look after their five-year-old son, Teddy. Mallory immediately loves this new job. She lives in the Maxwell’s pool house, goes out for nightly runs, and has the stability she craves. And she sincerely bonds with Teddy, a sweet, shy boy who is never without his sketchbook and pencil. His drawings are the usual fare: trees, rabbits, balloons. But one day, he draws something different: a man in a forest, dragging a woman’s lifeless body. As the days pass, Teddy’s artwork becomes more and more sinister, and his stick figures steadily evolve into more detailed, complex, and lifelike sketches well beyond the ability of any five-year-old. Mallory begins to suspect these are glimpses of an unsolved murder from long ago, perhaps relayed by a supernatural force lingering in the forest behind the Maxwell’s house.”

My Thoughts: Once again, children sense things and it’s creepy. Throw in some children’s artwork and you’ve got a fright ahead of you. And yes – this book has pages of the artwork. Hope you have a nightlight.

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Synopsis: “On the way home from a party, seventeen-year-old Ivy and her soon-to-be ex nearly run over a nude young woman standing in the middle of a tree-lined road. It’s only the first in a string of increasingly eerie events and offerings: a dead rabbit in the driveway, a bizarre concoction buried by her mother in the backyard, a box of childhood keepsakes hidden in her parents’ closet safe. Most unsettling of all, corroded recollections of Ivy and her enigmatic mother’s past resurface, with the help of the boy next door. What if there’s more to Ivy’s mother than meets the eye? And what if the supernatural forces she messed with during her own teen years have come back to haunt them both? Ivy must grapple with these questions and more if she’s going to escape the darkness closing in.”

My Thoughts: This one is supposed to be witchy and filled with dark magic. Plus, the 1990s Chicago setting and storyline is giving me Stranger Things vibes. Although young adult fiction, it has strong reviews and will certainly provide a spooky time.

The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor

Synopsis: “Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself. Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. ‘But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.’ The more Jack and her daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest. But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider.”

My Thoughts: Exorcisms, old villages, and creepy chapels – OH MY! Any story about martyrs burned at the stake is prime spooky season material. The cover really says it all.

Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker

Synopsis: “It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here… A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.”

My Thoughts: This novel is the prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula inspired by writings that he left behind after his death. It provides insight into Dracula’s background and the women in the story. If you are a classic lover, grab this one now!

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Synopsis: “For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man. Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk. From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse. The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.”

My Thoughts: Witches are bad bitches. Need I say more? Last year, I read the first book in the series and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this season to begin this one. If you are a lover of densely written, but beautiful, literary and historical fiction, check out this series!

Small Angels by Lauren Owen

Synopsis: “As a teenager, Kate found a safe harbor from her parents’ constant fighting in the company of the four Gonne sisters, who lived with their strict grandparents next to Small Angels, a church on the edge of dense green woods. The first outsider to ever get close to the sisters, Kate eventually learned the family’s secret: The woods are home to a capricious, menacing ghost whom generations of Gonnes had been charged with stopping from venturing into the village itself. But as the sisters grew older, braver, and more independent, bucking against the family’s burden, the bulwark began to crack, culminating in a horrifying act of violence that drove a terrible wedge between the sisters and Kate. Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church in the village where her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to hear unsettling stories about Small Angels–and worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real. Now Kate is returning home for the first time in years, for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are coming alive again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, the most troubled of the sisters and her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself.”

My Thoughts: It’s filled with ghosts, secret, the woods, and magic. This gothic fiction novel is filled with atmosphere and creepy for the season.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Synopsis: “Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act….different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?”

My Thoughts: First of all, this cover looks like a VHS tape cover and is honestly a work of art. Also, this book is also serving Stranger Things vibes. If you are wanting a fun approach to spooky season fiction, this is your pick.

Honorable mentions also on the TBR cart

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