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All Hallow’s Read recs

Last year, Neil Gaiman & Co decided that for the Halloween season, people should give out spooky books in addition to (or in lieu of) candy. They called it All Hallow’s Read. However, I was far too absorbed in my own problems last October to notice this development, much less contribute recommendations. I’d likely have chosen these titles, however. I read all of these as a child, and loved them to bits.

First are the Bunnicula books, about an academic family of horror readers who adopt a fanged bunny that sucks the juices from vegetables and may or may not be raising them into an unholy CSA box of the night. The family dog narrates all the stories, most of which involve thwarting the murderous family cat’s plans to kill the bunny. These are children’s books.

  • Bunnicula, James Howe
  • Howliday Inn, James Howe
  • The Celery Stalks at Midnight, James Howe
  • Nighty Nightmare, James Howe
  • Return to Howliday Inn, James Howe
  • Bunnicula Strikes Again! James Howe

Next are Mr. Howe’s YA “Sebastian Barth” mysteries. I really enjoyed these because they had smart protagonists who did research and looked things up to solve the mystery. There was also always a vague hint of the supernatural about the stories, without any actual unearthly involvement — sort of like an episode of Scooby-Doo, only you learned fun facts about why alcohol facilitates hypothermia.

  • What Eric Knew
  • Eat Your Poison, Dear
  • Stage Fright
  • Dew Drop Dead

Once I finished those, I moved up to Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Ms. Snyder’s works are like Mr. Howe’s, in that most of the spooky phenomena can be attributed to pure human evil, rather than anything otherworldly. But that doesn’t diminish the scariness of the stories, any.

  • The Egypt Game
  • The Changeling
  • The Headless Cupid
  • Blair’s Nightmare
  • Janie’s Private Eyes

For actual full-on supernatural horror aimed at young people, read Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Witch Saga. These books never really scared me, but I remained fascinated with the rule system they laid out for dealing with the supernatural, and I liked that the end of each novel was marked by the girls at the heart of each story asserting themselves and their willpower when confronted by an ancient evil that wished to corrupt them and steal their agency. Since the same villain is in each novel, the books become a delicious exercise in “how are we going to kill the old bitch this time?”( Nobody actually says that, though.):

  • Witch’s Sister
  • Witch Water
  • The Witch Herself
  • The Witch’s Eye
  • Witch Weed
  • The Witch Returns

Many of these novels are parts of a series, though, and that won’t do. Here are my favourite one-shots. I wish I knew more young people to share these titles with:

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
  • The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
  • The House of Stairs, William Sleator
  • The Girl With the Silver Eyes, Willo Davis Roberts
  • The View from the Cherry Tree, Willo Davis Roberts
  • Enter Three Witches, Caroline B. Cooney
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Naturally, I should also recommend some manga:

  • Claymore, Norihigo Yagi
  • X/1999, CLAMP
  • The Enigma of Amigara Fault, Junji Ito
  • Death Note, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/Higurashi When They Cry (multiple authors)
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