It’s the season for spooky books, and for kids who want a scare, ONLY a spooky book will do. Some children, though, want their creepy books to be creepy with a difference–not just cheap scares and cliffhangers, but something atmospheric that draws a reader fully into the world of the book. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is perfect for those readers. Schlitz takes us into the Gothic, foggy 150-years-ago world of Lizzie Rose and Parsifal, two children who work for Grisini, a not-at-all-nice puppeteer. When Grisini is hired to perform for the birthday party of rich Clara, a girl who seems to have everything (except siblings, all of whom have died), Lizzie Rose and Parsifal think their fortunes are looking up. Unfortunately, first Clara, and then Grisini disappear, and their lives take a turn for the desperate.
This book is beautifully, spookily written, with compelling characters and perfectly described settings. It won’t be for children who hate historical fiction, or anyone who wants a quick read, but for kids who want a long spooky night where they can enter another world, this is an excellent choice.
Posted by: Sarah
With Halloween fast approaching it is time to crank up the creepiness with a good ghost story. Mary Downing Hahn has been sending chills up the spines of young readers for decades, and she does not disappoint with All the Lovely Bad Ones.
Twelve year old Travis and his sister Corey love stirring up mischief, but when their pranks go too far and they are no longer welcome back at summer camp, their parents decide to send the children to stay with their grandmother for the summer instead. Shortly after arriving at their grandmother’s rural Vermont inn, Travis and Corey learn that the inn has a history of paranormal activity. Armed with this newfound knowledge, a little dime store face paint, and some not-too-shabby acting skills on the part of Corey, Travis and his sister decide to liven things up by haunting the inn themselves. Their seemingly harmless prank wakes more than the inn’s guests, however, and as mischievous spirits begin ransacking the inn and a malevolent presence lurks in the shadows, Travis and Corey are soon forced to face the consequences of their actions. Having woken the spirits from their rest, Travis and Corey must now help to settle them once again…this time for good.
Hahn wastes no time getting to the action and quickly hooks readers. She manages to maintain a pace that is energetic and suspenseful, making this a hard book to put down. The characters, both alive and dead, are dynamic and well developed. Hahn successfully blends mystery, suspense, historical fiction, and the supernatural to create this chilling tale that is perfect for brave young readers from 4th to 7th grade.
Posted by: Staci
This book may take place in Ghastly, Illinois, but it is far from scary. This clever ghost story is about the unlikely relationship between a boy, a cat, a grumpy old man and an old ghost who all live together in a haunted house.
The Director of The International Movement for the Safety & Protection Of Our Kids & Youth (IMSPOOKY) is Dick Tater (note the name play!) who is out to rid the town of Halloween, ghost stories and anything to do with ghosts. This hardly makes sense to the inhabitants of the Spence Mansion at 43 Old Cemetery Road who have a thriving business writing and selling ghost stories. Mr. Tater uses his authority to break up this trio of ghost writers – at least that is what he thinks!
Told mostly in letters, newspaper articles and illustrations, this witty book will delight readers – especially those who are just looking for some ghostly fun!
Posted by: Wendy
This is book 2 in The Last Apprentice series. I normally do not recommend violent, scary books but occasionally I do like to read them and this is a series that I enjoy and it is October! The moon is bright, the nights are dark and moody and Halloween is right around the corner, so if you like gruesome, scary books this might be a series for you. But beware, it is not for the faint of heart. It is medieval and has a Spook whose job is to rid the country of witches and boggarts and other dark spirits. This particular book also has a Quisitor who gets rich by accusing people of witch craft and then convicting them and burning them at the stake and confiscating all their worldly goods. There is an evil spirit , the Bane, who lives in the catacombs under the cathedral . It is an ancient evil that was locked behind a silver gate but now is growing stronger and corrupting the priests and the people. The Spook was unable to totally defeat the bane when he was young but he has returned with his young apprentice, Tom, to try once again. Tom, though only an apprentice for 6 months is the seventh son of a seventh son and his mother is a good witch so he has lots of inner strength and has already had lots of experience. When the Spook is captured by the Quisitor it is up to Tom to save him and help him with his challenge. Recommended for stout hearted 6th graders and up.
Posted by: Fran W.
October is a terrific month to read first-rate thrillers and very few authors cover the genre better that Mary Downing Hahn. Closed for the Season is her latest entry into a long list of chillers like Wait ‘til Helen Comes, The Doll in the Garden, The Old Willis Place and All the Lovely Bad Ones to name a few.
Generally with a murder mystery, you get the usual list of suspects. There’s always the hero and most of the time, a sidekick. Then there’s the villain—usually a bully—a victim and many times a “red herring” suspect. In the case of Hahn’s Closed for the Season there’s also a boatload of missing money. But, the real standout in this fast paced thriller is the location, the “Magic Forest,” an abandoned amusement park, gated, padlocked, posted, rotting and almost totally obscured by a blanket of kudzu–a siren’s song for curious 13-year-olds with a sense of adventure.
Hahn has all the right pieces in place and uses her deft touch with this genre to turn out a truly ominous page turner. It’s a genuine grabber that builds like a roller coaster ride continually increasing the tension then plunging into breathless exhilaration before pulling into the “station” with a satisfying ending.
If you’re looking for a good read, don’t be put off by the KEEP OUT signs on the fence or the smell of decay. Places like “The Magic Forest” are only truly Closed for the Season to readers who don’t have the guts to go in…
Posted by: Eileen
I know I’ve dropped the ball on this one—every other blogger seems to have had an Advanced Reading Copy of this book for months and months. I, however, have had to subsist on these other blog reviews and the odd mention on the author’s website. Finally, however, just in time for Halloween: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaimain.
Nobody Owens, (Bod for short) has grown up in a graveyard. Not near a graveyard. Not next to a graveyard. Actually in a graveyard. His whole family was murdered when he was just two years old, and he escaped by toddling into the graveyard, where he was adopted by the ghosts. He’s raised by two of the ghosts (Mr. and Mistress Owens, who died almost 300 years before), guarded by Silas, who lives in the crypt and is . . . neither living nor dead, and taught, nurtured and protected by the rest of the denizens of the graveyard. Why do they need to protect him? Because no one knows why his family was killed–and the murderer is still looking for him.
I know, I know–it sounds unremittingly grim, terrifying, even. And I cannot deny that it is scary. But it’s also by turns charming, bittersweet, illuminating, and gripping. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes ghosts, mysteries, atmosphere and even coming-of-age stories. Happy Halloween!
(Bonus points if you figured out the title’s reference to a classic of children’s literature–The Jungle Book!).
Posted by: Sarah
In this very suspenseful and scary story, which takes place in New York City, 1872, fourteen-year-old Horace signs on as a photographer’s apprentice and becomes entangled in his lazy employer’s scheme to create fraudulent spirit photographs. Horace, a rational and upright person, wants no part of such goings on, and just wants to learn the art of photography. When he gets forced into his employer’s scheme, Horace discovers the photos he takes accidentally free the real ghost of a dead girl bent on revenge against those who harmed her in life.
A wealthy society lady, Mrs. Von Macht, recently lost a “loved one” and when she orders a photographic portrait, Mr. Middleditch, the fraud, sees a chance to include the dead girl’s image in the woman’s photo and make money from this. Pegg is the Von Machts’ black servant girl and she befriends Horace, fills him in on the reality of the home situation, and the two face a very scary and dangerous time of containing the ghost of Eleanora.
Is this a gift or a curse that dead peoples’ images in Horace’s photos gradually develop, grow stronger, more visible, more real? What will Horace do about this ability? Do bad people in stories deserve what happens to them? Is Horace at fault at all for freeing this vengeful ghost? This intriguing scary story, written by an accomplished familiar author, recommended for grade 5 and up, might also be a good choice for a book discussion group as there are many questions to explore. Try this if you like ghost stories.
Posted by: Fran D.
If you enjoy reading about ghosts and spirits, you are bound to enjoy this one.
The Willis place is an old mansion, set in the woods, that has been uninhabited for many years. It is in disrepair and downright spooky! The owner, Lilian Willis, has been dead for quite awhile, so the mansion has a caretaker who lives in a trailer nearby.
Diana and her younger brother, Georgie, live in the woods, and over the years they have enjoyed tormenting and teasing the various caretakers of the Willis mansion; as well as any teen-agers who hang out in the woods. Thus begins the rumor that the mansion is haunted. They follow “special rules” that keep them from showing themselves to other people, that keep them from ever leaving the woods and that keep them from entering the mansion.
When a new caretaker and his daughter, Lissa, move in, Diana is immediately drawn to the idea of making a friend. At first, Diana and Georgie just spy on Lissa and her father, but eventually Diana can’t help but to break the “rules” and show herself. The two immediately become friends. Lissa’s curiosity about the mansion leads to discovering and releasing the evil spirit within. This also causes “the bad time” that Diana and Georgie have always kept as a secret to be revealed.
This is a great ghost story that makes me happy that I don’t live in the woods, or near an abandoned mansion!
Posted by: Wendy
This spooky adventure is set in New Zebedee, Michigan where best friends Lewis and Rose Rita discover a very unusual house in the woods. Not only is this house unlike any other house in town, but it also has strange sounds and ghostly figures surrounding it. As Lewis and Rose Rita try to investigate this odd discovery, they hear the loudest drum booms coming from within the house. To Lewis these are bone chilling sounds
Lewis’s Uncle Jonathan, a sorcerer, and their neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, a powerful witch, explain that the house is called the Hawaii House and was built in the late 1800’s by a sea captain for his Hawaiian princess wife. Mysteriously, all the occupants died in their sleep and thus the house has never been occupied since. That is until David and his parents move in.
Lewis and Rose Rita befriend David when he becomes the target of the school bullies. They, along with Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman learn more about the evil spirits that are within the Hawaii House. In time, it becomes obvious how much David and his parents are finding the house a difficult place in which to live.
This is a suspenseful, scary book that adds in some magical elements. If you like reading a fantasy, or a mystery or even a scary story, you’ll enjoy The House Where Nobody Lives.
Posted by: Wendy
Have you ever been to Alcatraz Island? It was an infamous federal prison and is now a famous tourist destination run by the National Park Service. Whether you have been there or not you can probably imagine how scary it would be to be a high school boy hiding from a teenage gang in the dark old prison and its grounds. Danny Sullivan found himself in just that situation, even to the point of being locked in a cell by the gang, and was afraid he would continue the tradition of no prisoner ever escaping alive from Alcatraz. His suspenseful adventure will keep you reading.
Posted by: Iris