Five Atmospheric Reads for Halloween
I don’t know about you, but as soon as the calendar turns to September 1, I’m just about ready for sweaters, fuzzy socks, and a few spooky stories to pass the evening. With Halloween only a few short weeks away, your bookshelf might be in need of some creepy new additions as the days gets shorter and the darkness begins to seep underneath the d—oh, were you looking for book recommendations? Those shadows are just gonna have to wait a bit.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
Rin Chupeco isn’t new to creepy fiction: her debut novel The Girl From the Well is an eerie tale and one I’d recommend especially to readers who love movies like The Ring and Shutter. In The Bone Witch, Chupeco creates a fantasy world that never feels quite safe or familiar and characters that wear their secrets like gloves. Tea is not a stranger to magic, but her unique ability to work with the dead sends her on a journey that promises to reshape everything she knows. This is a confident novel and a fantastic series-opener, from start to finish, and Tea’s story will stay with you as the nights draw longer.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Witchy stories are some of my favourite things during this season, and last year’s Labyrinth Lost became a fast favourite before I was even finished reading. Alex is a bruja, like her sisters and mother, but she would rather be anything else. When she tries to get rid of her powers, the spell casts her family into another dimension, and Alex has to come to terms with who she is if she wants to get them back. Córdova’s worldbuilding is stellar, and her respect and understanding of brujería infuse the story with realism and heart. The sequel, Circle Unbroken, comes out next April, so this is a perfect time to start the series with Labyrinth Lost.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Poison, murderous families, and dark magic—no, I’m not talking about Game of Thrones, but the incredible Three Dark Crowns. Becoming Queen Crowned isn’t easy when you’re one of a set of triplets, all vying for the throne with violent ends. Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe are richly drawn characters, but they’re not out to be relatable or likeable. Their powers are deadly, much like their ambitions, and I can’t think of a better book to read on a dark, windy night underneath a heavy blanket by the window.
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
For those who need more literal monsters in our Halloween reading, Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have the perfect anthology for you. The mysterious and frightening creatures on display here range from the Kraken to ghosts and are sure to please even the pickiest reader. Some of my favourite pieces: “Moriabe’s Children” by Paolo Bacigalupi, “Quick Hill” by M. T. Anderson, and “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” by Alice Sola Kim.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
I had never read Carmen Maria Machado’s work before this collection, but what a way to start. “The Husband Stitch” is a wallop of a short story, the kind that made me reach a hand to my own collarbone in shock at the last page. “Eight Bites” is a similarly unsettling piece, commenting on the ways women have been reworked by society. Machado’s debut collection of short stories will keep you awake, slide an icy finger down your nape, leave you wondering about the shadows on the wall beside your lamp, and the craggy spaces in between.