There is a certain thrill in reading a scary book and knowing that you are safe in your own life. These spine-tingling books will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Boys of Blur
by N.D. Wilson
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014
Grades 5 & up
When his step-father’s high school football coach dies, Charlie and his family travel to the small town of Taper, Florida. Located on the edge of the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, it is where both Charlie’s abusive father and kind step-father grew up playing football. But there are secrets here, and a deep, dark evil. With the help of family that he never knew he had, Charlie sets out to conquer the evil and save the town from destruction. The lyrical prose is a joy to a read, and the heart-stopping adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats. A glorious homage to Beowulf. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.
by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books, 2015
Castle Hangnail has been without a Master/Mistress for quite some time. The Guardian is worried, as he has filed for several extensions with the Board of Magic and sent out many invitations for a new master. All of the minions of Castle Hangnail (no, not the little yellow guys) are excited when a Wicked Witch shows up to be the new Mistress. She’s a little bit shorter, a little bit younger (12), and a little less Wicked than they would have preferred, but it is soon clear to everyone that Molly is perfect for the job. Before she can officially take over as Master of Castle Hangnail, she must complete the tasks set by the Board. These include smiting, blighting, and most importantly securing the castle against invaders. This fantastic fantasy has the perfect mix of humor and adventure for young fantasy lovers. Highly recommended for grades 3-6.
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
by Sheila Turnage
Kathy Dawson Books, 2014
Mo and Dale are back in this sequel to Three Times Lucky. This time the Desperado Detective Agency is exploring the paranormal. When Miss Lana and Grandma Miss Lacy purchase the supposedly haunted Old Tupelo Inn, they take it upon themselves to figure out who the ghost is and what happened. Along the way they learn more about themselves and their families than they had expected. The culminating gala does not disappoint. This story is full of life truths cloaked with humor. Highly recommended to grades 4-8. It is not necessary to have read the first one, but it will help you appreciate the characters more.
by Kate Milford
Milo lives with his family in an old inn by the river. Most of their guests are smugglers, so the inn has something of a reputation in addition to its many stain glass windows. Usually the inn is empty around Christmas, but this year Milo and his parents are surprised by a number of last minute visitors who happen in just before a huge snowstorm keeps them all housebound. When items start to go missing, Milo and his new friend Meddy realize that people are not who they seem to be. There are many layers to this mystery, stories within stories, as well as disguised identities. A big twist comes at the end. Recommended for grades 5-8.
by Tracey Baptiste
Algonquin Young Readers, 2015
Grades 4 & up
Corinne doesn’t believe in the Jumbies that are said to inhabit her island, her Papa always said they don’t exist. She doesn’t fear the forest as others around her do. She and her Papa live in a house right next to it. But all this changes one night when a trip into the forest to rescue her mother’s necklace draws the Jumbies’ attention to her. Now Corinne is thrown into a battle against the Jumbies who want their island back, and who will stop at nothing to get it. Her home, her Papa, her friends, even her very life is in danger if she can’t figure out a way to stop the Jumbie who is in control of it all. Recommended for those who enjoy scary stories, grades 4 & up.
by Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster, 2015
Grades 5 & up
This was a truly creepy book, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. Steven’s new baby brother was born with several congenital birth defects and has spent as much time in the hospital as he has at home. Because of this, Steven’s parents are gone a lot, and when they are home things are tense and sad. Steven has always been a worrier, with nightmares and rituals he must follow. But the dreams he is having now seem much more real than regular dreams. In it, some kind of being is telling him that they will fix his brother. As the dreams become more and more real, Steven must come to terms with what is going on with his baby brother. But what happens when the dreams break through into reality? Recommended for grades 5 & up.
The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Harry N. Abrams, 2014
Grades 5 & up
Molly and her brother Kip are happy to leave the orphanage to go and work for the Windsor family, but when they finally arrive at the house, they find things to be much different than they had expected. Mistress Windsor clearly does not want them there, though she reluctantly allows them to stay. There is a mysterious tree that seems to be growing into the house, as well as a scary man who appears in the middle of the night. What is the secret of the Windsor house, and why does it change everyone who lives there? A creepy story with a satisfying end. Recommended for grades 5 and up.
The Poe Estate
by Polly Shulman
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015
Grades 5 & up
In this companion volume to The Grimm Legacy and The Wells Bequest, we return to the New-York Circulating Material Repository. The characters from the first two books have grown up and are working there now. This story focuses on items from gothic and supernatural stories. Sukie’s sister died several years back, and while her ghost remains nearby it is not the same. Sukie’s family fell on hard times after Kitty’s death. They recently lost their house and have just moved in with 95-year-old cousin Hepzibah in the rundown family mansion. Here Sukie finds more ghosts and an old family legend about pirate treasure. With help from the librarians from the Repository and a new friend at school, Sukie goes in search of the treasure that will change her family’s fortune. An exciting adventure through the world of classic horror books. It is not necessary to have read the first two, but it helps. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.
by Aaron Starmer
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Alastair and Fiona used to be friends when they were younger. When their parents drifted apart, so did they. Now Fiona has turned up on Alastair’s doorstep, asking him to write her biography. She tells him a fantastic story, about traveling to the land of Aquavania, where stories are born, and about the Riverman who has taken away the other children and wants to steal her soul. Is Fiona crazy, or is she in real danger? As Alastair works his way through the layers of her story, he finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. How can he figure out what is real? The first in a trilogy. Recommended for grades 5 – 8.
by Edith Cohn
Farrar, Straus and Giroux , 2014
Grades 4 & up
Spirit Holden’s family has the ability to see the future by holding a person’s house key. Now that she is twelve, Spirit is waiting to receive this power. Unfortunately, nothing is going right. Her father is losing his power to see the future, her beloved dog has died, other wild dogs on the island are turning up dead, and people are coming down with a mysterious illness. When Spirit begins seeing Sky’s ghost, she knows her dog is trying to tell her something. Can she figure out what it is before it is too late? Recommended for grades 4 & up.
Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick , 2012
Grades 4 & up
This is a very dark and Dickensian story about orphans and pick-pockets, a wealthy little girl and a puppet master, and a witch whose magic is burning her alive. Orphans Lizzie and Parse are working as assistants to the master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini. When young Clara Wintermute, whose life they envy, mysteriously disappears from the birthday party where the puppeteer was performing, Lizzie and Parse feel obligated to investigate. In doing so, they find a deeper evil than they could ever imagine. Can they save Clara and themselves in time? Recommended for grades 4 & up.