Halloween isn’t just for the little ones! Teens still look forward to the magic of Halloween night. . .and what better way to build anticipation than through good reads? Creepy, spooky books remain a favorite, and it’s so fortunate to have three brand new tales perfect for the season, all published within the last month. (And we couldn’t help but add a classic Ray Bradbury to the list; it’s a terrific family read-aloud for middle school and older teens!)
The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
Nothing like a 19th-century Gothic novel to set the mood. This spine-tingling supernatural tale will remind older readers of Dickens or Poe. Ten-year-old Florence Crutchfield has been living in a London orphanage. When her uncle decides that it’s time for Florence to come and live with him and his unmarried sister, Florence finds herself in a spooky house, haunted by her dead cousin Sophia. While it sure does give the reader lots of chilling moments, it’s a very appropriate read for middle schoolers and older teens who will delight in the ghost story without being really scared.
The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
Another spooky and suspenseful novel set in England, this time with a male hero, 14-year-old William. Yes, he’s an orphan too, and works as a servant at the local monastery in medieval times. Will finds a strange creature caught in a trap and saves its life. Turns out it’s a hobgoblin, or “hob” that can only be seen by those with “The Sight.” Lots of suspense as Will finds himself drawn into a battle between good and evil. It feels like the beginning of a series… (We-and the eighth graders we know-hope!)
The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
This time, the main character is a scraggly–but very intelligent and streetwise cat named Aldwyn. He poses as a magical cat and ends up being purchased to become a young magician’s familiar. He is soon young Jack’s loyal ally, and befriends two other children’s familiars: Gilbert, a tree frog, and Skylar, a blue jay. Great characters, including an evil queen who threatens to kill them all. It’s a fast-paced novel, with likable characters, lots of humorous moments, and compelling dialogue. Light enough for 3rd or 4th graders, but compelling enough for older readers, this first in a planned series may well become a family favorite.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
This Ray Bradbury classic tells the story of a haunting and unforgettable Halloween night. Eight boys go trick or treating, all decked out in their costumes. But where is their good friend Pip? When he does show up, he is acting strangely and doesn’t even have a costume. Strange events follow, and when Pip is carried off into the darkness, the boys travel through space and time and learn the death-related rituals that led to the holiday of Halloween. A real page-turner, with deeper themes of friendship, death, and darkness. Fascinating historical lore as well,written with Bradbury’s considerable skill and grace. A terrific yearly read-aloud to get in the Halloween spirit.