Scary Good: New Paranormal Tales to Fright and Delight
Selected and annotated by Samantha Greenfield
With autumn upon us, Halloween is fast approaching. This collection of books contains all the ghosts, demons, and haunted houses that a lover of the paranormal needs to get into the spirit of the season. With all selections having been released in the last year, there’s bound to be something new here for even the most seasoned spooky fanatic.
Alvarez, Lorena. Nightlights; written and illus. by Lorena Alvarez. Nobrow, 2017. 64p. Gr. 3-5.
Sandy has always been creative, spending her days drawing colorful imaginary creatures. Her constant focus on her artwork leaves her alienated from her peers, and vulnerable to an evil spirit who wants to harness her creativity for its own gain. Alvarez brings this creepy story to life in colorful graphic novel format.
Bell, Alex. Frozen Charlotte. Scholastic, 2016. [304p]. Gr. 6-9.
Most paranormal enthusiasts know of the potential dangers of the Ouija board, but Sophie ignore any warnings and attempts to contact her deceased cousin Rebecca. Another death ensues, and Sophie is left to determine whether cousin Rebecca is responsible, or if there is something more sinister at play.
Cohen, Marina. The Doll’s Eye. Roaring Brook, 2017. 208p. Gr. 4-6.
Hadley’s mom has just remarried, and Hadley is not happy about it. When she finds a dollhouse in the attic of her new house, Hadley starts to wish that her family could be as perfect as the doll family, to disastrous consequences.
de Quidt, Jeremy. The Wrong Train; illus. by Dave Shelton. Fickling/Scholastic, 2017. [224p]. Gr. 6-9.
This collection of eight short stories is perfect for the reader who likes scares in small doses. When a boy misses his train home, he finds himself alone on the platform with a strange old man, who launches into tale after spooky tale about demons, murders, and haunted objects.
DeStefano, Lauren. The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart. Bloomsbury, 2016. 196p. Gr. 4-6.
Lionel and Marybeth have been friends for years, living together in an overcrowded orphanage. When Marybeth is possessed by a mysterious blue light, Lionel must spring into action to unravel the truth behind the light and save his friend.
Hahn, Mary Downing. One for Sorrow: A Ghost Story. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304p. Gr. 4-7.
One for Sorrow follows Annie through her start at a new school in 1918, where she is originally claimed as a friend by unpopular Elsie. Annie manages to get into the good graces of the more popular crowd, which means abandoning Elsie and becoming her bully. When Elsie dies as a result of the Spanish influenza, her spirit stays at the school to take revenge on her classmates, especially her former friend.
Kerr, Philip. The Most Frightening Story Ever Told. Knopf, 2016. 320p. Gr. 4-6.
Billy needs somewhere to sit and read, and he’s getting sick of the Hitchcock Public Library. He thinks he’s in luck when he discovers the Haunted House of Books, a bookstore that hosts a contest that promises a cash prize for a kid who can stand to stay overnight. Billy’s own scary experience in the store is told alongside ghost stories shared by others stuck inside with him.
Kidd, Ronald. Room of Shadows. Whitman, 2017. [256p]. Gr. 5-7.
When David is forced to move to a new house following his parents’ divorce, he starts to experience strange happenings, including weird dreams and mysterious rages. When he discovers a secret room in the house, he learns that it was once occupied by Edgar Allen Poe, and it is Poe’s ghost that is attempting to use him to grow stronger and wreak havoc.
Leveen, Tom. Hellworld. Simon Pulse, 2017. 304p. Gr. 8-10.
Abby’s mom, the host of a paranormal investigation TV show, disappeared five years ago while filming, and Abby wants to find out what really happened to her. Her search leads her to a system of caves in Arizona, where she discovers much more than the truth about her mother.
Lunetta, Demitria. Bad Blood. Delacorte, 2017. [272p]. Gr. 8-10.
Sixteen-year-old Heather has been in treatment for self harm. She is released to spend the summer with her aunt in Scotland, where she will begin to uncover the truth of the two ghostly sisters compelling her to cut shapes into her skin.
McCoy, Mary. Camp So-and-So. Carolrhoda Lab, 2017. 416p. Gr. 8-10.
Mary McCoy has crafted a creepy camp story perfect for sharing around the fire. When twenty-five campers show up to Camp So-and-So after receiving a mysterious scholarship letter, they quickly discover that they are not in for your typical summer camp experience of hiking and canoeing.
Noyes, Deborah. The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini and the Curious Pastime of Communicating with the Dead. Viking, 2017. [160p]. illus. with photographs. Gr. 6-9.
Nonfiction lovers will appreciate this volume, which chronicles Harry Houdini’s past time as a paranormal investigator. With the popularity of mediums and seances on the rise in the early twentieth century, Houdini took it upon himself to investigate whether communication with the dead was truly possible, or if it was all just a sham. Who better to uncover a hoax than the most famous magician of all time?
Oh, Ellen. Spirit Hunters. Harper/HarperCollins, 2017. 288p. Gr. 5-8.
Harper’s new house has been rumored to be haunted long before she moved in, with mysterious events befalling every family who lived there previously. When her brother begins acting out, Harper must harness her ability to talk to spirits to unravel the mystery of the house save her family before it’s too late.
Reynolds, Aaron. Creepy Pair of Underwear!; illus. by Peter Brown. Simon, 2017. [48p]. 5-8 yrs.
Jasper Rabbit is a big bunny now, and he’s going to prove it by abandoning his regular white undies for a creepy green pair. He gets more than he bargained for when the underwear begins to glow. Jasper tries and tries to get rid of them, but they always seem to be back for more.
Roux, Madeleine. House of Furies; illus. by Iris Compiet. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2017. 416p. Gr. 7-10.
Louisa gets much more than she expected when she accepts a job as a maid at Coldthistle House, a spooky boardinghouse in the north of England. The house, rumored to be owned by the Devil himself, is filled with spirits and murderous staff, and Louisa must find a way to save herself from its wrath.
Shea, Bob. The Scariest Book Ever; written and illus. by Bob Shea. Disney Hyperion, 2017. 34p. 4-8 yrs.
Despite his spooky appearance, the ghost main character of this picture book is a total scaredy cat who spends his time in his home cleaning to avoid the monsters in the woods next door. What he doesn’t know is that the monsters are actually cute woodland animals planning a costume party. Pick up this funny story to see if the ghost is able to overcome his fears and attend.
Smith, Roland L. The Mesmerist. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 272p. Gr. 4-6.
Jessamine and her mom make their living by helping wealthy, spiritualism-obsessed Londoners communicate with their dead relatives. It’s always been an elaborate hoax, but one day they receive a real message: Jess is a mesmerist, and she must use her powers to save her city from the spirits and monsters trying to destroy it.
Smy, Pam. Thornhill; written and illus. By Pam Smy. Roaring Brook, 2017. [544p]. Gr. 5-8.
When Ella catches a glimpse of a girl in the window of the Thornhill Institute for Children, an abandoned former orphanage across the street from her new house, she pictures a potential first friend in town. Pam Smy uses both text and illustration to tell the story of Ella and her search for the mysterious girl in the window. Is she real or a ghost? Read this book to find out!
Snicket, Lemony. Goldfish Ghost; illus. by Lisa Brown. Porter/Roaring Brook, 2017. 34p. 4-7 yrs.
Goldfish Ghost leaves his former body in the bowl of his boy’s room in search for company to spend his afterlife with. The town he lives in has lots of ghosts, but none of them seem like a perfect fit for him, until he meets the ghost of the lighthouse keeper.
Yelchin, Eugene. The Haunting of Falcon House; written and illus. By Eugene Yelchin. Holt, 2016. 320p. Gr. 4-7
As a member of the Russian nobility, Prince Lev Lvov must travel to Saint Petersburg to fulfill his duties as the head of Falcon House after th death of his father. Starting from his first night in the house, Lev begins to realize that there is darkness lurking not only within it, but in his family as well.