Halloween is the perfect time to think about stories that are filled with creepy creatures, unexplained phenomena, and scary events. From elementary-aged children to teens and adults, many readers search out tales that give them chills, make them wonder what hides in the shadows, or cause them to hold on a little tighter to their loved ones.
Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts by Federica Magrin
Many scary stories have their roots in folklore. Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts is a picture book atlas that takes young readers around the world, describing monsters and ghosts found on every continent. Readers learn where they are based (some are attached to a particular building, river, or mountain, while others cover a wide-ranging area), what they look like, the characteristics of each, how to react in an encounter with them, and how to beat those that are aggressive or dangerous. Some of these monsters and ghosts will be familiar to readers, like Dracula of Europe and Anansi of Africa, but others, like Ogopogo of North America and Bunyip of Australia, are less well known and just as fascinating.
Guest by Mary Downing Hahn
Some of us might prefer to think that fairy stories are all sweetness, sparkles, and laughing, but that isn’t the case. The fae are also sometimes deceptive and wicked, and Guest brings the reader into that world. Mollie’s little brother, Thomas, is a beautiful, happy, charming baby that everyone in the village adores. But all the villagers know they must never utter aloud a word praising the baby or the Kinde Folke will hear and snatch baby Thomas away, leaving in his place one of their wretched, mewling changelings. But one day when young Mollie is caring for Thomas, she is overcome with her love for him and gushes about what a good baby he is. When Mollie finds her brother has been replaced by a changeling, she knows it is her fault but doesn’t tell anyone because of her shame.
The changeling constantly cries, screams, and hits, driving away Mollie’s father and pushing her mother to the edge of her health. Weighed down by guilt, Mollie sets out on a journey into the enchanted and dangerous land of the Kinde Folke to trade the changeling for Thomas. But intruders are unwelcome in the land of the Kinde Folke, and the journey ahead of her is much more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
Over 60 years ago, young Lucy Gallows disappeared into the woods and was never heard from again. The ghost stories and urban myths that have sprung up since then describe a mysterious disappearing road that took Lucy. Over the years, some skeptics have investigated to try to uncover the real story, but truth has continued to be intertwined with mystery. The road appears once a year, on the anniversary of Lucy’s disappearance. The road calls to some people. Lucy calls to some people. There are rules for traveling on the road, and those who don’t follow them never come back. Sarah Donaghue’s sister, Becca, sought out the road, and one year ago she disappeared into the same woods where Lucy went and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. As the anniversary of Becca’s disappearance nears, a cryptic text message goes out to Sarah and all the students at her school: DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE LUCY WENT? SHE WENT TO PLAY THE GAME. YOU CAN PLAY, TOO. Sarah knows this message is related to her sister’s disappearance. Desperate to find her, she gets some friends together to follow the clues and search for the mysterious road that will hopefully lead to Becca. The text message calls it a game, but it’s not a game. It’s life and death. I could not put this book down; it’s a page-turner for older teens and adult that will have you wondering what the next turn in the road will bring.
Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.