The month of October is here again! A time for pumpkins and warm cider, candy and costumes, sweaters and stacks of great books just waiting for a chance to debut at your child’s next book club meeting! Whether or not your pre-teens are involved with a book club at school or with friends, we’re sharing six riveting middle-grade stories that will spice up their reading lists this fall. (You might not want to save these chilling tales for bedtime.)
By A. Noelle
The two-volume, full-color graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Medal–winning novel The Graveyard Book became available last month. If you haven’t read the story yet, Bod is a rather unusual character—he is the only “living” resident of a graveyard. Raised by ghosts, werewolves, and other graveyard locals, Bod acquires special skills needed for him to survive within his ghostly confines and in the world beyond the grave. The first volume of the short graphic novel series contains Chapter 1 to the Interlude of the original book, and the second volume includes Chapter 6 to the end.
2. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel (Ages 10+)
In this haunting and creepy thriller, Steve’s summer is overshadowed by a swarm of concerns: his sick baby brother is fighting to survive, his parents are struggling to cope, and there’s a wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. When a mysterious wasp queen buzzes into his dreams and offers to “fix” the baby, Steve is compelled to accept the offer.
3. Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller (Ages 8 – 12)
Publishers Weekly has described Segel’s hilariously frightening novel as a “delightfully entertaining offering”, where “Coraline meets Monsters, Inc.” Nightmares! is the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must overcome their greatest fears in order to save the town. Charlie…has issues: he’s sure his dad is actually married to a witch; they all move into said witch’s purple mansion; worst of all, Charlie’s nightmares have started slipping out of his dreams and into reality!
4. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (Ages 8 – 12)
This spooky Victorian ghost story is a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling. Two abandoned Irish siblings, Molly and Kip, become servants at an old English manor house, where they encounter a malevolent spirit who haunts the estate. The Night Gardener’s evil curse haunts the inhabitants of Windsor house in their dreams, while a mysterious tree grants their wishes and holds them captive. Both Molly and Kip are forced to confront their own dark secrets in order to escape from the Night Gardener’s thorny grasp.
5. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Ages 9 – 12)
Puppets come to life at the hands of master manipulator Gaspare Grisini. Spellbound, Clara Wintermute invites the puppeteer to entertain at her birthday party. Grisini willingly accepts, bringing along his two orphaned assistants. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by every aspect of the Wintermute home: adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. Unbeknownst to the outsiders, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When the young girl suddenly vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the birthday guests. In their search for Clara, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and soon find themselves caught in a trap set by a witch, who happens to be Grisini’s ancient rival.
6. The Ghost of Graylock: (a Hauntings Novel) by Dan Poblocki (Ages 10 – 14)
Graylock Hall. Everyone’s heard the stories. It was supposed to be a hospital for children and teenagers with mental disorders, but something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances, and the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned, left to rot deep in the woods. Neil Cady, the new kid, wants to see the haunted building for himself. With a flashlight, a camera, and his new friend, Neil is fully prepared for whatever he might find in the dark, but will he be prepared for what follows him home?!
Happy Haunting! Happy Reading!
Featured photo: imagerymajestic