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What's Your Favorite Type of Spooky Story? Halloween Recs from Danielle

Wed, 10/20/2021 - 12:23pm -- CKing

      It’s that special time of year again: the leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and the teens want that scary stuff. There’s no universal definition of “scary stuff,” though - different things give us all different feelings. Some people get really anxious when flying on an airplane, for example, especially when there’s turbulence; other folks barely notice. But there are some things which seem to cause fear across time and geography: haunted houses, monsters, murders, and anything unexplained, just to name a few.

Watching a movie or reading a book is a great way to experience intense emotions in a safe way. Horror is a huge and diverse genre! There are so many ways to be afraid.

Here are some different categories of horror paired with a book from our shelves.


Body Horror

This category is just what it sounds like: it utilizes the human body in disturbing ways. Violence, zombies, disease, and mutations fall in this category.

If this sounds like your type of spooky, consider this book:

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

A dead girl walks the streets. She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago. And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan. Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.


Check out this book if you’re interested in Dexter meets The Grudge!


Cryptozoological Horror

Have you heard of the Dover Demon? According to Bill Bartlett of Dover, MA, he saw a creature with glowing orange eyes and “a baby’s body with long arms and legs. It had a big head about the same size as the body, it was sort of melon-shaped.” This was back in the 70s, and apparently others have occasionally spotted this creature since.

Cryptids combine monster themes with local urban legend, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, to create a long-lasting scary story. When I was growing up, my brothers and I scared each other with Goatman, which was more like Krampus than Mr. Tumnus.

Looking for more? Try this book:

Abominable Science! by Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero

Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.


Check out this book if you like myths meeting reality, entertaining nonfiction, and fun trivia!


Gothic Horror

This one is my favorite! Gothic horror comes from its dark ambiance, specifically its creepy settings and unsettling characters. Things are not what they seem!

Here’s an example of gothic horror book on our shelf:

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.


Check out this book if you like historical fiction, psychological drama, haunted houses, and ghost stories!


Monster Horror

Like cryptids, we have a lot of recurring monsters in our scary stories: werewolves, mummies, swamp creatures, even Godzilla and King Kong. The difference here is that these creatures aren’t believed to be actually real; they scare us in our imaginations only.

Looking for a new take on a monster story? I recommend this book:

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother's paintings and a drop of Jam's blood, she must reconsider what she's been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption's house.


Check out this book if you like false utopias and monsters coming in different and surprising forms.


Paranormal and Supernatural Horror

There’s a lot of crossover between paranormal and supernatural horror, but here’s a loose distinction: paranormal spooks come from things you can’t see (unexplained phenomena, ghosts), and supernatural comes from things that appear before your eyes (vampires! apparitions! UFOs!). These stories are scary because they combine plausibly real experiences with things just beyond science and reality.

Sound like your type? Try this book:

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs… The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its secrets… As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.


Check out this book if you like Get Out meets The Haunting of Hill House!


Slasher Horror

It’s just what it sounds like: books that use excessive and extreme violence to make us viscerally afraid. Fear of a painful death is at the root of almost all of our phobias and anxieties.

Interested in this type of horror? You’re much braver than me. Consider this book:

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.


Check out this book if you like big things happening in small towns, running for your life in a cornfield, and pranks gone wrong.


Thriller Horror

This one is definitely the most popular with the Westerly Library teen space audience. These books are designed to provoke particular emotional reactions are specific times, building anxiety and tension and keeping those pages turning! Often, the monsters in these stories are just bad people doing bad things.

Here’s a thriller that’s super popular right now:

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation… The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet… certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.


Check out this book if you like murder mysteries, community justice, and family secrets.


Want to talk about your favorite scary story? Join us for BOOK CLUB on Thursday, October 28th! You can sign up here.

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