It’s October and Halloween is fast approaching, so I thought this would be a great time to post some of my favourite scary books for kids. I’m not much for blood and gore, so when I read horror, it’s more atmospheric or psychological horror. I like eerie and weird. So with that in mind, I present my ten spooky middle grade reads for fall…
These ten books are all very different from each other—they’re an eclectic mix of spooky and surreal horror novels and books with monsters or ghosts in them. Some of them have dangerous magic and awful villains. All of them were really entertaining reads!
Ravenfall (Kalyn Josephson)
The main character is Anna, a 13 year old girl from a family who all have psychic powers that help them run a magical inn at a crossroad between the human and the Otherworld. The only problem is Anna’s psychic power only shows her people’s deaths, which isn’t exactly helpful in running an inn. When she meets a boy who witnessed his parent’s deaths, she tries to help him solve the mystery of who killed them and why… and it leads them both into even bigger mysteries and revelations. Also has an awesome cat and a house with an attitude. A fantastic, spooky read!
The Clackity (Lora Senf)
Evie lives in the seventh-most haunted town in America with her Aunt Desdemona. When Desdemona disappears into the abandoned slaughterhouse on the edge of town (that Evie has been forbidden to ever enter), Evie decides she has to go find her. There she meets the terrifying Clackity who makes a deal with her: The Clackity will help her find Desdemona if Evie brings him the ghost of a long-dead serial killer who used to stalk the town. But even if Evie survives her journey to find Desdemona and the ghost, can she trust The Clackity, or is he hiding a more sinister plan?
Secret of the Shadow Beasts (Diane Magras)
Years ago, 12-year-old Nora’s father was killed by terrifying shadow beasts called Umbrae who roam the land every night and whose bites are so toxic they can kill full-grown adults. But children are immune from the venom and those with the skills are taken from their families to be trained to kill the shadow beasts. When Nora joins the elite group of hunters, she uncovers a treacherous secret about the true reason the beasts exist. Now it’s up to her and her team to set things right before the world falls to the Umbrae. If they can survive long enough to do it.
The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse (Brian Farrey)
Princess Jeniah is faced with becoming Queen long before she feels ready to. Terrified of doing something wrong, she is determined to find out what is hidden in Dreadwillow Carse, a desolate bog at the centre of the Monarchy that no one knows anything about except for the dire warning that if any monarch enters it, the Monarchy will fall. Jeniah strikes a bargain with Aon, a girl from a village near the marsh—Aon will search the Carse for Jeniah and Jeniah will use her clout as a princess to find Aon’s missing father. But when Aon doesn’t return from the Carse, Jeniah knows she must try and rescue her friend, even if risks toppling her family’s thousand-year reign. This one had a great twist that I didn’t see coming until just before it happened!
Apartment 713 (Kevin Sylvester)
Jake moves into the Regency, a rundown, ratty building when his mother loses her job and they fall upon hard times. He takes on a part-time job helping the custodian keep the Regency running. As Jake starts learning the ropes, he also learns more of the building’s mysteries and secrets and starts forming friendships with the other residents. But then he finds out the city plans to demolish the Regency and he’ll lose another home. Then Jake is summoned to the mysterious, totally off-limits apartment 713… and suddenly finds himself in the past, where a girl his own age helps him survive. And as Jake navigates the world of the Regency in its heyday, perhaps he can find the key to saving his new home in his own time. This was a fantastic read with a great twist!
The Absence of Sparrows (Kurt Kirchmeier)
In 11-year-old Ben’s small town, he’s expecting a nice, relaxing summer of bird-watching and goofing around. But then strange, dark clouds roll in and everything changes. One minute people are going about their usual routines, and the next, they are glass statues. It happens at random, and no one knows who will be taken next. And then it starts happening around the world. With his mom on the verge of a breakdown, and his brother obsessing about a voice on the radio with a questionable plan for ending the Glass Plague, Ben is on his own trying to find out what’s really happening and how to save the victims before everyone he cares about is doomed.
The Witch’s Boy (Kelly Barnhill)
When Ned and his twin brother fall into a raging river, Ned survives, but his brother does not. The people of his village believe the wrong boy lived, and Ned has spent his life trying to live with that. When the Bandit King who lives on the other side of the forest comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, the local witch, is meant to protect, Ned and the Bandit King’s daughter must embark on a dangerous quest to stop the impending war between their two kingdoms.
The Stars Did Wander Darkling (Colin Meloy)
Nothing ever happens in Archie Coomes’ sleepy little seaside town. Until his dad’s construction company opens up the cliff beneath the old—and possibly cursed—Langdon place. Soon, more and more of the adults in town start acting strangely, and it’s up to Archie and his friends to figure what’s happening and stop it before the entire town is affected. This one had some strong Stranger Things vibes with the eighties setting and the seriously creepy bad guys.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (Karen Foxlee)
Ophelia doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving over the loss of their mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. When Ophelia goes exploring in the museum, on her very first day, she discovers a boy locked away in a forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help. Can they stop the Snow Queen’s sinister plot and save Ophelia’s sister before Alice is lost to the queen’s evil powers?
Shadowghast (Thomas Taylor)
Every Halloween, the people of Eerie-on-Sea light manglewick candles and create an elaborate shadow puppet show to ward off the sinister Shadowghast who, legend has it, has the power to steal and devour the shadows of the living, enslaving them in a magical lantern. This year a professional troupe has been hired to perform the shadow puppet show, including a mysterious magician with shocking news about Herbie’s past. But as soon as the suspicious troupe arrives, townspeople start vanishing. It’s up to Herbie and Violet to solve the mystery and save the town, before everyone is swallowed up in darkness.
Do you have any favourite spooky books for middle grade readers you think should be on this list? Leave a comment and let me know! 👻🎃🦇