Confession time: I’m a big ol’ scaredy-cat. I’ve been to one haunted house in my life and never want to go again, and I’ve been known to sleep with the lights on after seeing a trailer for a scary movie.
But I love Halloween. Weird, right?
I have been known to dip my toe in what I’m calling “spooky” reads, though. They aren’t really scary per se, but they definitely have an atmosphere. My #romancelandia pal, BandHerBooks, and I like to say we’re “pastel goths,” which I think just means we like skulls and cozy sweaters and idolize Morticia Addams, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
I gravitate toward spooky reads around this year especially, but my supernatural-lite obsession lasts year-round–does my skull soap dispenser stay in the powder room even if it’s weeks past October 31st? Yep. Do I wear all black pretty much every day? You bet. Will this lovely typewriter with a “heartwarming” message have permanent residence in my office? MOST DEFINITELY!
Here are a few spooky reads for the rest of the pastel goths out there–enjoy them at Halloween or whenever you want to do your best Lydia Deetz impression. . .
THE OLD NURSE’S STORY by Elizabeth Gaskell
I’m taking it back. . . way back! This short story by Elizabeth Gaskell (an author who is often overlooked for her more famous contemporaries like the Brontes) is eerie and creepy. An old nurse is recounting the tale of what happened to the mother of her current charges. There’s a phantom child, a scorned woman, and a mysterious organ that plays music at odd times. Plus, it can easily be read in one sitting! I read this story for the first time last year with the podcast Bonnets at Dawn, and the companion episode is a wonderful deep dive into the historical context and more.
MATING THE HUNTRESS by Talia Hibbert
First, let’s talk about this new cover because. . . WOW!
Chastity has trained her whole life to hunt werewolves, but the wolf she’s currently hunting has decided she’s his fated mate and thinks it’s very adorable that she wants to kill him. Oh and then there’s this whole prophecy from a witch and some very, very sexytimes. Only Talia Hibbert could make a paranormal romcom this cute, but still with murder. A bloodthirsty heroine? A soft werewolf hero? Sign me up.
Young witches, tween ghosts… this is actually the speed of spooky reading I can really get behind. In WITCHES OF BROOKLYN, a girl is sent to live with her naturalist aunts who are actually witches. . . and surprise! So is she. She’s learning more about her powers, her family history, and how to be true to herself.
In SEANCE TEA PARTY, one girl would rather talk and play with her imaginary friend than her corporeal friends who just want to talk about clothes and crushes–but guess what? Her imaginary friend is actually the ghost of a girl who used to live in her house. These graphic novels go well together–two tweenage girls are both figuring out who they are and experiencing the beauty of growing up as well as discovering the truly extraordinary world of the supernatural. Also, both of these are approved by my pastel-goth-in-training!
PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
I reread this book every year. Generally more than once. And sometimes, it’s not even Halloweentime. This is an adorable story about two pumpkin patch employees who are on their last shift at the patch before heading off to college. One of them has been pining after a co-worker for years and the other decides tonight is the night he’s going to talk to her. They go on a mad dash through the patch, taking advantage of their final night working there to eat all the snacks, ride the rides, and make a few more memories. And of course, realize that perhaps they could be friends–or more–when the pumpkin patch closes…
THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE by Diana Biller
I recently recommended this book in a Facebook group and said the following: “Gilded Age New York! A dilapidated mansion in need of repair! A bumbling scientist! A jilted widow! A GHOST! GAS LAMPS! This historical romance came out last year and it is perfect to read right now. Spooky, eerie, and swoony!” And it really is all of those things–copious exclamation points warranted.
But don’t take my word for it–join me and authors Angelina M. Lopez and Melonie Johnson–aka The Boozy Book Broads–when we chat with Diana Biller on Friday, October 16th! You can watch us live on the Love’s Sweet Arrow YouTube page at 7pmCT/8pmET. The drink of the night is a Maple Manhattan, and we can’t wait to chat about our own ghost experiences, women in STEM, and much more! Hope to see you there. You can sign up for a reminder email for this event on Eventbrite.
Fresh Fiction Editorial Manager Danielle Dresser is an aspiring author, an avid reader, lackluster-yet-mighty crafter, and accomplished TV binge-watcher. Once upon a time, she was a publisher publicist and continues to cultivate her love of books and reading by chatting with the best authors in the business. She lives in Chicagoland with her very own romance hero husband, darling daughter, and two tempestuous cats. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @dj_dresser.