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2023 Halloween Staff Picks


As the nights are growing darker, do you find yourself wanting to read something delightfully frightful? We've got you covered with another batch of books that we think are perfect for this time of year!

 

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Recommended by Pat McLeod


On the outside it looks like Suzette has it all. A stunning ultra-modern home, designed by her handsome Swedish husband. A beautiful, but silent, seven-year-old daughter who is fiercely intelligent. But under the shiny veneer, the cracks are all too clear.

For her daughter Hanna isn't just clever, she's dangerous. Her behaviour is carefully calculated. She adores her father, yet wants Suzette to disappear. And as Hanna's tricks become increasingly sophisticated - from tampering with her mother's daily medication, imitating a rabid dog, to setting Suzette on fire - it's increasingly clear that there is something seriously wrong with their little girl.

Because what kind of child wants to kill their own mother?


 

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Recommended by Jenna


Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.


Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei's beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.


 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Recommended by Jenna


Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.


 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Recommended by Debbie Monahan


When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes a series of horrific discoveries about his client. Soon afterwards, various bizarre incidents unfold in England: an apparently unmanned ship is wrecked off the coast of Whitby; a young woman discovers strange puncture marks on her neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the 'Master' and his imminent arrival.


 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Recommended by Debbie Monahan


The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship . . . and horror.


 

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Recommended by Debbie Baker (especially the audiobook!)


Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.


Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.


Of course, some things are better left dead.


 

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Recommended by Rocío


In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides.


When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?


 

Hemlock Island by Kelley Armstrong

Recommended by Pat McLeod


Laney Kilpatrick has been renting her vacation home to strangers. The invasion of privacy gives her panic attacks, but it’s the only way she can keep her beloved Hemlock Island, the only thing she owns after a pandemic-fueled divorce. But broken belongings and campfires that nearly burn down the house have escalated to bloody bones, hex circles, and now, terrified renters who’ve fled after finding blood and nail marks all over the guest room closet, as though someone tried to claw their way out…and failed.


There are tensions and secrets, whispers in the woods, and before long, the discovery of a hand poking up from the earth. Then the body that goes with it… But by that time, someone has taken off with their one and only means off the island, and they’re trapped with someone—or something—that doesn’t want them leaving the island alive.


 

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian

Recommended by Kira


Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four years old. In a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary--a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony--soon finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary's garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight to not only escape her marriage, but also the gallows.


 

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

Recommended by Kira


When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. Unfortunately, it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market. But some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans…


 

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

Recommended by Jack


Johannes Cabal, a brilliant scientist and notorious snob, is single-mindedly obsessed in heart and soul with raising the dead. Well, perhaps not "soul" . . . He hastily sold his years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. But now, tormented by a dark secret, he travels to the fiery pits of Hell to retrieve it. Satan, who is incredibly bored these days, proposes a little wager: Johannes has one year to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever.


 

The Last house on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Recommended by Rocío


This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.All these things are true. And yet they are all lies...


You think you know what's inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you've read this story before. That's where you're wrong. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it's not what you think...


 

Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara

Recommended by Jack


They have existed since the dawn of time. Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. They are known as Mushi - creatures that came into being shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze.


They still exist parallel to our own lives and can only be seen by a select few. As a Mushishi, Ginko is one of the few who are aware of their existence, and this young man with a sardonic smile roams from place to place with the knowledge and skill to aid those unwittingly affected by Mushi.


 

Never Whisper at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology edited by Shane Hawk

Recommended by Pat McLeod


Many Indigenous people believe that one should never whistle at night. This belief takes many forms: for instance, Native Hawaiians believe it summons the Hukai’po, the spirits of ancient warriors, and Native Mexicans say it calls Lechuza, a witch that can transform into an owl. But what all these legends hold in common is the certainty that whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear—and even follow you home.


These wholly original and shiver-inducing tales introduce readers to ghosts, curses, hauntings, monstrous creatures, complex family legacies, desperate deeds, and chilling acts of revenge. These stories are a celebration of Indigenous peoples’ survival and imagination, and a glorious reveling in all the things an ill-advised whistle might summon.


 

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Recommended by Jack


Death is missing - presumed... er... gone. Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.


Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There's a harvest to be gathered in...



 

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

Recommended by Debbie Baker


Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right? But nothing with fairies is ever simple.


Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He's heard there's a curse here that needs breaking, but it's a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…


 


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