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Spooky Reads for Beginners: A Halloweeny Book Recommendations List for Scaredy-Cats

Spooky Reads for Beginners

My dear bookish friends!

It’s that time of year again that many people, especially on my favourite platform, Book Twitter, seem to be looking forward to the most: October and, with that, Halloween.
A few years ago, before I started my blog and joined Twitter, Halloween and anything even just remotely spooky was a big no for me. While I do have a fascination with the paranormal, I’m too scared of it to enjoy reading about it properly, or so I thought. While I’m still no big fan of decorating your house with skulls and ghosts and witches and spiders (I’m too scared of the real ones, so no thank you!), I did start to enjoy the whole build-up to autumn more lately. While I may still not be the classic Halloween fan, I do like the pumpkin carving, orange leaves, and apple picking side of it. And, I couldn’t believe this myself – I have read some spooky books lately that I can actually recommend! They may not be true horror novels, but they will still raise the little hairs on the back of your neck (I think).

So, for all you people who, like me, couldn’t ever watch a real horror movie, but who still want to experience the side of autumn everyone seems to be loving so much – the Halloweeny, spooky side – then this following reading list might be perfect for you!

I really liked all these books, so no need for a book rating, but I did come up with a rating scale that will help you determine if you can manage to read them. Remember, this is a personal estimation of me, and we’re all different. So below you find my personal…

Scary Level Rating:







So without further ado, let’s get straight into my autumnal, Halloweeny, bookish recommendations list! In no special order I recommend to you…

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

A little while ago I read Small Spaces by Katherine Arden with our Middle Grade Marvels book club. It instantly became one of my favourites of the year. It tells the story of Ollie, a young girl who has lost her mother in a plane crash and ever since, keeps to herself. Until she finds a book that tells the old tale of a farm where children mysteriously disappeared…and then, her class makes an excursion to a farm that has an eerily similar history… And on their drive back home, their bus gets stuck in the middle of a dense forest, and it gets dark. Their bus driver warns Ollie that they will come for them soon…and so, Ollie, a little girl who’s new in class, Coco, and one of the boys leave the bus behind. Just in time, as they will soon see. And, to quote the synopsis:

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

Absolutely amazing read, and perfect for October! I think I would give this book two pumpkins on the scary rating chart – it has some quite spooky scenes! If you’re interested, here is the Goodreads page and here’s the link to my full review.


Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

Dead Voices is the second novel in the Small Spaces series by Katherine Arden. Since I loved the first book so much I immediately bought this ones and finished it in a day and a half. This book focuses more on Coco, but we still get a lot from Ollie’s point of view and also, their best friend Brian is part of their newest adventure again. This time, the friends trio goes on holidays to go skiing in the mountains, together with Coco’s mum and Ollie’s dad, who has won their stay in a new skiing resort. They are supposed to be the first guests, together with other winners. However, due to a terrible snow storm, no one else makes it there, and the five of them are trapped with the inn keepers. No electricity, howling wind and icy cold weather make for a spooky backdrop, especially when they see shadows moving and hear a terrible ghost story of the place that had been deserted for decades. And when a new visitor arrives – despite the snow storm – Coco, Ollie and Brian get to see for themselves that ghosts might indeed be real…

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

This was definitely a three pumpkins book for me. I wanted to finish it at night but it got so chilling and scary – despite the age group – that I had to wait for morning to come to finish it. Ghost stories, terrible nightmares and actual spectres make for a spine-tingling and chilling read, but at the same time it is un-put-downable! Highly recommended, but you should start with Small Spaces first! Here is the Goodreads page for more info, and my review will follow soon!


The Diviners by Libba Bray

I read The Diviners by Libba Bray a year ago for the Hypeathon with Ellie from Read to Ramble. It is set in the 1920s in New York – a very special era that makes for a great backdrop for a spooky YA. The main character, Evie, is shipped off from her little hometown to the bustling streets of the Big Apple to live with her uncle who runs a museum of the occult. Evie has a secret, a supernatural power she is afraid to tell anybody. But when a murder occurs, Evie realises her gift can potentially help find the murderer – even if it means it might put her in his spotlight… And then there are other characters whose stories are somehow intertwined. But what they all don’t know is this…


Eeeek! Even just thinking back to reading this book makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up! This book is super interesting and I loved the background and the setting in the 1920s, but the evil in this book is so dark that it definitely deserves three scary pumpkins! The bad guy (*hides under blanket*) is pure evil and he sings a song that will give you goosebumps and haunt you for days!!! Not for the faint-hearted!


Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

I read Harrow Lake as part of the TheWriteReads blog tour a few months ago and I was actually surprised about how much I liked it! The story revolves around Lola Nox, teenage daughter of a famous horror filmmaker. When her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, Lola has to move to Harrow Lake, the town where his most famous horror movie was filmed. The inhabitants of that strange place are weirdly obsessed with the movie and it seems as if time stands still there. And the town has another eerie tale to tell – one of an evil being responsible for the many unexplainable disappearances in the town. When it seems as if someone – or something – is stalking Lola’s every step, even she – who is afraid of nothing – gets scared. And then, it seems as if she might be trapped in this town she’s tried to stay away from forever…

And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

This was definitely A VERY creepy YA horror story. When you get to the ending, you will find that it is more of a psychological horror novel than a ghost story, but it holds you in its grip until you turn the last page. And even then you will feel the goosebumps on your arms. Very spooky, definitely worthy of three pumpkins! Here’s the Goodreads page for more info and my full review.


The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend

This first instalment of the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend, The Trials of Morrigan Crow, is a novel I read with our Middle Grade Marvels book club. Morrigan Crow is cursed and made responsible for all the misfortunes in her family and the town she lives in, and therefore she is supposed to die. While she is awaiting her death sentence, a strange man arrives and takes her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor, where she lives in his hotel and has to train to take part in a dangerous competition: the trials that she has to overcome against lots and lots of other children in order to win her ticket to stay in the city of Nevermoor. The only problem is, all the other children have a special talent that sets them apart from the others – a talent Morrigan is sure she doesn’t have. But without winning, Morrigan has to travel back home and meet her deadly fate…

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

This middle grade story has a dark backdrop but it’s also magical and wonderful. While Morrigan still lives at home with a family that is ok with letting her die you get a very sad and awful feeling in your tummy, and while the overall tone of the book is a bit dark, it’s definitely not terrifying. One pumpkin on the scary scale – a good book for beginners!


And that’s it for now! I hope there is something on this list for everybody who’s interested in spooky reads but doesn’t feel like starting with a proper Stephen King novel. I am currently reading Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater for the Hypeathon, so I do hope there will be more to add to this in a little while!

Do you have any recommendations for me, or have you read any of these books? Do let me know on here or on Twitter!

Thank you all so much for reading!


Here’s a list of all the Twitter groups I mentioned that you should absolutely join too:

TheWriteReads – for awesome blog tours and great book blogger support!

Middle Grade Marvels – a book club in which we read one or two middle grade novels a month and discuss them!

The Hypeathon Readathon – a readathon dedicated to all the hyped books!

Do join us! You won’t regret it!

45 thoughts on “Spooky Reads for Beginners: A Halloweeny Book Recommendations List for Scaredy-Cats

  1. I usually read Bunnicula with my kids. It’s not spooky at all, but it is a ton of fun.
    For spooky(ish), I suggest We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
    Tje Shadowhunte costume idea is smart!

  2. Such a great post, Noly!
    I love that you rated it for spookiness. 🙂 Maybe I’ll give The Diviners a try, I haven’t heard of that one before.
    I’m currently reading “Jungledrop” – not spooky – and just started “The Archived” by VE Schwab which I would probably give two pumpkins. 😀

    1. Awww thank you so much for reading, Marion! I have yet to read a VE Schwab book, that one sounds interesting! xxx

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