Right then. The Eve of All Hallow’s is nearly upon us, sso Mad Martha and I have donned our festive witches hats and combined our knowledge to bring you some appropriately ominous reading suggestions for the whole family.
For the little monsters (0-6yrs):
These picture books all promise spine-tingling, knee-knocking terrors at a level that is age-appropriate for the littlest ghoul or ghostie.
Our favourites for this age group are the classic tale of witch and cat, Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski; and the terrifying cuteness that is The Scariest Thing in the Castle by Kevin Sherry. We also recommend the gentle plots and warm fuzzy illustrations of Spooky Spooky Spooky by Cathy MacLennan and Boo, Bunny! by Kathryn O Galbraith.
Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however is
Fragoline and the Midnight Dream by Clemency Pearce
We defy you not to be caught up in the wild rumpus created by this fiery-haired little minx’s nocturnal adventure!
For Bigger Beasties (7-10yrs):
We are in agreeance for this age group that two stories stand out above the crowd. The first is the cheeky tale of a grandfather with a penchant for carnivorous plants and feeding his family…to the carnivorous plants: The Bodigulpa by Jenny Nimmo. Secondly, we could not go past the perennial favourite and highly relevant cautionary tale, The Witches by Roald Dahl.
For Teen Terrors (10yrs +):
Take a meander through the macabre with these suggestions for older readers. First in this garden of ghostliness is Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which follows the story of Bod, the child of murdered parents who is taken in and raised by the folk of the local graveyard. Next, Kirsty McKay’s first offering Undead will scratch your itch for simple, gore-filled mayhem with her humourous take on teenagers holding out against the zombie apocalypse. Finally, for a wander through territory that echoes with the howls of the damned, Neal Shusterman’s short story collection Darkness Creeping: 20 Twisted Tales cannot be left on the shelf.
Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this age group however, is
Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Christ Priestley.
This, the first in a terrifyingly terrific series, is a collection of short stories with fantastic twists and quirky characters that will linger with you long after the initial fright has faded.
For grown-up gore-fiends:
For an informative historical foray into death in the UK capital, Catharine Arnold’s Necropolis: London and its Dead, is just the ticket. This non-fiction title escorts the reader through the fascinating world of London’s major burial sites, from plague pits and charnel houses to the spectacle of a royal funeral. For a lighter factual read, Mary Roach’s Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife charts the bizarre and highly questionable attempts that have been made to scientifically prove the existence or otherwise of life after death.
Our PICK OF THE BUNCH for this group is
The Small Hand by Susan Hill.
This short tale maintains a delicious atmosphere of creepiness as, during an unscheduled visit to an overgrown manor house garden, Adam Snow feels pursued and ultimately pressured by a ghostly small hand in his.
We hope that these selections provide some options for those craving seasonal spookiness. Please feel welcome to add any more to this list if they occur to you.
Until next time,
Bruce and Mad Martha