Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where book bloggers are invited to share their top ten lists centered on a certain theme.
I’m the kind of person who loves the spookiness of Halloween but can’t actually handle anything scary. I’m that person who will only watch scary movies in the middle of the day with all the lights on, the doors locked, with another person present, and burrowed under a massive pile of blankets (and, probably, with my hands covering my eyes).
In honor of all the other scaredy-cat people like me who still want to get in on the spooky Fall vibes, my top ten Tuesday this week is spooky reads for the easily spooked—the books that’ll leave you a little shivery but not too scared to go into your bathroom by yourself.
1. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
With teen zombies & witches, it’s just the right amount spooky and funny.
Goodreads summary: “Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.”
2. When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn
Shelby is a demon exorcist with an attitude, and she reminded me so much of Buffy Summers!
Goodreads summary: “Sixteen-year-old Shelby Black has spent the past year training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest and Shelby’s guardian—believes she has a gift for expelling demons, and he’s put her through exorcist boot camp hell, but he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.
High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity quiet, especially from Spencer, her cute math tutor. Secrets run in Shelby’s family, though: her mother has been missing ever since an exorcism went horribly wrong, and Uncle Roy is tight-lipped about it. But Shelby’s hell-bent on finding her mom, no matter what—even if what it ends up costing her her soul AND a date with Spencer.”
3. Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood
This anthology has such a perfect balance of spooky witch stories, funny ones, heartwarming ones, and everything in between. I love the diverse representations of what it means to be a witch.
Goodreads summary: “A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.
Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.
History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.
Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.
A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.
From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely–has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored. ”
4. Shadowland (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot (originally written under pen name Jenny Carroll)
These were my favorite Meg Cabot books as a preteen, and I remember being so impatient waiting for the last one to come out! The ghosts were just scary enough without giving me nightmares.
Goodreads summary: “Suze is a mediator — a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.
But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind … and Suze happens to be in the way. ”
5. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
A literary ghost story, this one is chilling and eerie (like everything Audrey Niffenegger writes).
Goodreads summary: “When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers–with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.
The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building’s other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin’s devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt’s neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including–perhaps–their aunt, who can’t seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.
Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life–even after death.”
6. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
This graphic novel is about a seemingly innocent friendship between girl and ghost that goes dark fast (and it has just the right amount of teen angst).
Goodreads summary: “Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.”
7. Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir
One of my favorite graphic novels this year, Archival Quality had a handful of spooky scenes mixed in perfectly with a discussion of mental health.
Goodreads summary: “The Logan Museum is a mysterious old building practically covered in skulls, and also the new workplace of Celeste “Cel” Walden, a librarian who was let go from her previous job after a mental breakdown. But Cel is desperate to feel useful, and Abayomi Abiola, the Logan Museum’s chief curator, is desperate to hire a new archivist.
Cel soon realizes the job is unlike any other she’s had. There’s an apartment onsite she’s required to live in, she only works in the middle of the night, and she definitely gets the impression that there’s more to the museum than Abayomi and her new boss, Holly Park are letting on.
And then strange things start happening. Odd noises. Objects moving. Vivid, terrifying dreams of a young woman Cel’s never met, but feels strangely drawn to. A woman who for some reason needs Cel’s help.
As Cel attempts to learn more about her, she begins losing time, misplacing things, passing out–there’s no denying the job is becoming dangerous. But Cel can’t let go of the woman in her dreams. Who is she? Why is she so fixated on Cel? And does Cel have the power to save herself?”
8. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
This novel brought layers upon layers of mystery, creep factor, and chills.
Goodreads summary: “Mary B. Addison killed a baby.
Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.
Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.
There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?”
9. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
This contemporary mystery had just enough thriller elements to keep me interested without freaking me out too much. I’ve heard all of Kara Thomas’s books are wonderful thrillers.
Goodreads summary: “There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.
First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.
That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.
There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.”
10. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
This one surprised me with its chilling twists, and ended up being much more of a thriller than I expected (and the setting of being trapped in a spaceship really amped up the tension!).
Goodreads summary: “Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . . ”
Do you like scary stuff or are you an easily scared person like me?