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  • Writer's pictureDan

Spooky October Reads

halloween ghosts

It's October, and that means Halloween. Are you looking for some reads that will give you thrills and chills? Then check out the novels below!


Ashes  cover

Ashes can be most efficiently described as a YA version of The Walking Dead. It definitely had that vibe for me. Young people trying to navigate rural Michigan while avoiding animals and people who have something…wrong with them.

This is a compelling page-turner perfect for fans of thrilling horror tales. Although the book is YA, it is aimed at high school-aged readers. Although not overly gory, younger readers might find some of the scenes too intense. Adults might sometimes find Alex, the protagonist, a little too wishy-washy. That was not an issue for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Alex, finding her resourceful, sympathetic, and likable despite her high-strung emotions and occasional snarkiness.

I don't want to give too much away, but this book has one hell of an opening. In the first few pages, the reader learns that Alex has terminal brain cancer and is trekking across rural Michigan as an homage to someone or something. Who or what the journey is honoring is not revealed, at least definitively, until much later. While she's out in the woods, more or less on her own, the apocalypse breaks out! Talk about a compelling setup for a gnarly horror yarn!

I have to give a shout-out to fellow author J.L. Sullivan. I read this book after coming across his review of it on Instagram.

Dust & Grim cover

This one is aimed at middle-grade readers. It's a yarn about orphaned siblings running a funeral home for monsters. The tale is chock-full of humorous (and creepy!) descriptions and comic book action sure to appeal to middle graders. It also has scenes scary enough to give the younger set the jitters without keeping them awake all night in terror.

Older readers might find the tale too young to be appealing. Although I found the story a bit on the young side, the sibling rivalry, excellent descriptions, interesting monsters, and whizbang action kept me reading to the end. Ultimately, I enjoyed Dust & Grim and truly believe middle-grade readers will find it a most excellent read for the month of Halloween.

Clown in a Cornfield cover

Clown in a Cornfield proves you can't judge a book by its…name. When I first saw ads for this book showing up on Facebook, I thought it sounded way too corny. What finally convinced me to give it a read is the fact that it won a Bram Stoker Award. This is one of the most enjoyable horror novels I have ever read. It's a slasher with gory violence, whiny teens, despicable older folks, and an incredible final girl. The tale also possesses a dash of social commentary detailed by the generational conflict gripping Kettle Springs.

Although this is a YA, it is definitely aimed at older mature teens. The level of gore and violence would keep the younger set up all night to avoid maniacal clowns haunting their dreams.

The Eyes of the Dragon  cover

This dark fantasy harkens back to the fairy tales of yesteryear. It brings the creep factor, as Mr. King's yarns often do. The reader sees madness, dark sorcery, and terrible treachery. The antagonist, Flagg, looms large in this yarn as he did in King's classic, The Stand.

I've read this is a YA story King wrote for his children. It certainly has a YA feel and will appeal to teen readers looking for darker fiction who aren't ready to tackle IT.

It is the tale of an assassinated king and a younger brother wrongly rising to the throne. Mr. King gives us siblings who are imperfect in their own ways, and neither is evil. Each is sympathetic, although only one is genuinely likable. The other is most definitely a tragic figure. But evil, which abounds in this story, is solely a trait of the Wizard Flagg.

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