It’s that time of year again: Halloween! Which means it’s also the Neil Gaiman created holiday All Hallow’s Read, in which instead of (or in addition to) giving strange children non-strange candy you can also gift them with the joy of reading. Or more specifically, books.
Children are inevitably creepy – especially children who talk about their dead ghost friends – which is why for this year’s All Hallow’s Read (not to be confused with the only other year we did this) our suggestions are centered around children who have a preternatural ability to see dead people. Or just dead things.
If you have no desire to go out this Halloween and would much rather stay inside cuddled up with a spooky book and some warm cider while avoiding the ghosts, ghouls and Queen Elsas wandering the streets, you may want to check out these terrifying offerings.
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
This young adult novel based on a famous Japanese ghost story/folk tale will have you wondering: how many creepy children who see ghosts are too many creepy children who see ghosts? Answer: any creepy children who see ghosts are too many children, especially when they’re murder ghosts. Also, when will men learn that it’s never a good idea to murder women by throwing them down wells? Especially if you don’t want them coming back to haunt you and take revenge on all of humanity because you think it’s a cool idea to toss people in wells.
The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue
There’s been something off about Jack since his near drowning years earlier, which pretty much has everything to do with the fact that his drawings of horrifying monsters seemingly come to life at night, populating Jack’s nightmares and your own childhood fears. Harold, you and your purple crayon have nothing on this kid. Written in lush prose and laden with just the right amount of suspense and horror, autistic Jack seems to have an otherworldly nature about him, which brings about feelings of fear in those around him: including his cautious mother and his best and only friend Tim. Suffice it to say, they don’t know Jack.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
To be fair, it’s not Bod’s fault that his entire family was murdered and he was raised by ghosts in a graveyard – hence his name: Nobody. In this tale inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Bod isn’t that creepy considering the circumstances (specifically that he was raised by dead people with zero social skills) or that a partially-failed assassin is currently seeking the end of his own existence. Never before has a coming of age story been quite this ghoulish. Literally.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Unwanted extended family? Check. Step-father with a tortured past? Check. Annoying step-sister who almost died in a fire that killed her mother? Check. Annoying step-sister who passes along messages from a dead ghost named Helen who plans on doing unspeakable things once she’s returned? Double check! Published in 1986, Wait Till Helen Comes is the Flashback Friday read you’ve been waiting for. Just make sure you purchase the version with the 80’s-tastic cover (see left) for the full effect.
The Shining by Stephen King
Is there anything creepier than a boy who speaks backwards, sees the ghosts of murdered people and has an imaginary friend who is himself when he’s older? No, no, there isn’t. Throw out the alcoholic, abusive father who enjoys living in snowed-in hotels to fix his writer’s block and that’s still really damn creepy. Did I mention that the topiary animals come to life? Because they come to life at night. Therefore, Danny is the creepiest child to ever creep. I rest my case. REDRUM! REDRUM! REDRUM!