So here are a few of my suggestions, many with links to reviews by me, but please note, this is not even close to all of the books that feature Halloween, rather, these are the ones that I think are best for the reader who doesn’t usually give horror a try. For example, one of my favorite horror series is Jonathan Maberry’s Pine Deep trilogy, but this is a bit too intense for non-horror readers. For a full list of Halloween themed tales, with reader reviews, head over to Goodreads’ Halloween Books page.
by Agatha Christie- This is a great read for your patrons who want to get into the holiday spirit but don’t think they can take the intensity of atmosphere and dread of a horror novel. But, Halloween is only a very lose friend
- Lisa Morton’s Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween is THE book on the history of the holiday and an entertaining read. This year also edited, with Ellen Datlow, this collection of Halloween themed stories, although I will warn non-horror readers, the stories have a wide range in terms of intensity and gore, but it is a collection you could easily skip around in. My review is here.
- The Halloween Tree or Something Wicked This Way Comes both by Ray Bradbury. The first is less scary than the second but neither is too much for the general reader who wants great writing, tense atmosphere, and chills without gore. They are also both excellent coming of age tales with or without the Halloween setting.
I made a section break here because the last two books I think are the best. These are stories for any reader who wants to experience the feeling of Halloween now, or anytime of the year.
- Slade House by David Mitchell-- Some of you are probably saying No right off the bat because you think Mitchell is too “literary” for you. Stop that right now. This is an amazing haunted house/possession story, and it is dependent upon its Halloween setting. This is a book I read 2 years ago that I still think about often. Here is my original review from Booklist.
- Dark Harvest by Norman Patridge is a must read. Patridge is an editor at Cemetery Dance and mostly self publishes. [He is a huge proponent of it. I spent half an hour begging him to do traditional publishing so more librarians could promote his books because they are so great, but he did not budge. His partner is also a librarian, and he told me I was wasting my breath because he had been telling Norman that for years. That being said, Norman is one of the nicest people you will ever meet anywhere.] When this book came out in 2006, it was a HUGE sensation with genre and non genre readers. Most libraries own it, so check your shelves. This book needs to be read by everyone, it is that good. But because I don’t trust you to click through for yourself, here is the full description from Goodreads:
Winner of the Bram Stoker Award and named one of the 100 Best Novels of 2006 by Publishers Weekly
Dark Harvestby Norman Patridge is a powerhouse thrill-ride with all the resonance of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."
Halloween, 1963. They call him the October Boy, or Ol' Hacksaw Face, or Sawtooth Jack. Whatever the name, everybody in this small Midwestern town knows who he is. How he rises from the cornfields every Halloween, a butcher knife in his hand, and makes his way toward town, where gangs of teenage boys eagerly await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare. Both the hunter and the hunted, the October Boy is the prize in an annual rite of life and death.
Pete McCormick knows that killing the October Boy is his one chance to escape a dead-end future in this one-horse town. He's willing to risk everything, including his life, to be a winner for once. But before the night is over, Pete will look into the saw-toothed face of horror--and discover the terrifying true secret of the October Boy . . .
"This is contemporary American writing at its finest."--Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Dark HarvestYup, now you want to read it. I know. Go place your holds now.