October Staff Picks

Whether you like sort-of-spooky stories or downright terrifying tales (or both!), this may be your favorite Staff Picks list of the year.

Local History Librarian Michael M. offers six spine-tingling reads to get you in the mood for Halloween. Click the link to check availability or place a hold for pick-up.
The Troop  by Nick Cutter & Horrorstor  by Grady Hendrix.
Two of my favorite recent horror novels! Both provide a surprising amount of character depth and emotional resonance along with gut-wrenching terror.

In The Troop, a group of Boy Scouts become stranded on a remote island when a mysterious virus transforms their troop leader into a creature with an insatiable desire to feed. It’s Stand By Me meets 28 Days Later.

Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstor relocates malevolent spirits from the dilapidated Victorian mansion in the English countryside to a more familiar and modern purgatory …IKEA! A group of Orsk Furniture Store employees stay late one night to catch the delinquents responsible for a wave recent vandalism, only to learn the source of the damage is more terrifying than they could imagine.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff & The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor D. LaValle
Do you love the imagery, mythology, and cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft, but are uncomfortable with his racism and xenophobia? Here are two books that are chock full of Lovecraftian cosmic horror but place dynamic characters of color at the center of the action.

In Lovecraft County, Korean War veteran Atticus Turner must confront both the racism of 1950s America and the shadowy machinations of a mysterious cult. Other Dimensions! Monsters! Jim Crow! It’s all terrifying.

The Ballad of Black Tom follows guitarist/hustler Charles Thomas Tester as he is sucked into in the occult ambitions of Robert Suydam, who is attempting bring a long dormant evil into our world. LaValle masterfully subverts expectation in this reimaging of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story The Horror at Red Hook.

Uzumaki by Junji Ito & Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Some of the best modern horror can be found in comics.

In Uzumaki, the small Japanese town of Kurōzu-cho is being driven mad by spirals! It begins with small, strange incidents obsession and psychosis and ends in a cataclysm of terror. It is one of the greatest tales of terror told in any format or language. Artist/writer Junji Ito is a master!

Whereas Ito’s works are meant to shock and disgust, the Gothic beauty of Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is designed to send shivers down the spine. Carroll’s stories are heavily influenced by traditional fairy tales and folklore; the pages are filled with malevolent specters, mysterious visitors, and terrors lurking in the shadows. Definitely recommended for those who prefer their scares a little less bloody but no less terrifying.

Teen Librarian Maggie M. has three recommendations for thrill-seeking teens.
Sawkill Girls
by Claire Legrand
Welcome to the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now. If you’re looking for a scare that will keep you up at night, this is your book.

by Gretchen McNeil
In the not-so-distant future, prisons have become a reality show where people can watch convicted felons be executed in the most entertaining ways possible. When Dee is wrongly convicted of murder, she knows she needs to fight back and prove her innocence before she’s wrongfully killed in front of the world. This thriller has so many twists and turns, it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.

Not Even Bones
by Rebecca Schaeffer
If you like dark and twisted slasher films, check out this disturbing horror book. Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — but finds herself being sold on the black market instead.

Library Assistant Julia T. has some safely spooky picture book recommendations for you and the littles.

The Dark
by Lemony Snicket
Laszlo is very aware of the dark and all the places it likes to hang out. One evening the night comes to visit him in his room. Laszlo might be afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of him. 

I Will Not Eat You
by Adam Lehrhaupt
Theodore lives in a dark quiet cave. Fortunately for the creatures that approach the cave, Theodore isn't hungry. It must have been dinner time because when a boy approaches the cave, he isn't met with the same fate.

Wolves in the Walls
by Neil Gaiman
Lucy hears clawing, gnawing, nibbling and squabbling all from within the walls of her house. She knows wolves are making these noises and that they're plotting something. Her parents don't believe her and they make excuses for the noises.

Library Assistant Matthew M. offers a trio of treats for chapter book lovers.
(Ages 8-12)
by Neil Gaiman
Young, clever Coraline discovers a seemingly perfect world behind a usually dead-end door. The food is always her favorite, and she can wear the clothes she likes (even frog-shaped boots). But her other mother and father are… different, perhaps dangerously so. Neil Gaiman has crafted a delightfully creepy and suspenseful tale, sure to keep readers in suspense.

Small Spaces
by Katherine Arden
Ollie had always used books as a distraction from her life. But the events of her latest read seem to be all too real when the sixth grade takes a class trip to a farm that bears a striking resemblance to the one in her story. As night falls and the bus breaks down, Katherine Arden ramps up the chills and thrills of this fast-paced and frightening tale. Like Ollie, readers would be wise to “Avoid large places at night. Keep to small.”

The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Orphaned and in need of work, Molly and Kip ignore the advice of the locals and seek work at the old Windsor house. Once there, the siblings discover a secret: a magical tree that grants whatever one desires. But its nocturnal caretaker exacts a terrible price. Jonathan Auxier’s atmospheric writing will transport readers to the spooky Windsor mansion. Sinister historical fiction at its finest.