School Buzz

Good Reads that are Scary, But not too Scary

Linda Stevens
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Scary books

Linda Stevens from Harris County Public Library suggests books that are scary...but not too scary. (Photo: Alan Szalwinski, Flickr Creative Commons)

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

I went to see a new movie over the weekend, The House with a Clock in Its Walls. It was full of magic and thrills and a good story about finding family and friends. It also reminded me how much I loved reading through John Bellairs' novels when I was a child. They were scary, but not too scary. Even as an adult, I still really enjoy a ghost-y, creepy, just scary enough book. Since we are just beginning the Halloween season, I thought I would share a few of my favorites for readers of novels, tween and up.

If we take a scaled approach of terror, let’s say we’re aiming for a solid six or seven, with the It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as a one and Stephen King’s The Shining as an eleven.

My favorite of Neil Gaiman’s books for young people is The Graveyard Book. I am always a big fan of his, and obviously I read this as an adult, but I love the switch of the sweet and comfortable spirits raising a human child and the scares (mostly) coming from the world where he is supposed to belong.

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn is a classic of the genre, a story of a family moving to a new house where the ghost of a child who died in a long ago fire seems to be luring the youngest sibling away from her family. You can probably tell I have a thing for ghost stories.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel is definitely on the creepy side, telling the story of an anxious boy named Steve, who starts having dreams about otherworldly wasps who plan to “fix” his baby brother.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty has some very scary details, but worth it if you are a brave reader. Serafina is a twelve-year-old girl who lives in the basement of a grand estate with her mechanic father. She joins with her friend Braeden to stop a mysterious man in a black cloak who is abducting children in the night.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste is a twist on a Haitian folktale. It follows Corinne as she tries to help her father, who seems to be under the spell of a strangely beautiful lady, at the same time evil beings start attacking their village.

These are just some of my favorites – do you know any great reads that are just scary enough?

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