Thursday, March 12

The Spookiest New Stories for Middle-Grade Readers

I really enjoy a good scary story, whether it's told in a movie, by the campfire, or in a book. Which brings me to this list, of course. There's been a lot of good, creepy middle-grade fiction the last couple years. Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman or R. L. Stine, this list has some of my favorite favorites.

Written by by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller, illustrations by Karl Kwasny

ISBN: 978-0385744256
Publisher: Delacorte
Date of publication: September 9, 2014

Charlie is living with a witch, he's sure of it. Also, he can't sleep because his nightmares are getting worse and worse. But if he doesn't sleep? Well, his nightmares will just have to visit him in the real world. This book starts out with the nitty-gritty spook and anxiety, but gets really empowering by the end as these kids start conquering their fears. A great starter book for the spooky genre. See my original review here.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
Written by Sheila Turnage

ISBN: 978-0803736719
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Date of publication: February 4, 2014

Miss Lana has just become the accidental owner of the old inn, not realizing there's a ghost included in the fine print. Luckily, Mo and Dale, the Desperado Detectives, have opened up a paranormal division to learn more about the ghost. Turns out, more than just buildings can be haunted as they dig into the pasts of people in Tupelo, and murder may be at the heart of it all. This book is a favorite of mine because, besides the century-old murder mystery, there is a big dash of humor. It's definitely one that's hard to put down. See my original review here.

Doll Bones
Written by Holly Black, illustrations by Eliza Wheeler

ISBN: 978-1416963981
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderberry Books
Date of publication: May 7, 2013

Zach, Poppy, and Alice love to play make believe with whatever is around them, including an antique bone-china doll in their mother's display case. But Poppy has just declared that the Queen has been haunting her dreams, demanding that her bones be laid to rest. Assuming it's a game, the others start to investigate. They soon realize—as things repeatedly go wrong—there is a dark history behind the doll, leading them to an empty grave. Yeah, pretty much anything with a creepy doll will keep me up at night. The kids adventure is doomed from the start, but their dogged determination makes the ending worth it. See my original review here.

Boys of Blur
Written by N. D. Wilson

ISBN: 978-0449816738
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: April 8, 2014

Charlie had just moved to the tiny town of Taper, Florida, where most boys his age play football. They're some of the fastest boys around since they're often found chasing the muck rabbits out of the burning cane fields. But Charlie soon realizes that's not the only reason to run as he discovers what is creeping through the town at night. Part Beowulf, park African folklore, it's a big dose of creepy—which you wouldn't be able to tell just looking at the book. Turns out, there are some pretty dark creatures involved. See my original review here.

The Night Gardener
Written by Jonathan Auxier

ISBN: 978-1419711442
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Date of publication: May 20, 2014

Molly and Kip, Irish orphans forced away from their country by famine, have finally found a job in England. Hired as servants in a crumbling manor that everyone in town avoids, the two work hard despite the creepy circumstances. But even they can't ignore the dark specter that visits the home at night. This book gave me goosebumps by chapter 2; it wastes no time setting the spooky scene. But it also takes the time to really delve into the idea of wishes and the consequences of one's choices. A fascinating read. See my original review here.

Constable & Toop
Written by Gareth P. Jones

ISBN: 978-1419707827
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Date of publication: October 8, 2013

The mysterious Black Rot is wiping out ghosts across Victorian London. Mr. Lapsewood, a clerk at the Ghost Bureau, is sent to investigate. However, he soon finds himself woefully under prepared for what will come his way, including the goings-on of other characters such as the ghost-seeing undertaker's son, a serial throat-slasher, an evangelical exorcist, and a rather dangerous hellhound. Basically, in my book, any story that starts with brutal murder of a girl named Emily (*coughmyname!cough*) is hard to put down. There's a lot going on in this book and what you fear most is not what you always expect it to be.

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase
Written by Jonathan Stroud

ISBN: 978-1423164913
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date of publication: September 17, 2013

In London, the Problem is getting worse: violent ghosts, spirits, and specters are appearing through the city. However, only children have the ability to sense—and eliminate—them. They work for Psychic Detective Agencies like, for instance, Lockwood & Co., which is where Lucy Carlyle was just hired. However, the agency is struggling. To win a bet, they take on Combe Carey Hall, the most haunted place in England. It's no longer a question of eradicating the ghosts, but simply survival. This is, by far, my most favorite favorite scary story in this list. It's also, quite frankly, the scariest. These characters have to take on...a lot. But I so recommend it (see my original review). Plus book 2, The Whispering Skull, just came out last fall. Even more ghostly goodness!

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