It’s spooky season where I’m at, which means that the weather is getting crispy and cold, the leaves are changing colors, and I suddenly have a craving for apple cider donuts. What is also means is that my usual readings habits are upended — I’m a coward! — and I feel like maybe I should take a gander at a spooky read or two. Is there anything on your TBR that’s spooky? Here’s what’s on my list for this month:
If I Have to Be Haunted by Miranda Sun
Cemetery Boys meets Legendborn in this thrillingly romantic, irresistibly fun YA contemporary fantasy debut following a teenage Chinese American ghost speaker who (reluctantly) makes a deal to raise her nemesis from the dead. Cara Tang doesn’t want to be haunted.
Look, the dead have issues, and Cara has enough of her own. Her overbearing mother insists she be the “perfect” Chinese American daughter—which means suppressing her ghost-speaking powers—and she keeps getting into fights with Zacharias Coleson, the local golden boy whose smirk makes her want to set things on fire. Then she stumbles across Zach’s dead body in the woods. He’s even more infuriating as a ghost, but Cara’s the only one who can see him—and save him.
Agreeing to resurrect him puts her at odds with her mother, draws her into a dangerous liminal world of monsters and magic—and worse, leaves her stuck with Zach. Yet as she and Zach grow closer, forced to depend on each other to survive, Cara finds the most terrifying thing is that she might not hate him so much after all. Maybe this is why her mother warned her about ghosts.
Delightful and compulsively readable, this contemporary fantasy has something for every reader: a snarky voice, a magnetic enemies-to-lovers romance, and a spirited adventure through a magical, unpredictable world hidden within our own.
All These Sunken Souls: A Black Horror Anthology edited by Circe Moskowitz
The stories in All These Sunken Souls explore horror through a blend of genres—from the thoughtful to the terrifying—as the reader wanders farther and farther from reality.
By delivering a multitude of profound nightmares, this YA horror anthology by established and debut authors contains something for every horror fan—and for anyone who dares to open these pages. From haunted Victorian mansions, temporal monster-infested asylums, ravaging zombie apocalypses, to southern gothic hoodoo practitioners, the anthology features stories from Kalynn Bayron, Donyae Coles, Ryan Douglass, Sami Ellis, Brent Lambert, Ashia Monet, Circe Moskowitz, Joel Rochester, Liselle Sambury, and Joelle Wellington.
All These Sunken Souls tackles a genre that historically has tokenized and exploited Black characters and opens discussion on how horror translates into the current time we live in.
Saint Juniper’s Folly by Alex Crespo
Cemetery Boys meets The Haunting of Bly Manor in this spellbinding debut! Alex Crespo’s queer haunted house mystery is equal parts spine-tingling thrills, a celebration of found family, and must-read for paranormal romance fans.
For Jaime, returning to the tiny Vermont town of Saint Juniper means returning to a past he’s spent eight years trying to forget. After shuttling between foster homes, he hopes he can make something out of this fresh start. But every gossip in town already knows his business, and with reminders of his past everywhere, he seeks out solitude into the nearby woods, called Saint Juniper’s Folly, and does not return.
For Theo, Saint Juniper means being stuck. He knows there’s more out there, but he’s scared to go find it. His senior year is going to be like all the rest, dull and claustrophobic. That is until he wanders into the Folly and stumbles on a haunted house with an acerbic yet handsome boy stuck—as in physically stuck—inside.
For Taylor, Saint Juniper is a mystery. The surrounding woods speak to her, while she tries—and fails—to practice the magic her dad banned from the house after her mother died. Taylor can’t seem break out of her spiral of grief, until a wide-eyed teenager barges into her life, rambling on about a haunted house, a trapped boy, and ghosts. He needs a witch. The Folly and its ghosts will bring these three teenagers together. But they will each have to face their own internal struggles in order to forge a bond strong enough to escape the Folly’s shadows.