We all know the books that everyone’s been recommending this Halloween season – books like City of Ghosts and The Diviners and Toil and Trouble. And yes, I’ve been guilty of recommending the same books over and over again. I mean, do I ever shut up about my love for Victoria Schwab? No, I don’t.
But today I wanted to do something a little bit different and recommend four books you probably didn’t realise are perfect for Halloween! I went into all these novels not expecting something creepy or haunting, but they ended up really being perfect for the spooky season. And I just love books that have an unexpected twist like that! So I hope you enjoy my unexpected Halloween recommendations.
This is undoubtedly one of the best Aussie novels I’ve read all year — and it was a ghost story! I don’t know how I missed that one of the main characters was a ghost in this one (probably because I never read blurbs, sigh), so I was thrilled when I realised that the only person who could see Beth was her dad. I mean, is there anything cooler than solving crimes with a ghost? I think not! So not only was this book an absolute favourite because it includes a ghost, it’s also so quintessentially Aussie, and it also explores themes of grief and family. It was just so good!
What I also loved about this novel was how I just didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I’d been looking forward to reading it since it was announced because I’m always eager to get my hands on new #LoveOzYA novels, but once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down. And it was also told in alternating perspectives where Beth’s story was told in prose and Isobel’s was told in poetry. I mean, it was just so cool! I’ve never read a book quite like Catching Teller Crow, and I don’t think I ever will again. It was a one-of-a-kind, and it definitely deserves to be on your TBR.
If you’ve read Wing Jones, Katherine Webber’s first novel, which is magical realism, you probably won’t be surprised to see this one on my list. I went into Only Love Can Break Your Heart expecting it to be a heart-breaking contemporary novel, but I was surprised to find that it included a ghost character! We all know there’s nothing I love more than an unexpected ghost — except when they’re in my room, leaning over me while I sleep. Yes, I’m scarred from The Haunting of Hill House.
Although the main plot of this novel wasn’t my favourite — it’s about a girl who starts going out with this boy and then realises that dating someone won’t fix the pain she’s feeling after her sister died — I did really love the messages that it conveyed. It’s a story about a girl learning to live again after feeling like her world’s been ripped apart, and that aspect of it was particularly magnificent. I want more books with ghosts in them please!
An oldie but a goodie — how could I not include Yellow in this list? It’s one of those books that that has just stayed with me since I first read it, and I’ve been recommending it ever since. Not only is it by one of the most iconic #LoveOzYA authors and one of the original Penguin Teen gang — Megan Jacobson — but it includes a haunted phone box, deals with a ghost, and a murder investigation. What more could you want from a Halloween novel?
But not only is Yellow about a ghost, it’s also about bullying and what it’s like living with an alcoholic parent, and it was just so raw and gritty and I loved how real it was. It doesn’t shy away from the harder topics, just like Megan’s following novel, The Build-up Season, didn’t either, and I just really admire how Megan tackles such tough issues with complete candour.
And of course, Yellow is such a refreshingly Aussie novel. It’s so quintessentially Australian and perfectly captures the lingo and the setting and the 90s era, and ahh, it was just perfect in every aspect. But even though Yellow is kind of a paranormal story in that it includes a ghost, that aspect didn’t overwhelm the story and it still read like a contemporary — which is why it’s one of my top picks for books you didn’t realise are perfect for Halloween!
I can’t even begin to express how terrifying this novel is — not in the traditional demon or ghost sense, but in a more real way. In so many aspects, what happens in Dry is a scarily prediction of what will probably happen to Earth at some point. There have even been predictions that the world will run out of drinkable water sometime this century. So that’s a fun fact to learn.
What makes Dry such an excellent Halloween novel is that it’s just so unexpectedly scary! Most creepy books will have me clutching at my duvet, flinching every time there’s the sound of tree branches scraping against my window, but Dry had me clutching onto my water bottle for dear life and screaming whenever someone left the tap on. And yes, I was Environment Captain in high school, so this stuff really gets to me.
Despite the fear that Dry so perfectly instilled in me, I couldn’t help but devour this novel in one sitting. It’s the kind of book that has you on the edge of your seat, hoping things work out in the end, but everything just seems to be getting worse and worse the more you read. There are riots, society starts to break down, and people are even willing to kill others for a drop of fresh water. It was really brutal, and that made all the more impact. Wow. I’m just still not over it.
Have you read any of these ones? What are some of your favourite unexpected Halloween books? Have you been reading spooky books this month? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Allen & Unwin and Walker Books for providing a copy of Catching Teller Crow and Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Dry in exchange for an honest review!