By Zoe Doyle, Rowan Jackson, Lauren Jones and Amy Wright
With Halloween just around the corner, in this issue we’re recommending books based on our favourite spooky films. Whether you are looking for a horror novel to keep you up at night or a gripping ghost story, our suggestions are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.
If you liked Coraline, read The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes
Laika’s stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is a vibrant and magical, if terrifying, adventure with eccentric characters, jumping mice and secret tunnels that lead to an alternate world. Beyond the similarity in characters’ names, The Haunting of Aveline Jones also features a spunky, strong-willed heroine, bored at the prospect of living in a sleepy town.
Aveline is sent to stay with her aunt in the dreary seaside town of Malmouth. Here, instead of a door, she discovers a strange book that belonged to Primrose Penberthy, a girl whose mysterious disappearance remains unsolved. Aveline takes it upon herself to investigate the case with the help of her new friend, Harold. However, she quickly realises something sinister is watching and waiting for her.
The misty seaside lends the perfect creepy atmosphere with blustery winds and a strange abundance of scarecrows. Equal parts eerie and cosy with an element of small-town folklore, this book leaves you with a spine-tingling sense of unease that builds the further you read.
If you liked The Craft, read Bunny by Mona Awad
The Craft is a Halloween cult classic that fully embraces the witch aesthetic of the 90s. If you’re a fan of stories about cult-like friend groups that experiment with magic and get carried away with their imaginations, then Bunny might be exactly what you need this season.
The novel follows Samantha as she studies an MFA in Creative Writing at a fictional prestigious American college. Samantha is lonely, disillusioned and bitter, with a dark and twisted imagination. She is at once repulsed and obsessively fascinated by a clique of girls on her course who refer to each other as “Bunny.” When Samantha becomes involved with the Bunnies, they begin experimenting with a form of magic which resembles the work of Victor Frankenstein, although with a stronger focus on the occult than science. Their monstrous creations start to combine with reality and cause fragile relationships to disintegrate.
Bunny actually relates to several cult classics, such as Donnie Darko, Heathers and even Alice in Wonderland at times. As readers, we are left wondering what is real and what is not. Bunny is hallucinogenic, addictive and unsettling; reading it feels like a fever dream, so it’s the perfect novel for this time of year.
If you liked Bird Box, read The Watchers by A.M. Shine
Just like Bird Box, The Watchers is an intense horror-thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat in anticipation. On her way to Connemara, Mina’s car breaks down, leaving her stranded on the borders of an ancient forest in the middle of nowhere. With no other options, she ventures into the forest to find help.
Shouts urge Mina to hurry towards the bunker, where she will be safe. The bunker protects its occupants from the Watchers – terrifying, screaming creatures that constantly observe the humans. When night falls, anyone not safely inside the coop is locked outside, trapped in the forest at the mercy of the Watchers.
Shine’s debut novel is gripping and spine-chilling, simultaneously fast-paced and nail-bitingly slow, with a great balance of description and action. The tension throughout the story is perfect for fans of Bird Box, who are well up for the constant unpredictability of this tale.
If you liked Casper, read The Ghost of Grania O’Malley by Michael Morpurgo
If you’re a fan of the friendlier kind of ghosts and are looking to read something slightly less scary, The Ghost of Grania O’Malley by Michael Morpurgo will make a perfect read for your Halloween. This childhood favourite is an endearing ghost story about Jessie and her cousin Jack, who are determined to prevent the top of the supposedly haunted Big Hill from being cut off and exploited for gold.
Set on Clare Island in County Mayo, Ireland, the two meet the ghost pirate queen Grania O’Malley, who lived in the 16th century and who is just as adamant that the hill be left alone. An unlikely bond is formed between the ghost and the children, and Jessie is intent on not letting cerebral palsy from getting in the way of her plan to save the hill. This book is packed full of adventure with inspirational characters and an enchanting, riveting plot.