Hey there horror fans, I’m Jessica Avery and I’ll be delivering your weekly brief of all that’s ghastly and grim in the world of Horror. Whether you’re looking for a backlist book that will give you the willies, a terrifying new release, or the latest in horror community news, you’ll find it here in The Fright Stuff.
Happy Halloween, my favorite ghosts and goblins!
I don’t know whether I’m celebrating the holiday, or the fact that October is finally over (it has been a MONTH, y’all), but all I know is I’ve got more chocolate than any one person should reasonably consume and a bunch of horror content to catch up on. I hope your Halloween brings you joys and scares in equal measure, and, of course, plenty of candy!
This week in The Fright Stuff, it’s a Halloween celebration for all ages in the Riot Recommendations section! And a couple of exciting new releases will usher us out of a terrifying Halloween season and into what promises to be an equally horror-filled November.
Adopt a Ghost – Needle Felted Graveyard Terrarium by InkandEcho
So this is more “something delightful and cute creepy to decorate your bookshelves with” than something actually bookish. But I’m mildly obsessed with cloche terrariums lately, so indulge me. Hauntingly themed terrariums are all over Etsy, and they range from tiny, affordable felt ghosts in equally tiny jars, to large, gorgeous displays that can cost hundreds of dollars. This creepy cutie is the perfect size for your bookshelf, in the mid-range for prices, and well worth the money — especially since you can choose between a classic ghost or a “thicc bottom” ghost. Just flip through the photos on Etsy, and you’ll see what I mean, and I promise it’s so worth it to consider booty-fying your ghost adoptee.
White Horse by Erika T. Wurth
Haunted by a bracelet imbued with her mother’s spirit, and the monstrous entity it conjures, Kari James’s life is upended by a past she was determined to leave behind. Left with no choice but to revisit parts of her life she hoped to forget, Kari sets out to discover how her mother came to haunt the bracelet. White Horse is the kind of gritty, character-driven, emotional horror that you won’t easily forget. It’s as much about grief, inherited traumas, and the ability to forgive as it is about ghosts and monsters.
The World We Make by N.K. Jemisin
The sequel to The City We Became is here!! Or it will be tomorrow, anyway. We rejoin the cast — Brooklyn, Manny, Bronca, Venezia, Padmini, and Neek — in the aftermath of the first book. They’ve managed to save New York for now, but it’s a tenuous peace at best. Not only is the Enemy still at large, but a new threat has emerged in the form of a mayoral candidate who wields hateful rhetoric like a cudgel, striking out at the most vulnerable parts of the city and its population in a bid to whip the city into a frenzy of hate and prejudice. The future of New York will be a grim one unless the avatars can find some way to push back the darkness.
For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!
Halloween is for everyone, regardless of age! Even those of us who are past our trick-or-treating days can still celebrate this creepiest of days with our own Halloween rituals, be it parties, scary movies, or eerie adventures. So this week I’m spotlighting stories for every age, from an adorable Halloween children’s book about being yourself to a spine-tingling collection of Halloween-themed horror fiction.
The Witch’s Cat by Sonica Ellis, illustrated by Harriet Rodis
Just me, a grown reader, considering starting a collection of children’s books that make me smile because how FREAKING cute is this book? Just look at that little baby black cat, I can’t stand it. Her name, by the way, is Pepper, and she’s the blackest black cat. Which makes it hard to make friends. Maybe it’s because everyone thinks black cats are cursed. Or because she is a witch’s cat. But all Pepper wants is to find some friends who won’t be afraid of her, and who will like her for just who she is.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
I think I’m going to make it a mission next year to read more middle grade horror. And at the top of my reading list has to be Claribel A. Ortega’s spooky, sweet MG novel about best friends fighting to save their home. Set during the Halloween season, Ghost Squad is about Lucely Luna and her best friend Syd, who have to band together with Syd’s witch grandmother and her adorable cat to fight a host of malicious spirits that Lucely accidently unleashed on St. Augustine. Any chance that Lucely, Syd, Babette, and (the aptly named tabby cat) Chunk have to save the town relies entirely on the bonds between them.
The Missing Season by Gillian French
Representing the home team this week is Maine author Gillian French and her 2019 YA horror novel, The Missing Season. Set amidst an intense Halloween prank war played out every year by the teens of Pender, The Missing Season is about what happens when that old town story about a monster in the marsh turns out to be more than an urban legend. The Mumbler is a monster, who comes back each October to steal children from the town of Pender. Or at least that’s what Clara’s new classmates tell her, not that she believes them. Still, as Halloween approaches, even Clara can’t deny that there’s something…off about Pender. Something that maybe can’t be dismissed as nothing more than a Halloween myth.
Literally Dead: Tales of Halloween Hauntings ed. by Gaby Triana
Speaking of cute covers, how adorable is the cover of Literally Dead? If you’re looking for some genuinely creepy horror to celebrate the holiday, I highly recommend this new collection of 19 short stories that pay homage to all our favorite parts of the Halloween season! Featuring works from well known horror writers like Lee Murray, Gwendolyn Kiste, Sara Tantlinger, Jonathan Maberry, and more, Literally Dead is the perfect book for a cozy Halloween evening at home, tucked up with a bowl of candy that you bought for yourself because dammit we’re adults and we deserve Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins.