11 Magical and Spooky October reads

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Halloween is next week (how!), which means I'm burrowing deep in my couch with some of my favorite magical, spooky reads...October truly is the witching month and perfect for out of the ordinary or just dark enough reads. I can't do any type of horror written after the 19th century, so this is a good mix of classics, modern thrilling reads, and magical humor. 

The Night Tiger | Yangsze Choo
One of my top reads of 2019. I fully escaped into the mystery and terror of a killer slinking through the dark jungles of colonial Malaysia. It's told from three point of views: Ji Lin, a young female dancer; an English doctor; and his precocious young houseboy, Ren. I hadn't read a book this enthralling in so long and could not put it down. It was delicious to fall so deeply into the story's magical and sinister realism. Ren is, unsurprisingly, the best part. 

My favorite book in the series, PoA is full of October chills, Halloween excitement (Hogsmeade, Honeydukes, butterbeer!), and the looming threat of escaped criminal Sirius Black (also one of my favorite characters). 

Rebecca | Daphne Du Maurier
An eerie, haunting, romantic read about a young woman swept up in a sudden marriage to a handsome widower. Blissfully in love, she has a rude awakening when moving into her husband's estate, Manderley, where his first wife's memory still looms large. 

And Then There Were None | Agatha Christie
Agatha's creepiest, darkest mystery--do not read when home alone on a dark night. Ten strangers find themselves summoned to an island by an unknown benefactor. Curiousity quickly turns to panic as they learn not only are they now stranded, but each person is guilty of a crime. One by one, the guests are murdered as the days go on. But who is the killer and why are they killing? Masterfully written. 

I Shall Wear Midnight (Tiffany Aching series) | Terry Pratchett
I first discovered this jewel of a book a few Octobers ago and spent my lunch breaks curled on the couch in my new apartment, Finn pressed against my side, as I laughed and smiled my way through the second-to-last installment in the magical series. Tiffany Aching has come into her own as a witch; more aware of the job's loneliness and townspeople's careful behavior around her, she knows there's a fine line between respect and fear. But something slowly stirs up hatred and suspicion. The inimitable Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg return in style (see Maskerade below), making this the perfect Halloween read. 

If you're a fan of Russian fairy tales and gorgeous imagery, this is for you. A retelling of the classic titular fairy tale, but much darker and crueler. Vasya has always been different--she sees the creatures from her childhood folktales that hide in the forest and guard her father's hearth. But when fear and superstition enter her village, the old world demons of death and winter circle nearer. 

For truly creepiness, you can't go wrong with this Gothic novella of a London lawyer who discovers a strange connection between his old friend Dr. Jekyll and a violent, disturbed Mr. Hyde. Full of duality, growing horror, and sinister actions. 

The Hound of The Baskervilles | Arthur Conan Doyle
One of Sherlock Holmes' more chilling tales that takes place on a gloomy, foggy moor in West England. Local superstition and bewildering clues lead many to believe a demonic hound from Hell is roaming. 

Maskerade | Terry Pratchett
I adore Terry Pratchett and the Witches novels set in his Discworld series are my favorite because of the strong British humor, his feisty albeit hilariously sarcastic female characters. I consider Maskerade to be his peak Granny Weatherfax and Nanny Ogg book--the two of them are biting, shrewd, quick-thinking witches in this pitch-perfect Phantom of the Opera satire. Highly recommend if you're looking for a funny, entertaining read.

Mort | Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett makes this list no less than three times--in addition to being wickedly funny, he is also known as a fierce advocate for potato rights.  Growing up during the harsh Irish Potato Famine of 1946, Terry Pratchett came to understand the valuable nature of a potato, and this influence can be clearly seen across his many works.  This story in particular weaves the tale of the potato, Mort, and his many Irish misadventures.  Where does Mort go?  What does Mort do?  You'll have to read it to find out. (as written by my husband, Ryan)

In actuality, Mort is the unwitting, new apprentice of Death (arguably Terry's most beloved Discworld character) who finds himself in various misadventures--turns out, there's a lot more to being the Grim Reaper than expected. This Death is solemn and grave, with a fondness for cats and speaking only in CAPS. The definitive book to start with when dipping a toe in the Discworld series. 

A quietly thrilling mystery--who killed Roger Ackroyd in a locked room? Who was the blackmailer almost discovered by the victim? Narrated in epistolary style, the book gives the reader--not the detective Hercule Poirot--every fact and clue necessary. 

What are your favorite creepy or magical books to read during this time of year? 

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