Seasonal Reads: Halloween-adjacent reads for
cowards people who don’t like horror
Pumpkin spice everything season has arrived, kids. Everyone’s getting out their pumpkin decor and the leaves are changing, so of course it’s time to tailor your reading to match the season.
If you’re like me, you find yourself backing slowly away from all the zombie/slasher/killer clown themed books but you still want to read something suited to the season. Here are my recommendations for books that won’t keep you up at night afraid something might grab your ankles when you make that middle-of-the-night potty dash:
- All Souls Trilogy (A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life) by Deborah Harkness
This series has it all: witches, vampires, romance, alchemy, familiars, intrigue, suspense, mystery and history all intermingle in the story of Diana Bishop, who comes from a long line of Salem witches. She discovers a strange manuscript at the Bodleian library in Oxford and quickly discovers that not even the basic details of what she believes she knows about herself are completely true. The first book is a slightly slower start (I listened to the audiobook) but you quickly get invested in the characters and if you’re at all like me you’ll be dying (see what I did there?) to find out what happens next! Unlike me, you’ll have the pleasure of binge reading and not have to wait for the next book to hurry up and get published. I give the series Four stars.
- The Dark Vault (The Archived, The Unbound) by Victoria Schwab
Look, I know I love Victoria Schwab with an embarrassing amount of fervor, but just go with me on this one. This series begins with Mackenzie Bishop and her family moving into an old hotel that has been converted into apartments, where her parents are going to run the coffee shop in the lobby. The family needs a fresh start after a tragedy, and her parents seem to feel getting out of town and into the city is going to do it for Mac. What they don’t know is that she’s been leading a double life, working as a Keeper in her free time. In this role she is required to help collect lost souls that need to be returned back to the Archive, where they are kept safe. It’s a dangerous job, but someone has to do it. Everything starts to change in her sad, solitary life when she finds out there’s another Keeper nearby…. And I could tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin any of the details that kept this one just on the right side of creepy for me to still enjoy.
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
When Alice’s reclusive Grandmother, the author of a cult-hit book of fairy tales, dies and her mother goes mysteriously missing, Alice finds herself on a journey to figure out what the hell is going on with her weird family. Equal parts creepy fairy tale and mystery, The Hazel Wood is a great seasonal read. It may not be perfect, but it’s a fun story that kept my interest and made me excited to try to figure out where it was going before it got there.
- I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
This book is a fascinating look into the investigative work being done on cold cases, and the amazing people who continue to pursue justice long after people outside of immediate family have moved on with their lives. It’s dark and it’s horribly sad. But it’s also an amazing portrait of passion and perseverance in the face of what seems like insurmountable obstacles of time and memory.
Look, I won’t lie: this book is creepy as hell. The fact that it’s non-fiction probably makes it even creepier. I can give you a slight spoiler that will help you, if you want it: #spoileralertclick here to view spoiler
Seriously – I think knowing they had already caught him by the time I read the book really did help – but I won’t lie and act like I didn’t spend an extra few minutes checking behind shower curtains and ascertaining that all my windows were, in fact, locked after reading this book.
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree that they’re seasonal without the horror factor? Let us know in the comments!
Even as an avid horror reader and true crime reader, I gotta say I’ll Be Gone in the Dark scared the living daylights out of me and I lost HOURS of sleep due to that book. I’d be up reading at night, and then I’d put it down and be unable to go to sleep because the aesthetic distance was kinda close and way too unsettling. Yikes.
So. SO unsettling. It creeped me the hell out, but I found it so fascinating.