Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hallowe'en reading: YA authors recommend!

Only a few more sleeps until Hallowe'en! In honour of this interesting (and pumpkin infested) event, I decided to ask some of the YA authors I know to recommend some appropriate Hallowe'en reading. "A scary read," I suggested. After all, some of them have actually written some pretty scary stuff. Anything was up for grabs - kids' stories, YA, adult stuff too. Anyway, here's what they came up with!

Sally Nicholls recommends: the classic The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (adult). Published in 1959, the book has been filmed twice and adapted into a stage play too. (I've only seen the black and white 1963 version with Claire Bloom, and jolly scary it was too.) Author Caroline Green seconded this recommendation!
Sally is no stranger to scary books, having written one of her own: her YA novel Close your pretty eyes is based on a gruesome true life story, of baby farmer and murderess Amelia Dyer. Eleven year old Olivia is convinced that the remote house where she lives with her foster parents is haunted...

Bea Davenport recommends: Here Comes A Candle to Light You to Bed by Maggie Prince (YA). After her parents' divorce, Emily and her mother and brother have to move to a tiny old house in an undesirable part of London. It's a difficult adjustment for all of them, and made harder by the uncomfortable atmosphere of the house. Then Emily finds out that it was lived in by plague victims in the seventeenth century...
Bea has written some scary books for young people - The Serpent House and for younger readers, My Cousin Faustina

Eve Ainsworth recommends: A Monster Calls, written by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. A film version is out in 2016. "I just found it so raw and terrifying," she says. Eve is the author of YA novel Seven Days and the upcoming Crush.

Luisa Plaja recommends: Monster by C.J.Skuse (YA). "As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild..."
Has Luisa written anything scary herself? "Um...well, I wrote about an evil sprout for the e-book anthology Girls Heart Christmas edited by Jo Cotterill and Julie Sykes," she says. "That's mildly scary in a not-very-scary-at-all kind of way..."
Girls Heart Christmas is aimed at readers aged 8-12. Most of the 8-12 year olds I know have fairly strong nerves, but all the same, sprouts are pretty scary, lurking there on the plate looking green and unappetising...

Tamsyn Murray recommends: Lockwood & Co (YA) by Jonathan Stroud. "Just read the first one and adored it."
Tamsyn is the author of My So-Called Afterlife, a ghost story with a difference. The ghost is 15-year-old Lucy Shaw, and you won't believe the place she has to haunt...! I've read this one myself and really enjoyed it - it's not scary so much as darkly humorous, and very engaging.

Rhian Ivory recommends: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich (also YA). "Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn gets the night." Brrr. Rhian's debut YA novel The Boy Who Drew The Future has some scary moments too!

Emma Pass recommends: Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (YA). It's "seriously scary", she says. I must admit I fancy reading this one myself, because I've always thought the legend of Long Lankin was spectacularly nasty!
Emma's own book The Fearless (also YA) would appeal to those who like their thrills and scares from zombies and the walking dead!

Kendra Leighton recommends: "A favourite scary read of mine is Uncle Montague's Tales Of Terror by Chris Priestley—a collection of spooky short stories which cleverly link together at the end of the book. The stories feature terrible things happening to naughty children, and read like a cross between M.R. James and Tim Burton. Macabre illustrations are the cherry (pumpkin?) on top."‬
Kendra's YA novel Glimpse is "a ghost story, a love story, and a story of a girl fighting for her future by confronting her terrible past."

Coincidentally (perhaps even spookily?!) I have a recommendation from Chris too!

Chris Priestley recommends: "Robert Aickman - the scariest author I know." (adult) I'm an Aickman fan too - his story The Inner Room is one of my very favourite scary stories ever - so I enjoyed asking Chris for his favourites. "I love The Inner Room. Cold Hand in Mine maybe - as a collection," he suggested. "And Ringing the Changes is another cracker of a story."
Chris' latest book is Anything That Isn't This - "a Kafka-esque nightmare of a story... about love."

And finally....

Helen Grant recommends: Sleep No More by L.T.C.Rolt (adult). As anyone who reads my blog will know, I'm a massive fan of ghost story writer M.R.James, so you might have expected me to recommend him. However, I've gone on about MRJ's stories for so long now that I think anyone who isn't convinced just can't be helped! L.T.C.Rolt deserves a mention because his work is less well known but extremely creepy! Some of his stories - The Garside Fell Disaster, for example, or Bosworth Summit Pound - give me the creeps just thinking about them, even when the sun is shining.
Of my own books, the most Hallowe'en appropriate is probably Wish Me Dead - because it is about a long-dead witch who is seemingly able to grant wishes from beyond the grave...with unforseen consequences for my heroine, Steffi.

Those are our recommendations - I'd love to hear yours!

PS Check out more scary Hallowe'en reading recommendations on Kendra Leighton's blog: Spooky YA Hallowe'en Reads!


  1. Some spookily good recommendations there! Will definitely be looking some of them up. Thanks, Helen!