Halloween Reads (ages 7+)

There’s a fantastic variety of spooky books for older readers to enjoy, whether they prefer the silly side of Halloween or want proper bone-chilling scares. This post shares some of the newer titles I’ve been sent which are made for reading on a dark and stormy night!

‘Monday 17th January
It’s finally time for the school trip! And we’re off to the SPOOKIEST castle I have EVER seen!

Bea Black is in her second term at witch school and she can’t wait for the Year Seven residential trip to the haunted Cadabra Castle. The students are excited to fly around the famous GO pitch, explore the ancient turrets and have a magical time … if they can just stop arguing! Except Ms Sparks has other plans – this isn’t a holiday, it’s a team-building exercise for a class who desperately need to learn to work together.

But with rumours of a ghost terrorizing the castle, Bea has a lot more to contend with than scavenger hunts and hikes! Not least being paired up with Blair Smith-Smythe, her ULTIMATE frenemy! Will the class learn anything from their time at Cadabra? And more importantly, will Bea and Blair manage to avoid hexing each other for long enough to solve the spooky mystery?’

I love this series of witchy diaries and wish I lived in Little Spellshire so that I could teach at the School of Extraordinary Arts. Readers will be enchanted by the adventures of Bea Black and her friends as they try to find the ghost of Cadabra Castle. Full of illustrations, doodles, and lists. Definitely one for fans of The Worst Witch.

‘Lexie and her friends (who include an English zombie called Mary, a very quiet ghost called Boo and a fierce skeleton called Bebe) are super excited about Halloween this year – after all, where better to spend it than at Camp Croak, spookiest holiday camp EVER? And the arrival of two new Ghost Scouts is the icing on the cake – until Lexie accepts a dare from one of them, and a rogue spell is cast … does this mean the end of Halloween? And could it be the evil Euphemia Vile behind the chaos that ensues? With a lot of runny noses, the Ghost Scouts show that they can again band together and enjoy the party!’

A great choice for newly confident readers who want an accessible chapter book with lots of illustrations. Readers would do well to imagine Camp Croak as a Scout camp gone bad – where the cooking badge involves making poisoned caramel apples rather than a wholesome stew! Plenty of fun and an excellent villain to despise.

‘Greta Woebegone did not believe in ghosts until the day she was knocked over by a car and almost died. Then everything changed…

Now Greta can not only see the spirits that haunt her ancestral home, she can talk to them too – from her grumpy Grandpa Woebegone and Percy the poo-pushing plague victim to the sinister spook in the cellar.

Can Greta help the ghosts avoid being exorcised (a fate worse than undeath)?

Can the ghosts help Greta stop her beloved Grandma being put in a home?

And can they all help each other overcome the pain in their past that’s holding them back from the future?’

Sam Copeland’s writing is genuinely laugh-out-funny so I was very pleased to see that he has tackled a ghoulishly giggly ghost story. The conversational style and mysterious narrator will draw readers right in to the world of the seemingly indestructible Greta and her her somewhat unusual family. One for readers aged 8+

‘Eshe and her twelve sisters are Fairy Godmothers, honoured for the incredible gifts they can bestow. But Eshe’s special abilities are a little different – she can glimpse into the future! And, one day, Eshe foresees something terrifying: a world blanketed in creeping vines and a girl covered in thorns. Eshe needs to stop her vision becoming true, but it will require old and powerful magic. And she won’t be able to do it alone…’

This is the third and final instalment in children’s laureate Joseph Coelho’s wickedly good Fairy Tales Gone Bad series (see also Zombierella and Frankenstiltskin.) This time it’s Sleeping Beauty who’s had her story twisted and turned upside down on its head. Written in verse and generously illustrated – recommended for readers aged 8+

‘Welcome to Cod’s Bottom – the sleepy seaside town with a secret! Meet an unusual cast of ghosts in a laugh-out-loud new middle-grade series by the bestselling author of The Nothing to See Here Hotel. Perfect for fans of The Danger Gang and The Boy Who Grew Dragons.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about ten-year-old Ella Griffin. Nothing at all . . . until she’s forced to move to the seaside town of Cod’s Bottom and everything changes. In search of adventure, Ella stumbles into an old abandoned theatre, but all is not as it seems. Because the theatre isn’t empty, it’s haunted by weird and wonderful ghosts, and they need her help to save them!’

Anything by Steven Butler is guaranteed to make you laugh as this is no exception. Don’t be fooled by the slightly grim setting of a rundown seaside town; the discovery of a derelict theatre haunted by some very dramatic ghosts soon livens things up! The stat of a new series for readers aged 8+

‘‘It follows me and yet it’s not a part of me It does the things I do’. 48 inventive, insightful poems exploring the darker side. From bullies to black holes, cats to clowns, these original and thought-provoking poems are a roller coaster ride through both the silliness and sadness of being human. Scared? celebrates the work of poets Neal Zetter and Joshua Seigal and it’s not afraid of exploring the tougher side of growing up. A book that can pave the way for important conversations. This is Neal and Joshua’s second collaboration for Troika. Yuck and Yum: A Feast of Funny Food Poems has been widely praised for its vibrant poetry and has been cited as the perfect book for using in the classroom and engaging children.’

I think it’s time to add some scary poetry to your collection. Both Neal and Joshua have a real talent for being to write poems which can be funny, moving, and ‘true’ – often all at the same time! There’s definitely a poem in there for everyone – great for dipping into little and often. Perhaps it will inspire some poetry writing of readers’ own?

‘Weirdness mounts upon creepiness to create a riotously funny potion in The Valley of the Strange, the latest explosive instalment of the cult sci-fi series for children.

Lucy Sladan has made the biggest, most bizarre discovery of all time … but still no one believes her. Even her best friend Milo Fisher is not convinced. But his father knows she is on to something. Soon Lucy is in a race to stop Mr Fisher’s monstrous efforts to uncover the source of the sticky-pine sap that is making his fortune … and so risking the destruction of the world.’

A great series for readers who like their scares with a big dose of silliness and mystery. Think Scooby Do crossed with Stranger Things (but age-appropriate and unlikely to cause nightmares!) This sci-fi crossover is sure to cause some giggles and introduce readers to a whole new genre of books.

‘There’s so much to love about October – Halloween, pumpkin everything and MAGIC. Especially magic. But for nervous young witch Clemmie, this October might see the stars descend on her for the first time, bringing with them a whole month of chaotic new power. She’s spent twelve years watching her mum, aunts and cousin receive their October power and knows that, for the Merlyns, magic can get very messy.

And there are those who want to harness their magic and make it last beyond October. It’s a bold experiment, until Clemmie and her coven find themselves in mortal danger. What price must be paid for magic that never ends? Or for having magic at all?’

This is my current read at the time of writing and I am throughly enjoying the contemporary feel. Although of ancient lineage the Merlyns, with their family secrets, moody teens, and colourful characters, remind me very much of any other modern family. I think readers will really relate to them and enjoy the twist of witches only having magic for the month of October.

‘Will believes in witches and the stories he’s grown up with – of mythical storm-lions, disappearing villages, and secret songs. Most of all, he believes the tales of magical treasure hidden in the Fens centuries ago. Treasure that he has to find, to solve the mystery of his Ma’s disappearance.

Then, in the eye of a storm, a witch arrives. She holds the key to finding the lost treasure – a powerful magical object that can summon storms. But someone else is searching for it too. If it falls into the wrong hands, Will’s beloved home could be destroyed, and with it, his chances of ever finding his ma.

Join Will on an epic quest filled with riddles, ruined towers, cloud cities and broomstick chases, on a journey to save everything he loves before time runs out.’

A totally engrossing read for older primary-aged readers. I was very quickly sucked in by the magical folkloric elements of the story and by Will’s desperate quest to establish what happened to his mother. It also happens to feature a truly horrifying baddy who’ll stop at nothing to harness more and more magical power.


Well there’s plenty there to keep readers going through the dark, winter evenings. I’d love to hear which ones you choose.

Jo.

*Many thanks to the publishers who sent me these titles to review*

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