The best middle grade and young adult ghost stories with an important message from beyond

A.A. Blair Author Of Mystic of the Midway
By A.A. Blair

Who am I?

I grew up in the 80s, the era of horror super-franchises. Most would be familiar with Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween, but there were so many more. Oscar-winning films the decade prior like The Exorcist and Jaws ushered a new wave of new horror. Whether it was advancement in visual effects, or improvement in production, the genre was everywhere. And I couldn’t get enough. Those experiences have possessed my pen and continue to rule my reading choices. I hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as I did. There’s a lot we can learn about ourselves when we’re scared.  

I wrote...

Mystic of the Midway

By A.A. Blair,

Book cover of Mystic of the Midway

What is my book about?

A pop-culture paranormal mystery that has scored extremely high with audiences during bedtime reading.

Effie knew she wasn’t the same after her accident but didn’t realize how different she had become until her family vacation. When Effie begins to hear whispers and have visions things get really strange! Effie finds a love letter to her mother that isn’t from her father! A strange mystery girl seems to follow her wherever she goes but vanishes before Effie can confront her. Even the rides in the amusement park begin to speak to her! Effie wonders; is she going crazy? Or, are all the things that are happening trying to tell her something?

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The books I picked & why

The Doll's Eye

By Marina Cohen,

Book cover of The Doll's Eye

Why did I love this book?

Hadley was starting her new life, even if it was against her will. Moving to her new/old house bothered by a neighbor fascinated by bugs and a step-father she loathed, Hadley wished for things to be as they used to be: when she didn’t have to share her mother. But the more she resists her new life, the more she becomes immersed in the house’s mysterious past. 

The Doll’s Eye is a creepy mystery that builds towards an unexpected outcome, reminding us that divorce is hard, but running away from our problems can be even more perilous.

By Marina Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Doll's Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Hadley wants is for everything to go back to the way it used to be-back when she didn't have to share her mother with her stepfather and stepbrother. Back when she wasn't forced to live in a musty, decomposing house. Back when she had a life in the city with her friends.

As Hadley whiles away what's left of her summer, exploring the nearby woods and splitting her time between her strange, bug-obsessed neighbor Gabe and the nice old lady that lives above the garage, she begins to notice the house isn't just old and creaky. It's full of…

The Night Gardener

By Jonathan Auxier,

Book cover of The Night Gardener

Why did I love this book?

The Night Gardiner is a truly creepy tale of courage and strength. Set in the Victorian era, Kip and Molly become orphaned as they seek refuge from their famine struck home in Ireland. Molly finds work at the Windsor Estate which is haunted by a tragic spirit and creepy tree that controls the estate’s inhabitants. 

Molly and Kip inspire as they uncover the mystery of the tree and persevere. The story celebrates the strength of the two orphaned children, the sacrifices they have made and their plight to build a new life in a new country. Their bond overcomes the most sinister of spirits, highlighting the importance of family.

By Jonathan Auxier,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Night Gardener as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Irish orphans Molly, 14, and Kip, 10, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and the secrets of the cursed house. By the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes.

Bad Girls Don't Die

By Katie Alender,

Book cover of Bad Girls Don't Die

Why did I love this book?

Bullies beware! Bad Girls Don’t Die features a vengeful poltergeist that possesses the little sister of protagonist Alexis Warren.

Alexis is a lonely misfit teenager on the fringes of her high-school social scene. Her home life isn’t much better as her mother’s desire for corporate success leads to regular dinner table conflict. The sisters find comfort in each other, but that’s when Alexis notices a change in her sibling Kasey. Subtle at first, Kasey’s transformation into a malicious psychopath sends Alexis into an investigation that reveals a small-town secret of a fatal bullying incident. 

Bad Girl’s Don’t Die is a story of sisterly bonds, secret pasts, and the sacrifices that are sometimes made to protect loved ones.

By Katie Alender,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Girls Don't Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A page-turning, spine-chilling young adult murder mystery about surviving the ghosts around us.

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage. Or her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey. Or even like her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude.


When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green, sometimes she uses old-fashioned language, and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is…

Ghost Boys

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Book cover of Ghost Boys

Why did I love this book?

Ghost Boys is the tragic tale of seventh-grader Jerome Rogers. Set in inner-city Chicago, Jerome Rogers is a good student doing his best to navigate his adolescence. As a young black man Jerome is warned by his parents to avoid negative influences.

But in a moment of innocence, Jerome is shot and killed by a police officer, mistaking Jerome’s toy pistol as the genuine article. The story is all too familiar. As a ghost, Jerome finds brotherhood amongst a collection of specters who have suffered a similar fate. Historical figure Emmet Till guides Jerome through his anger and grief as he comes to terms with his fate. 

Ghost Boys is an important novel to help raise awareness of injustice, tragedy, and its impacts on the victim’s families and their communities. 

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Ghost Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett…

City of Ghosts

By Victoria Schwab,

Book cover of City of Ghosts

Why did I love this book?

Cassidy Blake is a ghost whisperer. She helps troubled spirits find eternal peace. While on vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland, the City of Ghosts, Cassidy encounters the Raven in Red, whose own tragic tale has turned her into a Ghost collector. Her power is undeniable and Cassidy is pulled through the veil and into the in-between. Now a ghost herself, Cassidy needs the help of a rival Ghost Whisperer, Lara. They join forces to save Cassidy and return her to the land of the living, ending the Raven in Red’s reign of terror. 

City of Ghosts reminds readers of the importance to ask for help and how personal tragedy can forever affect the lives of those impacted. 

By Victoria Schwab,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked City of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn't
like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates
the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits.
Her best friend is even a ghost.

So things are already pretty strange. But they're about to get much

When Cass's parents start hosting a TV show about the world's most
haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here,
graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless
phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her "gift,"…

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