The best books that weave magnificent art into terrifying tales

Rosalyn Schanzer
By Rosalyn Schanzer

Who am I?

I am a spy aiming to uncover hidden documents, private journals, and secret messages penned in the distant past. I am a detective racing to reveal the world’s most dastardly deeds and daring escapades. I am an adventurer zooming around the planet along with history’s bravest heroes and most despicable villains. I am an artist whose illustrations transform ancient stone-cold statues by turning them into living, breathing human beings that laugh and cry, win and lose, love and hate, and spring vividly to life. And I am a storyteller striving to lure readers of all ages, whether they are children or adults.


My book is...

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

One freezing day in 1692, a preacher’s two young daughters began to choke and twist their bodies into strange abnormal shapes and speak in words that made no sense. But why? An elderly physician examined the girls and proclaimed that they were witches!! For centuries these horrid creatures had invaded the nightmares of suspicious souls around the world, and now the Devil himself had brought them all to Salem. A torrent of evil soon invaded the town. The King of Hell was captured, and many witches were jailed or hanged or worse. How did this happen? Read all about it if you dare.

The books I picked & why

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The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

By Art Spiegelman,

Book cover of The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Why this book?

In his classic, brutally brilliant graphic novel, frustrated New York cartoonist Art Spiegelman interviews his Jewish father, who had survived the atrocities of Hitler’s Holocaust only to lose his wife to suicide. Spiegelman’s commentary mixes angst with humor and deep despair; his artwork displays the Germans as cats, the Jews as mice, the Poles as pigs, the Americans as dogs, and the French as frogs. The state of Tennessee recently banned its use in public schools; what a tragic loss for all students of history.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale

By Art Spiegelman,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Complete Maus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret

By Brian Selznick,

Book cover of The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Why this book?

Don’t worry; this gripping 534-page tale of mystery can sweep you through its pages in a single day, especially since its gritty-but-stunning brown and white artwork acts like a movie as it speeds you and a young orphaned boy through an underground train station and across the streets of Paris and up a clock tower in 1931. Why was the boy’s dead father obsessed with repairing a broken clock? And who is the mysterious angry old man anyway?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

By Brian Selznick,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Invention of Hugo Cabret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orphan, clock keeper, thief: Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. Combining elements of picture book, graphic novel, and film, Caldecott Honor artist Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience in this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

By Marjane Satrapi,

Book cover of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Why this book?

This wise and witty, tragic, and often politically oriented autobiography begins in Iran in 1980 after the Shah has been overthrown and a hardcore Islamic regime has taken its place. Using a black and white comic book format, Satrapi first introduces herself as a veiled, disgruntled 10-year-old schoolgirl upset by the new government’s strict Islamic rules. Have some fun as you follow her through her own coming-of-age stories via a great sense of humor. In the mix, she will pull you in and tell you more about history than most other media can ever portray.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

By Marjane Satrapi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Persepolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wise, often funny, sometimes heart-breaking, Persepolis tells the story of Marjane Satrapi's life in Tehran from the ages of six to fourteen, growing up during the Iranian Revolution.

The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran's last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life.

Amidst the tragedy, Marjane's child's eye view adds immediacy and humour, and her story of a childhood at once outrageous and ordinary,…


The Wreck of the Zephyr

By Chris Van Allsburg,

Book cover of The Wreck of the Zephyr

Why this book?

High atop a cliff overlooking the sea sits the battered remains of a sailboat. But how did it get there? An old man insists that the waves had tossed it all the way up during a storm a very long time ago, although this clearly seems to be impossible. Or is it? In this magical tale of adventure, a young boy had aimed to prove that he was the most brilliant sailor his villagers had ever seen, so he set out to prove it. What happened when he was blown to a brand-new land, and did he survive? I have always enjoyed Chris’s artwork and you may have overlooked this particular book, so pick it up and check it out.

The Wreck of the Zephyr

By Chris Van Allsburg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wreck of the Zephyr as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Blue Aspic

By Edward Gorey,

Book cover of The Blue Aspic

Why this book?

Destitute Jasper Ankle will pay any price to attend his beloved opera. But when its most famous diva chokes to death on an admirer’s candied violet, a hitherto unknown beauty named Ortenzia Caviglia takes her place, and as her star rises, everyone who might stand in her way conveniently drops dead. But as her fame and fortune increase, Jasper Ankle becomes more and more impoverished, and if you are familiar with Edward Gorey’s dreadfully terrifying tales and his delicate, elegantly devilish black and white penmanship, perhaps you can imagine what is happening herein. (By the way, Gorey is also dead but you can still get hold of his evil little books.)

The Blue Aspic

By Edward Gorey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Blue Aspic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sailboats, robots, and Holocaust survivors?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sailboats, robots, and Holocaust survivors.

Sailboats Explore 10 books about sailboats
Robots Explore 60 books about robots
Holocaust Survivors Explore 33 books about Holocaust survivors

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Three Minutes in Poland, With the Old Breed, and Band of Brothers if you like this list.