The best LGBT+ reads for spooky season

Who am I?

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fan of horror, I have recently found myself drawn to darker books—especially at this time of the year with Halloween just around the corner. As a bisexual non-binary person, I love finding books with diverse LGBT+ rep in them, so these are just a few of the spookier LGBT+ books I think would make for great autumnal reading. Plus, my own book—My Name is Magic—features all kinds of mythological werebeasties and a race to save the day before the traditional Finnish Kekri festival, an equivalent of Halloween, although it involves less candy and more fire.


I wrote...

My Name Is Magic

By Xan van Rooyen,

Book cover of My Name Is Magic

What is my book about?

Despite coming from a long line of powerful Finnish mages, and their name literally meaning magic, Taika can’t perform the simplest of spells. Life at Myrskyjärvi International School for the Magically Gifted goes from bad to worse when Taika sees a liekkiö and recognizes the spirit's voice begging for help as that of their former BFF/major crush whose recent absence from class hadn’t gone unnoticed. When more students go missing, Taika leads a race against time to save friends old and new before a powerful group of chaos mages can destroy everything Taika holds dear.

For fans of witchcraft and wizardry looking for an inclusive story, My Name Is Magic is a story about finding strength from within and potential where you least expect it.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Summer Sons

Xan van Rooyen Why did I love this book?

To be honest, I was a little nervous of the blurb given the emphasis on fast cars and hard drugs, but this book ended up being the sweaty, sultry, sexy, Gothic horror book I didn't know I needed, way more dark academia than drag-racing drug-gang. I particularly appreciated the messy and authentic way in which the main character was allowed to grapple with his identity while processing his grief. I quite liked that no explicit labels were ever applied and that there was a more fluid approach to identity and sexuality in this book. So, if you're into slow-burn southern Gothic horror with lush and vivid prose and don’t mind a gruesome ghost or two, this book is for you!

By Lee Mandelo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lee Mandelo's debut Summer Sons is a sweltering, queer Southern Gothic that crosses Appalachian street racing with academic intrigue, all haunted by a hungry ghost.

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of…


Book cover of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Xan van Rooyen Why did I love this book?

I doubt this book needs much introduction, but oh my is this an outstanding read, perfect for cold, dark autumn evenings. This is a slow, introspective, gloriously self-indulgent book that explores the evergreen theme of the meaning of life and love through a refreshing story that is equal parts historical, romance, dark fantasy, and contemporary novel. If you're looking for a plot-driven, action orientated story, this might not be for you, but if you like your books like a Friday night curled up on the couch under a knitted blanket with a rich hot chocolate—spiked with something harder—a storm raging outside, and maybe a cat purring on your feet, then you will love this book.

By V. E. Schwab,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"For someone damned to be forgettable, Addie LaRue is a most delightfully unforgettable character, and her story is the most joyous evocation of unlikely immortality." -Neil Gaiman

A Sunday Times-bestselling, award-nominated genre-defying tour-de-force of Faustian bargains, for fans of The Time Traveler's Wife and Life After Life, and The Sudden Appearance of Hope.

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she is convinced she's found a loophole-immortality in exchange for her soul. But the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century…


Book cover of The Scapegracers

Xan van Rooyen Why did I love this book?

This book is a lot like The Craft only queerer and so much cooler. The story features an eclectic group of teenagers who come together, despite their differences, to form a badass coven to perform even more badass magic, be that casting curses on annoying dudebros or love spells for the lesbian main character, all while trying to evade a vicious group of witch hunters determined to steal the coven’s magic. If you loved films like the aforementioned Craft or even Lost Boys, then you’ll enjoy this book that subverts the mean-girls trope while giving readers a story that is as horror-tinged as it is dark humor-filled.

By H. A. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Skulking near the bottom of West High's social pyramid, Sideways Pike lurks under the bleachers doing magic tricks for Coke bottles. As a witch, lesbian, and lifelong outsider, she's had a hard time making friends. But when the three most popular girls pay her $40 to cast a spell at their Halloween party, Sideways gets swept into a new clique. The unholy trinity are dangerous angels, sugar-coated rattlesnakes, and now - unbelievably - Sideways' best friends.

Together, the four bond to form a ferocious and powerful coven. They plan parties, cast curses on dudebros, try to find Sideways a girlfriend,…


Book cover of Elatsoe

Xan van Rooyen Why did I love this book?

This YA novel is unquestionably one of my all time favourite reads. It’s about an asexual Apache girl with her ghost-dog sidekick in a world full of magic including faeries and vampires. The prose, the plot, the characters, the narrative structure—it was all brilliant and brought to life the story of a girl who can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill from her Lipan Apache family. A story that could’ve remained delightfully cute and sweet takes a decidedly darker turn when Elatsoe’s cousin is the picture-perfect town of Willowbee. As Elatsoe begins to investigate, she uncovers some seriously gruesome secrets in an alternate version of small-town America shaped by magic and monsters.

By Darcie Little Badger, Rovina Cai (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Elatsoe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It's got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.

There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.

Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down…


Book cover of House of Slaughter

Xan van Rooyen Why did I love this book?

Despite being a spin-off of the equally gruesome but less queer Something is Killing the Children, this graphic novels stands all on its own and deserves a spot on the list. Although, please consider yourself warned, as this is not a story for the faint of heart. This graphic novel is very much the origin story of a character who is mostly portrayed as more of a villain in the main series. This installment, however, is just as harrowing, and terrifying as the original, with gorgeous, vibrant panels that somehow manages to turn gore into fine art. 

By James Tynion IV, Tate Brombal, Chris Shehan (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A BRAND NEW SERIES IN THE WORLD OF SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN!

Discover the inner workings of the House of Slaughter in this new horror series exploring the secret history of the Order that forged Erica Slaughter into the monster hunter she is today.

You know Aaron Slaughter as Erica's handler and rival. But before he donned the black mask, Aaron was a teenager training within the House of Slaughter. Surviving within the school is tough enough, but it gets even more complicated when Aaron falls for a mysterious boy destined to be his competition.

Dive deeper into the…


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Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

Book cover of Shahrazad's Gift

Gretchen McCullough Author Of Confessions of a Knight Errant: Drifters, Thieves, and Ali Baba's Treasure

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Traveler Lover of the quirky Cairene Texan

Gretchen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Shahrazad’s Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo — magical, absurd, and humorous.

The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight Errant, before their escapades in that story.

These stories are told in the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights.

Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

What is this book about?

Shahrazad's Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo-magical, absurd and humorous. The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight…


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