The best spooky middle grade books

David Neilsen Author Of Lillian Lovecraft and the Harmless Horrors
By David Neilsen

The Books I Picked & Why

The Screaming Staircase

By Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase

Why this book?

This is the first book in the 5-book Lockwood and Co. series and an introduction into a wholly original world. It takes ghost hunting in a new direction and is brilliantly written. I go back every few years and read the entire series over just to bathe in the glory of how perfect it is. The characters are multi-dimensional, they become your friends, you want to hang out with them and be a part of their spooky adventures. This series inspired me and influenced me in too many ways to count. The way Stroud plays with convention, turning a ghost story on its head, inspired me to push the envelope in my own work, moving beyond the expected. The result is some of my best work to date.


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The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

By Claire Legrand, Sarah Watts

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

Why this book?

When I read this book, I was thrown sideways and bowled over. It is just so unique! The creep factor is ridiculously high, and it goes places that are totally unexpected and unheard of in a middle-grade novel. This is not your standard spooky tale, but rather one that will eat into your soul and give you series willies.


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Oddity

By Sarah Cannon

Oddity

Why this book?

A story about evil puppets? Sign me up! Oddity is a town only the Addams Family could love, with weird, strange, unusual, and downright wrong things taking place at all hours of the day and night. What I love about this book is the way it manages to give us an entire town of spookiness, and yet still find a plot that is even more spooky. The characters are unforgettable, and the villains are a joyous wonder.


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Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies: Devin Dexter #1

By Jonathan Rosen

Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies: Devin Dexter #1

Why this book?

I like a little humor with my spookiness and this book has humor to spare. Just the idea of a horde of demonic stuffed animals brings a smile to my face. Rosen does a fantastic job creating a fully-fleshed out world and filling it with interesting and engaging characters. But seriously, it's the bunnies that make this shine. Even now, just writing about them brings a smile to my face.


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Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe

By Josh Allen, Sarah J. Coleman

Out to Get You: 13 Tales of Weirdness and Woe

Why this book?

Writing a really good spooky short story is hard. Writing 13 of them is near-impossible. Yet Allen has put together an anthology of sheer terror, with each story hinging on something simple and mundane. Basically, Allen makes you afraid of everything, and does it with a smile.


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