October is one of my most favorite times of year for a variety of reasons. Crisp weather makes for perfect hiking, my scarf collection makes a triumphant return from the closet, and all things pumpkin can be found. The real reason October stands out for me though is the mysterious mood cast thanks to Halloween. As a fan of spooky stories of all sorts, this month provides the perfect opportunity to share some of my top picks for eerie and ghostly reads. The graphic novels highlighted below are not holiday specific, and would be great recommendations for readers year-round, but are especially fun during this season.
Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala. First Second; 2009. This quirky title by the talented Sala has it all- dangerous mysteries, weird characters, hidden treasure, and creepy settings. K was raised in an orphanage where the children were trained to be professional thieves and now finds herself at Bellsong Academy, a suspicious boarding school with barely any other students. I’ll be discussing this title with my tween graphic novel book club next week and I can’t wait to hear their thoughts!
Possessions: Unclean Getaway by Ray Fawkes. Oni Press; 2010. First in the Possessions series. Possessions is both laugh-out-loud hilarious and totally disturbing, in the most fun way. In Unclean Getaway, readers meet Gurgazon the Unclean, a demon who has possessed a 5-year old girl and is now bent on destroying the world…if she could only escape the Llewellyn-Vane House for Captured Spirits and Ghostly Curiosities. This is an ongoing series with the most recent title, The Final Tantrum, published in February of this year.
Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow adapted by Blake A. Hoena. Stone Arch Books; 2014. Irving’s classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is adapted for graphic readers in this colorful title. This version is great for readers who may be new to the story as it provides an introduction discussing the real Sleepy Hollow and how Irving may have stumbled across the legend, as well as a glossary of vocabulary words.
Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Shoes and Other Tales by Metaphrog. Papercutz; 2015. The dark story of Anderson’s The Red Shoes is wonderfully retold in this graphic novel, along with Anderson’s The Little Match Girl and an original story titled The Glass Case. The sickly color palette exhibited throughout this book really gives these stories an extra layer of spookiness.
Johnny Boo: The Best Little Ghost in the World by James Kochalka. Top Shelf Productions; 2008. First in the Johnny Boo series. Johnny Boo and his ghost pet Squiggle take on the Ice Cream Monster in this introduction to the world of Johnny. This series is a good choice for young readers interested in something ghostly but not-so-scary.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. Square Fish; 2014. Anya’s Ghost mixes realistic young adult issues and a ghost story to make one awesomely scary graphic novel. Anya is part of a Russian family and is already having a hard time trying to fit in at school when she falls down a hole and finds herself face to face with a haunted skeleton. At first this ghost seems to be a friend to Anya, but quickly we learn that she is not to be trusted.
I suggest that these titles be read under dim lighting, while wrapped in a cozy blanket and sipping a mug of hot apple cider. Happy haunting!