Blogtober (#6) | Spooky Middle Grade Books That Keep Younger Readers on the Edge of Their Seats!

7:30 AM

When I was in this age range, I was kind of a scaredy cat but still devoured the Goosebumps series. I remember when my dad's friend/co-worker gave me the entire series (his teenage daughter outgrew the series, just in time for preteen me to fully get into it) and the rest, as they say, was history.



When I was a kid, I loved and loathed scary stories. I grew up in the era of Goosebumps, R.L. Stine's other books like Fear Street and of course Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I lived for scaring myself with Are You Afraid of the Dark? knowing damn well that I was afraid of the dark. I even remember, once, while on a Girl Scouts camping trip, the fact that I nearly peed my pants during a spooky campfire story after some of the older girls jump-scared us younger kids.

I was completely captivated by the flickering of the campfire in the dark; the way that the scary stories were told. But, I was also just plain terrified. It was a conflicting set of emotions. I enjoyed the scares. I also dreaded said scares. So, this list is dedicated to my little scaredy pants middle grade self--it's time to talk middle grade books (and a couple of YA novels that are a little more juvenile) that are spooky but not overly so!

The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith 

Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he's too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding.

Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?

Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale.



Monstrous Devices by Damien Love 

On a winter's day in a British town, twelve-year-old Alex receives a package in the mail: an old tin robot from his grandfather. "This one is special," says the enclosed note, and when strange events start occurring around him, Alex suspects this small toy is more than special; it might be deadly.

Right as things get out of hand, Alex's grandfather arrives, pulling him away from an attack--and his otherwise humdrum world of friends, bullies, and homework--and into the macabre magic of an ancient family feud. Together, the duo flees across snowy Europe, unravelling the riddle of the little robot while trying to outwit relentless assassins of the human and mechanical kind.



The Prosper Redding Series by Alexandra Bracken

Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type.

The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.

Little does Prosper know, the malefactor's control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there's a lot Alastor isn't telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host.


Nightmares! Series by Jason Segel 

Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!

Charlie Laird has several problems:
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is not a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3. He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap.

What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed. And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.
 


Coraline by Neil Gaiman 

The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring....

In Coraline's family's new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it's different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there's another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
 
 

Followers by Anna Davies  

To tweet or not to tweet . . . what a deadly question.

When Briana loses out on a starring role in the school's production of Hamlet, she reluctantly agrees to be the drama department's "social media director" and starts tweeting half-hearted updates. She barely has any followers, so when someone hacks her twitter account, Briana can't muster the energy to stop it. After all, tweets like "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark . . . and a body's rotting in the theater" are obviously a joke.

But then a body IS discovered in the theater: Briana's rival. Suddenly, what seemed like a prank turns deadly serious. To everyone's horror, the grisly tweets continue . . . and the body count starts to rise.

There's no other explanation; someone is live-tweeting murders on campus.

With the school in chaos and the police unable to find the culprit, it's up to Briana to unmask the psycho-tweeter before the carnage reaches Shakespearian proportions . . . or she becomes the next victim.
 


The Haunting of Henry Davis by Kathryn Siebel  

Two kids are about to find out that their lives are anything but ordinary when a ghost arrives and stirs up adventure. Perfect for fans of A Tale Dark and Grimm!

Ghosts only haunt when they've left something behind...
When Henry Davis moves into the neighborhood, Barbara Anne and her classmates at Washington Carver Elementary don't know what to make of him. He's pale, small, odd. For curious Barbara Anne, Henry's also a riddle--a boy who sits alone at recess sketching in a mysterious notebook, a boy, she soon learns, who's being haunted by a ghost named Edgar.

With the help of some new friends, this unlikely duo is off on an adventure to discover who Edgar was while alive and why he's haunting Henry now. Together, they might just help Edgar find what he needs to finally be at peace.
 


Doll Bones by Holly Black 

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.

But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity.
 




The Riverman Trilogy by Aaron Starmer 

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.


The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand 

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of Coraline, Splendors and Glooms, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster, lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he is not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don't come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it's Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.
  


Do you guys have any fun, and spooky, recommendations for middle grade readers? 
Let me know!
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