Since we’re coming up on All Hallow’s Eve, we thought it would be fun to discuss our favorite ghostly reads. It’s been fun to look over our choices and see just how varied the genre is. There are so many possibilities with a ghost story–creepy, sad, vengeful or harbinging–and we’ve hit just about all of them.
So which are our favorites?
Peyton’s Favorite Ghostly Read
I don’t read a lot of ghost stories because it is ridiculously easy to scare me with the supernatural. I was the child who cried when her friends brought out the ouja board at sleepovers. So, my favorite ghost story is one I stumbled upon and loved, rather than something I actively went looking for. (Spoilers Ahead!) The Burn for Burn series by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian was what I thought was an entertaining, high school revenge story. We follow three girls who all have different reasons for wanting to get revenge on one of the popular boys in school, but it becomes clear very quickly that one girl, Mary, has a much darker past than anyone realized. It’s only at the end of the second book, Fire With Fire, that you learn that this entire time Mary has been a ghost. Without even knowing it I was reading a ghost’s revenge story. It all made so much sense looking back! I was completely taken by surprise and I loved it.
Layla’s Favorite Ghostly Read
My favorite ghost story is Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. (Does anyone else remember this? I think it was a thing for children of the 80s and 90s). Anyway. I first read the book when I was ten and it made such a huge impression on me. I can still remember the cover! While there are plenty of genuinely creepy moments in the story, the story actually deals seriously with normal childhood problems in addition to scaring the pants off of you. The story: Heather (whose mother tragically died in a fire) moves to this house with her father, new stepmother, and new step-siblings. She is immediately befriended by this local ghost, Helen, who has a similar backstory. No one else believes in Helen but Heather. Helen tries to get Heather to do all kinds of crazy things, including but not limited to drowning herself in the pond (where Helen herself drowned as a child) so she can be with Helen forever. It’s super creepy, but also really sad – both Helen and Heather were indirectly responsible for their family member’s deaths, and despite the supernatural setting, I remember the book dealing really well with lots of serious issues: the girls’ guilt over something they think they can never be forgiven for, what it means to be a family, responsibility. I haven’t read this in over 15 years, but I remember this book vividly.
Wendy’s Favorite Ghostly Read
My favorite YA ghost is from The Raven Cycle series, however. (This is a bit of spoiler since you don’t find out that this person is a ghost until halfway through the first book, so turn back if you haven’t started it yet!) Noah Czerny, a boy described as “smudgy” and apologetic, is so absolutely endearing in his peculiarity and his stubbornness and his unwillingness to call attention to himself. His story line, particularly his interactions with Blue, are incredibly poignant–even though he’s not the main protagonist, and she’s not his love interest, there’s a lovely, aching sense of loss and longing whenever he’s around. I’m so terribly sad for the life he lost, and I’m so anxious to see what fate awaits him when the sleeping king is finally awakened.
Tonya’s Favorite Ghostly Read
Admittedly, I’m not much of a ghost story person. Though I cut my teeth on Stephen King and Dean Koontz, I find that as an adult my imagination is far too developed for horror to be enjoyable any longer. They are the ultimate Blanket Forts Required Situation, and typically end with me ‘sleeping’ with the lights on. Like adults do. Give me a twisted serial killer over a ghost any day!
I think the ghost story I have the most nostalgia for is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It was the first book that truly terrified me, but in a way that left me fascinated. I desperately wanted to stop reading, knowing the depictions of breathing walls and malevolent presences hovering just behind the characters would steal my sleep for days, but I simply could not stop. The creepy atmosphere is a character unto itself in this book, and far and away surpasses anything they were able to convey in the films. If you’re looking for a truly terrifying ghost story, this is a classic for a reason.
However, I will never be reading this book again as just thinking about it has my spine tingling again. I think I’ll probably need to put on a Disney movie before bed just to cleanse my palate and keep nightmares at bay!
Happy (almost) Halloween! We’re celebrating by giving away a stack of NINE Fall ARCs to one of our readers, including:
To win a copy, all you need to do is leave a thoughtful comment below telling us
1. an email where we may contact you
2. your favorite ghost story!
You may also earn additional entries by tweeting about the contest daily; just come back and leave another comment with a link to your tweet when it’s posted, and one extra entry may be earned every day through tweets. Please note that you MUST have a public profile so that we can verify the extra entries.
Open to US and Canadian residents aged 13 and older, or 18 and older with parental permission. Please see our giveaway policies for complete details. Contest ends 11/11/14.
Suggested tweet (or use your own) with link:
Play Trick or Treat with the Midnight Garden and enter to win a stack of fall ARCs! http://bit.ly/1zdO80k