By venturing into the forest, Corinne La Mer unwittingly sparks a nightmare situation that threatens her home and everyone she cares about. The wicked and vengeful Severine and a myriad of jumbie spooks and spirits want their island back from the villagers and no one is safe--at least not after the sun goes down. Corinne's connection to the jumbies runs deeper than she ever knew and she needs sharp wits and courage to put everyone's lives back in balance. Not only is this an engaging horror story based on Caribbean folklore, this book has depth, touching on themes such as colonialism, community, betrayal, grief, identity and sacrifice.
Imagine an alternate history in which ghosts are not only real, but a menace entwined with the fabric of society: civil safety protocols, ghost exterminator agencies, even an industry of spirit-repelling products and gear. Add to the mix not one but two swashbuckling heroes--the charismatic Lockwood and the intrepid Lucy Carlyle--who are long on talent but short on following the rules. Their creative and impulsive tactics drive the plot, which delightfully tantalizes the reader with suspense. The witty interplay between these characters makes great entertainment. Such a likable book, and only the first in the series. Check out the equally riveting follow-up, The Whispering Skull.
This is a dark book. Really dark. It is the most frightening and thematically disturbing of the bunch here, and it may be too much for young or sensitive children. Picture a M. Night Shymalan-esque village threatened by a rapidly encroaching, otherworldly forest. Here, Kara contends with the legacy of her mother's execution for witchcraft, caring for her little brother and depressed father who are all ostracized by the community. Scarier than the dark magic fantasy elements (which are plenty creepy) are horrors that echo of real life: blind theocracy, mob mentality, the seductive nature of power and what atrocities might be perpetrated to maintain it. But there is love here too, love and courage which are seeds of hope. Like the tangled brush of the thickety, this deftly executed plot twists and twists again, and just when you think it has wrapped up, another startling twist sets the stage for book 2, The Thickety: The Whispering Trees.
Molly's parents go missing and suddenly a sinister uncle she never heard of offers to take custody of her. It is bad enough that he locks her in her in her bedroom and seems to be drugging her food; soon vivid dreams confirm that she is in grave danger that can only be fully understood through stories from her Mohawk heritage. This is an older title and the setting is a bit dated (most children today might wonder what is a VCR?), but the story remains appealing for its suspense, creep factor and Molly's determination and strength. Although this one is scary enough, it is a better pick for younger readers.
Bod Owens lives in a graveyard and is being raised by ghosts. What could be creepier? How about a mysterious stranger who killed your family and is after you. Magic protections only go so far to keep Bod safe from harm and there are other mysteries and monsters to contend with in addition to lessons about relationships and responsibility to which we can all relate. You can enjoy this story in its Newbery Award winning fiction form or as the graphic novel adaptation by P. Craig Russell. The latter version is so well done I would not recommend it for sensitive or young children, since violent and scary images will not be left to your imagination as they are when reading text alone. Even the first few pages are not for the faint of heart.
Some Victorian-era classic gothic goodness here. Parentless, Molly and her brother Kip are hired as servants by a peculiar family who live in a house with a menacing tree growing right through it. Curious footprints and eerie nighttime occurrences set off the mystery, which gains momentum as the short, suspenseful chapters progress. Why is the house run down and the family so sickly? What's going on at night and what's with that tree anyway? The more the children uncover, the deeper the danger; soon enough: thump... thump... thump... it's coming for them! The scary won't disappoint, but this book also has literary meat on its bones, including musings on the value and nature of storytelling.