9 Spooktacular Books to Read this Halloween
Halloween is almost here and Dia de Los Muertos is around the corner! The altar is up, I’ve inhaled every pumpkin-flavored pastry within a mile radius and the candy bowl is full. Now it’s time to add some chills to your TBR pile with these spook-tastic reading recs! The 9 books below range from YA to speculative fiction, from friendly undead characters to some truly chilling human villains. So grab a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy these great reads on the scariest night of the year!
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
Painting Their Portraits in Winter: Stories by Myriam Gurba
In this artfully crafted collection of new short stories by award-winning author Myriam Gurba, nothing is as it seems on the surface. A Mexican grandmother tells creepy yet fascinating ghost stories to her granddaughters as a way to make them sit still ("How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still So That They Can Paint Their Portraits in Winter"). A Polish grandfather spends the night in a Mexican graveyard after a Día de Muertos celebration to discover if ghosts really do consume the food that has been left for them ("Even This Title Is a Ghost"). Unforgettable characters inhabit these cross-border tales filled with introspection and longing, as modern sensibilities weave and wind through traditional folktales creating a new kind of magical realism that offers insights into where we come from and where we may be going.
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten. Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm. And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She's not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.
Life and Death (Leyendas #1) by Selenia Paz
When Natalia’s younger brother disappears while on a visit to Mexico, Natalia is certain that La Llorona, the mythical Weeping Woman, has taken him. Her friend Miguel agrees to accompany her back to Mexico in the hopes that it will help him deal with the recent death of his grandfather. But as they embark on a journey to search for the creature that has taken Natalia’s brother, it becomes apparent that the spirits Miguel had brushed aside as mere legend are very real... and they have a dark connection to his family.
Loteria by Cynthia Cina Pelayo
Fairy tales, short stories, and poems
Macabre Latin American fairy tales come to life in LOTERIA – a collection of 54 short stories, poems, and experimental fictional pieces. The Mexican board game of Lotería is a game of chance. It is similar to our American bingo. However, in Loteria instead of matching up numbers on a game board, players match up images. There are 54 cards in the Lotería game, and for this collection you will find one unique story or poem per card based on a Latin American myth, folklore, superstition, or belief – with a slant towards the paranormal and horrific. In this deck of cards you will find murderers, ghosts, goblins and ghouls. This collection features creatures and monsters, vampires and werewolves and many of these legends existed in the Americas long before their European counterparts. Many of these stories have been passed over time throughout the Americas, and many have been passed via word of mouth, just like the tales the Brothers Grimm collected. These are indeed fairy tales, but with a much more terrible little slant.
YA Fantasy (Can be read as a standalone)
Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister's newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula's bruja healing powers can't fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.
Then a bus crash turns Lula's world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn't the only one who's been brought back...
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
In these wildly imaginative, devilishly daring tales of the macabre, internationally bestselling author Mariana Enriquez brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where shocking inequality, violence, and corruption are the law of the land, while military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. In these stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortázar, three young friends distract themselves with drugs and pain in the midst a government-enforced blackout; a girl with nothing to lose steps into an abandoned house and never comes back out; to protest a viral form of domestic violence, a group of women set themselves on fire.
But alongside the black magic and disturbing disappearances, these stories are fueled by compassion for the frightened and the lost, ultimately bringing these characters—mothers and daughters, husbands and wives—into a surprisingly familiar reality. Written in hypnotic prose that gives grace to the grotesque, Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
When Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.