Staff Picks: The Halloween Edition

Looking for some chills and thrills this month? We have some suggestions for you!

Our staff here at The Kansas City Public Library has picked some of their Halloween favorites. This diverse list includes a little of everything: children's picture books, graphic novels, classic Lovecraft, and modern Horror literature.

Do you have a favorite scary story? Please share it in the comments below!

The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

"As the original master of horror, Lovecraft has so thoroughly influenced the genre that the themes and elements of his stories may seem familiar to readers even if they’ve never before paged through any of the author’s works. While Lovecraft’s writing style tends to be a tad verbose (why only spend a few words describing the slimy fishflesh of leviathan god-beasts when you can do it in lengthy paragraphs?), the mythology he created set the bar for tales of mystery and monsters in such a way that “Lovecraftian” has become the de facto term for a certain type of fiction. Lovecraft’s terrifying visions have earned him fans such as writer Stephen King, who called the author “The Twentieth Century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale,” and visual artist H.R. Gieger, designer of the titular creature in the Alien movies. Nearly a century after they were written, Lovecraft’s stories—and the dark creations that inhabit them—still exude an eerie, visceral menace." - Andy, Senior Graphic Designer

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

In Joe Hill's debut novel, aging heavy metal star Judas Coyne is a collector of the morbid, macabre, and strange—until he purchases a dead man's suit online, supposedly possessed by the man's ghost. Only it turns out to be real. From there Heart-Shaped Box rapidly descends into a terrifying and relentless story that does not let the reader catch their breath until the very end. Suggested by Kaite, Director of Reader's Services. Joe Hill's most recent novel NOS4A2 was also highly recommended by Suzanne in Public Affairs!

The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators by Gordon Grice (non-fiction)

"In The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators an enthusiastic rattlesnake-eater describes the taste as having 'a wild richness.' The same could be said of Grice’s book: it is wild—even exotic—because the subjects are so unknown and the events described so thrilling. Of the deadly recluse spider, Grice writes, 'we understand almost nothing about the venom and its attendant array of human suffering.' More is known of the black widow spider and Grice’s captivating tale contains personal narrative and a trove of history, including an account of a Dr. Blair’s 1933 experiment in which he provoked a black widow into biting him for ten minutes. Horrific pain lasted for days. Grice’s writing is rich in gripping detail. He rears the widow, recluse, tarantula and others in terraria and has observed them closely. Grice knows and tells their previously unknown lives." - Jill, Customer Service

Hellblazer by Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, et al.

Equal parts con-man and occult magician, John Constantine, originally created by author Alan Moore as a supporting character in Swamp Thing in the 1980s, is one of the most unrepentant antiheroes in the world of graphic novels/comic books. Hellblazer, the DC/Vertigo title based around him, is a gritty, adult horror comic that consistently pushed boundaries over its 25 years of publication, from writer Jamie Delano's British political commentary, to Garth Ennis' more introspective stories. My personal pick from the series would be the Dangerous Habits story arc, in which Constantine attempts to trick the devil to escape his impending death from lung cancer. (Just forget about the Keanu Reeves film adaptation.) -Liesl, Public Affairs

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

A spine-chilling werewolf novel written entirely in verse. It sounds crazy, but it works. As Kaite, our Director of Reader's Services, wrote in her Booklist review of Sharp Teeth, it's "spicy as a taco, as relentless as the pounding surf, and as lulling as a moon-drenched beach, Barlow's hip werewolf saga is highly recommended for adults and YAs who just don't get all the fuss about Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series."

We have some selections for younger audiences as well:

Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine

"R.L. Stine’s Stay Out of the Basement from his series Goosebumps, transforms everyday plants into frightening experiments gone wrong. Stine easily scares readers to stay out of basements of botanists forever and avoid unusual green food." -Skyler, Public Affairs

Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac

"This book is creepy-scary. Molly's parents didn't come home one evening and when Social Services gets wind of her situation, they place Molly with a creepy man who claims to be her great uncle even though she's never heard of such a relative before. Molly's story is framed by the Mohawk myth that her father used to tell her about a skeleton man." -Jamie, Central Youth Services Manager

The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey

"What Halloween picture book focuses on the serious topic of bullying and stars an adorable dachshund? That’s Dav Pilkey’s The Hallo-wiener! Pilkey’s story centers on Oscar, a dog whose peers tease him and whose mama inadvertently makes matters worse. When mean cats wreak havoc on Halloween, though, Oscar’s diminutive height and embarrassing hotdog costume save the day. The colorful and cartoonish pictures and plentiful puns pack a humorous punch. For preschool or elementary-aged kids who want to laugh while gaining appreciation of their unique traits, this book is a great pick. It also lightens the tone when mixed with more spooky fare." -Anna, Library Outreach

Still hungry for more Horror? Kaite has also contributed to the RA for All: Horror blog, and John Horner, from Missouri Valley Special Collections, originally wrote this poem for the anthology, October Nightmares and Dreams. Happy Halloween!

About the Author

Liesl Christman

Liesl Christman is the Digital Content Specialist for The Kansas City Public Library, managing content for the Library's blogs and social media accounts. She is an unabashed enthusiast of comic books, roller derby, and all things food.

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