Lowell Reading Club: Spooky Stories Edition

It’s Halloween! With ghosts and ghouls on the prowl this evening for tricks and treats, there doesn’t seem to be any better time to share our favorite spine-tingling tales.

Before we get to the books, be aware that Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. As part of the Amazon Associate program, qualifying purchases made through these links may result in us earning a commission. However, you don’t have to make a purchase to read these titles. With a library card, you should be able to borrow them all for free through the Kent District Library.

Amanda’s Pick for a Spooky Story

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
5 out of 5 stars

When it comes to spooky, scary, haunting, creepy and other words that describe the theme for this month’s book selections, I had quite a few books to consider. Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard and A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell both contained odd and even creepy characters – and I enjoyed both. But neither necessarily had a spooky plot. Verity by Colleen Hoover was a close second for my selection this month due to its psychological thriller feel. But ultimately, The Broken Girls became my top choice.

The novel follows a group of girls in the 1950s who attend a school for girls. It’s a school where families send those who are deemed troublemakers for whatever reason. Outcast, a group of girls bond over being sent away. They also discuss Mary Hand, an alleged ghost who haunts the school. Is she real or just a legend? In parallel, a reporter named Fiona is writing a story about the school, which has been abandoned for years but an unknown person is set to renovate the building.

Four girls tell the story of the school they attended. Fiona tells the story of how her sister’s death decades ago still weighs on her. Through twists and turns, the characters in the book develop as they tell their stories. While there is jumping between perspectives of the various characters, this didn’t deter from the overall plot in my opinion. The characters are likable, especially the four girls attending the boarding school, even with their flaws. Eventually threads from the past are weaved into the present in a suspenseful conclusion.

Maryalene’s Pick for a Spooky Story

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

5 out of 5 stars

I’ve read a lot of Stephen King over the years, and he is undoubtedly the king of horror. He’s also the king of profanity, gratuitous scenes and bad endings as far as I’m concerned. That’s not to say his books aren’t enjoyable page-turners — just be aware of the content if you’re picking up one of his books for the first time.

However, King seems a bit of an obvious choice for a scary book selection so I am going to bypass the King of Horror and go with the Queen of Mystery instead.

And Then There Were None is an intelligent and engaging novel. A group of strangers are summoned to an island for reasons they do not know. When they arrive, the host is nowhere to be found, and the guests are then picked off one by one. Agatha Christie does such a masterful job of misdirection that I wasn’t even sure I knew “whodunit” at the end. Thankfully, there was a concluding section that answered all my questions.

This book hit the perfect tone for me — creepy but not gory. If you like a good mystery that gives you goosebumps, I highly recommend And Then There Were None.

Amanda’s Spooky Pick for a Read Aloud

Mayhem on Mackinac Island (Michigan Chillers #1) by Johnathan Rand
4 out of 5 stars as rated by first and third grade boys

My family owns the complete set of Michigan Chillers books – 19 total. So far we’ve only read the first one, but it was a hit with the youngsters in the house. Rand, a Michigan author, themes each of the books in this series around a city in Michigan. In another series, American Chillers, books are set in various states.

The first book in the Michigan Chillers series is set on Mackinac Island. Siblings Sandy and Jim are off on a bike ride around the island when an old man catches their attention. Before they realize it, they’re transported to an alternative world. In order to be able to return to the island and save this other world they’ve discovered, they must find an elusive key. Their adventure pits them against foes as they discover friends along the way as well.

Reading as an adult, the book was pretty predictable but still enjoyable. I read it to my six and eight year old boys. They were eager each evening for me to read more to them before bed. And they keep asking when we can start the next book in the series.

Maryalene’s Spooky Selections for Picture Books

Gus Was A Friendly Ghost by Jane Thayer

4 out of 5 stars

To keep it real here, I’m not sure the appeal of this book for kids. As an adult, I find it a bit endearing and nostalgic.  However, for kids, it is relatively long for a picture book, there isn’t much color and there is a mouse being sent to the garden to eat nasturtium seeds. That said, all my kids LOVED Gus Was A Friendly Ghost. We read this book until the cover fell off.

The story revolves around Gus who lives in the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Scott and their twins, Susie and Sammy. When the Scotts leave in the autumn, Gus makes friends with a rather demanding mouse. All is well until the Scotts come back, and mouse isn’t having it. The highlight of the book for me is when Gus rushes to the aid of Mrs. Scott — who was so pretty, by the way — when she was scared.

With Gus being a ghost, this story ties in well with Halloween, but there is nothing spooky or scary about it. Gus Was A Friendly Ghost is simply a sweet story about a ghost trying to help everyone get along.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

5 out of 5 stars

I found this to be a highly creative and original book. Jasper Rabbit sure does love carrots, but it isn’t long before he starts seeing creepy carrots everywhere. The end has a fun twist that I wasn’t expecting too.

If you have a young or sensitive child, you may want to flip through Creepy Carrots before reading it to them. I imagine most kids won’t find it scary, but the imagery and idea that your vegetables could be watching while you brush your teeth might be disturbing to some.

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