This week at That Artsy Reader Girl is a "Halloween Freebie" and I figured, what better way to go about this than by highlighting children's books AND some obscure faves, a.k.a. some of my favorite spooky stories when I was a kid??
1. Wait Till Helen Comes - Mary Downing Hahn
This is the classic...
2, The Doll in the Garden - Mary Downing Hahn
But for some reason, this is the one I more vividly remember -- probably because of the ghost cat -- though I definitely checked both out of the school library as a tiny 1st or 2nd grader and was thoroughly thrilled by the spookiness in both.
3. The Dollhouse Murders - Betty Ren Wright
By far my favorite BRW book, there are no visible ghosts in this one, but let's quote my Goodreads review: is there anything more simultaneously exciting and terrifying than discovering your aunt's old dollhouse, which is a perfect replica inside and out of the house you are currently staying in, and then discovering that your great-grandparents were murdered in this very house, AND THEN finding the dollhouse opened and the dolls posed in reenactments of the crime scene every time you enter the attic?
4. Ghost Cat - Beverly Butler
I didn't remember reading this as a kid, and i don't strongly remember its plot now, but I'm counting it because I read it in 3rd grade and still gave it 5 stars as an adult upon rereading. Ghost animals are always the best! (see also: Haunted Animals by Allan Zullo, which I left off this list because it sounds sadder than I remember, but that was a Scholastic book I adored)
5. Evil in the Attic - Linda Piazza
the story of a teenage girl who finds a strange music box and a life-size effigy of a young girl in the attic of an old house.
I need to reread this because I don't remember it at all (plus: 2 Goodreads ratings?? TWO??), but I DO remember that after reading it in 3rd grade, I had nightmares and was extra-terrified of my attic, which wasn't even overhead like a normal attic, but just a door leading off from my room like the closet (to a space under the eaves).
6. Shadows - Lynn Hall
One of my earliest favorite ghost stories, featuring a ghost dog who isn't actually scary at all, but rather a very comforting presence for a young girl still upset by the recent death of her mother.
7. Phantom Valley: Stranger in the Mirror - Lynn Beach
The Phantom Valley series is one that people on lost forum books often search for -- myself included! I lost and found it twice before I finally added it to my Goodreads account. I read books 2-4 multiple times from the library because they really spooked Elementary Me out, this one most of all. Because I too had an antique mirror in my room. And who knows what terrifying presence might pull me into it...
8. Bone Chllers: Little Pet Shop of Horrors - Betsy Haynes
More average as far as scares go (creepy monster pet store owner tricks kids into drinking a pink potion that turns them into cats or dogs, while retaining their own mind), but I really enjoyed it and vividly remembered SO many lines when I reread it as an adult.
9. Scary Stories for Stormy Nights - R.C. Welch
I was never all that impressed by the more famous Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark, but THIS one messed me up (in a good way). The fact that every kid dies at the end of their story might have something to do with it... (the ghost slave ship looking for more children's souls to capture is particularly creepy)
10. Still More Tales For the Midnight Hour - Judith Stamper
Another series that comes up a lot on lost-book searches. I used to read this every Halloween and these stories are imprinted on my soul. The black cat in the cemetery with glowing green eyes, the snake charmer and his murder cobra, the Unexpected Werewolf (this is how i learned the word "paprika"), the "vanishing" box that makes everything put inside miniature (sounded so cool btw; I was willing to risk it!)...
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