Halloween Reading List: Educational Yet Spooky Fun!

Reading Lists
Mary Lonsdale
Halloween reading list - three fearsome tales!

Whilst you’d be forgiven for thinking that 2020 has already been scary enough (!), we always love to celebrate that most fearsome of holidays: All Hallows Eve, or – as it’s more commonly known – Halloween.

As traditional trick or treating is not an option for most people this year, why not gather around the fire and read a creepy tale or two with your family? Delving into some spooky literature is a fun – yet educational – way to bring Halloween to life.

Here are three of our favourite Halloween-friendly tales: a superb selection that contains something for every taste and agegroup!

Halloween Reading List

#1: Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley (13+)

No list would be complete without mention of the original monster story: Frankenstein. Composed by gothic novelist Mary Shelley (who started writing it when she was just nineteen), Frankenstein is a spellbinding tale about the dangers of human ambition and unchecked creativity.

Victor Frankenstein, the eponymous protagonist (‘Frankenstein’ is not the name of the creature, as so many believe: in fact, the being is dubbed ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’), is a brilliant scientist obsessed with the idea of creating life. After a spate of grave robbing, Frankenstein melds bodyparts from different corpses to create a new being, which he animates through sparks of electricity (at that time a new invention). Despite Frankenstein choosing the bodyparts for their aesthetic qualities, the Monster – once brought to life – is hideous; repelled, the scientist flees. Rejected and desolate, the Monster sets out on a vengeful quest, intending to destroy Frankenstein and everything he cares about.

Arguably the most famous science fiction story ever written – and a wonderful example of classic gothic literature – Frankenstein is a must-read for any Halloween fan!

#2: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (15+)

The first novel in lauded author Margaret Atwood’s ‘MaddAdam’ trilogy, Oryx and Crake is both exciting and disturbing: a depiction of a dystopian future that is not too far from our own. A useful companion to Frankenstein, in that it also explores technological/scientific advances and the potential social/moral implications of pushing boundaries, the book has also been compared to George Orwell’s 1984.

Set in a nation where animal, plant and human DNA are now almost like tradable commodities – freely available for the ruling classes to experiment with and manipulate – Oryx and Crake tells the story of best friends, Jimmy and Crake, whose favourite childhood pastime is to explore forbidden parts of the internet. Their forays into the dark web cause them to stumble across Oryx, a captivating young girl who has experienced a great deal of trauma. Their relationship with Oryx and Crake’s future involvement in a dangerous scientific project will eventually change the course of all their lives – and the world at large.

A powerful book with adult themes, this isn’t a novel for younger bookworms: but older teenagers will find it both a gripping and challenging read.

#3: The Otherlife by Julia Gray (11+)

Is your child a fan of Neil Gaiman? If so, they will love this clever, complex story from Julia Gray, which manages to mix elements of Norse myth with contemporary flair.

Ben, unlike most of the other students at his elite private school, doesn’t come from a rich family. But he does have something that sets him apart from his classmates: the ability to experience visions of another realm known as the ‘Otherlife’, where the Norse gods live. When he encounters Hobie, a sociopathic bully and one of the richest kids in the class, he quickly becomes fascinated with his privileged background; and Hobie is similarly intrigued by Ben’s tales of Norse gods and alternative realities. Unused to not getting what he wants, Hobie develops a dangerous obsession with the Otherlife – and it soon becomes clear that he’ll do whatever it takes to gain access to Ben’s secret world…

Dealing with stirring issues of classroom bullying, exam pressures, competitive parenting and more, The Otherlife is a spooky novel with a twist: a searing examination of adolescence with fantastical elements and a chilling, thrilling plot. A fantastic choice for Halloween!

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