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Spooky Season: 10 Spirited Halloween Reads

/ BY Nathalie Atkinson / October 27th, 2022


Something wicked this way comes – and it’s a book! With All Hallow’s Eve around the corner, here are a few new witchy and ghoulish reads that capture the frightful spirit of the season.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Attack of the Monster Musicalby Adam Abraham

There isn’t a high school drama department on the planet that didn’t stage this offbeat musical about Seymour and the man-eating plant! As the enduring hit Little Shop of Horrors celebrates its 40th anniversary, Abraham, a screenwriter and professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., dives into the history and legacy of the 1960 horror comedy by B-movie king Roger Corman (filmed in two days). Through archival research and oral histories, he details how lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken (whose work is featured in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast) used 1960s doo-wop to transform a throwaway schlock film into a global phenomenon.


2House of Psychotic Womenby Kier-La Janisse

For the delectation of brainy film buffs, there’s the 10th anniversary reissue of this trailblazing compendium of paranoia, histrionics and on-screen obsessives (subtitled An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films). Horror expert La Janisse, a Canadian film writer, award-winning documentary producer and founder of The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, combines encyclopedic knowledge with memoir, and expands on her subject with more than a hundred reviews that will thrill genre devotees.


3In Defense of Witchesby Mona Chollet

Centuries after infamous witch hunts swept through Europe and America – when women were tortured, raped and murdered, death usually at the hands of men – French feminist Chollet unravels the history of femicide with a thorough deconstruction of the witch as a symbol of female rebellion. “There is no shortage of ways women’s lives continue to be destroyed,” the introduction points out, and the intersectional analysis touches on other gender-based prejudices, like the ageist old-crone trope about independent, childless older women. Far from being a grim read, it adds up to a celebration of women. 


4Midnight Storm Moonless Skyby Alex Soop

This debut collection from a Blackfoot Nation storyteller who lives in Calgary explores a wide range of horror. With “enthralling stories of reality mixed with terror, readers get a wicked glimpse into the genre of Indigenous Horror – a combination of First Nations legends, dark fantasy, apocalyptic and paranormal enchantment, and monstrous secrets,” promises the publisher. (Oct. 31)


5Motherthingby Ainslie Hogarth

Domestic psychodrama meets black comedy in a deliciously snarky feminist horror novel that offers multiple perspectives on motherhood by Windsor-born, Toronto-based Hogarth. Abby is a nursing home caregiver; she and her husband also live with her ailing mother-in-law (who has an unhealthy attachment to her son). After the older woman’s tragic death, Abby must take drastic measures against the only thing worse than an overbearing mother-in-law: the malicious ghost of an overbearing mother-in-law, who preys on her now-depressed son’s grief.


6River, Divertedby Jamie Tennant

In the Hamilton author and community radio programmer’s second novel, a disillusioned Vancouver writer of slasher films in her forties revisits her heartbreak over a male friend who died years earlier. A trip to Nagano, Japan, is triggered when a manuscript of the book they wrote together mysteriously appears in the mail. It was about the legend of the Japanese river monsters known as kappa that feast on young children, and past, present and fantasy converge as the creature appears throughout the novel as the protagonist River processes past trauma.


7The Other Onesby Jamesie Fournier, illustrated by Toma Feizo Gas

The Inuk author, raised in Denendeh, weaves modern horror tropes into traditional Inuit mythology in this haunting story collection. In “The Net,” for example, when a daughter crafts string figures out of the leftover fishing net she and her mother have repaired, the string figures awaken forces in the frozen lake below their remote cabin. (Nov. 1)


8The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witchesby Sangu Mandanna

The curse of every witch is that she must live in isolation for most of her life, according to this cozy adult rom-com debut from the young adult writer from Norwich, England. British witch Mika Moon has managed to hide her true identity and is leading a lonely existence when the opportunity arises for her to bend the rules in order to teach three other young orphaned witches how to hide their powers. Like the season’s beloved classic Practical Magic, this is an uplifting novel about friendship and finding one’s chosen family – with a dash of romance and plenty of whimsy.


9The Women Could Flyby Megan Giddings

In light of the American Supreme Courts recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade abortion rights, many dystopian tales are being likened to A Handmaid’s Tale. This timely novel is more than worthy of the comparison. The acclaimed American author of Lakewood uses shimmering prose to tell the story of a young biracial and bisexual woman coming of age in a totalitarian state that closely monitors single women, and fears and controls witches. It’s a modern world very similar to our own, with nuanced themes (the witches here are often BIPOC women, who are not given body autonomy) and supernatural gifts that make women simultaneously vulnerable and powerful. 


THE SCROLL

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