Missing October? But already hung up the Christmas lights? Here are a few spooky-flavored books on the Christmas season to “chill” you over until December.
You’ll never listen to Christmas songs on the radio the same way again. Joe Hill brings forth one of the most sinister villains to haunt the holiday season. Over many years, Charles Manx has grown into a vampire-like creature -- kidnapping children and bringing them to “Christmas Land” where they truly never grow up. Combining sinister set-up with engaging characters, Joe Hill’s novel stands up with even the best books written by his father, Stephen King.
Sir Terry Pratchett pens another satire set in his fantastical Discworld, this time for a holiday special! This black comedy tells the story of Death putting down his scythe and donning the big man’s red suit. Think THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but with more assassins, poker-wielding nannies, hung-over gods and of course, flying swine.
Many of you may be asking, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a Christmas book?” or even, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a novel?” But yes, this book/play/movie begins while sitting around a Christmas hearth. This novel continues the old English tradition of telling spooky stories around the holidays, recounting a “true ghost story” that affected the narrator in his youth.
No list would be complete without the most famous Christmas ghost story of all. If you are looking for a bit bigger of a read (the original was only 110 pages) or just want to know more about Charles Dickens’s novel, check out THE ANNOTATED CHRISTMAS CAROL. Filled with copies of the original illustrations, theatre playbills and plenty of footnotes, it tells the history of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in its entirety. Once December rolls around, I also recommend pairing it with THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS, a film about the creation and impact of Dickens’s little book.
I have a tree. It’s the tree that influenced my childhood. The tree provided fruit that stained my mouth and fingers. The tree scraped my hands and knees with its bark. The tree made the perfect amount of shade for my family’s Sunday picnics.
Do you have a tree?
We’re not alone. Many book characters have trees too. Here are a few of my favorites:
Edward and Adelia are best friends, but Adelia will move away soon. Adelia promises Edward that she will teach him to climb her tree before she leaves. This story of friendship and letting go is beautifully illustrated by more than just pictures in this read. I’m convinced Adelia’s tree is the perfect climbing tree and I wish to climb it myself.
A boy receives the love and generosity of a beautiful tree. She gives him her apples, leaves, branches, shade and more. The tree is a stalwart companion for the boy throughout his life. I adore this tree. She is kind and generous with no thought of reward. THE GIVING TREE is a symbol of true friendship and love. This book is a must for any reader.
This tree is loved by animals, humans, the young, and the old. It provides food, enjoyment, shade, and fond memories. One spring day, the tree doesn’t wake up and the animals and humans need to figure out a way to save it. This book stimulates out of the box thinking and shows that trees are important to everyone.
Tess is sad when her beloved tree is cut down. She doesn’t know what to do, but then she gets an idea. She decides to invite friends and family to celebrate the life of her tree and finds out how influential her tree was. This book is a good starter book for developing emotional intelligence. It shows Tess’s process of grief and reveals happiness is on the other side of sadness.
If you are a fan of beautiful art and song, then this book is for you. THERE WAS A TREE takes the song The Green Grass Grows All Around and sets it in Africa. Isadora’s art style and chosen setting pair well together to bring this story to life. A few added features of this book include: written music and pictures sprinkled throughout the text to ensure any child can sing along.
What is more irresistible in the cold months than a warm slice of pie? Put on your fuzzy slippers, grab a mug of cocoa and a slice of your favorite pie, and enjoy these delicious fictional delights.
A heartwarming story of faith and hope in a small town, Pie Town will hook readers from the beginning. A young hitchhiker seems to spell big trouble for the residents of this cozy New Mexico town. The poor, unsuspecting priest who brings her there gets caught up in the whole fiasco. Pie Town is the first in Hinton’s hit series!
You’ll love this empowering story of MJ, a wife and mother reclaiming her independence. What starts as an idea to spend more time with her husband turns into a high stakes poker streak! MJ will have to play her hand carefully or risk losing it all!
This rollercoaster young adult novel deals with the difficult topic of divorce. Lily is forced to live with her father and new step-family after her mother gets a job offer. It’ll be easy as apple pie, right?
A chance encounter on a country road with a mysterious stranger claims Hannah Swensen as the main suspect in a murder investigation! The victim has blackberry pie stains on his shirt and Hannah must follow the crumbs to figure out his identity. You’ll enjoy this charming mystery!
The only book I know of that Rory Kinnear has narrated (so far) is THE WORD IS MURDER by Anthony Horowitz. The Word is Murder is the first book in a planned series, however, so I have great hope that Kinnear will keep narrating. Kinnear’s narration of this book was so good that I frequently stopped whatever else I was doing and just sat there, marveling at his skill. Kinnear not only gave different, nuanced voices to every character in The Word is Murder, you could also hear personality traits and feel whatever it was the character was feeling.
January LaVoy has narrated a lot of books from popular authors like James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham. I personally loved her reading of Paula McLain’s LOVE AND RUIN. This tale of Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gelhorn, who was a talented author and journalist in her own right, was fascinating to me, and I couldn’t stop listening.
Let me start by gushing about Jane Harper, a mystery author who is so good at writing about the Australian Outback as a character that even if you read her work on a cold December day, your mouth will suddenly be parched, and you’ll start checking your skin for sun damage. Add Steve Shanahan’s excellent narration of Harper’s books to the equation, and you’ll be absolutely transported into the story. Start with Harper’s first book, THE DRY, or with her most recent stand-alone, THE LOST MAN.
Bahni Turpin has been getting a lot of praise for her amazing reading of the breakaway YA title of 2018, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE. However, Turpin is also a great narrator to keep your eye on if you’re interested in YA books with a social justice theme. Turpin also narrated the breakout hits THE HATE U GIVE and the young readers edition of HIDDEN FIGURES.
Julia Whelan has narrated not one, but two of my favorite books that have come out recently. Her excellent reading of Tara Westover’s memoir, EDUCATED, about a young woman growing up in a survivalist family in Idaho, is gripping storytelling made even more amazing by the fact that it really happened. Whelan also narrates FAR FROM THE TREE an award-winning YA novel about three siblings separated by adoption who find each other as teenagers, which I found very touching. Listen to Far from the Tree with tissues handy.