October is here and that means the count-down to Halloween! We’ve put together a selection of suitably spooky, autumnal books, perfect for curling up with as the nights draw in. YA, 9+ fiction, bedtime stories or a calendar of paintings, we have something for everyone.
Witch, Finbar Hawkins, available in HB, Audio & E, new in PB October 2021, 12+
If this cover artwork by Edward Bettison doesn’t sing autumn and mystery, then we’re not sure what does! Witch is an enchantingly dark debut about the power of women, witchcraft, fury and revenge. In 17th-century England, civil war rages and witches have become pawns in a plot to oust the king. After witnessing the murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers.
‘Witch grips you in its spell from first page to last.’ Jonathan Stroud, author of The Lockwood & Co. series
Listen to Finbar reading a chapter of Witch here
The Monsters We Deserve, Marcus Sedgwick, available in HB, PB & E, YA
Taut, tense, terrifying. Prize-winning author Marcus Sedgwick writes of the monsters we create in literature and in our own minds in this reappraisal of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Reality and perception merge, fuelled by poisoned thoughts. A ghostly, menacing novel about, reason, the imagination, and the creative act of reading and writing.
‘An ambitious and original take on the gothic.’ Observer
Dangerous Remedy, Kat Dunn, available in HB, PB, Audio & E, YA
Also with a flavour of Frankenstein is Kat’s dazzling, historical adventure, Dangerous Remedy, set in the extravagant and deadly world of the French Revolution. With own voices queer romance and found family, this is a whirlwind of history, horror, dark science and magic. Meet the Battalion of the Dead: Camille, Ada, Guil and Al who cheat the guillotine of its bloody harvest, even as the blade falls. Their latest rescue is a girl possessing disturbing powers, hunted by both Royalists and Revolutionaries. Who is playing who in this treacherous game of science, magic, love and loss?
‘An intelligent, lush & rollicking opener to what promises to be your new YA obsession.’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Deathless Girls
The Battalion of the Dead return in Monstrous Design, out now, and the final instalment of the Battalion’s tale, Glorious Poison, is out in 2022.
The Hare and the Moon, Catherine Hyde available in HB, Non-fiction
Tapping more into the autumnal theme than the spooky is The Hare and the Moon. An exquisite, full colour country almanac following the phases of the moon and a hare's journey throughout the twelve months of the year in a lyrical tribute to the natural world. Flick through to October and you will find a bird, a tree and a flower for the autumn and wintry months ahead, each stunningly captured by Catherine’s brush and accompanied by snippets of folklore, fairytale, myth and legend.
‘This is a treasure…’ Jackie Morris, illustrator of The Lost Spells
Keep your eye out for Catherine’s second calendar of paintings, The Bee and the Sun, out next month!
Skin Taker, Michelle Paver, available in HB, E & Audio, new in PB Sept 2021, 9+
Step into the Stone Age for the sinister and unsettling. In the Dark Time of midwinter, disaster strikes the Forest. Chaos rules. Desperate clans battle for survival. Only demons thrive. With their world in turmoil, Torak, Renn and Wolf are tested as never before. And as a new evil haunts the devastated land, Torak must risk his sanity, his life and even his souls to save everything he loves...
‘It transports us a long way from the here and now.’ Sunday Times, Children’s Book of the Week
Michelle introduces and reads from Skin Taker here
Lionheart Girl, Yaba Badoe available in HB October 2021, 12+
Time for more witches! African myth and magic beat in the heart of this fable about witchcraft and superstition, the bonds we choose and those we cannot. Born into a family of West African witches, Sheba’s terrified of her mother who is deadly dangerous. But like mother, like daughter – magic runs through her blood and Sheba discovers powers of her own. She too can shape-shift. Through the communion of ancient magic, blood and friendship, she slowly uncovers the murderous truth about her stolen childhood and steels herself for the future. She must protect the hunted from the hunter – her mother.
‘Deeply atmospheric, stunningly original… Utterly unmissable.’ Sophie Anderson, author of The Castle of Tangled Magic
Yaba introduces Lionheart Girl here
Ten Nasty Little Toads, Steve Cole, illustrated by Tim Archbold, available in HB, PB, E & Audio, 7+
And now for the perfect Halloween bedtime story. Take your pick from a collection of horribly hilarious, spooky, cautionary tales full of hairballs and havoc, tantrums and time travel, gruesomeness, graveyards and slime! Ten follysome toads can never change their beastly habits despite the efforts of goodly witch Madame Rana who reminds them ‘It’s never too late to change.’
‘Plenty of horrible humour, and a touch more redemption than Roald Dahl might have offered.’ Guardian
Have YOU ever eaten a toad’s eyeball? The taste is toad-eye for!