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At the Library: Scary stories to shiver the soul

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As daylight fades earlier and the weather turns drearier, it’s a great time of year to read a scary story.

So, as a nod to late October and the spooky thrills that go with it, I teamed up with LeNee Gatton, our collection development librarian, to compile a list of books that’ll make readers of all ages want to sleep with the lights on.

First up are LeNee’s recommendations for titles aimed at kids ages 9 to 13. They range from seriously intense to atmospherically spooky to downright funny, and in some cases all three.

“Dark Waters” by Kathrine Arden. After the encounters with the Smiling Man in “Small Spaces” and “Dead Voices,” friends Ollie, Coco and Brian are looking forward to a relaxing boat trip where, surely, they will be safe. But when a squall stirs up thick mist and fog, the kids realize there is no escape from the Smiling Man — or the monsters that accompany him.

“The Hiddenseek” by Nate Cernosek. When Holly and Hector Thorn are left behind during a game of hide-and-seek, they find themselves transported to a gloomy, magical world that is seemingly trapped in time: the Hiddenseek, a realm where a witch stalks children and turns them into statues.

“Hush-A-Bye” by Jody Lee Mott. Two sisters who are being bullied at school find an old doll’s head, and soon after their tormentors start getting hurt; it doesn’t take long for the sisters to realize the doll will stop at nothing to get what it wants.

“Spirit Hunters” by Ellen Oh. Harper is dismayed by local rumors that her family’s new house is haunted and that every family that has lived there has suffered terrible tragedies, a situation that turns sinister when her cheerful little brother begins acting in alarming ways. (Novelist K-8 description)

“Out To Get You” and “Only If You Dare” by Josh Allen. These two collections each contain 13 chilling tales that will send chills down your spine, and are “the new, quick pick for patrons who want more after reading all the classic ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.’” (Review adapted from School Library Journal)

“Night Frights: The Haunted Mustache” by Joe McGee. Fifth-graders Parker and Lucas get more than they bargained for when they seek to debunk one of Wolver Hollow’s greatest legends, about a haunted mustache that, every year on the anniversary of its owner’s death, seeks a lip to claim as its own. Also, coming soon “Night Frights: The Lurking Lima Bean.” Madeline Harper does not like lima beans and she’s not afraid to make that clear. But when she gets sent to

bed for not eating her vegetables, she’ll find

something far worse than her mother’s

frustration. A lima bean scorned is a

terrible thing and it will not stop

until Madeline Harper eats

her vegetables!

And, to wrap up, Krystal’s recommendations for a few books that’ll give grown-ups the shivers:

“The Last House on Needless Street” by Catriona Ward. Stephen King himself gave this one his stamp of approval, calling it “a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end.” In that spirit, I’ll agree with reviewers who note that most of the plot points are better left unsaid (so as not to take away from the book’s guaranteed freak out-factor), but suffice to say there’s a creepy house, an even creepier man who lives there, and a series of unspeakable horrors that are eventually revealed.

“Nothing But Blackened Teeth” by Cassandra Khaw. This utterly disturbing novella immediately ups the ante on the tried-and-true haunted house trope, then doubles down for good measure when a group of adventurous friends reunite for a wedding. Looking for a thrill, they decide to celebrate in an abandoned Japanese mansion — which just so happens to be built upon the bones of a restless bride whose lonesome, hungry spirit is still in residence, and in search of companionship.

• LeNee Gatton is collection development librarian and Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at

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