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SALT LAKE CITY — October is the perfect time to venture into the bizarre, unknown and fantastic. These books go beyond the predictable creepy, scary books usually favored at Halloween time and instead offer thrills, magic and page-turning mystery. So grab a blanket, your favorite hot beverage and settle in for a delightfully different reading experience.
1. “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Sargent has always been warned by her clairvoyant mother and aunts that she will cause her true love to die. On St. Mark’s Eve, in the freezing churchyard, for the first time she sees the spirit of a boy fated to die within the coming year. There are only two reasons she would see the Raven Boy: he’s her true love or she is the one that will kill him.
This brand new book will thrill readers. Bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater’s unique writing style and gripping story is perfect for late-night fall reading.
Content note: Occasional use of foul language, including a few F-words.
2. “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan
Since the day she was born, Kami Glass has had a best friend, someone she can talk to about everything. The only problem is that this friend, Jared, is a voice in her head. Then one day the legendary Lynburn family moves back to town, including two cousins, Ash and Jared.
This is a fabulous new book with humor, mystery, supernatural twists and stellar characters. The writing is sharp and beautiful and the story is wonderful. An instant favorite that is hard to put down.
3. “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Alina Starkov never expected much from life. But when she and her best friend Mal are sent on a dangerous mission in the Fold, a fog of terrible darkness filled with flesh-eating beasts, everything changes. When their ship is attacked and Mal’s life is in danger, Alina unleashes a hidden power even she didn’t know she had.
Leigh Bardugo has written an amazing novel, rooted in Russian folklore, and completely unique. It’s captivating, magical and full of emotion. With unexpected plot turns, gorgeous settings, adventure and romance, this book is a must-read.
Content note: One steamy kissing scene and some bloody violence.
4. “Tales of the Unexpected” by Roald Dahl
If you’re a fan of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s books like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Witches,” then you must read his writing for adults. A true master of the short narrative, no one can twist the regular into the irreverent and fascinating like Dahl.
Each of the stories in this collection is delightfully bizarre and even a bit terrifying, which is what makes them so memorable. From a wife with diverse culinary talents, to a broken-down old man with a priceless tattoo, to rich men with unusual gambling habits, every page will have you reeling and hungry for more.
5. “Deadly Undertakings” by Gregg Luke
Rebekah Smith loves the mystery and intrigue of her job as assistant to the medical examiner in Salt Lake City. After discovering a strange and disturbing pattern of deaths in healthy 100-year-old victims, Rebekah enlists the help of her boyfriend, special investigations officer Josh Logan. Together they uncover shocking truths about the deaths and unknowingly place themselves in the path of a psychotic killer.
This book by Utah author Gregg Luke is a heart-pounding medical thriller. Each chapter leaves the reader eager for more and the mystery keeps you guessing until the very end.
Content note: Detailed medical descriptions, including a lot about blood and cadavers, mild violence (fighting) and a few mild swear words.
6. “The Uncanny Valley: Tales from a Lost Town” by Gregory Miller
This collection of 33 nightmarish tales reads like a complete novel, each short story building on the last. Each story is a letter written by a different member of a strange town known as Uncanny Valley, relating events that typify their town.
Miller’s intriguing premise and incredibly creative stories are enthralling. Scary story lovers will devour this short book that boasts such creepy things as the ghost on the fourth floor, the enchanted lake, the unexplained murders, the jack-o-lanterns that carve themselves and the ghoulish old woman with the collection of dolls. Vivid and perfectly macabre.
Content note: Occasional foul language and creepy gore/violence.
For more spooky reads — for kids, teens and adults — take a look at my latest Studio 5 segment/list – Great Spooky Reads .
Scary story lovers: Check out my own Halloween inspired story, “The Wheel of Wasted Souls,” just one of the spooky stories written by Jolly Fish Press authors for the 2012 Creative Frighting Contest. Vote for your favorite story and you might be the one lucky voter who wins a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble.
*Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a bi-weekly column, Book Matters, for ksl.com and also contributes a monthly book segment to Studio 5. Her debut novel, "Blood Moon," comes out June 22, 2013. For more book fun, visit book-matters.com**