A Guest in the House
Abby knows she's no catch, but she is ready to do her best with her new husband, David, and stepdaughter, Crystal; they live together in a lake house all trying to make a fresh start after the death of David's first wife, Sheila. As she works to support a grieving Crystal, Abby discovers that some things David told her don't add up. Then Sheila starts haunting her.
Carroll's stunning visuals bring to life this twisty, unnerving tale that manages to echo old stories yet be something new. Readers who enjoy horror where plenty is left to interpretation will want to pick up A Guest in the House, perhaps with a warm blanket and beverage to stave off the inevitable chills. Fans of Carroll's previous work will also want to pick this up.
Violence; images of a corpse
Beetle & the Hollowbones
It's hard being stuck in the middle; Beetle is a goblin witch, and as much as she loves her grandmother, she desperately wants to go to the fancy magic school which means learning "real" magic instead of just goblin magic. But it's okay because she has her bestie Blob Ghost (BG) over at the mall! At least, until it turns out that the mall is going to be demolished, and Beetle can't help BG relocate if she can't find the source of BG's haunting. And then even worse, Beetle's old friend and kind of crush Kat is back in town, and acting oddly. How can she save BG, find out what's wrong with Kat, and learn real magic all in the next week?
Beetle's story is likely to resonate with readers who enjoyed The Witch Boy series, Snapdragon, and the Okay Witch series: stories of protagonists pulled between different worlds and desires, trying to be true to themselves. Though we're dealing with goblins and ghosts and skeleton cats, the story and art aren't particularly scary so it's also a great pick for younger readers who like Halloween, but don't want especially spooky or grim stories.
Home Sick Pilots
Take the 90's punk scene of California, add some disenfranchised youth and secret organizations, and stir in haunted objects: this unlikely combination creates Home Sick Pilots. It's also kind of a mech series, but to explain that would be spoilers. Just know that the story follows Ami, who's been missing and may be dead, her bandmates who aren't very good friends, and some interesting mysteries from Ami's past. Regardless, this series is beautiful and strange and sad, and the art helps nail this unusual combination of elements, making it one to absolutely have on the library shelf.
Though they're very different formats, Home Sick Pilots could be a great pick for fans of the surreal horror manga The Summer Hikaru Died. The mix of references to the past with sci-fi tech and an ensemble cast of complicated people means readers of Paper Girls might want to pick this one up too.
No sex or nudity, but plenty of gore and some drug use, as well as cursing.
Aisha, an American-Muslim woman, is struggling. Her partner is suspicious of his mother, her fellow tenants are afraid after the bombing in their building, and she is getting little sleep because of the monstrous creatures that keep appearing. Even as Aisha tries to find her way, the monsters she keeps seeing are here to feed upon and stoke the racial tensions in the building.
Fans of thought-provoking horror like Jordan Peele's Get Out will want to snap up Infidel; the story will also appeal to horror fans who like twisting tales that don't play out how you would expect.
Violence and gore; xenophobic language; demonic monsters
Secrets of Camp Whatever
Willow is reluctantly attending summer camp in her new town; Camp Whatever is on an island, which is said to be crawling with dangerous creatures. As Willow begins to explore, she learns more about the true nature of the inhabitants, putting herself on a collision course with the camp director, who has his own ambitions.
Readers who want some spooky, but not too scary fun; fans of the curious, chaotic kid energy in Gravity Falls
Some violence and blood but is not too graphic
The Autumnal: The Complete Series
There have been many stories written about haunted houses, but what about a haunted town? Kat left her hometown of Comfort Notch, N.H., home of the most picturesque fall, at just 9 years old. Now, following her mother's death, she and her daughter Sybil make their way back to Comfort Notch. Although this town looks like a quintessential New England small town at the height of its fall-time glory, there is something dark and sinister hiding under the fallen leaves.
Fans of atmospheric horror will find the mix of the fall colors of the leaf motif and the gripping, violent plot a chilling delight.
Violence, Course Language, Body Horror, Drug Use
The HIlls of Estrella Roja
Ashley Robin Franklin
Estrella Roja is a small town where few outsiders come and mysterious red lights overlook the town. Kat, a college student with a podcast on the paranormal, shows up to investigate Estrella Roja's mysteries just as Mari, who hasn't been in town in years, arrives for her abuela's funeral. The two team up to investigate, but things become more serious when they discover Mari's family is tightly intertwined with Estrella Roja's secrets.
With illustrations that capture charming characters and creepy scenes alike, The Hills of Estrella Roja is a spooky adventure full of family and queer friendship! Give this to readers who enjoyed the adventure and characters in Emma Steinnkellner's The Okay Witch or Molly Ostertag's Witch Boy series and are ready for some reads from the teen section.
Some close-ups on scorpions and bugs
Assumed Hispanic or Latine |
The Me You Love in the Dark
Artist Ro rents a country house to find her new artistic voice, but she gets a lot more than she bargains for when she starts interacting with the entity that haunts the house.
Fans of horror stories that explore art and creativity and/or a good haunted house tale will enjoy the atmospheric art and creeping, shifting monster.
Violence and gore, including manipulation of a corpse
Planchette is the new witch in town, excited to own her very own house! At least, until she starts moving in and realizes why it was so cheap: it's super haunted. But she's a kitchen witch and though she tries a few tactics to get rid of the ghosts, nothing sticks. So she starts asking around town for help from other witches and ends up helping a witch who thinks she doesn't have much power, a cursed girl, and a siren who hates her powers. What could be more bonding than fighting problems together, after all?
The cute and spooky style is ideal for readers who enjoy stories like Creepy Cat or Hooky, both of which also happen to be webcomics with print runs. There's something about it that reminds me of Invader Zim or The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, so I could see Unfamiliar being a hit with readers who prefer a darker story with a sense of humor and distinctive style.