The Magical Books That Fostered My Own Budding Love of "Spooky Season"
I’ve never been the biggest fan of the “spooky season.” As someone who’s more of a wuss than anything else, I can’t really stomach much in the way of horror, thrills, or general spooky content. Five years ago I actually tried to read some horror books and let’s just say it was a less-than-successful venture.
But somehow this year as the weather turned cool and September turned to October, I got excited. Not just because I love fall weather and all the holidays that occur during the latter part of the year; I was totally excited by the prospect of spooky season being upon us.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m still going to steer clear of most outwardly terrifying things. But over the past few years, I’ve been reading more books and consuming more media that has changed my mind about the season. And last year, I even tried writing my own witchy book (Hex, I Did It Again, a sapphic YA contemporary fantasy about a girl who accidentally hexes her crush into a lifetime of unrequited love. Hijinks ensue.) This means that as the days tick down toward Halloween, I’m actually…excited?
Who am I?
So what are these books that have changed my mind? I’m so glad you asked, because I’d love to sing their praises!
"Cemetery Boys" by Aiden Thomas
Although this book was published like two years ago, I didn’t settle down to read it until this past March. I was immediately swept away in the world Thomas created, where a trans teen, Yadriel, tries to prove to his family that he can be a brujo and summons a ghost — except he gets the wrong one. Julian is vexing and gets under his skin and their relationship made me so happy, and the book just ripples with fall vibes.
"These Witches Don’t Burn" by Isabel Sterling
I read this one around the time I was drafting my own witchy book, and I absolutely loved everything about it, from the unique magic system to the sapphic relationships to the stakes — high as can be. This book is an incredible contemporary fantasy and was just delightful to sink into, and I can’t wait to get to the sequel!
"Ninth House" by Leigh Bardugo
Bardugo’s adult debut is probably the most abjectly terrifying book on this list, and I did read it in the middle of summer which is…very much not the season for it. It’s set at Yale and follows Alex Stern through a tumultuous year of ghost sightings and other terrifying moments. I fell head over heels for this no-holds-barred portrayal, and while I’d never in a million years want to live in the world Bardugo crafted, I sure did enjoy the visit.
"Payback’s A Witch" by Lana Harper
Listen I love a good sapphic romance. Throw in witches and revenge and a magical tournament and I am there. This book was a delight from start to finish, and it definitely had me wishing I could visit Thistle Grove for myself to see what’s going on in this epicenter of magic.
I’ve still got a ways to go before I turn into a “Halloween is my favorite holiday” person, and I may never get there. For now, at least, I’m grateful for books doing their job and showing me beauty where I thought there was only fear.
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