After a long hot summer, fall has finally arrived and we get to settle in with our heaters, extra socks, and pumpkin spice everything (if you’re so inclined). For the month of October, Halloween is definitely at the forefront of everyone’s mind whether you’re getting into the season by helping your kids pick out their costumes, planning your own spooky celebration, or devouring a new mystery. Some readers enjoy suggestions to send them on their next bookish journey; here are ten from us.
1. Maritime Mysteries and the Ghosts Who Surround Us by Bill Jessome
There may be a lot of ghost story collections floating around, but this one is truly special. The author takes you through every nook and cranny of the maritimes to tell tales old and new. What’s really nice about this book from the Maritime Mysteries series is that the stories are arranged into chapters that center around different themes (sea stories, Holiday spots, churches, etc.). They’re also extra short stories so you can read as many or as few in a sitting as you want, perfect for those shorter bus rides and longer bedtime reading.
2. Halifax Haunts: Exploring the City’s Spookiest Places by Steve Vernon
Do you love when an author crosses true crime with folklore? Because we sure do! It leaves you wondering if something sinister really did happen… This book will likely leave you with more questions than answers about some of your favourite local places. At the very least you’ll never look at the Neptune Theatre or the Brewery Market the same way again.
3. Wicked Woods: Ghost Stories from Old New Brunswick by Steve Vernon
It’s kind of reassuring (albeit in a creepy way) that every town of any size has its histories and secrets and mysteries. What’s great about this collection is that the author takes his readers across hundreds of years as well as New Brunswick in these stories. And while each tale is about a ghost or phantom of some sort, they are not your typical “floating white sheet”stories. We’re talking witches, and cannibals, and vikings, and phantom ships, here. And lots more.
4. Bluenose Ghosts by Helen Creighton
While other Nova Scotian folklorists like Steve Vernon and Bill Jessome have their own succinct way of telling their tales, Creighton’s narrative style feels refreshingly leisurely. She breaks the fourth wall and talks conversationally and informally with her readers but humbly assigns due credit to the folks telling her their stories. This book’s been in print since its first debut in 1957, and remains popular today- a sure sign of a book’s longevity. It’s also a trifecta: appropriate for Halloween but still suitable for anytime reading, and a Maritime classic to boot.
5. Last Lullaby by Alice Walsh
It’s no secret that mysteries and the supernatural go hand in hand when it comes to finding something good to read for Halloween. And in the case of the former, what do you get when you cross a random crib death with a mysterious adoption and a sudden disappearance? An intriguing conundrum, no doubt! We promise this is one of those unputdownable books where you crave answers and can’t stop until you have them.
6. Haunted Girl: Esther Cox & the Great Amherst Mystery by Laurie Glenn Norris with Barbara Thompson
We love when historical background is applied to a mystery. It gives context to the story and the reader a lot to think about. Esther Cox in 1800s Amherst remains one of the most debated-about historical figures of all time. Was she actually tormented by paranormal demons or just tormented and looking for attention? There’s no denying some strange things happened to her, from fevers to a stabbing, but at whose hand? The authors try to uncover the truth and explore the fascination behind this woman in a very engrossing way.
This is a great look at the remarkable life of one of the best-known detectives in Maritime history, Peter “Peachie” Carroll. Carroll held many job titles during his life (a ghost hunter, a railway guard, and a bounty hunter among others), but was best remembered as a law officer who solved several murders. It’s definitely worth the time to check out this man’s exploits and compare how we’d perceive them and his practices today.
8. Foul Deeds: A Rosalind Mystery by Linda Moore
Distractions from the stress of daily life are always necessary and healthy—jogging, cooking, or for us a good book. The main character in Foul Deeds, criminologist Rosalind, prefers community theatre as a means to escape her job and the pain that comes with it, P.I. McBride. This hobby doesn’t help her in trying to solve the murder of a local environmental lawyer though, and it soon becomes clear these two have more than a simple case of “whodunit” on their hands. As it so often happens, a cover-up is involved, and those who’ll stop at nothing to keep it that way.
9. The Lunenburg Werewolf: And Other Stories of the Supernatural by Steve Vernon
If you’re hoping to get in one last campfire before it gets too cold, we’d look no further than this book to take turns reading out loud. These scary stories take place all over Nova Scotia, from Lunenburg to Pictou Island. You’ll learn about the Lady in Blue from Peggy’s Cove, the Kentville Phantom Artist, and more. Listen to the crackle of the fire, the wind in and trees, and see who can make the deepest, bone-chilling voice.
Blog post by Meaghan Steeves