TTT: Chilling Books …

… you know, to stave away the heat.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke And The Bookish.


These are the creepiest, most chilling books I know. (Do note that I am a total coward. Pottermore definitely chuckled evilly as it placed me in Gryffindor.)

  1. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Seriously, has everyone read this yet?
  2. Ghost Train by Paul Yee and Harvey Chan: A fantastical, chilling story about real, historic tragedies. I’m definitely going to post about it sometime soon.
  3. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan: Just. The. Creepiest.
  4. Half World by Hiromi Goto: The more I think about it, the more I feel like this one has Coraline beat. (Only making that comparison because I used the both of them for my thesis.)
  5. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman: Both beautiful and creepy. Like a lot of stuff by Gaiman, I suppose.


  1. The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde. The stories themselves aren’t creepy (I’ve reread this!); what gets me at the end is how horribly unfair and almost (almost) accidental what happens is. I write almost because there is also, beneath the glorious adventures and noble attempts on the part of many characters to do their bests, an insidious, repellent evil that slowly manifests. You’ve been warned – but do read it! (Yash, you might like this; at least, you will like the preface for the questions it raises of history and historywriters.)
  2. Google searches have failed to find the title of this book I have in mind, one of the romance/horror novels Elizabeth Peters published under the name of Barbara Michaels. What I remember is a niece(?) visiting her aunt, who is unmarried and an inveterate crafter, and meeting the local notables. And then things start to go wrong, and keep getting creepier (the things that go wrong start out pretty mild) until the climactic scene when the niece and her new boyfriend find a slip of paper dropped by one of the baddies who are persecuting the aunt (there’s not one baddie, there’s a ring of them; it is so much scarier having to figure out who can and cannot be trusted when a lot of people are lying). The writing on the paper is in Latin, and it looks like the Lord’s Prayer, except for one little conjugation: Our Father, who wert in heaven… *Shudder*
  3. This Dark Endeavour and Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel: a young Victor Frankenstein dabbles in science and darker matters. Definitely good reads!
  4. Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Truna Schart Hyman. Though this is now a favourite story (Kimmel and Hyman? I’m sold!) when I was small I was afraid to read this book.
  5. Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke, translated by Oliver Latsch, illustrated by Andrea Offermann. A MG novel with characters whose (un)trustworthiness is not immediately apparent.


I’m not easily chilled, so this one is a toughy. Alsotrying to come up with stuff I haven’t already recommended….

  1. Genesis by Bernard Beckett – the end is very creepy if you don’t see it coming. Well written and… well, chilling. For a YA audience for sure.
  2. The Screaming Staircase: Lockwood and Co. by Jonathan Stroup – charming and thrilling, mysterious and fun… and actually pretty chilling at times.
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – beautiful and both chilling in the uncanny of the novel and in the real…
  4. Clockwork by Philip Pullman – here Pullman is really playing on the fairy tale and scary story motif and I think he does a great job creating the creepy atmosphere.
  5. Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey – simply a well written “horror” series. It’s thrilling, chilling, gruesome, dark, mysterious and features great characters! A great series for those middle graders evolving into teens – or for readers who aren’t into romance but can take the chills this one delivers.


Like Steph, I’m definitely hard to chill but the following books managed the (almost) impossible:

  1. Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn. Books about how creepy and horrible people are just make me shudder because they are all such possible premises. At least with witches and trolls etc., I have the security in knowing that these beings are not impossible but most probably do not exist except in our verdant imaginations.
  2. The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer
    Okay, the demon in this is straight out creepy. Speaks to Beyer’s wordsmithery because a lesser author would not have scared me with the same character as she did with this nameless demon bent on vengeance.
  3. Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
    When all control is stripped from you and you are left to the mercy of people handling your unconscious body; when the government abuses its power and you are subject to the most horrible secret agent in the history of the world; when the world is dying because of bio-terrorism and the antidote is only available to people from a certain percentile of the population. Yep, I was chilled.
  4. Ravenge by Yoko Ogawa
    Okay, so this is not children’s literature but it is definitely one of the tops books in this category. It’s not even about ghosts or anything but these stories are linked in such clever ways and written so brilliantly (and translated even more brilliantly) that chills abound.
  5. The Diviners by Libba Bray
    Little John, you all. Enough said.

4 responses to “TTT: Chilling Books …

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