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Bookworms Review: Spooky Autumn Reads

A pumpkin, stack of books, and candle. Now that fall is finally here it’s time to curl up with a good spooky book. Illustration by Sophie McEwen.

As we finally start to get some colder weather and falling leaves, it is the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book. Some might enjoy a comforting Gilmore Girls-esque read to get in the autumn mood. But these book recommendations go out to everyone who feels that the beginning of October, or earlier, marks the beginning of Halloween, and to those readers just looking to enjoy the turning of the seasons with some spooky, slightly thrilling, fall reads.

“Ghost Wall” by Sarah Moss is a deeply unsettling, anthropologically focused novella with an echo of “Lord of the Flies.” It follows sixteen-year-old Silvie as she participates in a historical reenactment of the Iron Age in Northumbria, at the urging of her unpleasant and history-obsessed father. Things go awry quickly, as many of the participants begin to take the reenactment too far. Besides the overall upsetting nature of the story, the thing that was the most bothersome was the writing style; there was no formatting for quotes. Although it sometimes took on a beautiful prose-like style, there were no line breaks and no quotation marks to set the quotes apart from the rest of the text. It would sometimes take minutes to decipher what was dialogue, and even longer to figure out who was saying that dialogue. The characters were a bit one-dimensional but given the length of the book that’s understandable. Overall, it felt like an interesting beginning place for a great book, but it was missing something. This book could be a good one for anyone who really likes “Lord of the Flies” or the general nastiness of human nature, but not everyone. It is also worth noting that “Ghost Wall” contains mentions of abuse and racism, and has an underlying story of domestic abuse. 

Horror and slasher movie geeks will rejoice in “The Final Girl Support Group” by Grady Hendrix, as a group of survivors of horror movie-like scenarios are hunted once again. After one of their group members is killed, the “final girls” begin to realize that they’re back to fighting to survive, each in their own way. Each of the women has a story loosely based on horror movies many readers might be familiar with, such as “Halloween” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” The portrayal of these women and the way that they are each coping with their trauma is one of the most enjoyable parts of the book for those not reading just to be afraid. Other than that this book is just scary, in the psychological thriller make-you-afraid-to-be-alone in a house kind of way. The reader experiences the transpiring events from the perspective of the paranoid and anxious Lynette Tarkington (the blueprint for authors who randomly choose names for their characters), whose constant terror ends up transferring to the reader with shocking ease. If you have ever sought out a book that perfectly replicates the feeling of a horror movie— this is the one. 

“A Good Girls Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson is for “Pretty Little Liars,” “One of Us is Lying,” and true crime fans alike. The story follows 17-year-old Pippa Fitz-Amobi into her senior year of high school, where she starts her senior project investigating the murder of a local high schooler in her small town of Fairview. The project quickly turns into an investigation to prove the alleged murderer’s innocence; shocking discoveries are made and things get dangerous, not only for Pippa but for the ones she loves most. With some new connections and questionable investigating techniques, Pippa starts finding the answers that everyone else overlooked. “A Good Girls Guide to Murder” is the perfect book for those who want a twisted crime thriller quick read, without all the scare. Although the book was easy to understand, many of the main characters were one-dimensional, but given that this is only the first book in the series it is understandable. Along with the story not being super unique to other books/films, the ending wasn’t all that surprising; little hints towards the killer were easily picked out, leaving little to no surprise at the end. 

A wedding mystery similar to “Big Little Lies” and “Knives Out,” “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley follows a bride, plus one, best man, wedding planner, and bridesmaid off the coast of Ireland at a secluded wedding celebration. The drinks start flowing and the party begins, resentments and petty jealousies are soon rehashed. When a storm traps the wedding party, a body quickly turns up. Foley creates an excellent mix of characters that all have their own stories that have shaped who they are, along with a detailed narrative. Each chapter is from a different character’s point of view, which gives great insight into how each character perceived the situation, giving dimension to the book. The characters are far from likable, but a few evoke sympathy, beautifully reflecting their wild personalities with real, relatable challenges. This book is by no means deeply twisted or disturbing but is highly entertaining and easy to devour. Foley manages to weave in several themes, from marital challenges, to body image issues, to grief. This book is the perfect mix between thriller, mystery, and a gossip site, giving truly nasty and dramatic characters with a classic crime feel. 

With all of the murder and fear in so many thrilling reads it’s sometimes nice to relax with a palate cleanser, or simply skip the murder all together and just read a witch-themed romance like “The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling.” After brokenhearted witch Vivienne Jones curses her ex-boyfriend, with what she thought was a harmless curse, it begins to have a greater impact than she intended and they are forced to work together to stop everything from going wrong and break the curse. This book is the epitome of cheesy romance and the strong execution of the autumn theme makes it the perfect October romance read. 

Whatever genre or style you enjoy for your fall books, we wish you a happy cozy reading season. If you have any topics, genres, authors, or specific books to recommend you can contact us at [email protected]

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Bookworms Review: Spooky Autumn Reads