Author Sadie Hartmann’s Halloween Reads

Some trusted classics and fresh finds 

By Sarah Stackhouse October 31, 2023


In the spirit of Halloween, Tacoma resident and author of 101 Horror Books to Read Before You’re Murdered, Sadie Hartmann, recommends some of her favorite scary books and stories. It’s time to let the flashlight cast eerie shadows in the dark, listen for mysterious sounds outside your window, and immerse yourself in the world of spooky fiction.

“There are two new picture books I love, Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago, and The Skull by Jon Klassen,” Hartmann says. “And I recently read and enjoyed the YA novel The Grimmer by Naben Ruthum. This thrilling story confronts themes of racism, grief, and addiction through strong characters and scary imagery.” Hartmann describes it as a modern John Bellairs book.

For adult readers, Hartmann suggests Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, a short story that delves into the darker side of human nature, social conformity, and the dangers of blind tradition. “The Lottery is the cornerstone of all rural, small-town horror. Jackson asks her audience, ‘What kind of horrors are like-minded people capable of when they’re tucked away from society and left to their own devices?’ The answer, one we already know, is the scariest aspect of the story is that we keep telling the same tale over and over again — a timeless and terrifying truth.”

The 1955 classic, The October Country by Ray Bradbury, is a compilation of 19 macabre short stories. “The stories range from darkly humorous, like the man obsessed with his own skeleton, to quietly chilling, as in The Crowd, where a man has a startling revelation about people who gather around the scene of an accident,” Hartmann says. “My favorite way of reading such a collection is by the handful on rainy days by the fire, or savoring them one at a time with my afternoon tea. This book is almost always available at your local library.”

Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by Christina Henry is a retelling of the beloved 1820 short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. “Henry expands on the simple story with vivid characters and a compelling tale of grief, loss, and family,” Hartmann says, “Set in an atmospheric small town, the themes of bravery and friendship will appeal to many horror-curious readers seeking something spooky yet heartfelt.” Sadie Hartmann will be in conversation with Christina Henry regarding her new fantasy/horror novel, Good Girls Don’t Die, on Nov. 17 at Third Place Books in Ravenna.

Sadie Hartmann, also known as Mother Horror, is the co-owner of the monthly horror fiction subscription company, Night Worms, and a Bram Stoker Awards nominated co-editor of Human Monsters: A Horror Anthology. She lives in Tacoma with her husband of 20-plus years, where they stare at Mount Rainier, eat street tacos, and hang out with their three kids.

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