Tag Archives: halloween

Thrilling Tween Reads for Halloween

It’s ten days before Halloween. Ten children, a mix of boys and girls, cram together around the mirror of the upstairs bathroom. The lights are turned off. The window is blacked out. The only light is a small tea candle that sits next to the jack-o-lantern soap dispenser. A few of the children close their eyes, but most stare fixedly at the mirror’s reflection waiting, waiting for a ghostly face to appear.

“Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary…Bloody Mary,” the children chant thirteen times.

Someone screams.

Then everyone screams.

The lights come on and the laughing begins…

This is the most vivid memory I have of my childhood. I even remember the smell the candle made when the flame was blown out. I also remember my friend the next day unable to go to the restroom by himself because he was afraid of the mirror within. I never wondered as a child why I was so fascinated with ghost stories. Now that I am an adult, the question lingers—wanting an answer. Why are children so fascinated with ghoulish tales?

Like most children’s lore, scary stories are used by children as a tool to teach each other the concepts of the unknown. These ghoulish tales teach children about concepts they should now be trying to implement in their everyday life such as: responsibility, attentiveness, obedience, and honesty. They also teach children how to overcome and face fears, achieve hard things, and how to deal with the unexpected. Plus, scary stories are fun! Like the thrill of riding the roller coaster, a creepy book can offer the same exciting sensation.

Below is a list of thrilling tween books you might want to try reading this Halloween season. Not all of them are creep-crawly books. I’ve thrown in some suspense ones as well:

22673361The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden, by Emma Trevayne. One of the best openings to a book I’ve ever read. A boy who works as a grave robber digs up the body of a boy who looks identical to him. Slightly spooky and very entertaining with a fairy twist.

28669595The Scourge, by Jennifer A. Nielsen. A girl is sent to an island to die with the rest of those infected with an incurable disease. Suspenseful and entertaining. This book has a lot of humor in it too.

28263028Collide, by Christine Fonseca. A psychic assassin is targeting a group of teens that have been experimented on by the government. Very suspenseful! I listened to this one on audiobook and enjoyed it.

18651970The Thickety series, by J. A. White. Each book gets creeper and creeper as the story goes on. If you’re into witch hunts, creepy woods, and ghost children, this series is for you. This is probably one of the scariest series on the list.

2213661The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. A story about a boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard with a murderer trying to find him. Mildly scary but with humor as well. I listened to this one on audiobook and enjoyed it.

9460487Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. A boy discovers a group of strange children that are being hunted by monsters. This one can be very creepy. It is now a Tim Burton film.

298567The Wardstone Chronicles, by Joseph Delaney. This is a series about a boy who is training to become a “Spook”. Someone who deals with witches, ghosts, and the unholy unnatural. Probably the creepiest series on the list.

6186357The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. This whole series is pretty thrilling. A boy wakes up in a box with no memories. He meets a group of boys trapped in a giant maze with monsters that come out at night. Also a movie but the books are better.

emblazoners-promo-imageWhat are some of your favorite reads during this time of year? Let me know in the comments. Enjoy your reads and keep in touch!



A Cauldron of Herbs

Scary halloween laboratory
A Cauldron Of Herbs by Christina Mercer

In honor of this Harvest/Autumn/Halloween time of year, I decided to stir up some magic for you. Plant magic, that is! Nature is quite amazing, and humankind has utilized its wondrous magic since our beginnings.  I became a Certified Herbalist many years ago, and when writing my first Tween/Teen books, I enjoyed weaving herb lore throughout them. In addition to herb lore, I had fun with Celtic tree lore to show the marvelous magic of trees. I used the (totally fun!) folk names for herbs and trees, and had my main character use plant remedies for wounds and ailments that she and her loved-ones endured.

A little trivia about remedies found in nature . . .

The Doctrine of Signatures dates back to ancient times, and was studied in depth in Western Europe. The idea was that certain plants resembled the body parts they healed. Also, the names given to certain plants correlated to their healing properties. Some examples:

Walnuts—resembles a brain and helps memory

Ginger Root—resembles a stomach and helps nausea

Kidney Bean—resembles a kidney and helps kidney function

Eyebright—helps with “pink eye” and other eye irritation

Bloodroot—has red sap and helps purify the blood

In addition, herbalists found that certain “cures” grew near “causes.” An example is Jewelweed, an herb used to heal skin conditions, which is often found growing near Stinging Nettles and Poison Ivy.

Folk names were the early names given to herbs, and often eluded to their healing function. Some names, however, are perplexing or quite silly sounding. In fact, some of these silly-sounding herbs were used in healing remedies and not at all the literal meanings that their names may have suggested. Here are a handful of some fun “Halloween-ish” herb names:

Lion’s Tooth—Dandelion

Graveyard Dust—Mullein

Bloody Fingers—Foxglove

Little Dragon—Tarragon

Bat’s Wings—Holly

So, this year, while enjoying the festivities, if you happen to hear, “In the cauldron, Toe of Frog; watch it bubble with Tongue of Dog,” you might just find a neighborhood herbalist brewing up an herbal remedy.

ARROW OF THE MIST (currently 99 cents!) & ARMS OF ANU

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Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and young adults. She enjoys life in the foothills of Northern California with her husband, sons, pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. For more about her and her writing, visit www.christinamercer.com