Hello friends! Lots of us love to be scared shitless by books, right? But we shouldn’t forget about those who enjoy reading Halloween-appropriate books during October, but are not comfortable reading scary or dark novels. Our very own Ruzi tends to shy away from anything creepy, but she loved doing Spooky October in the previous years. Even though there are many people like Ruzi, October tends to be all about horror and thriller, and little attention is paid to other October-ish novels (that is a thing.)
If you are looking for Halloween recommendations that are (1) not creepy, (2) not gory, or (3) not especially dark, I’ve got you! Today I’m sharing a couple of incredible novels – fun mysteries, atmospheric fantasies and the likes – that are Halloween appropriate one way or another, but totally, 1000% non-scary.
The Last Word by Samantha Hastings
PLOT: Lucinda is eagerly awaiting the conclusion to her favorite serial when the author unexpectedly dies, leaving her readers without concrete answers. Finding this unacceptable, Lucinda goes on a desperate search for information, enlisting her father’s young business partner, David, to help her.
THOUGHTS: The Last Word is one of the most charming novels I’ve ever read, and I’m incredibly sad to see it being ignored and underappreciated. 😭While it does have fluff – Lucinda and David are cute – it isn’t overly sweet, or particularly fluffy, which was something I originally feared. Essentially, this is the perfect blend of historical romance and mystery, and it also does a wonderful job of addressing women’s rights... or the lack thereof in the 19th century. Thoughtful, well-written and, above all, entertaining, The Last Word is perfect for anyone who enjoys the aforementioned genres, or who wants to become more familiar with them.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
PLOT: Philip was brought up by his cousin, Ambrose, and the two have lived in perfect harmony during the years. This harmony, however, is broken when Ambrose marries in Italy, and passes away a short while later. Philip, finding the circumstances of his cousin’s death suspicious, is ready to question the widowed Rachel but he quickly finds himself enthralled by her. Yet, he still has to wonder: did she kill Ambrose? Or is she innocent?
THOUGHTS: I have so much love for Daphne du Maurier! Fun fact: I was planning on writing my thesis about My Cousin Rachel and Rebecca before I found a topic that was easier to research; and me being me, I opted for the “easier” option. 🙈 Which actually wasn’t easy at all, but OH WELL. While My Cousin Rachel is certainly darker than most others on this list, I do believe it qualifies as a ‘lighter’ read for October. It’s not particularly scary, albeit it does have some chilling scenes, and the mystery builds up slowly, giving the readers a chance to slowly immerse themselves in this world. If you feel up to reading a Gothic mystery with some romance, My Cousin Rachel is for you.
The de Vincent trilogy by Jennifer L. Armentrout
PLOT: The trilogy concentrates on the three de Vincent brothers who seemingly have everything – including money, looks and power – but whose life is haunted by tragedies.
THOUGHTS: Do you know those romance novels that have complex characters to offer? Romance novels that are so well-written you’re in awe? Yeah?
Well, the de Vincent novels are not that. 😂BUT they are entertaining and fun, and were the perfect way to de-stress during the exam period. If you feel up to reading a highly unrealistic, mostly predictable romantic suspense trilogy then go ahead, pick up the de Vincent novels. What? Yes, I know, I’ve just trashed them, and I’ll admit that objectively they’re pretty shit, but they made me happy when I read them, so I rated them pretty well, and I’d recommend them to anyone interested.
Odd & True by Cat Winters
PLOT: Tru grew up listening to her her sister’s magical tales, believing every word of them. But as the years went by, she became skeptical and started to question their truthfulness. When her sister, Od, reappears after a two year absence, Tru is reluctant to trust her, especially because it seems like Od is haunted by something other than monsters.
THOUGHTS: This dark fantasy novel captured my heart, as did most of what Cat Winters has published so far. While the plot itself is perfect for Halloween and is quite chilling at parts, it never goes into scary territory, and instead chooses to concentrate on the complex, complicated relationship between the sisters. The novel is told in alternating point of view – Od is narrating the past, while Tru is narrating the present – which means that we have two stories running simultaneously next to each other. If you would be interested in reading a (historical) fantasy novel this October, I highly recommend picking up Odd & True.
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
PLOT: Alia’s mother has always been secretive about her home town, Sterling. However, after her death, Alia and her brother are sent to live with a family in Sterling, and will soon find out just how different this small town is from the rest of the world. Every seven years something ordinary disappears from Sterling, and stays gone – like people’s reflection, or their ability to dream. No one knows what, or who is to blame for this, but they do have a suspect: Alia’s mother.
THOUGHTS: I think this might be the lightest of the books listed in terms of it having a lot of whimsical, magical elements, as well as a solid realistic fiction feel. There’s a strong focus on family and friendship, and the romance is incredibly cute and soft – it made me beam A LOT. Even so, this is the perfect Halloween read for those who’re interested in a light but intriguing mystery.
Stranje House series by Kathleen Baldwin
PLOT: The series takes place in early 19th century Britain, and centers around the inhabitants of Stranje House: girls who are sent there because they are too unusual according to their families. What these families don’t know is that Headmistress Emma Stranje has bigger plans for these girls than making them ‘lady-like.’
THOUGHTS: Another really light series in terms of creepiness, but it does have some darker aspects, like kidnapping or torture, although none of that is graphic. Each novel concentrates on a different girl, and they’re all lovely, not to mention their friendship, which is so wholesome. If you’re looking for a historical mystery series that is, in part, based on true events, you should give this a chance.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
PLOT: The Diviners is set in the 1920’s, in New York, and centers around multiple characters with special abilities. While each novel has its own plot there’s also a larger, over-arching plot in the series that gets bigger with each book.
THOUGHTS: The Diviners is one of my all time favorite series, and I genuinely think that anyone who’s into fantasy should give it a chance. The characters are so complex and well-written, and each and every one of them stands out. I love all the dedication Bray puts into creating a great series; the way she slowly connects all the threads is masterful, and I haven’t even mentioned how cool it was to see the characters meeting each other – some have known each other since the beginning, others get to know each other only in the later books. If you are looking for a historical fantasy where the characters are constantly met with intriguing mysteries, this is for you.
Are you comfortable reading dark, scary books? Have you read any of my lighter Halloween recommendations? Do you have any non-horror recommendations for Halloween?