Haunted Hallways, Gothic Galleries

The concept of the haunted house comes up again and again. After all, houses hold histories—and those histories aren’t always kind. When we are at home, we are often our most unguarded and vulnerable . . . but are we safe? These six stories (intended for both adults and young adults) suggest otherwise.

House of Salt and Sorrows, by Erin A. Craig

Annaleigh mourns as another perished sister is laid to rest in the water. Her small, seaside community believes Annaleigh and her remaining seven sisters are cursed, meddling with their futures even as they grieve. Haunted by visions, Annaleigh, however, begins to believe the tragic deaths of her mother and sisters were no accident. A creepy, twisted take on The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale, this novel will have you questioning the line between fantasy and illusion.

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead

Even without the presence of overt specters, this book, which opens with the discovery of a secret graveyard, may be one of the most haunted books I’ve read all year. The excavation of Nickel Academy, from the bodies found on the premises to the trauma of the school’s survivors, sheds light on the horrors that took place at the fictional juvenile reformatory campus (based on the Dozier School for Boys) for decades. Much like the work of Toni Morrison and Jesmyn Ward, Whitehead’s latest reveals that the very worst of humanity tends to leave its ghosts behind.

Slade House, by David Mitchell

The eponymous house sits down the road from the Fox and Hounds pub, and approximately every decade on “Open Day,” it invites new visitors inside. But these visitors may never be permitted to leave—even as echoes of their warnings attempt to save the next victims. This companion to The Bone Clocks can be read by those looking to expand the world presented in Mitchell’s 2014 novel, or by those completely new to Mitchell’s work. While in The Bone Clocks, the weird is often seen only from the corner of one’s eye, in Slade House, the supernatural is front and center.

The Supernatural Enhancements, by Edgar Cantero

While Meddling Kids was all the rage a couple years ago, The Supernatural Enhancements, published three years earlier, remains my favorite Cantero book. It’s an epistolary novel with a modern edge and plenty of the same snark that won over Meddling Kids readers. In it, a young man, A. Wells, unexpectedly inherits a home in Virginia from a deceased relative. European A. didn’t even know he had relatives in Virginia, but upon arriving at the estate, Axton House, he finds that (of course) nothing is as it seems.

A Treason of Thorns, by Laura E. Weymouth

Violet has spent her entire life preparing to inherit sentient Burleigh House. Then her father commits an act of treason that forces Violet from the home she values more than anything. But when her father’s house arrest ends in expected tragedy, Violet returns home and attempts to reclaim her birthright—and save Burleigh House. With beautiful imagery (the house is able to replays memories and project ghostly conjurings), this rich fantasy plays on the gothic tradition while also presenting something fresh.

White Is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi

After the death of Miranda’s mother, Lily, the family attempts to continue on in Lily’s childhood home—which Miranda’s father has converted into a bed-and-breakfast—without her. But the house, located in Dover, England, holds the history of the family. And like Miranda, her mother, and other characters, is given a voice. Even so, the ever-shifting narrative and perspectives prompt many questions: are malevolent spirits at play in the house? Is it all mostly in Miranda’s mind? And do the largest dangers lay within the walls . . . or outside them?



About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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