Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Scary Stories

Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyWhen Molly and Kip lose their parents on their way over from Ireland to England, they are forced to work as servants at a crumbling Victorian mansion in the middle of a creepy forest.  At first they are grateful just to have food and a place to sleep, but the house and its family are not quite what they seem.  What is behind the mysterious green door?  How can the lady of the house be wearing a ring that her husband sold only that morning?  And most importantly, who is the mysterious creature that thumps around the house at night leaving a trail of leaves and mud?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Cover image for The screaming staircaseImagine working full-time and earning a salary even before your 16th birthday. In The Screaming Staircase, Book 1 of the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud, most children need to work. Why? Because of “the Problem.”  In London, ghosts have become an all too familiar sight, and anyone who is touched by one endures deadly ghostlock. Since adults can’t see ghosts; only children and teens can be agents, and daily use of lavender, iron, and salt to ward off ghostly “visitors” is the new normal. Without any adults in the new agency, Lockwood & Co. who is run by Anthony Lockwood and his two associates, Lucy and George, who are agents trained in the use of rapiers (swords) and are hired to clear areas of ghosts while solving mysteries in the process. Join them on their next case as they go down into the dark on The Screaming Staircase. Beware:  this new series is only for those who like spooky thrills and chills with a touch of mystery.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Closed for the Season: A Mystery Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Cover image for Closed for the season : a mystery storyIn the book Closed For the Season by Mary Downing Hahnmiddle-schooler Logan Forbes is clearly NOT having a good summer.  His primary goal is to find some normal friends to hang out with so he can fit in at school in the fall, but moving into the “murder house” throws a wrench into that plan. When Logan and his neighbor uncover the details surrounding an earlier murder at his new house, they are immediately thrown into the middle of a sinister plot involving embezzled money, lies, and a nighttime trek into an old abandoned amusement park called The Magic Forest. In the dark, among the graffiti-covered structures and the overgrown paths, the boys confirm it—they are in over their heads in a deathly serious way.  Do you dare to join them as they uncover the mystery behind a murder?

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

The Secret of Laurel Oaks by Lois Ruby

syndetics-lcThe Secret of Laurel Oaks by Lois Ruby is an intriguing mystery. I loved that this story and ghost are based on a real southern plantation that is said to be one of the most haunted places in America and a “real” ghost that is said to haunt the plantation. I didn’t find it particularly scary, but it was a very well-written and engrossing story. I would recommend this to children who enjoy ghost stories. But although it’s not particularly scary, it does allude to some serious topics within the issue of slavery.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

syndetics-lcFlorence thought her life was going to get better when she left the orphanage for her family’s ancestral home. She would have a younger cousin, James, to play with and her great aunt and uncle could look after her. However, her other cousin and ghost, Sophia, has a murderous plan for her cousin and brother. Not knowing who to turn to in her new surroundings, Florence must try to resist Sophia, but can she? Whether read or listened to, the Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is a great ghost story worthy of any camp fire storytelling.

 Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian


The Seer of Shadows by Avi

The Seer of ShadowsThe Seer of Shadows by Avi is set in New York City in 1872. Fourteen-year-old Horace Carpetine is a photographer’s apprentice, and his nasty boss is trying to take advantage of a rich client, Mrs. Von Macht. The plan is to fake a “spirit photograph”with an image of the woman’s dead daughter, Eleanora. But things take a turn when Eleanora’s ghost literally enters the picture, and Horace must deal with her restless spirit, hopefully thwarting her intentions for revenge. Newbery Medalist Avi weaves a suspenseful and haunting tale—one that I recommend to those looking for a fast-paced story you’ll find both frightening and mysterious.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness & Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia


Gris Grimly is the perfect illustrator for Edgar Allan Poe’s dark and creepy stories. The pictures range from somewhat silly to very grotesque, but they always perfect in bringing the words to life. And how wonderful Poe is with words! His terrifying tales are meant for reading aloud. Listeners are sure to get chills from the classics “The Tell-Tale Heart” in Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia and “Black Cat” in Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness.  Both books are totally twisted!


Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book Bod Owens is just like any other boy except he is being raised by ghosts, lives in a graveyard, and is being hunted by a vicious killer.  Okay, so he’s not quite like everyone else.  Bod’s unusual childhood lets him have thrilling adventures such as meeting the Indigo Man, being chased by ghouls, and learning to fade.  I was so excited when The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman won the Newbery award.  Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and his new book does not disappoint!  If you like a good ghost story, this book is for you.  (For grades 5 and up)  

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head