5 spooky middle grade reads published in 2020

By Kathie

Happy October! Are you a spooky book fan? I love a dark read that’s character driven, but I’m a bit more reluctant to pick up a scary story that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Whatever your preference, I hope you’ll find something on this list of books published in 2020 that I really enjoyed that sounds like it’s just right for you.

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf. What I loved most about this book, based on a Malaysian folktale, is how unique this storyline is from anything else I’ve ever read. Suraya discovers at a young age that the grandmother she never met gifted her a pelesit, a ghostly companion whom she names Pink, that becomes a playmate and friend to her as she grows up. But Pink also has a dark side, and Suraya is uncomfortable when it starts to show as other kids are mean to her. She becomes even more concerned when she makes a best friend, and Pink’s jealousy shows in scary magic aimed at both Jing, and at her. This story reminded me a lot of Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi, another favorite dark read, and explores powerful emotions like jealousy, love and hate.

The Stitchers by Lorien Lawrence. This is the first book in a new series that I found more creepy than scary, but with lots of intrigue. Quinn and her friend start investigating the strange behavior of their neighbors known as “The Oldies”, who frequently have bandaged body parts and never seem to age. The friends discover a link to an old pond and a tragedy from many years ago, but The Oldies are on to them, and they have no desire to give up their secrets.

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Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartowski. This is a fantastic book to hand to middle grade readers who like gory details, like demons ripping out eyeballs. Rae moves to the town of Whispering Pines, but it’s unlike any place she’s ever lived. Kids are known to go missing and if they return, their eyes are gone and they’re traumatized from what they experienced. When Rae teams up with a Caden, the son of a ghost hunting family, she discover there’s something inhuman behind all these disappearances, and Caden might be able to help explain it. There’s a lot of action that keeps the story moving quickly, I sincerely hope there will be a sequel to it.

Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie. Here’s a great story you’ll want to read with the lights on. Claire likes science and facts, and she has no patience for her dad’s ghost tour business. When she is forced to help him out one evening, against her will, she encounters a little boy at the end of the tour that doesn’t belong, and then…disappears. But then strange things start happening at home, and Claire soon realizes that the boy isn’t gone; he’s haunting her and leaving frightening messages that she doesn’t understand. With the help of her brother and friends, Claire explores Chicago’s history to try and discover who this little boy is, and what he wants, before his messages turn deadly. Kids will really enjoy this story, and if you haven’t already read it, I also recommend the author’s debut scary book, The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street.

Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon. This is definitely one of those books I didn’t read at night! A game of hide-and-seek takes a terrifying turn when Justin and his friends break the rules while playing at Zee’s homecoming party. Soon after, they disappear into a world of nightmares where they face their greatest fears, and from which there is no return. There is no place to hide from The Seeker, but Justin and his friends have some tricks up their sleeves and some valuable information that might save them from an eternity of losing the game.

The Stitchers

Author: Lorien Lawrence

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: August 18, 2020

Reviewer: Kathie

Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC of this book.

I’m so glad that this is going to be a series, because it hooked me with it’s creepy characters and dark (but not overly scary) storyline. See if you can look at your neighbors in the same way after reading this book!

Quinn and her dad knew there was something off about their neighbors, whom they dubbed “the Oldies”. No one knows how long they’ve lived on Goodie Lane but their strange behaviors (such frequently bandaged body parts) and the fact that they never seem to get any older seem very strange. But when Quinn’s dad dies, her interest in The Oldies fades away…until one of The Oldies starts running extremely fast and has a very familiar marking on his leg. As the duo begin to investigate, they find a link to an old pond and a tragedy from many years ago. But The Oldies are on to them, and they have no desire to give up their secrets.

I really loved the storyline of this book. It’s a eerie mystery that I didn’t find scary, but was definitely on the dark side. The investigation to determine who (or what) The Oldies are, and what they’re doing on Goodie Lane led to lots of intrigue, and it was hard to put this book down. I loved the tie-in with with the town’s history. The chemistry between Quinn and Mike that complicates their partnership, and also has an impact on Quinn’s relationship with her best friend, Zoe, adds a very middle school feel to the story. The ending was surprising and definitely leads the reader with questions and wanting to know more. The book is also an extremely reasonable length at 263 pages which helps it appeal to more readers.

I’ll be purchasing a copy of this debut MG book for my library’s collection, and look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Recommend: Gr. 4-7