From witches and zombies to magic and deadly secrets, these are 10 recently released young adult novels with a Halloween season flair that have crossed our desks recently.
In her first solo novel, "Unbreakable," Beautiful Creatures series co-author Kami Garcia puts a young adult spin on the ghost hunter genre, trading in witches and voodoo for malevolent spirits and demonic possessions.
When her mother dies, Kennedy Waters finds herself battling dangerous spirits and taking her mother's place in the Legion, an ancient secret society that protects the world from a demon, working with other new members to destroy him.
What sets "Unbreakable" apart from its peers is a genuine sense of spookiness. Comparisons to "Insidious" and "The Sixth Sense" are not far off, although the content is significantly toned down for younger readers.
Other than some brief passionate kissing and one or two instances of mild profanity, "Unbreakable" is about as tame as any horror-themed book can be.
— Jeff Peterson
"BLYTHEWOOD," by Carol Goodman, Viking, $17.99, 496 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)
Following a deadly attack, an innocent orphan boards a train to begin studying at a magical school set in a historic castle complete with mysterious teachers and a gentle groundskeeper. Avaline Hall quickly learns the world is full of magic and mystery as well as danger and evil.
Though the basic premise of this book sounds all too familiar, "Blythewood" magically stands on its own. Author Carol Goodman masterfully unveils a world of goblins, shape-shifting fairies, villains that exhale smoke and black-winged angels that punctually come to the rescue time and again that will hopefully be followed by a sequel.
"Blythewood" has clean language, and there is a little violence throughout the book but it is not gory.
— Alicia Cummingham
"FAR FAR AWAY," by Tom McNeal, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 384 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)
Jacob Grimm really didn't die but became a ghost and invisible or ignored by all, until he meets young Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can see, hear and speak to him.
"Far Far Away," a creepy version of the Hansel and Gretel tale, is narrated by Grimm as Jeremy attempts to impress Ginger Boultinghouse, make friends and save his father's home and bookstore from foreclosure. Jeremy must also battle the swift public opinion of a misunderstood trespassing charge when he and Ginger were spying on the town baker, who has mysterious secrets of his own, including what causes the occasional green smoke when he bakes.
Jeremy and Ginger find themselves wrapped up in a tale more sinister than Grimm ever penned.
It has mild language and some violence, including kidnapping.
— Christine Rappleye
"CONTAMINATED," by Em Garner, Egmont, $17.99, 330 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
In Em Garner's new novel "Contaminated," Velvet and her younger sister, Opal, are used to life alone. Their parents both drank the new diet supplement Thinpro, and the unintended outcome was becoming bloodthirsty, zombie-like creatures that have been neutralized by electric shock collars.
Then Velvet finds her mother and decides to bring her home, upsetting their world.
When the government quietly begins to reclaim the contaminated, Velvet must decide what family is worth and use all her courage to keep hers together.
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