In which my daughter takes over my blog
Well, kinda. See, while I do read MG books (8-12 bracket, for my UK friends), she is actually in MG. Last year of junior school, to be precise. When did she get so big?!
Anyway, she reads almost as many books as I do, more in some months, and fantasy happens to be her favourite genre, so I asked her for recommendations. Maybe unsurprisingly, they do coincide with mine!
City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones
Let’s start with my favourite of favourites, VE Schwab. Yes, amongst her brilliant YA and adult books, she also has an MG series about a girl who can see ghosts after nearly drowning and being rescued by one. Who now happens to be her best friend. These were Spawn1’s first picks, too. Just the right mix of creepiness and humour (her parents are ghosthunters who can’t see ghosts and have no idea she can!), ghostly goings on all over the place and a delightful air of mystery. Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read the second book, it’s on my TBR for this month, but Spawn1 tells me it’s just as good as the first, and we learn more about Dead Best Friend as well.
Serafina and the Black Cloak
Spawn1 hasn’t finished this one – like me, she suffers from the eternal distraction of the next book – but she happily confirmed the few chapters she did read were brilliantly creepy. Before City of Ghosts, I’d say this was the best MG I’d read for a long, long time. There’s no traditional spooky stuff, ghosts or witches or vampires, but the Black Cloak is definitely something you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Or a dark basement, forest or bedroom, which unlike alleys all actually feature in the book. Serafina has a secret or two of her own, and the whole atmosphere of the book makes it a perfect read for this time of year. Again, I have utterly failed to read the sequels, but I am definitely, absolutely 100% going to get my hands on them next year!
Anything ever by Neil Gaiman
Ok, I’ll qualify that. I really wouldn’t recommend exposing some innocent 10-year-old to Neil Gaiman’s adult books. REALLY. But when it comes to the books he writes for this age group, his middle name is creepy, and in the best way. Younger end of the age bracket, reluctant or less-advanced readers? His kids’ graphic novels have you covered – Wolves in the Walls, or Mirrormask for the slightly older. Bookworms of all other stripes? Coraline and The Graveyard Book are those rare beasts written in a way to be accessible and engaging to children (and adults) of pretty much all levels, without being too simple for the ones who are more ahead of their age. He’s got you covered for alternate dimensions, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, supernatural cats, goblins and plenty of things that don’t have a satisfying label.
Goth Girl for mildly spooky fun
Finally, a series aimed squarely at the younger end of MG. These are more on the funny than the scary side of things, but they’ll still fill your seasonal requirements for all things supernatural, what with vampire governesses, ghosts of all species and general gothic shenanigans. Spawn1 started reading these at the age of about 7, and she’s still keen to get her hands on each new instalment. Plus, who doesn’t love Chris Riddell’s illustration style? Side note – he also illustrates a lot of Neil Gaiman’s kids books!
Let’s all read MG
Yes, there are some books that don’t cross age boundaries quite so well. Ones where the humour perhaps doesn’t translate, or where an older reader spots twists and solves mysteries too easily that would happily keep a child of the intended audience guessing. But I’m firmly of the opinion that what makes the very best books stand out is the ability to be read and enjoyed by anyone of any age. Plus, if you need any additional persuasion, they’re usually nice quick reads to boost those Goodreads numbers and work very well as anti-slump or anti-hangover refreshers after a more intense read!
Do you already read MG? Share your spooky recs in the comments – me and Spawn1 will both be grateful! Or have I maybe convinced you to give it a go? If so, these are a great place to start!