Six super-spooky books to scare you

Published on: 11 October 2017 Author: Robin Jarvis

Author of the famous spooky series The Whitby WitchesThe Deptford Mice and The Power of Dark, Robin Jarvis takes us on a tiptoed tour through his favourite tales of terror...

Robin Jarvis's favourite spooky stories

1. An Enemy At Green Knowe by Lucy Boston (Puffin Books)

Over half my life ago, I wrote to Lucy Boston and told her how much I loved her Green Knowe books. She was 92 at the time but invited me, a complete stranger, to her house for a look round. She lived in the Norman manor which inspired Green Knowe. Everything mentioned in her stories was actually there, from the animal topiary in her beloved garden, to the rocking horse and patchwork curtains inside the house itself.

The forces at work in Enemy are practically demonic. Not even the ghosts of the children who haunted the previous stories so charmingly are spared. A fantastic read with plenty of squirmy moments.

2. Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr (Faber and Faber)

I vividly remember filling a fair few sketchpads when I was young, trying to visualise a house to visit whilst I slept, as the bedridden Marianne does here. Thankfully it never worked, as I wouldn't have liked to encounter the same scares that she faces. I honestly can't think of a better book to read in bed, but keep a bright torch handy - to ward off those terrifying stone watchers.

3. The Tale of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood (Faber and Faber)

The Tale of Podkin One-Ear

Having written a number of books about mice, it's hardly a surprise that I relished this adventure with courageous, sword-wielding rabbits. But the measure of any hero is the quality of the enemies they're pitted against, and the Gorm monsters Kieran conjures up here are in a ferocious class of their own. If I'd read this as a child I would have been compelled to make tinfoil armour for Mandy, my pet rabbit.

Read our review of The Tale of Podkin-One Ear 

4. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner (HarperCollins)

Growing up in Cheshire, Alderley Edge wasn't that far away, so I spent many Sundays exploring, clutching the Weirdstone of Brinsingamen paperback, trying to find the landmarks shown in its tantalising map. The story is a perilous adventure, steeped in local myths, with a genuine tingle of supernatural menace running through it.

Selina Place has to be one of the best witches in children's literature, and her pairing with the hooded and hugely sinister Grimnir is a partnership that is diabolic in the best possible sense. Alderley Edge is painted as a place where legends slip effortlessly in and out of the modern day, a feature so fascinating and attractive that I remembered it when I came to write about Whitby many years later.

Read our review of The Weirdstone of Brinsingamen

5. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper (Red Fox)

The Dark Is Rising

The second in the Dark is Rising sequence and, for me, the best. It's a stonking, classic tale of good vs evil, set in the depths of a biting, enchanted midwinter, where evil rides on horseback and eleven-year-old Will Stanton has to gather ancient signs of power to keep the encroaching Dark at bay. I liked this one so much I made versions of those signs myself and wore them as badges... ahem... when I was about 23.

Read our review of The Dark Is Rising

6. Shadowsmith by Ross Mackenzie (Floris Books)

This is a terrific page-turner, again with that marvellous sense of the everyday world running alongside a hidden fantastical one. Old magic is stirring and it's about to get very frightening in the small seaside town of Craghaven. This is brilliantly creepy, with characters you care about, which makes the unease even worse.

Read our review of Shadowsmith

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