7 children's authors pick their favourite spooky stories
Published on: 24 September 2023
Which scary stories do authors enjoy reading? Here, some of the authors who contributed to Read Scream Repeat recommend their favourite tales that make them shiver...
The first book I remember being truly terrified by was Snow White – and it remains one of my favourite scary stories to this day. We might think of it as a sweet fairy tale but I remember reading it gripped with dread, imagining myself as Snow White with the jealous queen trying to murder me in all kinds of nasty ways. It was completely horrifying – and I loved it! I think many fairy tales are very close to being horror stories, and in fact my own Wolf Moon was inspired by another scary fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood.
One of my favourite spooky stories is really based on the films I watched as a young girl with my grandma. She was a huge horror fan! It’s the story of the Werewolf. There are so many incredibly spooky versions of this story which originated from European mythology. I love it because it’s really atmospheric, and involves a dark night and a full moon which is always great for building up suspense. I also love the sympathy the reader feels for the wolf character as we know their destiny lies in the all-important silver bullet – which they must dodge at all costs! If you're feeling inspired by this you could read The Werewolf of Fever Swamp part of the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine.
From the cover of The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine.
My favourite spooky story is Coraline by Neil Gaiman because it has everything I love: an old house, a portal and a high-stakes game. The details such as the button eyes, coupled with the atmosphere, makes it a fantastically creepy read. I even once dressed up as the other mother for Halloween!
Four unlikely friends join forces when their Saturday detention descends into terror of the eight-legged variety in Dread Wood, the first in Jennifer Killick’s brilliant horror-comedy series. I absolutely loved this story, which had me laughing as much as it scared the pants off me!
Illustration from Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick
Long Lankin by Lyndsey Barraclough is a children’s book, though I found it very spooky when I read it as an adult. It’s based on folklore and follows two young sisters when they’re sent to stay with their aunt. Unbeknownst to them, the village is plagued by a sinister presence which has lain hidden for years. But now it’s woken up … yikes.
My favourite scary story is Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge. It's a classic good versus evil tale, but set in a chilling world where demons prey on humans, and only the Demon Slayer Corps can stop them from totally wiping out humanity. The demons are all different, and designed with such incredible imagination – each one creepy and horrible in its own memorable way.
If I’m looking for a great ghost story to chill my bones, I can always rely on Chris Priestly, and my absolute favourite of his books is Seven Ghosts. What I love most about it is that it’s not just one story. Jake, and some other finalists in a story-writing competition are guided around a stately home, while being told the stories of the seven ghosts who haunt its walls. But as they journey through the house, things become stranger and stranger, until finally we learn the deliciously terrifying truth.
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