Eerie and uncanny

Starring ghosts, ghost hunters, goblins, and changelings, these new adventures for intermediate and middle-school readers are atmospherically spooky (but not-too-scary) books to snuggle up with on a gloomy fall day. Find more Halloween recommendations in Friday's Horn Book Herald e-newsletter.

Mollie sets out to return Guest, a changeling child, to the Kinde Folke and bring home her true brother, Thomas — but on the journey, she grows to feel compassion for the unwanted creature. Mollie's sisterly affection toward both of her brothers gives Mary Downing Hahn's Guest: A Changeling Tale its heart. Twists and turns provide ample opportunity for Irish folklore and legends to mingle with very human concerns about family, growing up, and bravery. (Clarion, 8–11 years)

In Kathryn Siebel's The Haunting of Henry Davis, a group of fifth graders goes ghost-hunting and learns about the Spanish influenza after new kid Henry reveals that his house is haunted. Headstrong narrator Barbara Anne takes charge of solving the mystery of young ghost Edgar, leading to answers (and minor disasters). Clever turns of phrase and Barbara Anne's limited sense of self-awareness make for an amusing narrative, while depictions of Edgar's presence deliver age-appropriate chills. (Knopf, 8–11 years)   

In Paris, where twelve-year-old Cassidy's parents are filming their paranormal TV show, she and her (ghost) best friend Jacob encounter a poltergeist. The pair must banish the entity before its mischief escalates to mayhem for the entire city. In Tunnel of Bones (sequel to City of Ghosts), author Victoria Schwab skillfully weaves her setting's atmosphere and history throughout the story's brisk adventure. The supportive friendship and witty banter between Cass and Jacob balance scary and sad moments. (Scholastic, 9–12 years)      

William Ritter's Changeling (first book in the Oddmire series) is a riveting adventure set in a fully realized magical world that feels both timeless and of today. Townspeople whisper that one of Annie Burton's twins is a changeling meant to have replaced the real baby. But the siblings' lives are uneventful — until a goblin lures them into the Wild Wood, where only a changeling can stop magic from ebbing away. Vivid writing makes for moments of humor, pathos, and suspense. (Algonquin, 9–12 years)

From the October 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, formerly editor of The Horn Book Guide, is a freelance children’s and YA editor. She's also a former bookseller who holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons University. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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