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Staff Selections, Halloween Edition: George

Officer George, a regular contributor to 'Staff Selections,' is back again! This month, in honor of Halloween, George has selected books with a supernatural theme.  He’s chosen a few young adult titles, as well as some adult titles.   
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (YA)
Jacob believed his Grandpa’s stories when he was little.  Grandpa liked to talk about his childhood, and told fantastical stories about living on a faraway island at an orphanage for kids with unexplainable powers.  He even had pictures to prove it: a boy with two faces, a girl that could fly, and many others.  As Jacob got older, he began to believe that Grandpa’s stories of monsters that were hunting him were the delusions of an old man, and that his childhood memories were just fantasies.  Until Grandpa is killed.  When Jacob finds a cryptic note written by his grandfather, he begins seeking answers, and his journey will take him to a small island, and the husk of an old orphanage that was bombed during WWII.  In that dead place, Jacob will find his answers, along with a few of his Grandpa’s old friends.


The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld (YA)
Westerfeld, a popular YA author, is also known for his excellent Leviathan steampunk adventure trilogy and the dystopian series Uglies. The Secret Hour is the first book of the Midnighters series, which is set in Bixby, Oklahoma.  When Jessica moves to Bixby, she discovers that at midnight, the entire world freezes for one hour, and only she can move around.  Later she discovers that there are other teens in town that also remain unfrozen, and that each can do something remarkable during that 25th hour, which they call “the blue time." The bad news is that an ancient evil also moves through the secret hour, and the midnighters must join in a battle that is as old as time.


The Pricker Boy by Reade Scott Whinnem (YA)
I know that this book is a young adult title.  Please believe me when I say it’s pretty scary.  I read it in a night or two, and the author does a very good job at building up the suspense and the sense of impending danger that runs through the entire book.  Without saying too much, I’ll just say that it’s a very fresh look at a fairly well-used story idea, but it was so deftly done that I didn’t recognize it for what it was until the end.  This book won a Sequoyah award.  If you like being scared, check it out. 

“He was human once, or so they say. The son of a fur trapper, he was taunted by his peers and tricked into one of his own father’s traps. By the time anybody found it, the trap’s vicious teeth were empty, pried open and overgrown. It was said the brambles themselves had reached out and taken pity on that boy; that his skin had hardened to bark as thorns grew over every inch of his body. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. But anyone who knows anything stays out of the woods beyond the Widow’s Stone. That used to be enough. But this is the summer everything changes, as Stucks Cumberland and his friends find a mysterious package containing mementos of their childhood: baseball cards, a worn paperback, a locket. Offerings left behind in the woods years ago, meant to keep the Pricker Boy at bay. Offerings that have been rejected.”
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I had never read a Gaiman book before this one.  I am in the process of reading every other book he has written based on the strength of this book.  This book is probably the best book I’ve read yet this year.  This book tells the story of a family threatened by a dark force. Their only hope is their small son, and his relationship with the 3 strange women that live on a farm down the road. These women have knowledge and powers beyond all human experience, and they seem to have lived for a very, very long time.  Maybe forever.  At the Hempstock farm, the moon is always full, and only shines on one side of the house, because that’s where Old Mrs. Hempstock likes it to shine.  And there's a pond out back. But it's really an ocean. 


NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
The author (Stephen King's son) wrote this as an homage to his father's work. King fans will enjoy the references to his worlds/characters in this novel. Climb into Charlie Manx's Rolls Royce Wraith, his "ride." Meet the gas mask man, and a group of kids whose favorite games are "scissors for the drifter" or "bite the smallest." Learn how a place called "Christmasland" can be terrifying. You'll also meet Victoria, an 11 year old girl that Manx wants to take. But he'll find out that she has a special "ride" of her own- a bike that can take her to whatever she’s looking for. 


The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
This book is a fantasy novel, but what is interesting is Ahmed’s approach, and his setting.  If you are bored with fantasy stories that occur in worlds where the culture and settings mirror medieval Europe, this is the book for you.  It’s sort of a mix between The Arabian Nights and The Lord of the Rings.  This book won a Locus Award for best debut novel.

“The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. But these killings are only the earliest signs of a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn the great city of Dhamsawwaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.”

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