HOOKED ON BOOKS: Don’t read these books after bedtime

These spooky books are best read by the light of day.


Broad daylight may not seem like a good mixer with the creepy-crawlies and the cold horrors. But trust me: Before you enjoy these marvelous tales of the macabre, make plans to quit before dark. Also, find something lighter and cheerier to think about before bed.

If you forget and find yourself unable to put the book down until 2 a.m., don’t say I didn’t warn you. Your night’s sleep will be shot.

‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman

Coraline Jones wishes for something better than living with her inattentive parents on one side of a duplex, divided from the other by a door that opens on a brick wall. Then one day it opens into an almost identical home where another mother and father want Coraline to stay.

For various ghastly reasons, it isn’t a tempting offer. Coraline will need a lot of courage, luck, and cleverness to get back home. It’s a dark, scary twist on “Through the Looking Glass” that may scare parents more than their kids.

‘Odd Thomas’ by Dean Koontz

Odd is actually his name; but yes, he’s an odd guy. He sees dead people. Elvis is a friend of his. Murdered people come to him, and he helps them find justice.


But now evil spirits have come to town, and only Odd can stop them from bringing mass death and destruction. It’s a chilling, emotionally gruelling debut for a lovable but unusual hero.

‘The Prestige’ by Christopher Priest

Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier are rival stage magicians who both specialize in a disappearing trick, achieved by different but equally macabre means.

Mutual suspicion and a paranoia to protect their trade secrets at any cost drive the pair on a course of mutual destruction that ranks as one of the most disturbing tales I have ever read.

‘The Tomb’ by F. Paul Wilson

Repairman Jack is a fixer of problems, not gadgets, who survives by living under the radar, keeping his true identity to himself and responding with superior firepower.

Then he meets the rakoshi, a race of horrors out of deepest, darkest superstition. If any man can fight them, it’s Jack. But even he has his limits.

The first of 16 “Repairman Jack” novels and the second of the six-book “Adversary Cycle,” this is a hair-raising first glimpse of a cosmic evil guaranteed to make you shudder.

‘The Screaming Staircase’ by Jonathan Stroud

In the first “Lockwood & Co.” book, a small firm of teenaged ghost hunters goes to work in an alternate London where ghost plague threatens mankind. One touch and you swell up, turn blue and die.

Only kids can see them, but most ghost-hunting firms are run by adults. Well-to-do Anthony, bookish George and their recent hire, Lucy, are the exception. By the end of five spine-chilling scrapes with the evil dead, their combined talent stands alone between the mortal world and darkness without end.


‘Rot & Ruin’ by Jonathan Maberry

The five-book Benny Imura series features young adults surviving a zombie apocalypse. In a fortress of the living called Mountainside, Calif., Benny chafes against the authority of his half-brother Tom, a zombie slayer who styles himself a “closure specialist.”

Benny feels differently after surviving an ordeal in the undead-haunted wilds. It’s a thrilling and thought-provoking, coming-of-age adventure.

‘Rotters’ by Daniel Kraus

Still grieving from his mother’s death, Joey moves in with his father, the ultimate unfit parent. Besides living in stench and filth, Ken Harnett puts his grave-robbing career ahead of his son’s needs.

It gets worse when a psychopath fixates on them, dragging Joey on a journey of self-destruction in which survival comes at a horrifying cost.

Kraus writes some of the darkest teen fiction out there, and this book is really out there. It features drugs, madness and burial alive. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t read this; but maybe their parents should read it, too, so the whole family has the same nightmares.

Robin Fish is an avid reader who blogs about books and other topics at Contact him with questions or suggestions at

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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