Thematic Reading List: 18 Spooky Mysteries for Middle Grade Readers


Haunted houses, werewolves, monsters, sinister beings. What is lurking in the closet? Where are the voices coming from?

Why is it that we love spooky novels so much? They keep us up all night, sometimes in terror yet sometimes because we can’t stop reading them. And, it’s not just adults who love scary novels. Some of the most reluctant readers gravitate towards them. A good scary novel can not only be entertaining, but it can also teach plot/sequence of events and predicting.

The 18 novels we have included in our list have brave protagonists in challenging and scary situations. While some may not be for the faint of heart, each represents hours of suspense for middle grade readers.

1442442921 The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
By: Claire Legrand

Practically-perfect twelve-year-old Victoria Wright must lie, sneak, and break the rules when her investigation of the disappearance of her best–and only–friend, Lawrence, reveals dark secrets about her town and the orphanage run by the reclusive Mrs. Cavendish.
9780804122900 Doll Bones
By: Holly Black

Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.
0061972657 The Graveyard Book 
By: Neil Gaiman

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
0091328004 The House with a Clock in its Walls
By: John Bellairs

A boy goes to live with his magician uncle in a mansion that has a clock hidden in the walls which is ticking off the minutes until doomsday.
9780763655594 A Monster Calls
By: Patrick Ness

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different, ancient, and wild. And it wants something terrible and dangerous from Conor. It wants the truth.
9781481432320 The Nest
By: Kenneth Oppel

When a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” Steve’s new baby brother, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered. But, he may be dangerously wrong.
9781416934189 Unearthly Asylum
By: P. J. Bracegirdle

When twelve-year-old Joy’s pet frog gets away, she, her brother, and their elusive friend Poppy sneak onto the grounds of the town’s asylum and discover mysteries that only reinforce Joy’s beliefs that there are supernatural forces at work in the town of Spooking.
9781419715310 The Night Gardener 
By: Jonathan Auxier

Irish orphans Molly, fourteen, and Kip, ten, travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be, and soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house.
148471511X Serafina and the Black Cloak
By: Robert Beatty

In 1899, a twelve-year-old rat catcher on North Carolina’s Biltmore estate teams up with the estate owner’s young nephew to battle a great evil and, in the process, unlocks the puzzle of her past.
0143145711 The Shadows 
By: Jacqueline West

When eleven-year-old Olive and her distracted parents move into an old Victorian mansion, Olive finds herself ensnared in a dark plan involving some mysterious paintings, a trapped and angry nine-year-old boy, and three talking cats.
9780802728395 The Water Castle 
By: Megan Frazer Blakemore

Moving into an inherited mansion in Maine with their mother and stroke-afflicted father, three siblings uncover a mystery involving hidden passageways, family rivalries, and healing waters.
0060530871 The Wolves in the Walls
By: Neil Gaiman

Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of her house, although others in her family disagree, and when the wolves come out, the adventure begins.
0061998702 Juniper Berry
By: M. P. Kozlowsky

When eleven-year-old Juniper begins to suspect something is wrong with her mother and father, she and her friend Giles discover they have been selling their souls, pieces at a time, to a silver-tongued creature in a terrifying fairy-tale underworld.
9780385746649 Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? (Mostly Ghostly #2)
By: R. L. Stine

Phears, an evil ghost, wants eleven-year-old Max to help him capture the ghosts of two children whose parents once trapped him, and he sends a Berserker Ghoul to possess Max and convince him to obey.
054757715X The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
By: Mary Downing Hahn

In the nineteenth century, ten-year-old Florence Crutchfield leaves a London orphanage to live with her great-uncle, great-aunt, and sickly cousin James, but she soon realizes the home has another resident, who means to do her and James harm.
9781595146281 The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy
By: Nikki Loftin

In this twist on “Hansel and Gretel,” two middle schoolers find themselves in a new charter school filled with a mysterious abundance of food at mealtimes and sinister teachers up to no good.
9781626722026 The Inn Between
By: Marina Cohen

During a long car trip, best friends Quinn and Kara explore the strange and creepy goings-on at a remote Nevada inn when Kara’s family stops for the night.
0375872868 The Wednesdays
By: Julie Bourbeau

In a village where peculiar things happen every Wednesday, one boy must save the town to save himself.


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