Halloween hasn't been a holiday I am particularly fond of for a while now. I was much more keen as a child but have slowly fallen out of love with it since. There are elements I still enjoy like food that is the wrong colour, my social media feeds being flooded with Halloween-themed illustrations (more on that in a few days) and terrible zombie movies but it doesn't excite me like other holidays. This year, however, I want to change this and try and get into the swing of the spooky festivities. Halloween is a very creativity-friendly occasion so it seems odd I don't make more of an effort to get into it. As part of this effort, I have drawn up a list of spooky books to prove (to me as much as anyone else) that Halloween is for all ages...
Imelda and the Goblin King by Briony May Smith
If you are looking for a book which is less scary, more magical this Halloween then Imelda and the Goblin King is your perfect choice. The book follows Imelda - a brave young girl who lives next to an enchanted fairy forest. One day, her fairy friends come under threat from an evil goblin king and so Imelda is called upon to help save them. Together they come up with a plan to turn the goblin into a worm and rid the forest of his terror forever!
This inventive and adventurous plot is made all the more enchanting by Briony May Smith's charming illustration style - a hearty mix of rustic pencil marks and autumnal colours. Just after it's release, I had a chat with Briony about how and why she created Imedla and the Goblin King. You can read the full interview here.
No Such Thing by Ella Bailey
Another beautifully spooky tale by Flying Eye Books, No Such Thing was Ella Bailey's debut with the picture book publishers. Late in October, a clever little girl called Georgia starts to notice odd goings on around her house but manages to ignore them, confident there is a logical explanation. This spooky tale is the perfect bed-time read for kids in the run up to Halloween although be sure to leave plenty of time as an ingenious twist at the end of the book transforms it into a ghoulish game of hide and seek so you will have to go all the way back to the beginning and see if you can find what you first missed time round.
(In a Sense) Lost & Found by Roman Muradov
From Flying Eye Books to their sister publisher Nobrow Press, (In a Sense) Lost & Found is a gothic graphic novel which deals with the theme of human innocence. Treating innocence as a tangible object which can be mistreated, mass produced and sold and follows a woman who wakes up one morning to find her innocence has gone missing. Reading one of Roman Muradov's books is a truly immersive experience so as soon as you open Lost & Found you find yourself wandering through a whole new world of strange bookstores, surreal conspiracies and eccentric wordplay - what better place to spend your Halloween?
Friends by Jan Soeken
With out a doubt the oddest tale in this spooky round-up, Friends by Jan Soeken tells the story of two men who get lost in the woods whilst on the way to a Klu Klux Klan meeting. The comic book is illustrated entirely in grey pencil and follows the two men as the night gets darker and they get more and more lost. The scariest part of this book is the fact that it is actually based on real life events. In the early 2000's it emerged that 2 German police officers were members of a Klu Klux Klan spin off group. As they refuted allegations of racism and claimed they were looking to join the group to meet women, they were allowed to keep their jobs in the police force. To dilute the baffling details of the true story, Jan has layered the story with unexpected plot points and dark humour to create a peculiar yet brilliant book.
Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger
Did you know, as well as being the author of best selling novel The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger is an illustrator too? One of my favourites of her illustrated collection is Raven Girl. The book begins with the words "Once there was a postman who fell in love with a raven" and continues with a weirdly beautiful tale about love, longing, transformation and possibility. The bulk of the short story is about the unlikely couple's child, the raven girl and just as she is part raven, part girl, the story itself is a bit of a hybrid. Bringing together raw human emotion with otherworldly wonderment, the bewitching tale is hauntingly beautiful.
Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford
The official queen of colouring Johanna Basford now has four colouring books under her belt (and a fifth festive edition on the way) and I think Enchanted Forest is the most Halloweeny (is that a word?) of all with 9 spiders, 2 unicorns, 2 fearsome dragons and 1 giant skull popping up along the way on this particular inky quest. If you don't have a copy already then now is the perfect time but if you want to get it finished before the Christmas edition is released then I would clear your schedule because there is an almost-overwhelming amount of intricate inky illustrations just waiting to be coloured.
Tim Burton: The Iconic Filmmaker by Ian Nathan
My final pick for this spooky book round-up is also the newest. Released earlier this month, Tim Burton: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work celebrates one of most remarkable moviemakers of the last 30 years. The book is filled with images and stories from Tim's life and career and takes the reader right from his humble beginnings with The Island of Doctor Agor (a short film he released in 1971) right up to modern day when his famed for visually arresting box office hits like Alice and Wonderland and The Nightmare before Christmas. The book's wow factor comes from a filmography gatefold which plots each of his films on a timeline and shows just how long and impressive his career has been so far.
Looking through the extensive collection Tim has worked on over the years, there is no shortage of creepy tales which would make perfect watching for a Halloween move night. And the book is the perfect companion to a Burton-themed screening as it allows a special behind the scenes peak and ultimately uncovers the method behind the Tim's creative madness.