Halloween Bingo: Trick or Treat

Rather than go in some sort of order, I have just decided to write up topics as they appeal to me – I’ll end up at the end with the posts that I am least interested in, but that’s okay. So, I have this square Row 3, Column 4 of my square. For 2021, the Trick or Treat square focuses on Young Adult and Middle Grade books that are mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural.

I like to fill this square with a vintage-y YA horror selection, along the lines of Lois Duncan or Richie Tankersley Cusick. In past years, some of my YA/MG Halloween Bingo selections have included:

  • Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
  • Trick or Treat and Help Wanted by Richie Tankerley Cusick
  • All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  • One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer and Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

I have read much less YA/MG in the last couple of years, but this is still a small sample of some of the juvenile books I’ve read for Halloween Bingo. Etiquette and Espionage is fun and steampunky, and set in a finishing school for Victorian girls with special talents in mayhem, assassination and espionage. All The Bad Apples is magical realism, and was one of my favorite books of 2019 – Fowley-Doyle’s perspective on the brutal history of misogyny and abuse in Catholic Ireland was very timely and completely absorbing. As an aside, I’ve read all three of her books, and have enjoyed each more than the prior.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, is set in London, at a boarding school. The main character, Rory, arrives from Louisiana, just in time for someone to begin re-enacting the Ripper murders from the 1880s. One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is basically a modernized version of The Breakfast Club, with murder. And it’s as much fun as that would imply, although I was underwhelmed by the ending.

Of the two Richie Tankersley Cusick books, Trick or Treat was definitely better than Help Wanted. They were both very 1980’s/1990’s tween horror. This isn’t my nostalgia – I am too old for them, and my kids are too young, but they are still fun. Lois Duncan, on the hand, is absolutely a nostalgia bomb for me. I still remember checking Down A Dark Hall out of my Junior High School library – it scared the bejeezus out of me. I Know What You Did Last Summer was another favorite of my tween years, and the 1997 adaptation, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr. (who met on set and married 4 years later) is entertaining and has plenty of jump scares.

This year, I’m strongly leaning towards Mary Downing Hahn’s Deep and Dark and Dangerous . In the alternative, I might read a Point Horror or a Fear Street – Funhouse by Diane Hoh is particularly appealing.

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