Best spooky children's books

Boy reading a book under the covers with phone

After a spine-chilling read for your child for Halloween? Here are the best new and classic scary stories for older and younger children

Books for older kids

A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

Violet never wanted to move to Perfect – an odd town where everyone wears glasses, is neat and tidy and perfectly behaved all the time. There's something very wrong, but the adults are too blind to see it… Can Violet discover what it is and save her family without making too much of a spectacle? A quirky, creepy, and courageous adventure, perfect for fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton.

A Place called Perfect book

What Mumsnetters say about A Place Called Perfect:

“This was a big hit with my 12-year-old! He stayed up reading it until 10.30pm on a Saturday night – a real page-turner mystery with some good twists.”

“My 10-year-old thought this was an interesting and unsettling read. He really enjoyed it and found the storyline fast-paced.”

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Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony by Chris Riddell

The latest spooky mystery for Ada Goth to solve, complete with delightful references and illustrations. Ada must make sure the music festival at Ghastly-Gorm Hall goes smoothly, but it's quite distracting what with a faun living in her wardrobe and Maltravers the gamekeeper up to his old tricks. Luckily, help is at hand from a very interesting house guest…

Goth Girl

What Mumsnetters say about Goth Girl:

“My nine-year-old loved the look of Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright with the blue edging and the gold skeletons on the cover. He especially liked the 'odd' things in it like the contraption for transporting pies across the table.”

“Chris Riddell's Goth Girl books are beautifully illustrated and full of literary jokes.”

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Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy

If your child hasn't yet met the great Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, magician, master of dirty tricks (and also, dead), they're in for a treat. Along with his 12-year-old bad-ass sidekick Stephanie, they must fight against the evil residing in a spooky old estate.

Skulduggery Pleasant

What Mumsnetters say about Skulduggery Pleasant:

“My son and I both love this series – witty, well written, plus good female role models! There's some mild peril – but my son is fairly easily scared and he hasn't been too freaked yet.”

“My nine-year-old loves Skulduggery Pleasant. A little violence, but nothing too harrowing, with a really kick-ass female lead character!”

Buy the first book on Amazon

Christine by Stephen King

Want to introduce your child to the King but not sure where to start? Rather than risk traumatizing them with nightmares of the clown from It, Christine – a supernatural tale about a 'car with attitude' – is recommended by Mumsnet SK fans as a good way in.


What Mumsnetters say about Christine:

“My son read Christine at 14, loved it and he too is now hooked!”

“I read Christine aged 12 and following on from that, a large number of his other books. I have to say though, at 32, I'd still need to leave the light on whilst reading…”

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Books for younger kids

I Want to Be in a Scary Story by Sean Taylor

From the creators of Hoot Owl comes a very scary read-aloud story… A wickedly funny tale about a rather unconventional monster who really wants to be in a scary story – but is he brave enough?

I want to be in a scary story

What Mumsnetters say about Sean Taylor:

“The language is rich and the illustrations are clear, bright and colourful. I hadn't heard of Sean Taylor before but will definitely be looking out for more of his children's books.”

“Hoot Owl is brilliantly designed and drawn, with thick, bold lines and magnificent colours. In the book Hoot schemes how to get its next meal in this slightly scary (in way young ones will appreciate e.g. the food chain), mostly funny picture book.”

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Muffins for Mummies by Adam and Charlotte Guillain

A delightfully spooky picture book for the more sensitive little ones. George and his faithful puppy Trixie set out to track down a criminal through the shadowy but very lively museum, encountering many foes along the way.

Muffins for Mummies

What Mumsnetters say about Muffins for Mummies:

“The book was fun, the characters were hilarious and the rhyming just topped it all off. Cracking storyline for all ages!”

“My daughter has asked for it every day!”

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The Gruffalo's Child by Julia Donaldson

The bestselling sequel to the phenomenon that is the Gruffalo – this time the story follows the Gruffalo's LO who, on a wild and windy night, sets out on her own. After all, the Big Bad Mouse doesn't really exist… does he?

Gruffalos Child

What Mumsnetters say about The Gruffalo's Child:

“I remember my two-year-old daughter lying in bed after lights out, with the wind howling outside, going 'His eyes, like pools of TERRIBLE FIYAAAAH'.”

“It's so evocative, and just reminds me of sneaking out doing naughty things when I was little. I always read the 'I'm not scared' bit in a quavery, bolstering-my-bravery type voice…”

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The Witches by Roald Dahl

The classic creepy tale from Roald Dahl – about a bloodthirsty band of witches, who especially hate little children. One boy and his grandmother set out to stop the Grand High Witch once and for all.

The Witches

What Mumsnetters say about The Witches:

“Scarier than I'd anticipated, the DC are finding it quite thrilling! So perhaps not one for bedtime.”

“My son is seven, and found The Witches absolutely terrifying.”

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