Outlandish Reviews: Halloween Recommendations

Here at Outland Entertainment, we could celebrate Halloween all year with tales of vegan zombies, heroic undead, witchy scientists, and epic battles against the pumpkin god. As part of our celebration on the holiday itself, we reached out to several Outland team members and authors to find out what their favorite or best recent spooky stories are to read—this time of year, or any.

Scott Colby, Author of the "Deviant Magic" series, Editor of Pileaus

When I think Halloween, I think dark magic and haunted houses. Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth has all of that—in space! Sometimes hilarious, often heartbreaking, and always super creative, this gothic sci fi/fantasy mashup is a compelling read that'll leave you seriously judging the workmanship of your neighbor's inflatable skeletons after you see the constructs Muir's characters are capable of creating.

You can check out how Scott's characters run afoul of dark magic in his Deviant Magic series, starting with A Date with Death, or pick up stories of treacherous fae in the forthcoming anthology he edited, Pileaus: Symphony No. 1.

Robert J. Duperre, Author of the "Knights Eternal" series

In Batman: The Long Halloween—sure, only 10% of these comics take place on Halloween (Two of them! A year apart!). A more apt title might be "The Holiday Killer." But even with that being said, this is an absolute master class of character- and myth-building by Jeph Loeb, and Halloween is in the title. For my money, that makes it by far the best story of any that revolves around this time of ghosts, goblins, and jack-o'-lanterns.

Curious about what makes Robert's characters scared? Check out their latest adventure in Vowbreaker, which just released on October 26!

Shannon Page, Author of the "Nightcraft Quartet"

Halloween is my favorite day of the year! And I’m not just saying that because it’s also my birthday.

I love a good spooky read—creepy ghosts and haunted houses and things lurking in the shadows. Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore trilogy is a gorgeous Southern gothic with a fresh feel; though I first read the books years ago, they still haunt my memories. The series starts with Four and Twenty Blackbirds. The covers are amazing too!

And if I might toot my own horn for a moment…my friend Marissa wanted to edit a collection of ghost stories, and suggested we collaborate. I was delighted to! Our new anthology, Murmurs in the Dark, is newly available, and packed full of ghosts, ghouls, shades, and demons. There’s even a haunted house or two.

You can start reading the adventures of Callie, a powerful witch and a scientist of magic, in Shannon's novel The Queen and the Tower.

Christopher Helton, Game Director

Is’nana, The Were-Spider: Showtime is the latest installation of Greg Anderson Elysée’s story about the eponymous character, published by his indie comic imprint Webways Comics. It is a fusion of African, Caribbean, and American culture, as Elysée draws upon the stories of his culture and resets them in New York City, where he lives. Is’nana is the son of Anansi, the West African God of Spiders, and he ended up in our world after the barriers between it and his mythic realm break down, causing a number of monsters to spill into our world. In Showtime, Is’nana has been on in New York City for a bit and is slowly acclimating himself to his new home. Inspired by myths, horror comics, and even Spider-Man comics, Elysée has created a story, and a hero, that engages and scares, while showing off the strengths of the American melting pot.

Professor Dario Bava: Murder Vibes from the Monster Dimension is a comic book tribute to the great Italian horror movies of the 60s and 70s. It is good, sleezy fun from a time when monster fighters were armed with occult knowledge, sexy vibes, and a good stash. Published by Diabolik and created by video director and music photographer Phil Mucci and actor Ian McKay (who happens to share a likeness with Professor Bava), Murder Vibes from the Monster Dimension should appeal to fans of Giallo directors like Dario Agento and Mario Bava. Professor Bava is a former priest who is one of the foremost exorcists and demonologists in the world, and he finds himself up to his armpits in the undead in this story.

Alana Joli Abbott, Editor in Chief

I have always loved Halloween, although I admit to being an easy scare! Some of my favorite horror stories (like Zin E. Rocklyn's excellent "The Night Sun") are best read during the day—or I'm sure to be kept up at night. So when it comes to Halloween-type stories, I'm much more likely to pick something witchy than too scary, which is one of the reasons I loved the novel The Witch King by H. E. Edgmon (which I received from the publisher as an ARC). Wyatt Croft is a trans witch who never learned how to control his powerful magic. He only barely escaped the fae nation Asalin after a terrible fire he started (in self defense) destroys part of the capital. But despite his best attempts at starting over in the human world, making friends with the amazing Briar and being taken in by her family, Wyatt can't evade his fate. He's the betrothed of the prince of Asalin, Emyr, his childhood best friend, and Emyr has come to bring him back to Asalin to be part of the system Wyatt hates. The witch vs. fae storyline simmering here gives the whole world a tension that offsets how much of a teenage mess Wyatt is. (He's seventeen, angry at the world, and grew up in an abusive family and culture—he has every right to be a mess.) His voice is quirky, funny, and self-centered—most of the time unrepentantly—but his growth throughout the novel paves the way for greater things in future series installments. While this one has several content warnings (provided by the author) that you may want to peek at before reading, I highly recommend it as a hopeful story of a teen figuring out what he really wants from life when the odds of getting to happiness, fueled by really cool magic, are set against him.

I'd also be remiss not to mention some really fun horror manga I've gotten in ARCs! Call of the Night by Kotoyama is a spin-on-its-head vampire story, in which antisocial teen Ko tries to prove that he's worthy of becoming a vampire. Nazuna, a vampire who originally tried to seduce him, finds herself unintentionally becoming his friend. While the gender roles in this one look like they're headed toward some pretty typical shonen fare (where all the fem-presenting characters are interested in pursuing the one nerdy male star), even in the first volume it introduces some questions about what makes life valuable—and whether giving that up to become a vampire is ultimately worth what you'd lose. Those are big questions for a light-hearted vampire comedy, and it'll be fun to see how the series handles them beyond the first volume. On the entirely opposite end of the scale is a recent collection of Junji Ito's horror short stories, Lovesickness. These ten stories are full of violent ghosts and existential horror rather than jump scares, and the art is just as creepy as the tales. It's easy to see from this volume why Junji Ito is known as a master of horror. This is one best to read in the daytime, if you're as faint-hearted as me—and it still may keep you up at night!

What are your favorite Halloween reads? We're always up for some good recommendations!

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