Halloween Reading to Keep You Screaming

Trigger Warning: Violence, Abusive Relationships

Okay, I’ll admit: a good book you want to jump right into isn’t the first image that comes to mind when Halloween rolls around. Maybe DIY costumes and buckets overflowing with candy fit the mold a bit better? But don’t worry, you’ll be thanking me by the end; these novels I’ll be sharing with and reviewing for you will be so good you’ll want to skip out on trick-or-treating night just to stay in and read them instead! 

(Oh, and of course, spoiler warning! I’ll try to avoid them as much as I can, but don’t sue Tatler when you find out that that one guy killed that other girl at something, somewhere). 

One of Us is Lying: (6.5/10)

Okay, quick fact check: when exactly did this book come out? Surprisingly it wasn’t the beginning of time, but 2017, a short 5 years ago! Maybe that seems long to all of you, but I feel like I can’t remember a time when this book wasn’t talked about. Is it just me? (Upperclassmen, please back me up.) 

Anyway, for all the buzz this book got, I have pretty neutral feelings on it. As I read, I wasn’t necessarily insulted or shocked by anything; I was really just feeling a cliche teen murder mystery novel at the time, and that’s exactly what I got. Addy and Cooper are pretty solid characters: I like the exploration of abusive relationships and healing with Addy, as her arc doesn’t end with her ending the relationship, but instead finding her own purpose outside it. I also wasn’t expecting the subversion of common gay man stereotypes with Cooper, such as giving him lots of other aspects and hobbies and leading us through his dilemma of dating a girl for show. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Brownyn and Nate; they were forgettable, just like their romantic relationship. Also, I don’t know if the book was praised for its plot twist back when it came out, but it wasn’t too surprising to me? Even the easy way out, dare I say, as the reveal is kind of rushed and shallow. 

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder: (8/10)

Get it now; the perfect book to receive concerned stares from anyone who sees the cover! 

Besides the hit to my social reputation, I loved this book; not necessarily because it’s technically perfect and engrossing, but for the surprising elements that draw you in despite the simple story. The plot is really fun to weave your way through, even though the details can start to get clunky and don’t all contribute to the ending. Besides this, the ending was still entertaining and anxiety-inducing to read (despite it getting drawn out; just leave out the Mr. Ward subplot, Holly, the book doesn’t need to reach 400 pages). I really enjoyed Pip as a main character; she’s entertaining and relatable. It does help that most of her romantic relationship’s development happens off the pages, as it didn’t add much to the main story anyways. Despite this, I do think more could’ve been done to explore her love interest, Ravi, and his struggles as an Indian man in this predominantly white town. It’s sad that this interesting premise wasn’t used to its fullest potential. The author did technically have the chance to revive it in the next two books, but those immediately took a downward spiral, so we’re not talking about them. Next!

It Ends With Us: (8.5/10)

Welcome to the snippets of the essay-long review I sent to a friend at 3 am after finishing the book in a frenzy! Whether that makes you search up the title immediately or wonder if you can order a restraining order on a novel, do with this information as you will.

When I first started this novel, I was admittedly pretty bored with it immediately. I thought it was going to tell the story of a couple going through their own drama and shenanigans; which there’s nothing wrong with, it just wasn’t what I was expecting when I started. So, “how exactly is this book scary in the slightest, Lael?” I’ll tell you: It’s scary in the sense of portraying how quickly a seemingly sweet relationship can turn abusive.

The premise of this book is incredibly creative in introducing us to a main character that has sworn off of finding herself in an abusive relationship after growing up witnessing one, just to find her current romance devolving into abuse. I was genuinely surprised when the first act of violence was described (though that might be credited to my friend forbidding me from reading the back cover beforehand), and as the story continued, I realized the genius of the story. 

There are some problems with the lack of focus on the main character’s career, an important aspect of her independence and growth. I also feel obligated to share that this book has impressed me in featuring some of the least-developed side characters I’ve ever read. Despite these slip-ups, it’s a wonderful book that offers some insight into how insulting and misleading the question “why didn’t you leave?” is.

My Sister, the Serial Killer: (10/10)

Part two of receiving concerned stares! I’ll just say that I’ve learned how to position my arm over books’ covers so passing observers aren’t able to make out the title.

But would you believe me if I told you that the incriminating title is the only thing I can find wrong with this book? Well, you better, ’cause listen up: this book is incredible.

I’ve read My Sister, the Serial Killer four times now, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. The premise is so striking; the main character and her internal struggle are written so well, to the point where you’re constantly switching sides and questioning your own morals. The writing is the personification of a chef’s kiss; I couldn’t stop rereading the sentences, with minimalistic description that informs but still leaves room for reader interpretation. An example: “I rush to the sink and take a wipe from my bag, rubbing at the skin. When I’ve got the worst of it, I splash my face with handfuls of water, rinsing away any traces of makeup and tears.” If you want to learn how to balance information and insight into fiction writing, as well as describing realistic and entertaining side characters that further the plot, use this book as a masterclass.

Have I mentioned you need to read this book? Go read this book. I’ll find you.


Whether or not these books have piqued your interest, I hope you’ll take the time to incorporate some good reading into your Halloween celebrations this year!