Summer Chills — Spooky Stories for Summer

by Kirsti Granholm

It may not be Halloween, but it is summer. Now that schools out, surprise your kids with one of these super spooky books to kick-start their imagination. Here is our booklist of Canadian suggestions for an eerie summer.


A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen (Roaring Book Press, 2019) Ages 8-12

Kallie is a young, intuitive girl that typically minds her own business. She loves math, science and pretty much anything factual. Liah, on the other hand, is the complete opposite; a fanciful bone carver who serves a vicious Empress in a magical world.

One day, while out at a festival with her grandpa, Kallie runs into a faceless man, who hands her a small locked wooden box. Kallie is so curious about its contents that she decides she’ll do whatever it takes to open it. After trying nearly everything to open the box, she finally unlocks it — revealing something beyond her imagination.

Soon the two girl’s worlds become intertwined in the most unexpected way. Everything Kallie has ever known about facts and fiction, are about to change forever.


Dead Water Zone by Kenneth Oppel (HarperCollins Publishers, 1992) Ages 12+

Paul and Sam are brothers; they are also complete opposites. Paul spent most of his life caring for his brother, who struggles with a rare disease that makes him weak and frail. Whereas Paul is a sporty, popular young man. Regardless of Sam’s physical restraints, he is a very intelligent figure. So when he decides to take a job as a research assistant in Watertown, no one is surprised. Although shortly after his arrival, he mysteriously goes missing while at work.

Paul gets a phone call about the news and is baffled; he decides to set out to find his brother. When he arrives in Watertown, no one is willing to cooperate. Until he meets a brother and sister duo who are willing to lead him through this city. They sure don’t know what happened to Sam, but what they do know is there is something in the water in Watertown.


Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner (Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers, 2018) Ages 8-12

Compared to his two best friends and his crush Nia, AJ feels like he is the boring kid at school. Now after a long leisurely summer, it’s time to get back to the books. This year AJ wants Nia to notice him for once, but he doesn’t think he’s interesting enough for her. Besides, she’s the smartest kid in all of Spoons Middle School. AJ thinks he’s doomed, until the two are paired up for a class project and finally AJ gets a chance to impress her.

AJ knows one thing for sure and that is that Nia loves vampires, so when they find out their project is on Transylvania — he decides to dress as a vampire. His plan to get her attention does work… but for all the wrong reasons.


Haunted Canada: The First Terrifying Collection by Pat Hancock, illustrations by Andrej Krystoforski and Kara-Anne Fraser (Scholastic Canada, 2018) Ages 9+

The Haunted Canada series has been one of the spookiest collections of scary stories to come out in Canada. This edition is a compact collection of Hancock’s first three books; Haunted Canada: True Ghost Stories, Haunted Canada 2: True Tales of Terror, and Haunted Canada 3: More True Ghost Stories. Get ready to be spooked, because the stories in this book come from all across the country, from the smallest towns to the largest city — no one is safe from terror.


Haunted: Field of Screams by Joel A. Sutherland (Scholastic Canada, 2019) Ages 8+

Darius cannot wait until his cousin, Ryan, visits town for the first time in years. They were so close when they were young, so the reunion is bound to be exciting! Once Ryan arrives, Darius notices he has changed, a lot. Regardless of their new differences, Darius caries on with his plan to bring Ryan to Fall Freight — a corn maze they used to do together as kids.

The two boys arrive at the maze and head straight in, everything seems to be fine until they realize that they have got themselves very lost. Darius and Ryan refrain from panicking, until they realize things aren’t what they seem to be. They know they need to get out of the maze, and quickly, before something terrible happens to them.


Haunted Town Halls by Peter J. Roe (Quagmire Press, 2019) Ages 10-14

Sometimes looking for ghosts can bring you to the most interesting places. Haunted Town Halls is the fictional account of The Searcher Group’s two-and-a-half-year paranormal tour. Follow along with the group as they take you on a spooky journey of Canada’s historical town halls. Ghosts, goblins or ghouls, you never know what you’ll find until you get out there and explore. These real stories will have you spooked all summer long!


Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan (Albert Whitman & Company, 2019) Ages 13+

Mac has just lost his best friend Connor to a killer who slayed four victims in quiet Camera Cove. The police were unable to find a suspect, so the case was quickly closed. Mac won’t give up though. Even a year after the murders, he remains determined to find out who killed his best friend.

One day, Mac stumbles across a note from Connor, written on the night he was murdered. The note tells Mac to meet him where his body was found — leading Mac to believe there could be more to the story, as he suspected. Mac then takes matters into his own hands, and brings readers on a suspenseful, unexpected journey of love, loss and beating the odds.


Strangers by David A. Robertson (HighWater Press, 2017) Ages 12+

Ten years after moving away from Wounded Sky First Nations reserve, Cole finds himself needing to go back once again. One of his last memories there, was of a terrible fire that burned down a local school, killing dozens of children. Cole was traumatized from the event, but he luckily escaped the fire with a few friends. When he arrives, he finds the community in shambles. He knows he needs to help the community but getting them to accept him again won’t be as easy as he hoped.

This book intertwines magic, mystery and fantasy with a diverse Canadian twist. Strangers is the first book in The Reckoner Trilogy by David A. Robertson.


The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray by E. Latimer (Tundra Books, 2018) Ages 10+

It’s a lonely life for Bryony Gray, since her uncle has kept her locked away in the attic since she was seven years old. She has been forced to paint beautiful paintings for her uncle’s wealthy clients in London. Mysteriously, Bryony’s paintings begin to literally come to life; she even watches a figure in one of her paintings hop out of the frame! The subjects from her paintings start to terrorize the people of London, specifically her clients; some of them even go missing! Bryony knows she has to put a stop to the menacing paintings, but she also knows that there is a lot of work to be done to figure out this gruesome mystery.

Bryony doesn’t quite know what she is in for, but regardless, she makes it her mission to stop the terror for good. Besides, anything is better than being locked in that dusty old attic again.