Not So Scary Halloween Reads for Adults

October 22, 2021 | M. Elwood

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I don't know about you, but I'm finding the real world scary enough these days. This time of year I usually read and watch horror books and movies but in 2021 it just doesn't appeal to me. I still want to get into the spirit though, so here are some books featuring familiar horror themes but typically funnier and less violent. You probably won't get nightmares from these.


Grave secrets

Grave Secrets by Alice James

Toni Windsor is a real estate agent in Sheffield -- at least that's her day job. At night she raises the dead. Toni is a necromancer who reanimates corpses to talk to them. In Europe, vampires are living openly and they hate necromancers like Toni. Well, not all of them. She's got a vampire boyfriend. Reviewers say this book reminds them of the Sookie Stackhouse and Agatha Raisin novels. 


Hollow kingdom

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

When the human population is turned into zombies, order vanishes. Wilderness begins to encroach on urban areas and former pets regain their freedom. One of these pets is S.T., a crow domesticated by Big Jim who is a victim of the illness. S. T. and Big Jim's dog Dennis venture outside to find food, shelter and learn to deal with the new world.


Married with zombies

Living with the Dead Series

  1. Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen
  2. Flip this Zombie
  3. Eat Slay Love

Average unhappy couple David and Sarah are heading to an appointment with their marriage counsellor when they discover they're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Given the choice between fighting and dying, they borrow techniques from movies and become zombie-killing experts, bickering along the way. 


Bloodsucking fiends

A Love Story Series by Christopher Moore

  1. Bloodsucking Fiends 
  2. You Suck
  3. Bite Me

I love that Christopher Moore's books are set in "normal" places where extraordinary things happen. In this series, it's vampires in San Francisco. Jody wakes up in an alley after being mugged and discovers she's a vampire now. She needs a safe place to stay and someone to run errands during daylight so she befriends Tommy, a new arrival from Indiana who helps her adjust to her new reality. 



Mort by Terry Pratchett

I love the Discworld series. It is full of characters traditionally featured in horror -- like witches, goblins, vampires and werewolves. There are 41 books and you can read them in any order. Certain characters are featured in specific books and these books are essentially mini-series with the world. My favourite character is Death, a grim reaper with a scythe who travels on a horse named Binky and loves cats. Death, who is fascinated and baffled by humanity, acts as an observer of the absurdity of the human world throughout the series. 

Mort is the first book to feature Death as a main character. In it, Mort a teenage boy who is not suited to work on his family's farm is chosen to be Death's apprentice and the experience changes both of their existences. 



Cozy mystery series often use holidays and festivals as a setting for their stories. If you are unfamiliar with the cozy genre, they are mystery books without excessive gore and violence. There is a crime, frequently murder, where an interested bystander becomes overly involved in the investigation, usually identifying the guilty party before the police. 

These are some of 2021's Cozy Halloween Mysteries.


Be my ghost

Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry

When Maureen Doherty loses her job, she wonders how she'll pay her bills. Then she receives a message that she's inherited an old inn in Florida. Although she doesn't recognize the name of her benefactor, she is grateful for the chance to make a new start. However, within hours of arriving, Maureen has stumbled upon a murder victim. When she learns the police suspect her of the crime, she decides to investigate with the help of the inn's resident ghosts. 

This is the first book in a new series. 


Cider shop rules

Cider Shop Rules by Julie Anne Lindsey

Blossom Ridge, a town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is celebrating Autumn with its annual Fall Festival. Besides hayrides, pumpkin picking, piglet races and corn mazes, this year's celebration also features murder. Local pumpkin farmer Jacob Potter is found dead in cider shop owner Winnie Mae Montgomery's pickup truck. Luckily Winnie is an amateur sleuth who is determined to solve this crime.


Haunted hibiscus

Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Child

A local mansion has been turned into a haunted house/book signing party. Fortunately, amateur sleuth and tea shop owner Theodosia Browning is in attendance because there is a murder. This is the 22nd book in the Tea Shop Mystery series, so Theodosia has had lots of practice solving crimes. The book also includes several Halloween-themed recipes. 


Mrs morris and the vampire

Mrs. Morris and the Vampire by Traci Wilton

Charlene Morris owns a bed and breakfast in Salem, Massachusetts where Halloween is a big deal. The annual Witch Ball is in full swing when a man claiming to be an actual vampire arrives. At midnight the man vanishes leaving a wooden stake behind. Later his body (with a chest wound!) is found and Charlene searches for clues with the help of handsome ghost Dr. Jack Strathmore. 


Murder outside the lines

Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis

Bookstore manager and colouring book artist Florrie Fox has arranged a Halloween event with psychic author Hilda Rattenhorst. Upon arriving, Hilda reports that she has seen a dead body nearby but it is gone when Florrie tries to find it. Later, Hilda interrupts her reading to announce that a murderer is in the store. Soon, an actual body turns up and Florrie and her police officer boyfriend Eric begin looking for clues. 


Phantoms and felonies

Phantoms and Felonies by Lucy Ness 

Avery Morgan is trying to revitalize the Portage Path Women's Club by hosting events like a 1920s themed murder mystery event in a local mansion. When a local banker is found murdered in the mansion's speakeasy, Avery must solve the crime -- with the assistance of the mansion's resident ghost.