There’s something about seeing a dark creepy wood that makes you just…WANNA GO INSIDE IT AND POTENTIALLY DIE.
It’s a compulsion really. So exciting. You never know what you might find! Generally people find trees and ponds and itchy bugs, but the possibility of finding (A) dead people, (B) evil faeries ready to have your soul, (C) forces of the darkness, (D) Sauron’s holiday house, (E) leeches, or (F) monsters with bad temperaments — IS REALLY RATHER HUGE. Although leads me to ask why we should ever go outdoors???? The risk is too great.
In case you are like me (aka: opposed to death) and do not want to get eaten by forces of darkness or, worse, mosquitos — I have compiled a list of books today about dark creepy little towns and dark creepy little woods. This should quench your adventuring spirit and keep you alive.
Also FACT: I actually love books about creepy woods. If you say “Hey Cait I think there’s a dark forest thing happening in this bo–“ I will be there, reading it, before you finish the word BOOK. But I have sense okay? Read about the creepy woods. DO NOT GO FROLICKING ABOUT WITHIN YOURSELF. #sensible
I’m linking up with Top Ten Tuesday for “Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books Of X Genre” and that’s hard for me because I recently listed my favourite diverse fantasy and my favourite general fantasy SO WHAT IS LEFT TO TALK ABOUT?!??! FANTASY IS LIFE. So let’s pretend “creepy woods and creepy towns” is a genre, okay? We’re good? We’re definitely good.
1. THE RAVEN CYCLE BY MAGGIE STIEFVATER
In case you are new here: HI, MY NAME IS CAIT AND I’M OBSESSED WITH THE RAVEN CYCLE. Sometimes I’ll be quiet and not talk about them for, like, 5 whole minutes, but then I must explode and gush because they’re the best books I’ve EVER READ. And reread. And had many slight crisis over because #emotions.
Anyway! Creepy woods within! Although you can argue that Cabeswater (that’s the name of the woods, because you must always name things) isn’t really creepy until the final book, The Raven King. But whatever. CREEPY STUFF IS ALL OVER THE PLACE IN THIS SERIES. It’s beautiful. Someone frame it.
2. THE CRESSWELL PLOT BY ELIZA WASS
The Australian edition is actually called “In the Dark, In the Woods” which — while that title promotes staying indoors and surviving — IS REALLY A HORRIBLE TITLE COMPARED TO THE MAJESTY OF THE CRESSWELL PLOT. So I’m ignoring it. I’m going to just Cresswell.
Also this book is freakishly fantastic. The woods are VERY dark and creepy but the monster is human, because it’s contemporary. But it has a big family and sass and amazing names (Castely?!? Mortimer?! Caspar??! I love this!!) and the ending will rob you of all sanity. 10/10 would recommend being damaged by this book again.
3. THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST BY HOLLY BLACK
This book features two siblings + a boy with horns in a glass coffin in the woods. And they want to wake him OF COURSE. Nobody sends these people to Class 101 Of Do Not Wake Creepy Things Or You Will Die.
Also, this book is just so aesthetically pleasing and eerie and I love it. But then Holly Black is the QUEEN of the creepy.* ALSO BEFORE YOU DASH OFF: have you seen the book trailer? It’s spectacular. I usually hate book trailers ** but this is how you do it.
* This seems like an insult but it’s really the most gargantuanly nice compliment ever. I SWEAR I LOVE YOU HOLLY BLACK.
** Because whyyyyy do we need book trailers? IT’S A BOOK. IT’S NOT A FILM. Plus I don’t take kindly to being told how to imagine things, thank you very much.
4. THE ACCIDENT SEASON BY MOIRA FOWLEY-DOYLE
This doesn’t actually feature woods that much. Just the small creepy town where weird things happen — like a family who is cursed to have accidents happen to them. YOU KNOW…just your regular family curse. I’m sure this is normal.
It is also very aesthetically pleasing with the levels of strangeness and mystery. I wanted to actually eat this book because that’s what you do when you find something so amazing. I’m sure this, too, is normal. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU READ AND/OR EAT IT.
* If I say another variation of “aesthetically pleasingly creepy” after this you can hit me WITH AND AESTHETICALLY PLEASING HAMMER.
5. DEMON ROAD BY DEREK LANDY
This only half counts because it’s actually a roadtrip. But why go to one place with creepy town / woods when you could go to SEVERAL AND GET EATEN BY TREES AND MONSTERS AND MAN-EATING CARS!!??! Honestly if that’s not your idea of a fun holiday roadtrip, I don’t know what is.
It disturbs me when people go on relaxing holidays.
6. SISTERS RED BY JACKSON PEARCE
This is a prime example of why life as an outdoor person is not good for you: THERE ARE WEREWOLVES OUT THERE. This book combines creepy little town + creepy woods = very admirably. Plus it’s a retelling. Plus it’s about sisters. (I hope you figured that out on your own though.) Plus it’s about monster hunting. PLUS I REALLY LIKED IT.
Gosh, any more pluses and we’ll be doing maths and that would be an abomination.
7. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE BY NEIL GAIMAN
This is such a delightfully quaint little book about parents who get a babysitter for their kids AND THE BABYSITTER IS TOTALLY THIS EVIL THING THAT WILL CREEPY YOU OUT OF YOUR BUNNY SLIPPERS. It also features (A) creepy little town, (B) creepy little woods, (C) creepy worms that crawl into your skin, (D) Creepy McCreeperton everywhere.
Wait. Why are you hesitating? Why are you running away??? COME BACK I’VE GOT MORE FUN RECOMMENDATIONS TO GO!
8. WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT BY APRIL GENEVIEVE TUCHOLKE
This is written like a whimsical fairy tale and includes three teens who are GENERALLY HORRIBLE but also their story is generally addictive. This book is so so messed up I love it. Like what could be better than creepy abandon houses and creepy little towns and creepy teenage psychopaths and also a severe amount of ice cream appreciation???
9. SPLINTERED BY AG HOWARD
Technically this isn’t a creepy little town because it’s set in Wonderland, which (we might agree) is a whole different world. BUT WHO CARES ABOUT DETAILS?? * This is like Tim Burton-esque creeptastic forests and woods. Not to mention the macabre art Alyssa does.
Seriously, This Is The Actual Thought Process of Alyssa Doing Art:
Alyssa: I’m going to stick all these dead bugs into a mosaic.
Alyssa: Ooh, and add some jewels!
Alyssa: If only the jewels were red…
General Human: Paint?
Alyssa: OMG WHAT ABOUT BLOOD!!!
General Human: [panicked retreat]
Everything about this series is gorgeously and fantastically odd and rabid. **
* Clearly not me, sheesh, what is this.
** Is this my homeland?!? Is this my memoir??! DO I BELONG IN WONDERLAND?!?! ***
*** Yes. Yes I do. And also yes I just put footnotes on my footnotes and is this even legal??? SORRY I DIDN’T LOOK UP FOOTNOTE ETIQUETTE AND NOW IT’S TOO LATE TO GO BACK AND BE POLITE.
10. BONE GAP BY LAURA RUBY
Again, no creepy woods, this is when we talk about CREEPY LITTLE TOWNS. It features a boy who never knows what’s going on, has no friends, walks about in his own daydreams, and knows someone has been kidnapped by a monster but NOBODY BELIEVES HIM BECAUSE HE’S A VAGUE DREAMY COB OF CORN. It’s beautiful. I love this book.
Although I also feel a little attacked by this book because it features bees and cornfields…both of which I AM ALLERGIC TO. And so here is this vague dreamy amazing boy eating s’mores dipped in honey and having midnight rides on a black horse that just APPEARED in his barn while he looks for a crack between worlds in the cornfield to find his friend and I’m like — “I WANT TO COME ON THIS ADVENTURE SO BAD BUT I WOULD DIE OF HAYFEVER IN 2 SECONDS.” I’m so upset.