From Slightly Spooky to Downright Frightening: 8 Haunting New Middle Grade Ghost Stories

October’s the best month to curl up with a spooky story, and so here are some of our absolute favorite middle grade ghost stories of 2019! Some are sequels, but can stand alone just fine, and the ghosts range from “harmless” to “deadly.” The scare factor of each book is noted at the end of its description.

Just South of Home, by Karen Strong
Sarah can’t wait for the first summer that she and her little brother get to stay home alone while their parents work. But when her cousin Janie comes to stay, her peaceful plans are upended. Janie, bored by the small southern town, convinces Sarah to take her to the old ruined church out in the wood, off-limits and supposedly haunted. When Janie wakes up one of the “haints”, a small ghost boy named Abner, and he follows them home, the girls have to dig deep into the town’s dark past. It’s not until they understand Abner’s story, part of their own family history, that they can bring him peace. A great one for kids who like their family and friendship stories mixed with spooky, sad, history! (The haints are scary, but there’s plenty of hot summer sunlight to balance them out.)

A Sprinkle of Spirits, by Anna Meriano
In the second novel in the Love Sugar Magic series, Leo is the youngest child in a family of magical bakers, who longs to learn magic too. She keeps trying even though things often go very wrong (as told in A Dash of Trouble). When she wakes up one day to find her abuela, dead for years, paying her a visit, she’s sure that this time it isn’t her fault. Other spirits are popping up around town as well, and if it isn’t Leo’s magic at work, whose is it, and how can the spirits be sent back before they fade away to nothing-ness? Leo gets her family’s permission to call on her friends to help, and a wild ghost chase ensues. And finally peace returns for both the living and the dead, and Leo finds out what her own particular magical gift is. This one is good sweet fun! (The ghosts aren’t scary at all.)

Dead Voices, by Katherine Arden
Ollie, Coco, and Brian became friends when a monstrous being tried to turn them into scarecrows (in the very scary Small Spaces). Now they’re off to a fun weekend at a ski lodge. But it’s not fun. Snow storms trap them inside, and the power goes out. And there are ghosts; the hotel was once an orphanage where terrible things happened. The only other visitor is a reporter for a ghost hunting magazine, who urges the kids to join in his search for spirits. The ghosts, however, have already started hunting, and haunting, them! There are forces of evil inside the hotel that might trap the kids forever with the dead orphans and their cruel caretaker, but the deadliest danger comes from outside…the tension grows and grows as the snow keeps falling, and it’s deliciously terrifying! (Full on horror; scary as all get out!)

Tunnel of Bones, by Victoria Schwab
Cassidy’s in Paris for the filming of the new episode of her parents’ ghost hunting show, on the look-out for ghosts, as she was in City of Ghosts. She has the power to send them to their final rest, and feels it’s her responsibility to do so. But in the catacombs below Paris, it’s clear that there are far too many spirits for her to handle, and her best friend Jacob, a ghost boy who travels with her, agrees. Then Cassidy unwittingly wakes a poltergeist, the spirit of a young boy, who gets stronger and more furious every day. She tracks down the ghost’s family, solves the mystery of the boy’s death, and brings him peace. But even as the ghost hunting goes well, there’s a big worry—how long will Jacob be able to stay with her before he too moves on? It’s fun ghost-hunting and ghost haunting adventure! (Considerable creepiness; the catacombs, after all, are home to thousands of skeletons…but not terribly scary.)

The Ghost Collector, by Allison Mills
Shelly’s Cree grandmother has taught her the family knack of catching ghosts in their hair, and then, once they’re caught, releasing them so they can move on. Shelly enjoys going on ghost hunting jobs. Mostly the ghosts are restless animal spirits and it’s easy to move them on; others aren’t ready to depart yet, and those Shelly’s grandmother leaves be. Then Shelly’s mother dies suddenly. Shelly is desperate to find her mom’s ghost, to see and talk to her again, but she’s nowhere to be found. So she uses her own ability to catch ghosts to bring them home with her, filling her room with their company. With her grandma’s help, she realizes that she needs to let them go, and so begins to heal. It’s a strange and moving story, based on the author’s own family history. (Sad and definitely creepy!)

Trace, by Pat Cummings
Trace is trying to adjust to life in New York with his aunt, but he misses his parents awfully, and blames himself for their deaths. When he, his one good friend, and two other kids are thrown together for a school project on the 1860s, the long ago past ends up helping him in the present. When the kids meet at the New York Public Library to start their research, Trace gets lost in the stacks, and finds someone else who’s lost—a crying little boy in tattered clothes. Trace learns that the library was built on the site where the Colored Orphanage Asylum had burned to the ground. And then, hunting for more information, he finds his family’s own ties to this sad bit of the past. Not only does he find peace, but all that he’s learned makes the class presentation spectacular! (Features a sad little ghost; spooky but not scary.)

The Haunting of Henry Davis, by Kathryn Siebel
Barbara Anne, a bit bossy, and Henry, the strange new kid, both need friends. By chance they are put in the same “pod” at school, and Barbara Anne’s rather forced kindness to Henry changes to interest when she finds he’s being haunted by the ghost of a young boy named Edgar. As the two of them dig into local history to find more about the ghost boy, they become comrades and friends. It’s not clear what Edgar wants, but he’s taking over Henry’s life to a disturbing degree. As they find out more, they’re able to bring him peace, and when Henry’s life is in danger, it is Edgar who saves him. This is essentially an excellent middle grade friendship and historical mystery, with spookiness thrown in. (Creepy but not scary.)

Archimancy, by J.A. White
Cordelia Liu didn’t want to leave California for cold New England, and her new school couldn’t be more different than her old. Shadow School is a bizarre historical mansion, only barely converted into a school. And then she realizes that many of the people she sees in its dark hallways and unused rooms are ghosts. When Cordelia finds that she can help the ghosts move on, she sets to work with her new friends Benji, who sees them too, and brilliant Agnes, who can’t. But there’s a dark reason why the school is so haunted, and sinister forces are determined to keep it that way. The majority of the ghosts aren’t scary, but the malevolent ones more than make up for them. Young readers who love extraordinary schools with ghostly secrets will love this! (A few bits are full-on scary, but mostly there’s just lovely gothic creepiness…)

Follow B&N Kids Blog