For those of you who want your Halloween seasonally spooky reads LGBTQ, I’ve got a list for you! Here are six awesome queer Halloween books, from kid’s graphic novels about queer goblin witches and nonbinary ghosts to lesbian vampire classics.
Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne
This middle grade graphic novel is just the cutest! Beetle is a goblin witch learning to do magic with her gran as a teacher. Then she finds out the mall in her Halloween-themed town—which her nonbinary friend Ghost Blob is doomed to haunt—is going to be torn down. By who? Power-hungry Marla Hollowbone, whose niece Kat, a cat skeleton sorceress, is back in town. Can Beetle and Kat save Ghost Blob, defeat Marla, and admit their feelings for each other? Can kindly old healer midwife witch Gran bring back the badass sorcery from her youth? This book has gorgeous art, endearing characters, and fun LGBTQ representation for kids!
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edited by Carmen Maria Machado
Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire novel predates Dracula by 25 years and has a fascinating lesbian (sub)text. Laura is lonely in her mansion when a carriage accident brings a secretive woman into her life: Carmilla. As Carmilla becomes more volatile and puzzling, Laura discovers something monstrous. Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties, provides a preface and notes that show the novel in a new light. She frames the story as one with a context of plagiarism and secret letters between queer lovers of the past whose stories were often ignored or glossed over.
Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr
Edith Vane’s tenured professor job is supposed to be safe. But the new dean is evil, her colleague has gone missing, and her building (along with its resident hares) has developed sentience and is trying to kill everyone. Mayr’s novel is a clever satire on academia with a dash of horror. It metaphorically and literally shows how academia can be truly horrific for women of colour. Somewhere along the way Edith develops a romance with a woman she meets at a coffee shop, but it doesn’t help her escape the fate Crawley House has in store for her.
The Devourers by Indra Das
This twist on Indian folklore takes place in Kolkata. Showcasing a wide and diverse representation of gender and sexuality, it’s actually two stories, one within the other. When Alok, a history professor, meets a stranger—who appears to be a werewolf—he hears an unfinished tale. Alok is transfixed, willing to do anything to learn what happens next. The stranger asks Alok to transcribe the rest of the magical narrative, which reaches back to 17th century Mughal India and involves a mysterious and strange people more beast than human.
Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire Edited by Amber Dawn
A unique anthology whose contributions answer the two questions: “What do queer women fear the most?” and “What do queer women desire the most?” Many of the entries indicate that horror and desire just might be in the same direction. The pieces are alternately gorgeous, twisted, and erotic, sometimes at the same time: it’s a strange but tantalizing combination. Standouts include a story that is part ghost story, part anti-gentrification treatise, and part mean mommy/little girl kink erotica; a terrifying take on the sleepover game Bloody Mary with an intersex protagonist; and a BDSM themed story involving a woman and a giant slug.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Jackson’s most famous work is a no-brainer for a reason; it also counts as a classic of queer Halloween books. Written in 1959, the masterpiece haunted house story employs perfect restraint, allowing the horror to remain psychological and mysterious. When four strangers inhabit a house to determine if it is haunted as legend tells, even they do not expect the horrors. The queer part? Theodora agrees to come stay at the house in the middle of nowhere because of a big fight with her “roommate.” The other woman, Eleanor, forms a quick and emotionally charged bond, AKA crush, with/on Theodora. The former owner of the house is an old spinster who had a woman from the village staying with her as a “companion.” In other words, the house is pretty gay.