i want to read BOOKS this halloween (because there’s obviously pumpkins and ghosts and candies and other such things that can also be read)

welcome to 2023, the year when anoushka is finally in on the fun of halloween, and actively decides to read books related to something.

(see because i’m usually terrible at tbrs, themed or otherwise, and have been known to read christmas books in the middle of summer and summer-y contemporaries in december. she has no sense of time)

the internet is probably being a good influence on me though because i’ve never before kept track of october the 31st and all the days preceding the yearly ghost hauntings (shh i live in a country that doesn’t celebrate halloween and never makes a big deal out of it either. the first time i ever heard about the existence of such a holiday was through the diary of a wimpy kid books back in elementary school. which is to say DON’T YOU COME AFTER ME AND PUT THAT DAGGER BACK INSIDE YOUR SHOE, ALICE). but elli shared a spooky-book-ed tbr when october as still smol and new and exciting and shiny, and it looked like such FUN i decided i wanted to join in too.

so welcome to my very own spooky (or like, mildly scary-sounding) mid-october list of books i want to read. because HALLOWEEN.

everything about this story sounds so inconceivably perfect it’s like someone stole my dreams and wove me a book out of them. it’s about a queer girl who visits her dad in vietnam because he promised her college money if she did. it’s also about ghosts and scary scary things and haunted houses and about falling in love with a girl.

  • it’s an asian book. and not the general-everyday-kind that features asians living in the U.S. who have become ones with the american streets, which is where the story is set. they’re asian books and obviously i’ll read them and love them and pat them affectionately on their heads (because #SOLIDARITY). but this book takes it all and makes it even better. it’s about asian-americans BUT ASIAN-AMERICANS IN ASIA.
  • and i know we already talked about this, but it’s ACTUALLY set in asia!!!! with asian haunted houses and asian strangers and an asian backdrop and asia!!! because OHMYGOSH. ASIANS IN ASIA. I GET TO GO TO ASIA.
  • i’ve only ever read two books set specifically in the same continent as the one to which i belong. the first one was lyla lee’s flip the script, about a teen k-drama actor and a bi love triangle and What Happens In An Actor’s Life and korean food but also dumb characters and other Idiotic Things thrown in elsewhere. it’s safe to say that maybe flip the script was an unanticipated disappointment.
  • after that, i spent an entire car ride powering through the noh family and. HAHAHAH that ending sucked so hard i honestly considered chucking my phone out the window for a whole 20 seconds before finally deciding the book wasn’t worth it.
  • although technically i also read chetan bhagat’s 400 days way back in the last weeks of september. but it was trash and we don’t talk. so make that three.
  • i’ve also read a lot of hana alkaf’s books which are all set in malaysia. and the poppy wars and nura and the bridge home (WHICH IS UTTER FABULOUSNESS AND ONE OF THE NOT-MANY-BUT-SORT-OF-A-LOT BOOKISH LOVES OF MY LIFE). i’ve read the night diary and almond and rukhsana ali (which was also an unanticipated disaster. i’d actually choke everyone in it without regrets)
  • SO MAYBE I WAS LYING AND MAYBE I HAVE READ A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF BOOKS-FEATURING-ASIA. BUT I’M A GREEDY OLIVE. we don’t talk about that either.
  • LOOK I’M SO GOSHDARNED EXCITED ABOUT THIS ALRIGHT.

i like covers with skeleton hands and horror stories that promise fragile secrets. books about friendships and a life surrounded by ghosts. about two boys falling in love.

  • this is supposed to be very atmospheric and creepy and i would like to tell the world that i’ve read creepy stuff that does not incldue the lone agatha christie novel in eighth grade that made me jump at smol noises for 746 days after and look over my shoulder every 0.00833 second because i was so sure murderers were out to get me.
  • but otherwise i’m very confused about the whole concept because the synopsis is very mysterious and won’t give me all the details. and the title makes no sense (summer?? sons?? what does it mean?? am i supposed to know??) but SHH. i will read it for the ghosts and everyday hauntings.
  • also this is dark academia of the intense and wild kind (which people tell me is supposed to be a reason i read books but i’m mostly reading it solely for the queer love story and the phantom with bleeding wrists and because it sounds a little bit like micah nemerever’s these violent delights, which ash loves and i must read sometime out of loyalty to our friendship)
  • (maybe i’m not a good dark academia advocate. but whatever)
  • it’s a horror story featuring death and blood-soaked histories and friendships gone wrong.
  • obviously none of this can steer the waters of the unexpected or end in tears. or me screaming in the middle of the night because the ghosts left it’s pages and took to residing in my nightmares. BECAUSE I REFUSE TO BE DEFENSELESS AND CRY LIKE THE MORTALS DO.
  • i’m a witch and witches don’t cry.

sometimes people forget how to human and do dumb things. you mustn’t hold it against them though, because where would the fun be in functioning like fully-working living things all the time. WE MIGHT AS WELL BE COOLER AND THEREFORE CYBORG (because cyborgs don’t need sleep and we could double our lifetimes and read 2000 books per year instead)

here’s my dumb thing: i might already be over 70% through serpent and dove as we speak.

it started out as an accident. charlotte told me there were witches. and hilarious banter and enemies-to-lovers and gorgeous quotes. my library told me i could borrow it.

i ate a chapter and look it was the kind of book you could read forever.

  • this follows lou, a free-spirited witch who does as she wills and challenges the world to duels because she’s very opinionated and loud and unafraid, and she lives in a theater and steals costumes to wear as everyday dresses and laughs loud enough to make strangers stop and stare. SHE’S SASSY AND I LOVE HER SO MUCH THE WORLD COULD COMBUST.
  • there’s also reid, the Proper Soldier who follows all the rules and almost dies every time lou’s her wild-mouthed self. except he’s a witch-hunter whose mission in life is to rid the world of magic and say the word ‘brethren’ as often as normal people say ‘icecream’ (which is like once in every sentence because what else is life for if not wrangling dessert into every conversation in hopes that one day someone will catch on and make you a willy-wonka-worthy chocolate factory am i right)
  • anyway. one fine day, both of these smol idiots somehow end up marrying each other (it’s accidental and lou’s honestly just trying to get Reid The Soldier off her back (for thievery and other offences), but it backfires and they’re both Stuck). they’re absolute opposites in like every earthly way but they eventually fall. in love. and it’s wild. AND FUN. AND I LOVE IT.
  • it also features scary little witches and tragic pasts and magic rings that make you invisible when you eat them and burning people at the stake and dark dark magic and defying the world and glorious friendships and this smol kid named ansel who’s an angel and blushes 24/7.

i have a thing for black covers with flower-covered skeletons poking out of them okay. THIS LOOKS BEAUTIFUL AND IT SOUNDS EVEN BETTER.

(also like. i’m trash for dark dark books with witches and magic and bones that grow out of flower gardens and politics) (which kind of makes no sense because i’m not very into real-life politics?? but someone utter fantasy and politics in the same sentence and i’m reading the book. sometimes i like things in books that i hate in real life. this also happens with sports. i would much rather voluntarily break a bone before i ever have to play a sport ever again. BUT I LOVE READING ABOUT THEM. it makes no sense)

also this: all my life, i’ve told stories and claimed huge claims of historical-fantasy being my favorite genre (see this made complete sense to middle-school me because historical fiction and fantasy were my favorites in all the world to the level that i’d swear my loyalty with the entire universe present as witness. so it was only obvious that i’d love fantasies drenched in history) but then i ran into a problem. i’ve never really read many books that hold the title or belong to the genre of historical-fantasies. WHICH TECHNICALLY SUGGESTS I’VE SPENT MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD LYING.

this is an attempt at preventing smol-me from tarnishing my promises to the world. (I HAVE REPUTATIONS TO UPHOLD)

  • charm is a witch and ghosts live in her heart. not literally, but metaphorically. she’s the last necromancer in the world, and she grows the bone trees at orchard house.
  • the crime-drenched kingdom controls her life, where the king never dies and princes remain princes forever.
  • but then he does. and he promises charm her freedom if she can find his murderer and choose the next heir to the empire he’s leaving behind.
  • this is supposed to be dark and annoyingly complex and confusing and beautiful. (although from all the negative goodreads reviews i’ve read, it’s also supposed to make you scream and chuck the book against the wall because the story makes no sense and the characters are indistinguishable)
  • BUT TODAY I’M BEING BRAVE AND THEREFORE OPTIMISTIC.

sometimes i write titles for reviews of books i haven’t ever read yet, the way some people (aka me) spend their free time coming up with names for a dog they aren’t yet allowed to keep or thinking up ways of getting out of the english presentation they’re supposed to do tomorrow (also me). almost like it’s one of my favorite pastimes. (which it probably is. i think it’s gone on long enough to have earned the title)

in march of 2022, i borrowed the graveyard book from the secluded little section that houses all the young adult books of my library. i dreamt about loving it and i dreamt about screaming. ten pages in, i’d even thought up what i’d title it’s review.

so honestly it’s a pity i never got past the ten.

(although in my defense, i read those pages in the backseat of a noisy car and there were people talking all around me. and focus isn’t an art that i’m incredibly skilled at) (WE’RE WORKING ON IT)

(also in my defence, i was reading evelyn hugo at the time, and it was addicting and glamorous and magic. I DESERVE DEFENCES)

  • this follows an infant whose parents get murdered in the dead of night by a man with a sharp knife. but said infant is a weird combination of foolish and brave and an idiot and he runs away from home before the sharp-knifed-man can get him too. he ends up in the graveyard on top of the hill, and is adopted by the ghosts of the dead people who were buried there.
  • alright so listen. the first time someone told me about this book, everything about it seemed so bizarre i spent about 364 minutes cackling before the world confirmed that my ears weren’t malfunctioning and i had indeed heard right. all of it.
  • i have since sworn to read it first chance i get, but i have a very loose definition of ‘first chances’ and i say it hasn’t arrived yet. but like. a boy raised by GHOSTS. in a GRAVEYARD. hiding from a MURDERER. also it’s a children’s book!!! THERE IS SO MUCH TO LOVE HERE.
  • and i want to. i want to love it all. the story and the kid and the ghosts and the witch and the delicious darkness of the world it’s housed in.

the first time i ever heard about this, i swore never to read it because the cover looked ugly. like really really really honestly UGLY. (not the cover i used for this post, obviously. that one looks decent. but the other one. the one that looks dusty and a little like there’s mould growing all over it, and about two centuries too old and very uninteresting) but then i read about it being a queer dracula retelling somewhere.

although i sometimes claim otherwise, i’m only just a smol-human-who-sometimes-likes-to-play-at-being-a-cat. and i get excited by simple things. LIKE A QUEER DRACULA RETELLING.

  • this follows constanta, one of dracula’s brides, on her quest to unravel his secrets and bring his monstrosity to light. it’s supposed to be dark dark dark gorgeousness and a little like a disaster you can’t look away from. I WANT TO READ DISASTERS TOO OKAY.
  • so look. i’m not usually a fan of creatures who drink human blood for sustenance (it’s all very disgusting and makes me go HDGAJSH STOP) and have been known to have read only two books featuring vampires in the entirety of my existence (this also explains my conspicuous absence from all the twilight debates. i’ve never actually read the books) so the author probably deserves a freaking award just for making me want to read this.
  • also like. the font (on the other cover. this one’s decent) might be horrendous but the title makes me go JBFDNBBNVFBNBV. it’s all very vaguely exciting like that.
  • AND DID I MENTION IT’S A QUEER DRACULA RETELLING?? BECAUSE THIS IS BIG NEWS. (i’m so excited!!!!)

ok that’s it. because today i’m being good for once and therefore only minorly over-ambitious. this was originally supposed to be a list of all the books i’d read in october, but october’s midway gone by now and i’m only halfway done with just one of the many six-or-something books on here. SO WE’RE KEEPING EXPECTATIONS TO THE ABSOLUTE MINIMUM AND CARRYING THIS ON INTO THE FIRST HALF OF NOVEMBER. or something. idk. future anoushka will worry about complications. i’m going back to sleep now.

what’s your favorite thing about october?? favorite part of halloween? the costumes or the free candy? (SAY COSTUMES OKAY. always costumes) tell me about all the stories you plan to read this month. AND GIMME ALL THE DETAILS IF YOU’VE READ ANY OF THESE. or plan to. or don’t.

18 thoughts on “i want to read BOOKS this halloween (because there’s obviously pumpkins and ghosts and candies and other such things that can also be read)”

  1. Omg yay I can’t believe you’re already 70% into Serpent & Dove. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it so much (and that I convinced you to read it). It really is such a good book and manages to balance some really fun conversations & antics with such glorious darkness too.

    I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but when I saw what you said about Skeleton hands on books i was actually going to suggest Bone Orchard. I also have a major weakness for Asian inspired fantasy novels.

    😲 how can you not like vampires? 😭 that breaks my heart. I don’t know if they’re queer but I have seen two Dracula retellings (one follows Lucy so may be more of a spin off) out next year that are described as feminist. I also really need to read Dowery Of Blood one day.

    I’ve only read one Neil Gaiman book so far and wasn’t a fan. Hopefully you’ll love the one listed here though (its not the one I read). It does sound intriguing. I think the responses I’ve seen to it have generally been positive too.

    I adore historical fantasy books 😍 particularly the ones that focus on high society and balls but bring Monsters into the mix 😍😍

    I hope you manage to get some of these read & get into seasonal reading. I always tell myself ill read when the clocks change & make the most of the extra hour. Then something always gets in the way.

    I’d love to fit some spooky season books in but atm I’m rereading All Of Us Villains (so that I can finally read the sequel) and tbh that does kind of fit the theme. It has magic ofc plus a cast of villainous characters which feels quite in season πŸ˜… I’m hoping to start Belladonna or Empire Of The Vampire towards the end of the month too, after my copy of A Curse For True Love has arrived.

  2. I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE JOINING THE HALLOWEEN FUN! I really hope you have the best spooky season. I do really love the costumes, the decorations, and just the general Halloween vibe. My family has always loved Halloween so it’s just nostalgic to me.

  3. I have unexpectedly become a October girlie and I love reading autumnal books this time of year, so seeing your TBR was very exciting! 😍

    I agree how nice it is to see books set in Asia, as I have read more books following Asian-Americans in America. I hope you enjoy She Is A Haunting, it sounds perfectly spooky!

    I didn’t know about The Bone Orchards mixed reviews, how intriguing. Like, it actually makes me want to know more about the book, especially as the plot concept itself sounds amazing! I would love to know your thoughts on this one!

    I am currently reading A Dowry of Blood. I never got the vampire craze (until this year) but this book does offer more. It is about toxic relationships, written beautifully. Vampire make the perfect subject for toxicity is something I am learning recently.

    Happy (or rather creepy) reading πŸ–€

  4. i am decidedly not a seasonal reader (idk what halloween was for most of my life, and even now it’s not a Big Deal at all, it’s not a holiday and no one ever acknowledges it). i love this post, and the only point i might disagree with you is on the dowry of blood cover – i love the first one, it’s GOTHIC and vintage-y okay?

    Out of the books you’ve mentioned here i’ve only read a dowry of blood and the graveyard book, both of which i loved, which means the rest of this list might become some of my favourites as well!

  5. HALLOWEEN!!
    I hope you get to experience the whole thing; with proper atmostphere, decorations and all the things once in your lifetime! πŸ˜„ we also do halloween themed parties.. but ive never been to those yet (because safety.. wouldnt go alone)

    Enjoy & have fun with those spooky books πŸ₯°

  6. I never used to really care about Halloween until I had my first boy! He’s obsessed and now we love Halloween but not creepy halloween! haha. We are more the disney characters and cutesy stuff. A Dowry in Blood was a great read!! It’s also very short so I loved that too. haha I hope you enjoy some lovely Halloween reads! <3

  7. OOOOH, YOUR TBR LOOKS SO WONDERFULLY CREEPY, ANOUSHKA!! πŸ‘» I definitely intend to exploit these ideas, should I ever have free time in October again. I don’t really think that’s going to be in the cards this year, unfortunately, so I’m just going to have to live vicariously through you!

    I have, however, already read Serpent & Dove and adored it! I can definitely see how all of the angst and witchiness lured you into accidentally already reading 70% of the book! It had the exact kind of trashy hate-to-love fantasy vibes I was craving at the time I read it, and it’s a real travesty I somehow never checked out the rest of the series. I’m gonna have to remedy that!

    But anyway – I hope you enjoy these and that you’re having a great October! πŸ’™

  8. Hope you have lots of Halloween fun reading through these! There are several here that I’d really like to get to myself. The only one I’ve read is Serpent & Dove, which I LOVED!! So, no surprise at all that you’re enjoying it.

  9. I’m not really that big on Halloween (although I also don’t want to take away anyone else’s fun, so I usually stay home and hand out candy). My favorite thing about October is that I usually get time off work…

  10. these are so many books and all of them sound amazing! BUT. Summer Sons!! i read this on a friend’s recommendation and really liked it! i don’t generally read spooky books but this was soo atmospheric and set the scene each time so well. the writing is too good and the characters!!!! you will love them. i can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!

  11. Aahhh have fun with all of these spooky reads!! πŸ‘» I remember reading the graveyard book a while ago and it was quite intriguing ahha!! Perfect for the season πŸ‘»

  12. Possible unpopular opinion … I kinda like the old cover of A Dowry of Blood. I really like the gothic vibes and the dancing skeletons and just the change from black and red covers that I feel like are everywhere haha.
    Hope you loved these books!!

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