Off/Kilter Halloween Edition: Spooky Reads Round-up

We’re not going to let the current state of 2020 dampen our spooky spirits during the BEST holiday of the year. Sure, our Halloween costumes might only get play on ZOOM, and there may not be any of the usual hellish reveling in the streets or howling at the moon—but nothing is going to stop us from *at minimum* eating a cart-load of candy while huddled wide-eyed with a bit of freaky lit.If you’re planning on doing the same, here are five reading recommendations we hope will keep you good company through the long, dark night on all Hallows’ Eve!Stay Weird and Stay Well.–Your Off/Kilter Host, Leyla T


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The Hush Sisters by Gerard Collins (Breakwater Books)

One of the most beloved kinds of spooky lit is the the kind that contains a house that harbours a dark secret. Great grandma Shirley would surely attest to that. So if you’re into Gothic haunts of the four-walled variety, check out Gerald Collins’ The Hush Sisters. After their parents die, estranged sisters Sissy and Ava find themselves the inheritants of the house they grew up in—an old manor in St. John’s. The sisters must overcome their differences to decide the future of the property but as its secrets are uncovered, the house’s spirits become restless, delivering all kinds of sinister antics for readers to enjoy.

Be Scared of Everything: Horror Essays by Peter Counter (Invisible Publishing)

There are a lot of scary things happening in the world right now, not least of which are the horror-filled essay’s in Peter Counter’s new collection from Invisible Publishing. Personal memoir blends seamlessly with timely musings on some of the unique cornerstones of horror culture—from H.P. Lovecraft and Alien to fun family adventures with a Ouija board and discovering the dark and arcane truths embedded within Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This one gives us all the spooky feels but with an honesty that lays bare really what is most essential both in our human nature and at the heart of good horror.

Daniil & Vanya by Marie-Hélene Larochelle, translated by Michelle Winters (Invisible Publishing)

When the pandemic has you attempting to work from home while also taking care of your children, every day can feel like a family thriller—but here’s one that might help paint your troubles mild in comparison. When Emma and Gregory take the leap in adopting children, their journey leads them to Russia where they become adoptive parents to twin boys. But their celebrations are short-lived. As soon as they board the plane from St. Petersburg, the boys begin to exhibit troubling behaviours that are carried into their teens as they develop a disturbing lack of empathy and leave a trail of dark happenings in their wake…A spooky BONUS from Invisible Publishing: Remember those UNICEF boxes kids used to tote around at Halloween to collect donations? Until midnight on October 31, Invisible Publishing will donate $1 to UNICEF Canada for each purchase of Be Scared of Everything or Daniil and Vanya in any format. Purchase from All Lit Up and send Invisible your e-receipt ( and they will donate!

Fauna by Christiane Vadnais, translated by Pablo Strauss (Coach House Books)

Eco-horror is growing in trend right now and it’s easy to understand why when the threat of climate change is actively rearing its ugly head and destroying the lives of people around the globe. Out of this comes Christiane Vadnais’ Fauna, pitting the forces of human and nature together. Against the near-future backdrop of an evolving Shivering Heights, with its fog and toxic green skies ominously rolling in, biologist Laura must work to understand how her own body is changing along with the world around her. With its mix of both beauty and terror, Fauna begs the question—when nature and our natural landscapes become hostile, can they be referred to as sublime?

Girl Minus X  by Anne Stone (Wolsak & Wynn)

Girl Minus X delivers us into a post-apocalyptic realm that feels hauntingly real. With their family already in a prison-like quarantine, Dany and her younger sister are left on their own, caught in a world increasingly plagued by a virus that eats away at the memory of all who are infected. As the disease evolves and worsens and Dany begins to develop symptoms, the sisters attempt to escape the city. For Dany, this means leaving the past behind and dragging her trauma forward, along with her fears.

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More strange new spooks for your TBR, also available on All Lit Up:Goth Girls of Banff by John O’Neill (NeWest Press)The Hammer of the Witches by Kelly Rose Pflug-Back (Caitlin Press)The Transaction by Guglielmo D’Izzia (Guernica Editions)You Will Love What You Have Killed by Kevin Lambert (Biblioasis)The Cat Possessed by Louise Carson (Signature Editions)Fontainebleau by Madeline Sonik (Anvil Press)The Lightning of Possible Storms by Jonathan Ball (Book*Hug Press)