Dark fantasies and horror stories for readers of all ages have mushroomed into a contemporary genre giant. From R. L. Stein to Stephen King, the popularity of a good nail-biter is unquestionable, and October is its beacon month. Scary-read lists are as profuse as bags of trick-or-treat candy, but sometimes it’s the unexpected spine-chillers that haunt us all our lives. I still shudder at my childhood reading of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes, wherein a dancing girl’s unstoppable feet are amputated, and she dies from a burst heart. For a spin on October’s conventional reads, check out this shelf of children’s books that scared us back then—and still do.
Featured illustration: Marta Pantaleo