Want to know Halloween’s dark secret? It’s a holiday for book nerds. Characters from literature – Draculas, Frankenstein’s monsters, hobbits, wizards, Dorothy Gales, tin men, scarecrows, Harrys, Hermoines, and robots – jump off the pages to bang on doors asking for candy. Heck, even a black dress plus face paint and cat ears count as an Edgar Allen Poe reference. But then these weirdos showed up. Read up on them in one of these books, in case anything this Halloween gets a little too normal.


Photo courtesy of Macmillan Books.

Our first specimen dresses like a teenage boy and carries surgical tools. At first glance, he looks like a cross between Odd Thomas or Dexter Morgan, but actually, this sociopath, named John Cleaver, hunt demons as a profession. John desperately does not want to be a serial killer, so he channels his homicidal tendencies to demon-hunting for the FBI. That didn’t really pan out in the last book, but John finally confronts the last of the Withered as well as some internal problems in Nothing Left to Lose, the sixth and final book in the second trilogy of the series from Hugo-winning podcaster Dan Wells.


Photo courtesy of Macmillan Books

The next guy sports a video store T-shirt, pulls impossible party tricks and his best friend follows him around everywhere. He has a bottle of soy sauce; don’t drink it. After a few laughs, a trademark style reveals him as a fictionalized version of internet comedian David Wong specifically from Wong’s brand new book, What the Hell Did I Just Read. He rounds out a trilogy of comic horror novels after taking a break to venture into sci-fi. Early reviewers love the book, and fans of Cracked.com surely will as well.


Photo courtesy of Macmillan Books.

This next dude has a pretty sick Roaring Twenties vibe going. He wears a vintage black suit, complete with hat, and he collects his candy in a guitar case. He also brought a razor. They call him Black Tom –  from Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom. Also, check inside that guitar case. He snagged a British Fantasy Award and nominations for both a Hugo and a World Fantasy Award. Engage for a minute, and find out he loves him some Lovecraft and he goes around retelling “The Horror of Red Hook,” like, all the time.


Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

And in the spirit of revamps, that lady over there looks familiar. And a little old to be trick or treating. Suddenly, a flashback to high school English class recalls that she belongs in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. But she seems grittier? Hipper somehow? It must be the intensely realistic illustrations in this new graphic novel form of the bone-chilling tale of Anywhere, Any State, USA, drawn out by Jackson’s own grandson, Miles Hyman. The contempt on the townsfolk’s faces might make people without costumes seem creepier than those in masks.

Bring any one of these weird characters home before the neighborhood kids come knocking in order to get all the scares just in time for the long night.