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Guest Post: 3 Books That Scare Joëlle Anthony (Who Doesn’t Like to Be Scared!)

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Joëlle Anthony, author of RESTORING HARMONY

I have never read a scary book on purpose. I was either tricked by the author’s charming personality, confused because an author’s other books were so good, or apparently asleep at the wheel (of my bicycle).

I am perfectly willing to admit I am a wimp when it comes to scary books. I’m pretty sure Nova was thinking her guest bloggers would write dark and eerie posts about books you must read if creaky noises and dismembered hands are your thing, but I’m simply here to warn you off of them. Whatever you do, don’t ever, ever read Dust by Arthur Slade, The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, or Are You in the House Alone? by Richard Peck. I mean, unless you want to never, ever sleep again. Then, go for it.

You’re probably wondering if I’m such a wimp, why I didn’t notice these books were going to scare the bejezus out of me when I read the jacket copy. There’s a very simple answer to that. I didn’t read the jacket copy. Haven’t you ever noticed how the copy tends to ruin books? Well, I have, so it is my policy to totally ignore it (and yes, this has caused me to be extremely confused by books which turn out to be sequels to ones I haven’t read, but this is a chance I’m willing to take). Because of my fear of jacket copy (told you I was wimpy), I occasionally end up reading something I kind of wish I hadn’t. Or in the case of the following three books, I REALLY wish I hadn’t.

Dust by Arthur Slade

Art was in one of my online writing groups, posing as this really nice and friendly guy. In pictures, he always had this great big smile and twinkling eyes, and you just thought, “Oh, this is a good guy. I bet he writes happy books!” THINK AGAIN! Seriously, Dust is soooooooooooooo scary. In fact, it’s so terrifying that I make my husband keep it in his office so it can’t get me. You definitely don’t want to read this one. Oh, okay…full disclosure…it won Canada’s Governor General’s Award, so you know…it scared the tar out of me, but a few other people (like everyone) really like it. That said, do not be fooled by Arthur Slade’s smile.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

When I was young, someone gave me a copy of a book called The Velvet Room by Snyder. To this day, it is one of my favourite books. I haven’t read it in a really long time, but what I remember is that it’s about a girl and her family during the Depression who end up working on an apricot farm in California, and she discovers a secret room in an old house which is draped in velvet. It’s an amazing book. The Egypt Game is not. I mean, I think actually it might be if you like freaky stuff, because I’m pretty sure it won a bunch of awards, but I can honestly say that I have blocked every memory of it from my mind, so don’t ask me!

Are You in the House Alone? by Richard Peck

And lastly, I want to warn you about the book that haunts me to this day. Now, why-oh-why someone like me EVER picked up a book called Are You in the House Alone? is totally and completely beyond me. As my husband would say, that day, way back when I was about fifteen, and I bought that book with my allowance, someone must’ve “hit me upside the head with the dumbass stick,” because really…seriously…how naïve did I have to be not to realize that you do not name a fuzzy, cuddly book Are You in the House Alone? This book is one I have not been able to block from my memory, and while the previous two titles were scary, they have elements of fantasy that this one does not. You really do need to be a tough person to read this book.

So…ummm…that’s my take on scary books. I’ll be hiding under the covers for the rest of the guests’ blog posts.

Joëlle Anthony lives on a small island in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two cats, and various deer who like to come up onto the porch to eat her plants. She’s in the process of having a writing cabin built, which she is sure will make her a much more prolific and exciting writer, but while you wait for that to happen, you can check out her set-in-the future, young adult novel Restoring Harmony. She is also the author of the upcoming April release, The Right & the Real

Visit Joëlle at

Follow @joellewrites on Twitter.

Author photo by Victor Anthony.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

23 thoughts on “Guest Post: 3 Books That Scare Joëlle Anthony (Who Doesn’t Like to Be Scared!)

  1. I have heard amazing things about Dust… the scariness not one of them, ha. But I loved your take on those, and I laughed out loud about Are you in the House Alone. Definitely interested in that one though… Thanks, Joelle, and Nova!

  2. I’ve never been one for scary books. I don’t like scary books, I don’t like scary movies, but every now and then, I’ll find something that creeps me out so thoroughly- in such a genius way- that I can’t help but love it a little, even as I refuse to ever read/watch them again.


  3. Joelle, you crack me up! That said, thanks for the warning! I’m scared of scary stuff, so I’ll be sure to stay away from these three books, though Richard Peck is one of my favorite authors ever! I haven’t even heard of ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? Spooky, spooky.

  4. Just the cover of DUST is making me shiver! And Are you Alone in the House? – ahhh just the thought of not being alone is freaking me out!

  5. I’m just like you – I never read the jacket copy. But seriously, I think the title “Are You in the House Alone?” should’ve been a dead giveaway, lol. I’m a huge wimp about scary movies, but I have no problem reading scary books for some reason. Thanks for the recommendations!

  6. Haha, I’m a wimp too. But I do like scary books. I think I might just have masochistic tendencies–hope not! I really have to Google up a picture of Arthur Slade, haha.

  7. hahaha – yes, the jacket copy does sometimes ruin a book. i tend to skim them just to get the gist of them. i can only imagine what kind of books i would end up reading if i never read them. you are indeed a brave soul.

  8. I vaguely remember Snyder from when I was a kid, and Peck! I loved the Blossom Culp books, and the ones about the mannikins in the mall. But Are You in the House Alone? gave even me the creeps.

  9. Richard Peck is such a master of the macabre–I’m still haunted by Blossom Culp’s adventures on the Titanic (I’m not even sure that one is still in print, but I have a musty paperback that my 10 yo just recently enjoyed reading)!

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