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Appalachian Learning Initiative
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Halloween 2023

Halloween 2023 Recommendations

The Appalachian Learning Initiative participates in the Amazon Affiliate Program. APPLI earns a commission on any books purchased using the following links.

Book cover for Witches of the Wood

Witches of the Wood

Patrick Brian Cooley, Amy N. Edwards, Bekah Harris, S.S. Marshall, Tracy Sue Needham, Dustin Street, & J. Warren Welch

In the hills of Appalachia, folks tell all kinds of stories to keep the children in line. Sometimes, these devilishly wicked tales are little more than innocent make-believe. Sometimes the absurd and the unexplained come together to teach morals and lessons that are passed down through the years. Sometimes, what you find at the end of a dark path, or within an abandoned cabin, or at the top of an old, decaying staircase, will scare some sense into you and equip you with a healthy dose of fear and caution as you walk about your daily life.

And then there are times when the stories seem so real, a little voice inside you urges you to turn back, rather than turn the page. It’s those stories—like the ones in this collection—that beckon you into a world of dark mystery and unadulterated horror. These are the tales that sometimes teach us there are scarier things in the world than ghosts and haints. Sometimes, the scariest things in the woods come from within us. From the depths of our own natures. From our secret sins.

WITCHES OF THE WOOD is a collection of eight short stories from authors born and raised in Appalachia—including bestselling young adult novelist Bekah Harris (Iron Crown Faerie Tales) and social media sensation J. Warren Welch (That’s Not Poetry)—that are sure to tingle your spine and make you think twice about sleeping with the lights off tonight.

Book cover for Night of the Wampus

Night of the Wampus

Amy N. Edwards

Lilah Wesa is a wildlife park ranger in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina—during the day, at least.

Her nightlife is another story. When the sun goes down, a mysterious Cherokee curse turns Lilah into a monster—one enshrined in legends and preserved in the horrific tales of Lilah’s mountain home.

Lilah has long embraced her new persona, but the entrance of a strange pack of wolves, and her subsequent meeting with a handsome U.S. marshal named Fen Tala, throws Lilah’s world into question.

Marshal Tala has been sent to investigate a number of bizarre murders reported in the area. Some believe it’s the grisly work of a wild animal, others a serial killer.

As Lilah struggles to maintain control over her own inner darkness, she vows to help Tala with his investigation. But soon after, she realizes she may not be the only one in town with a supernatural secret.

Book cover for 	I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories

I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down: Collected Stories

William Gay

His debut collection, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, brings together what Gay's dedicated readers are eager for and what new readers will find the perfect introduction to his world: thirteen stories that are mined from this same fertile soil teeming with the grizzled, everyday folk that Gay is famous for bringing to life. In these pages readers meet old man Meecham, who escapes from his new nursing home only to find his son has rented their homestead to "white trash"; Quincy Nell Qualls, who not only falls in love with the town lothario but, pregnant, is faced with an inescapable end when he abandons her; Finis and Doneita Beasley, whose forty-year marriage is broken up by a dead dog; Bobby Pettijohn, who is awakened in the middle of the night by the noise and lights of a search party looking for clues after a body is discovered in his backwoods.

William Gay expertly sets these conflicted people who make bad choices in life and love against lush back-country scenery, and somehow manages to defy moral logic as we grow to love his characters for the weight of their human errors. Diverse as these tales are, what connects them is the powerful voice of a born storyteller.

Book cover for	The Old Gods Waken: The Silver John Series, Book 1

The Old Gods Waken: The Silver John Series, Book 1

Manly Wade Wellman

The first Silver John novel.

In the wilds of Southern Appalachia lies Wolter Mountain - a sacred place for the Indians and their predecessors. But the land atop the mountain, taken over by two Englishmen, Brummitt and Hooper Voth, is undergoing frightening changes.

Book cover for Blood Kin

Blood Kin

Steve Rasnic Tem

Blood Kin is told from the dual points of view of Michael Gibson and of his grandmother Sadie. Michael has returned to the quiet Appalachian home of his forebears following a suicide attempt and now takes care of his grandmother-- old and sickly but with an important story to tell about growing up poor and Melungeon (a mixed race group of mysterious origin) while bedeviled by a snake-handling uncle and empathic powers she but barely understands.

In a field not far from the Gibson family home lies an iron-bound crate within a small shack buried four feet deep under Kudzu vine. Michael somehow understands that hidden inside that crate is potentially his own death, his grandmother's death, and perhaps the deaths of everyone in the valley if he does not come to understand her story well enough.

Book cover for	The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow

Scott Nicholson

When Katy Logan moves her troubled teen daughter Jett to the Appalachian community of Solom, she envisions a peaceful rural lifestyle on her new husband’s farm.

But there’s more to Solom than she ever imagined. Gordon Smith’s first wife Rebecca died under mysterious circumstances, and Katy believes her spirit is still in the house. Gordon’s great-grandfather was a horseback preacher who vanished while on a mission one wintry night, and local lore holds that he returns from time to time seeking vengeance. And Gordon teases Katy and Jett with a story about a wicked scarecrow that comes in from the fields at night to slake an unnatural thirst.

When the legends come to life, Katy and Jett discover the Smith family secrets cut deep. And they must face the supernatural menace together or become part of Solom’s legends forever.

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