16. Dark Harvest, by Norman Partridge (2006)

Every Halloween, bookstores should prominently feature Norman Partridge’s Dark Harvest at the front of their locations, to bring attention to one of the best novels centered around the spooky holiday. Thankfully, neither Disney or ABC Family has picked up on the plot’s kid-centric angle, because the magic of Dark Harvest is how Partridge throws all kinds of grown-up, scar-you-for-life dangers at his youthful characters.

Things kick off with October Boy, an inanimate, human-sized prop with a pumpkin head that the kids in Anytown, U.S.A. must retrieve in order to be granted passage out of their homeland. Rightfully so, the mission isn’t as easy as grab-and-run. Partridge conveys his tale of a boy’s maturation into adulthood through a gothic filter—it’s Stand By Me by way of Neil Gaiman.