Weird Fiction, Part 1 of 2
by Nicole Lichtenberg, Director of Operations
It’s spooky season! Halloween is my favorite time of year. It has it all—fun snacks, costumes, activities—for all ages. Please allow me to recommend some accompanying content.
I will be focusing on Weird Fiction, a flexible subgenre of fiction that can include elements of magical realism, fantasy, horror, science fiction, speculative fiction, even western! Generally, part of the plot includes the transgression of various norms—something is real that is not real in real life (allegedly), or in weird fiction some rule or value is turned topsy-turvy, or something else completely different. It’s a genre completely open to possibility. I’m including here books that are weird, but not necessarily super scary. Part I is for the haybale Halloween crowd, not the horror/terror/gore folks.
Many of these books feature characters with diverse identities and life experiences. This is not necessarily what qualifies them as Weird Fiction—a variety of good books and movies, in my opinion, reflect the presence of diversity that is so important about being human—or in one case, a flat rock.
The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd. I listened to this on audiobook, and it was just a really nice, flowery, bizarre time. This is also a splendid example of magical realism in a kid’s book. Audience: Elementary school and up. Find it here.
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu. Nothing is weird in Eventown. And that’s just what makes it so weird. Audience: Elementary school and up. Find it here.
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Crandor. This book is set in the same universe as the podcast by the same name. The premise is, “What if all conspiracy theories were true?” It takes place in a small southwestern town and… It’s a trip. Honestly, I found the podcast really confusing until I listened to the novel, so maybe try this route if you also felt the podcast was a bit untethered. Audience: I think this is fine for middle school and up, but some pop culture references might fly over kid’s heads, making it not as fun a read for them. Find it here.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. I will take every available opportunity I can to recommend this book. It’s a sub-subgenre called Weird West. I’ve recommended this before, so short version—it’s great. It’s weird. Read it. Audience: Middle school and up. There are some more mature references, but not super graphic. Find it here.
My Antonia by Willa Cather. Honestly, I only read the first half of this book. It totally creeped me out because I would make a terrible pioneer. I once saw this mis-categorized as science fiction and ever since then, I’ve wondered—what if it WAS? Audience: Middle school and up. Find it here.