Stranger Things That Go Bump in the Night!
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’awl’s neighborhood
It by Stephen King
Taking place in 1957, this novel centers around a group of seven outcast youth who call themselves the Losers’ Club. The club bands together when they are targeted by the same bullies, then through the horrifying discovery of the creature It. The club discovers It takes on the shape of a child’s greatest fear to terrify, trap, and murder them, though typically appearing as a creepy clown named Pennywise. As the terror gets increasingly horrific, and adults seem to be unaware of It or the children he kills, the club hunts It in the sewers to end the creature’s reign of terror. King is a master storyteller of not only horror, but horror from the perspective of youth. King writes most beautifully when the story, no matter how horrific, takes place in the past, where he flavors the text with youthful nostalgia of his own childhood. The menace of It is perfectly reflected Stranger Things’ own monster, the Demogorgon.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
It’s Halloween 1988 and for Erin, one of Stony Stream’s newspaper girls, it is the worst night of the year. While she expected to encounter degenerate teenagers at 4 a.m., continuing their quest for Halloween mayhem, she didn’t expect giant pterodactyls, teenagers from outer space, and time travel mayhem. Accompanying her in this insanity is Mac, KJ, and Tiffany, three other paper delivery girls who Erin has reverently heard of, as they were the first girls to break the gender barrier in newspaper deliveries. In the midst of the possible alien invasion of their town, the four girls band together to chase down invaders on their bikes, finding allies and enemies in unexpected places. The nostalgia factor is high in this graphic novel, with many 80s references, and the band of girls on bikes and the terrifying strangeness ties in strongly with Stranger Things, while remaining its own unique story.
Grasshopper Jungle: A History by Andrew Smith
One day Austin and his best friend Robby are attacked by Grant, the local bully, causing Robby to bleed over the asphalt outside the consignment store in the town of Ealing, Iowa. Later that night, Grant breaks into the consignment store and steals some of the weird objects in the owner’s office, including what turns out to be a vial of the Contained MI Plague Strain 412E. Grant accidentally drops the vial outside, shattering onto same spot of asphalt where Robbie bled. The strain mixes with the blood, which unleashes a plague that turns the residents of Ealing into six-foot-tall praying mantises that have only two goals: to eat and to mate. As the horror takes over the town, Austin and Robby, with Shann, Austin’s girlfriend, work together to escape the horror, discovering an underground bunker and science lab where the plague likely originated. This strange and delightful tale is full of twists, friendship, love, terrific horror, and is a perfect companion to Stranger Things.
Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
This title almost has it all for a Stranger Things fan: nostalgia for another time in the form of a 1990 video store experience, missing persons from small towns, and a disturbing cause for the disappearances. It all starts with Jeremy, a twenty-two-year-old clerk at the local video store. When customers begin to return videos and report strange scenes spliced into the middle of the popular movies, Jeremy and store owner Sarah Jane watch the tapes and venture down an unsettling rabbit hole of scenes filmed in a shed outside of town. In trying to make sense of the scenes where people - faces covered - writhe under a blanket, are tied to a chair, or run away while being chased, Sarah Jane becomes a part of the mystery, and Jeremy tries to pretend everything is fine and live normally. But something isn’t normal, and this book, told from multiple points of view and jumping between decades, will leave you wondering: what darkness lies in the heart of this small town?
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
When Lumberjanes Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley see a woman transform into a bear from their cabin window at their summer camp, Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types, they run out into the night to investigate. They are then attacked by a pack of giant three-eyed foxes and fight to the battle cry of “To grandmother’s house we go!” After the battle is over, the foxes howl a warning before running away: "Beware the kitten holy!" What follows is an epic series of adventures, as they try to solve the mystery of the holy kitten, encountering river monsters, yetis, Greek gods, and velociraptors along the way. During the journey, their motto “Friendship to the max!” remains strong despite adversity, much like the group of friends in Stranger Things.