As we enter a town “where it always feels like Halloween” in Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a reboot of the ’90s TV sitcom more closely based on the revitalized comic series of the same name from writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who is also executive producing the show) and artist Robert Hack, almost-sweet-sixteen Sabrina is approaching the deadline on an impossible choice: to join the witching world of her family, or remain in the human, non-magical world of her friends.
As she wrestles with the decision, the trailer promises bloody thrills, ‘60s throwbacks, cliquey teen witches, and at least one creepy horned monster. But then, when have things ever gone smoothly when a teen girl tries to claim her power?
I hope you’re ready for some gloriously dark, witchy, campy fun.
No matter if you miss the lighthearted original sitcom, can’t wait for the reboot to turn gory, or if you’re really just here for the talking cat—this list of readalikes will summon the haunting magic of witchy, teenage Halloween spirit in a snap.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack
Before there was a Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot, there was the comic that inspired it. This is where Sabrina’s adventures first crossed over with Archie and the gang of Riverdale, and it’s a much closer match for the new show than the ’90s sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart, Caroline Rhea, Beth Broderick, and a sorely unconvincing cat puppet. Blending churning teen hormones with nightmarish gore and sparkling wit, in volume 1, Madame Satan comes to town in pursuit of her own deadly agenda as Sabrina must make a choice between her two worlds.
Cat Out of Hell, by Lynn Truss
It’s near impossible to write with gravity about a sentient animal. Instead of fighting this simple truth, Cat Out of Hell (from the author of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves) walks the line between the demonic and the silly with generous campiness. The combination makes this weird, murderous adventure too much fun to put down. Librarian Alec Charlesworth finds himself in an odd predicament to say the least when he takes in a cat amidst the grief of losing his wife. The cat, Roger, soon starts talking to Alec, and it is not long before Alec knows the stories of Roger’s lives (all of them), and is caught up in the cat’s quest for vengeance.
Lost at Sea, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Before O’Malley’s mega-hit Scott Pilgrim, there was Raleigh. And Raleigh is troubled. She’s just moved, and she doesn’t quite fit in. Also, a cat has stolen her soul. Thus Raleigh is caught on a road trip with three of her classmates, while soulless. This graphic novel is filled to the brim with genuine teen angst and insecurity. It holds a great deal of heart within it pages, capturing the darker side of the adolescent years with earnest sympathy.
The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco
Tea has raised her brother from the dead, and this is how she knows she is different from the other witches in her family. She didn’t mean to do it, but now that she has been identified as a bone witch—a necromancer—her community has cast her out. Yet even as another bone witch tries to teach Tea to master the elements, a much darker force is approaching.
Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffeneggar
Even more enchanting than Niffeneggar’s bestseller The Time Traveler’s Wife, this novel spotlights a peculiar cast of characters, with two twin sisters at its center: Julia and Valentina, who come to London from Chicago’s suburbs following the death of their aunt. At first seemingly inseparable, the cracks in their relationship are slowly exposed as one fights for a little independence while the other tries to cling tighter. They become obsessed with a centuries-old graveyard and begin to experiment with dark magic, and it is not clear until it is too late just how far one of the twins is willing to go in the pursuit of power.
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
Much like Sabrina, Coraline is caught between two worlds. The first is so normal and unspectacular, she cannot stand it. The other she found behind the door and through a secret passage that led to a house all too similar to her own, where things are… just a bit strange. In the second world, everyone actually pronounces her name right, the meals are incredible, and every detail is stunningly imaginative. But the people there, including two who look like her parents, save for their shiny button eyes, don’t seem to want to let Coraline go. Ever. Suddenly, her ordinary life doesn’t seem so bad at all. But is it too late to fight her way back to it?
Horns, by Joe Hill
A year ago, Merrin was raped and murdered. Her boyfriend Ignatius was the only suspect, but without evidence, no one was ever charged in the horrific crime. On the one-year anniversary of her death, Ig goes on a terrible bender, and wakes up to find horns growing from his head. Despite the strange development, Ig at first seems to be able to go about his life, but soon discovers that anyone near him feels an urge to tell him their most terrible secrets. In this unsettling look into the depths of human nature, Ig goes on a tirade, determined to use his ugly new ability to finally find out what happened to Merrin.
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor
From a World Fantasy Award winner, this novel is sometimes referred to as the “Nigerian Harry Potter.” Twelve-year-old Sunny is trapped between two worlds, but has no choice in the matter at all. African, and albino; American, but living in Nigeria—Sunny doesn’t seem to quite fit in anywhere, until she discovers she has magical powers. As a “free agent,” she joins a small group of students learning to change reality. But then Sunny and her new friends are asked to catch a career criminal who also knows magic—have they learned enough to stop him?
Did Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cast a spell on you?
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