I snuggled up close to my daughter as we each cracked open our brand-new books, ready for some quiet reading time. It lasted about 30 seconds.

"Listen," Greta said. "You'll love this." She launched into the description the narrator—a 10-year-old boy named Zach—gave of himself:

And I guess I've always been sort of interested in weird stuff. Stuff like werewolves and vampires and zombies and houses where you go into the bathroom and turn on the faucet and out comes blood. Stuff like that.

"He's just like you, Mama!"

My children know me well. Indeed, I share Zach's interest in weird stuff. Not so much the blood out of the faucet, but the monsters and spooky houses? Yes. Love it. At least in stories. In fact, I've written about my love of the "ooky-spooky" here at Her.meneutics, and have defended my love of Halloween and all the accompanying creepiness as things that actually draw me closer to God.

So you can imagine my delight discovering that not one but two new books—Night of the Living Dead Christians: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed (Tyndale House) by Matt Mikalatos, and The Zombie Killers Handbook: Slaying the Living Dead Within (Thomas Nelson) by Jeff Kinley—were hitting the shelves this month, and also propose that monsters can play a key role in our spiritual development.

In Night of the Living Dead Christians, Mikalatos—a Portland-based speaker, writer, and Cru staff member—takes readers on a fictitious journey through days in the life of narrator Matt and his troubled friend and neighbor, Luther the Werewolf. In this funny, campy quest to rid Luther of his wolfiness (without out-and-out killing him, the way yet another man wants to do), Matt discovers a neighborhood and church full of other monsters, including out-of-control, life-sucking vampires and believe-whatever, brain-dead zombies.

In The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook, Kinley—pastor and founder of Main Thing Ministries in Little Rock—mixes fiction with nonfiction to point out the "zombies" in our lives. Instead of using zombies as "brain-dead" churchgoers, as they are in Mikalatos's book, Kinley uses zombies to symbolize the sin that eats us alive. Kinley intersperses didactic chapters—explaining the power of sin as well as the need to confront it—with the gory tale of Ben Forman and his family's quest to stop a global zombie epidemic. The book's target audience is teenagers, so it should not surprise that I—someone two decades beyond teenage-dom—related to and enjoyed it less than Mikalatos's book.

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Both books compel readers to take a hard look at the monsters that lurk deep—or not so deep—in each of us. And each offers a glimpse at the good that ultimately can come from doing this, of examining our own souls. As Kinley writes,

Until you look in that dungeon soul mirror and see the grotesque image staring back, you will never really understand what Jesus did for you …. To rappel down to that pit of your heart is the best field trip you could ever take. It's where you truly come face-to-face with your sin-self. But the good news is that it's also where you find your desperate need for a Savior.

At the end of an otherwise gore-free book, Mikalatos dishes up the gruesome in a scene where Luther the Werewolf learns what dying to Christ can really feel like: "He took hold of my snout and forced his fingers between my teeth, and with a terrifying speed and surprising strength, he yanked my jaw open, then pushed it further until I felt my jay begging to crack. I tried to shout, to tell him to stop, but he kept going until my jaw snapped like old firewood … I felt a hand in my side where they knife had wounded me, and then the excruciating pain of the tearing there."

Later, we see Luther literally rising from ashes, reborn, a werewolf no more. And yet before the book ends, we also see Luther huddled against his house in the rain, trying to wrap his former wolf pelt around himself. "He was crying … saying that he wanted [his wife] back and he thought that everything would be wonderful when he was born again, but he was wrong. It's not all wonderful. It's worth it, but it's not wonderful."

If more of us told these stories about ourselves—about our own rappelling trips down into the dungeons of our souls, or about the nights we too tried to tie our own, sin-fueled lives back on—we wouldn't be so disturbed by the creepy stories and images so prevalent this time of year. With enough honesty and grace, we might begin to see that the real monsters are often the ones looking back at us in the mirror—and that, as Luther the Werewolf learned, Jesus alone is the one who can make beauty out of our beasts.

I say let's welcome Halloween and the creepies of life as ways to help us talk about and confront the darkness that lurks within ourselves. Because if we can't face and admit what lurks about the dark, it's hard to appreciate and talk about the One who shines the light.

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Grumble Hallelujah: Learning to Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down(Tyndale, 2011) and a regular contributor to Her.meneutics. Visit Caryn at http://www.carynrivadeneira.com.