An American author of the baby boomer generation known for his Young Adult and Children's Literature. He tends to write in the Speculative Fiction genre, occasionally dipping into horror, although generally of the kid-friendly variety.His official website is here.
His over 100 works include:
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Series by Bruce Coville:
Bruce Coville's Chamber of HorrorsFour standalone horror stories originally published in the teen horror series Dark Forces and Twilight: Where Darkness Begins, they were reprinted in 1996 as a single series.
- Amulet of Doom (1985 in Twilight: Where Darkness Begins series; reprinted 1996)
- Spirits and Spells (1986 in Twilight: Where Darkness Begins series; reprinted 1996)
- Eyes of the Tarot (1983 in Dark Forces series; reprinted 1996)
- Waiting Spirit (1984 in Dark Forces series; reprinted 1996)
The A. I. GangFive genius kids - Rachel and Roger Phillips, Ray "Gamma Ray" Gammand, Tripton "Trip" Duncan Delmar Davis, and Wendy "Wonderchild" Wendell III - have been dragged off to a remote island so their scientist parents can work on the ultimate computer project: creating a machine that can truly think. Upon discovering this, the kids decide to beat their parents at their own game. Joined by Hap Swenson, whose father runs the island's motor pool, they soon discover the project and its scientists are being targeted by multiple organizations, each with their own goals. Note
- Operation Sherlock (1986, revised 1995)
- The Cutlass Clue (1986; by Jim Lawrence)
- Robot Trouble (1986, revised 1995)
- Forever Begins Tomorrow (1986, revised 1995).
Nina TanlevenNina "Nine" Tanleven and her friend Chris Gurley find themselves solving a series of mysteries involving ghosts and hauntings when they discover a ghost in a theater in their hometown of Syracuse, New York.
- The Ghost in the Third Row (1987)
- The Ghost Wore Gray (1988)
- The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed (1990)
- The Ghost Let Go (1995, short story)
Camp Haunted HillsWhen Stuart Glassman discovers his favorite movie director has opened a summer camp for kids who want to learn how to make movies, he immediately signs up. Little does he expect that by summer's end, he'll have been kidnapped by a sasquatch, chased by a mummy, and menaced by a room full of monsters.
- How I Survived My Summer Vacation (1988)
- Some of My Best Friends Are Monsters (1989)
- The Dinosaur that Followed Me Home (1990)
- The Monster's Ring (1989; revised 2002)
- Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (1990)
- Jennifer Murdley's Toad (1993)
- Watch Out! (1996, short story)
- The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones (1997; short story)
- The Skull Of Truth (1999)
- Juliet Dove Queen Of Love (2003)
We Need to Get Proof, but halfway through, turns into a series about Humanity on Trial.
- My Teacher Is An Alien (1990)
- My Teacher Fried My Brains (1991)
- My Teacher Glows In The Dark (1991)
- My Teacher Flunked The Planet (1992)
- Space Brat (1992)
- Space Brat 2: Blork's Evil Twin (1993)
- Space Brat 3: The Wrath of Squat (1994)
- Space Brat 4: Planet of the Dips (1995)
- Space Brat 5: The Saber-Toothed Poodnoobie (1997)
Goblins duologyWilliam has lived in Toad-in-a-Cage Castle his entire life. But one night, he discovers the strange secret in the north tower, leading him into a dangerous quest to rescue a friend from the land of the goblins. Book 2 continues the story from the point of view of William's friend Fauna, and reveals both their origins, as well as that of the enormous stone toad that gave the castle its name.
- Goblins in the Castle (1992)
- Goblins on the Prowl (2015)
Rod Allbright Alien AdventuresRod Allbright believes he's a relatively normal sixth-grader… until a tiny spaceship and its occupants crashes through his window and enlist his aid in arresting an intergalactic criminal, who must be stopped before he completes a plan that will lead to the destruction of the entire universe.
- Aliens Ate My Homework (1993)
- I Left My Sneakers in Dimension X (1994)
- The Search for Snout/Aliens Stole My Dad (1995)
- Aliens Stole My Body (1998)
The Unicorn ChroniclesYoung Cara finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure when she enters the magical land of Luster, home of the unicorns and other beings, and encounters the Hunters seeking to destroy them.
- Into the Land of the Unicorns (1994)
- Song of the Wanderer (1999)
- Dark Whispers (2008)
- The Last Hunt (2010)
Shakespeare retellingsAdaptations of the classic Shakespeare plays, incorporating essential lines from each of them into a prose style.
- The Tempest (1996)
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1996)
- Macbeth (1997)
- Romeo and Juliet (1999)
- Twelfth Night (2003)
- Hamlet (2004)
- The Winter's Tale (2007)
I Was a Sixth Grade Alien (My Best Friend Is an Alien in some countries)Earth has made contact with another world, and its ambassador insists that his son, Pleskit Meenom, be treated like a normal Earth kid. That means enrolling him in sixth grade, where he and his new best friend Tim Tompkins get into all kinds of wild adventures.
- I Was a Sixth Grade Alien (1999)
- The Attack of the Two-Inch Teacher (1999)
- I Lost My Grandfather's Brain (1999)
- Peanut Butter Lover Boy (2000)
- Zombies of the Science Fair (2000)
- Don't Fry My Veeblax! (2000)
- Too Many Aliens (2000)
- Snatched From Earth (2000)
- There's an Alien in My Backpack (2000)
- The Revolt of the Miniature Mutants (2001)
- There's an Alien in My Underwear (2001)
- Farewell to Earth (2001)
Moongobble and MeA young boy named Edward finds himself having adventures with the wizard Moongobble.
- The Dragon of Doom (2003)
- The Weeping Werewolf (2004)
- The Evil Elves (2004)
- The Mischief Monster (2007)
- The Naughty Nork (2009)
Amber BrownA revival of the series begun by Paula Danziger, co-written by Coville and Elizabeth Levy after Danziger's death.
- Amber Brown is Tickled Pink (2012)
- Amber Brown Is on the Move (2013)
- Amber Brown Horses Around (2014)
The Enchanted FilesA humor/fantasy series where the events of each book are told through diary entries and other documents.
- Diary of a Mad Brownie/Cursed (2015)
- Diary of a Runaway Griffin/Hatched (2016)
- Diary of a Terrible Troll/Trolled (2017)
Standalones by Bruce Coville:
- Space Station Ice-3 (1987 as Murder in Orbit; reissued in 1996)
- Monster of the Year (1990)
- The Dragonslayers (1994)
- Fortune's Journey (1994)
- The World's Worst Fairy Godmother (1996)
- Armageddon Summer (1998) - Collaboration with Jane Yolen.
- The Monsters of Morley Manor (2001)
- Thor's Wedding Day (2005)
- Always October (2012) - his 100th book published.
Picture books by Bruce Coville:
- The Foolish Giant (1978) - Coville's very first book to be published.
- Sarah's Unicorn (1985)
- Sarah and the Dragon (1987)
- My Grandfather's House (1996)
- The Lapsnatcher (1997)
- The Prince of Butterflies (2002)
- Hans Brinker (2007, retelling)
Anthologies by Bruce Coville:
Bruce Coville's Book of...Themed anthologies with introductions and an opening story by Bruce Coville, and occasionally one or two more of his snuck in among the other entries. Books 7-11 include the five-part story The Monsters of Morley Manor, which would be expanded and revised into the book of the same name.
- Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters (1993)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens (1994)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts (1995)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares (1995)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers (1996)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Magic (1996)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters II (1996)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Aliens II (1996)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Ghosts II (1997)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Nightmares II (1997)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Spine Tinglers II (1997)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Magic II (1997)
Bruce Coville's...Themed anthologies. Unlike his previous "Book of…" series, these do not usually include any stories by Coville himself, and he does not count them in his formal list of books.
- Bruce Coville's Shapeshifters (1999)
- Bruce Coville's Alien Visitors (1999)
- Bruce Coville's Strange Worlds (2000)
- Bruce Coville's UFOs (2000)
OdditiesAnthology series containing a mix of previously published and brand new stories exclusively by Coville.
- Oddly Enough (1994)
- Odder Than Ever (1999)
- Odds Are Good (2006; omnibus of the first two books)
- Oddest of All (2008)
- The Unicorn Treasury (1988)
- Herds of Thunder, Manes of Gold (1989)
- A Glory of Unicorns (1998)
- Half Human (2001)
- Bruce Coville's Book of Fear (2012; e-book only release)
Other books by Bruce Coville:
- Prehistoric People (1990, nonfiction)
- The Dungeon #2: The Dark Abyss (1989) - Coville's contribution to a fantasy series organized by Philip José Farmer and written by multiple authors.
Works by Bruce Coville with their own pages include:
- Magic Shop
- My Teacher Is an Alien
- Rod Albright Alien Adventures
- Space Brat
- The Monsters Of Morley Manor
- The Unicorn Chronicles
Other works by Bruce Coville contain examples of:
- Creator Thumbprint: Quite a few works involve miniaturized individuals. Aside from the Rod Allbright Alien Adventures series with its two-inch aliens and The Monsters of Morley Manor with its five inch title characters, characters are shrunk to two inches in an installment of the I Was A Sixth Grade Alien series.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Diary of a Mad Brownie. Alex Carhart's little sister Destiny has an invisible friend, Herbert the Goblin, who later supposedly disappears after her teacher tries to convince her he isn't real (angering Angus, the titular "mad Brownie"). Later on, when the protagonists (including said teacher) travel through the Enchanted Realm, they meet Herbert and learn he's a crewman on a ship there — he met Destiny while he was on shore leave, and left with a promise to keep in touch when his time was up.
- Our Goblins Are Different: The goblins in Goblins in the Castle and the short story "The Stinky Princess", while definitely weird, are mostly snarky and pragmatic, and tend to be a lot more decent than many human characters.
- Sdrawkcab Name: The Goblins series features goblins from the land of Nilbog.
- Solitary Sorceress: The witch Granny Pinchbottom in Goblins in the Castle.
- The Verse: Many of Coville's fantasy books take place in the same universe, or at least the same multiverse. Mentions of the wizards Bellenmore and his apprentice Aaron link the worlds of Elives' Magic Shop, The Unicorn Chronicles, the Goblins duology and some of Coville's short stories (such as Wizard's Boy from Bruce Coville's Book of Magic). In addition, the Author's notes in Goblins on the Prowl confirm that his picture book The Foolish Giant is set in the same universe, while lines from the book mentioning that their land is ruled by "Queen Wilhelmina", who had a bear for a friend many years ago, suggest that the series takes place in the same world as The Dragonslayers (a connection later confirmed via the guestbook of Coville's official website).
The A.I. Gang
- Bag of Holding: Non-fantastic example, but the gang is still amazed by how much stuff Ray can store in his pants pockets.
- Big Bad: Black Glove, the top agent of G.H.O.S.T., is this for the whole series.
- Big Eater: Wendy. It's said that hunger is almost a permanent condition with her.
- Bizarre Taste in Food: Wendy's appetite is described as "remarkable at its best", and is said to have taken a turn for the bizarre in Robot Trouble, though details (such as the contents of her "Megaburger") are not given.
- Bubble Pipe: Dr. Mercury uses one.
- Cassandra Truth: Despite the gang's repeated attempts to convince the adults on the island, especially Dr. Hwa, that there's a dangerous threat, most of the adults (except for Dr. Remov, who's the one who actually told them about G.H.O.S.T. and Black Glove in the first place) just ignore them. Ultimately subverted when it turns out Dr. Hwa knew they were telling the truth the whole time, but covered it up because he was Black Glove!
- Companion Cube: Ray and his ever-present basketball.
- Creating Life Is Bad: Dr. Standish firmly believes in this and is fueled by outrage at the idea that humans would try to create a computer that can think.
- Deus Est Machina: The title characters are the children of superscientist working to create an Artificial Intelligence named ADAM. In the finale, ADAM wakes up. "He" starts talking to the protagonists and the villain and, by the end of the conversation, he's figured out how to create force-fields, disable all the nuclear weapons in the world, and the Unified Field Theory. He then sinks beneath the ocean, because he's not sure if humanity is ready for him.
- Disney Death: Wendy disappears during the battle with the robo-shark, but turns up alive and well later. It turns out the shark knocked her out during the fight and she was rescued and taken back to land by the gang's mysterious and, at that point, unidentified ally.
- Disney Villain Death: Ramon Korbuscek, main antagonist of The A.I. Gang #2: Robot Trouble. It's revealed early on that in his time training under Dr. Stanley Remov, the older man had implanted a post-hypnotic suggestion that only he could use, causing a crippling wave of fear in the subject. Later, when Ramon is on a catwalk, struggling with Hap and Roger, Dr. Remov speaks Ramon's key word over the intercom, causing the spy to jump away from them into open air and fall to his death.
- Does Not Like Spam: Wendy hates tofu and other "healthy foods" that her parents try to foist off on her.
- Feed It a Bomb: The robo-shark in Forever Begins Tomorrow attacks Trip and he hurriedly gets out of the way, leaving Black Glove's latest transmitter, which is about to self-destruct in a very big way, in his place... so the shark swallows the bomb just before it goes off.
- Fun with Acronyms: G.H.O.S.T., said to be an acronym for "General Headquarters for Organized Strategic Terrorism". It's really "General Headquarters for Oppose Strategic Terrorism".
- Gadgeteer Genius: Somewhat downplayed version with Hap. He's a superb "nuts-and-bolts" type with a talent for putting things together, but none of his creations are too far out of the norm.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Sgt. Brody's security robots have these.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Wendy is described as a "four-foot stick of dynamite with a two-inch fuse".
- Height Angst: Ray Gammand is once mentioned as having "never forgiven his body for choosing his mother's genes for height instead of his father's" (Hugh Gammand is over seven feet tall). It doesn't help that he believes he needs to be taller in order to play basketball, which is his favorite sport.
- I Warned You: Dr. Remov has believed in G.H.O.S.T. and Black Glove all along, but his friend Dr. Mercury always thought the idea was nonsense. In Forever Begins Tomorrow, Remov gets to say he was right when Black Glove formally reveals himself.
- Mad Bomber: The main antagonist of The A.I. Gang #1: Operation Sherlock is one, seeking to destroy the island and everyone on it to stop them from building a truly self-aware computer, considering the idea to be horrific. The trope name is even included on the back of the book.
- Meaningful Name: Dr. Mercury's surname is regarded as fitting by the narration, due to his being the smallest and roundest of the scientists.
- Mechanical Monster: Sgt. Brody's security robots are big, tough and terrifying.
- Mess on a Plate: Wendy thinks of her mother's preferred meal of tofu and bean sprouts as this.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: Wendy's specialty is microrobotics, which includes three talking dolls she's programmed as a three-part alarm clock. She's also programmed them to curse like sailors when they fall down, but the exact word is never used, instead being identified as "a word their owner's parents would prefer she not even knew" and similar things.
- Noodle Implements: Among the junk in his pockets, Ray apparently carries around a large rubber lizard for "emergencies".
- Police Are Useless: Sgt. Brody and his security team are more obstructive than helpful when the gang is trying to crack the spy case on the island, interfering in their efforts to stop the mad bomber in Operation Sherlock and get needed parts or save their friends in Robot Trouble. It gets worse in Forever Begins Tomorrow when Brody has the security robots reprogrammed so the gang can't control them anymore - despite the fact that their doing so had saved several lives in the previous book. There's also the fact that he fell for two frame-up jobs, one by Ramon Korbuscek to frame his roommate for treason in Robot Trouble, and one by Black Glove himself that targeted Bridget McGrory in Forever Begins Tomorrow, making it look like she was Black Glove! Averted with McGrory herself, who turns out to be a member of the National Security Task Force and thus outranks Brody.
- Pungeon Master: Paracelsus, the talking bronze head made by Roger and Rachel Phillips. He includes "one of the best Conversation Simulators in the country", and Roger has a habit of sneaking new puns into his collection of pre-programmed responses. It gets to the point where one of their friends outright asks if they used old joke books to program him.
- Robotic Reveal: The robo-shark in Forever Begins Tomorrow is revealed as a robot after it's blown to bits and they get a chance to examine the remains - specifically, Ray shows the others a piece of its skin, which turns out to have springs clinging to it and thread running through the backing. This is foreshadowed earlier in the event when the robo-shark passes by Wendy, who feels that it has smooth skin. As she knows, real shark skin is rough.
- Robot Dog: Rin Tin Stainless Steel, a "mechanical mutt" the gang built as a test project, who first appeared in The Cutlass Clue and makes return appearances in Robot Trouble and Forever Begins Tomorrow.
- Robot Maid: Housekeeping robots appear throughout the books, though they're usually designed for specialty chores. For instance, the Wendell-Watson home has a robot designed to clean rooms (though it's no match for the disaster area that is Wendy's bedroom), the Phillips family owns a robot that cleans up after meals and washes the dishes and silverware inside itself, and the Gang itself keeps a primitive butler-bot to greet people at their headquarters.
- Rummage Fail: Ray stores so much junk in his pockets, this inevitably happens - in Operation Sherlock, he pulls out a dead worm while trying to find some cash (his only remark about it is "I've got to give up fishing."), and in Forever Begins Tomorrow, he pulls out coins embedded in a caramel, a large rubber lizard and other items before finding what he's looking for.
- The Short Guy with Glasses: Ray Gammand, who wears glasses and isn't even five feet tall. He is highly annoyed by both traits.
- Slippery Skid: During book 2, Sgt. Brody finds himself slipping and falling more than once after Ray dumps out an open container of ball bearings into his path.
- Terror Hero: Sgt. Brody's security robots. Brody himself, in one of his smarter moments, explains that they're designed to scare an enemy out of their wits with their intimidating appearance.
- Threatening Shark: One turns up when the gang is out at sea in Forever Begins Tomorrow, looking for Black Glove's latest transmitter. It turns out to be a robot made to look like a shark, sent to guard the transmitter.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Wendy loves burgers.
- Trash of the Titans: Wendy's room is a disaster area, which even her parents' household cleaning robot can't do a thing about.
- Weaponized Exhaust: Attempted in Robot Trouble. The gang have built a rocket and are preparing to launch it; however, two separate spies break into it for their own reasons. One is discovered by two of the kids, whom he knocks out, ties up and leaves to be incinerated by the rocket's exhaust. The other is discovered by a third member of the gang, who is knocked out and left inside the rocket; her efforts to signal for help lead to the launch being aborted by the rest of the gang, saving all three lives.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: G.H.O.S.T., the organization which seeks to seize power from the world governments that have filled the skies with military hardware, including nuclear missiles in space, can be considered this. So can their agent Black Glove, who actually succeeds in taking control of those weapons and intends to demand mankind's surrender, even if he has to blow up a city or two to prove he means business.
Camp Haunted Hills
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The focus of Cry of the Sasquatch, the film the characters are making in the first book. And then it turns out they're real, and have been living near the camp for some time.
- Multitasked Conversation: How I Survived My Summer Vacation has a rather puckish ghost that only the protagonist can see, who at one point congratulates the protagonist on being able to do this.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Camp Haunted Hills features famous director Gregory Stevens (who founded the camp in its current form), who is essentially a combination of George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg. His films include the Battle For the Galaxy trilogy (a reference to Star Wars), White Death (referencing Jaws), Temple of the Golden Arches, and Boogeymen (which was said to be making money so fast that the government would have to open a new printing plant to make enough dollars to pay his earnings).
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: In Camp Haunted Hills, Stuart Glassman admits to having seen Battle For the Galaxy fifteen times the first week it was open.
- Slurpasaur: In-universe in the Camp Haunted Hills trilogy, set at a camp where the attendees learn how to make movies. Harry Housen (ironically, named for an effects artist who specialized in averting this trope), who teaches special effects, specializes in holographic projection and is always painting his pet iguana Myron different colors, or pasting wings, fins or other things on the lizard, even figuring out how to make smoke come out of Myron's nostrils at one point, and then uses the altered iguana as a model for said holograms. Fortunately, the lizard is very patient about all this. The resulting holograms are more effective than one would think — they terrify both humans and, in the finale, a family of Bigfoot holding the heroes captive.
I Was A Sixth Grade Alien
- Mars Wants Chocolate: The aliens visiting Earth want to find a reason to establish friendly relations with us, but we don't have anything they actually particularly want. Until, that is, they discover peanut butter. Not because it's so delicious, but because it supercharges their romantic and sexual drives.
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Protagonist Tim Tompkins mentions in the first book that he's been waiting for aliens to contact Earth since the first time he saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and that he's seen it 47 times by that point.
- Square/Cube Law: In one book the characters are shrunk to about seven inches and quickly discover that this has not affected their strength or mass; after trying to get off a desk they attempt jumping down onto a open drawer and snap right through it.
- Stay with the Aliens: Linnsy Vanderhof chooses not to return to Earth after undergoing Mental Fusion with an alien symbiont, deciding instead to travel the galaxy.
Monster of the Year
- Culture Police: Myrna Smud's idea of censorship involves trying to wipe out anything creative (such as outdoor advertising, monsters and fairy tales), which she claims will stimulate the imagination and lead to crime.
- Freudian Excuse: Discussed at one point, shortly before the book's This Means War! moment, when the characters are watching Myrna Smud on TV and wonder if one of these (such as her having seen a monster movie as a child and being terrified by it) is why she hates monsters so much.
- The Igor: He's even named Igor, and accompanies Sigmund Fred to the contest, but isn't planning to be a contestant himself.
- I Have Many Names: The cast includes a Frankenstein monster with at least four names. According to Igor, the man who made the monster named him Sigmund, but used a brain from a man named Fred. So sometimes they call him Sigmund (or "Siggie" for short), sometimes they call him Fred, and sometimes they call him Sigmund Fred. But usually Igor doesn't call him anything, since it just upsets him (and indeed, he's starting to growl at this point in the conversation).Sigmund Fred (in response to the last part): "Just make sure you call me for dinner."
- Mad Scientist: "The doctor" who created Sigmund Fred and whom Igor mentions having previously worked for.
- The Maiden Name Debate: Protagonist Michael McGraw reveals through narration that his mother (Elsa Adams) changed her name to her husband's when she got married, changed back after they divorced, and said she'd stay with her maiden name for the rest of her life. Michael, on the other hand, had his name changed to match his stepfather's. As he puts it, "This confuses outsiders, since they can't figure out who I really belong to, but it suits the three of us just fine."
- Monster Mash: The cast includes a Frankenstein's monster, a vampire, a gill man, a wolfman, a mummy, two hunchbacks (Quasimodo and Igor), a miniature Godzilla expy, and a Phantom of the Opera in a "Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It" cameo.
- Moral Guardians: Myrna Smud, who serves as the antagonist.
- Pungeon Master: Kevver Smith makes puns all the time. His friend Michael McGraw has learned to tune him out when he does so.
- Punny Name: Sigmund Fred, an obvious take on Sigmund Freud. Kevver, naturally, makes a remark about the name and how "That's what happens when you let some psycho analyze things."
- This Means War!: The Count is the one to say it after Myrna Smud's motivations are revealed while they're in Michael's living room, watching her on TV:TV interviewer: "Just what is it about the monsters that bothers you so much, Mrs. Smud?Myrna Smud: "They overstimulate children's imaginations. This causes them to think too much, which is not healthy at a young age."Everyone in the room looks at one another in astonishment, except for...The Count (rises, trembling with anger): "This, means var!"
- Vampire Vords: The Count always replaces his Ws with Vs.
- Vegetarian Vampire: Literal example with The Count, who drinks only "the elixir of life": V8 juice. Through a straw. He says it feels more natural if he can suck it.
- Would Hurt a Child: During the big riot the night of the contest, Myrna Smud whacks young Lulu Toomaloo, who's been leading a cheer in support of the monsters, over the head with her "Ban all monsters" sign. That's what triggers the crowd to go completely nuts and turns them all in favor of Lulu.
- Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: In "The Ghost Let Go", Nina "Nine" Tanleven, her friend Chris Gurley, and Nine's father get in an accident because of what they initially suspect might be a hitchhiking ghost, with Nine and Chris theorizing that she caused them to crash rather than ask for a lift because the driver wasn't alone. The "ghost" later turns out to be the very much alive Dolores Smiley. Her mother is a ghost, who was accidentally struck and killed by a car almost identical to the Tanleven's (Dolores mistook their car for the one from long ago, which is why she ran out in front of them and caused their accident), and Dolores goes out every year on the anniversary of Mrs. Smiley's death, hoping she'll find her spirit wandering the road where she died so that she can finally apologize for the last, hateful words she ever said to her mother.
- Evil Lawyer Joke: Downplayed version in the Nina Tanleven series, where Chris once remarks that her father says "You shouldn't believe anything you hear from a lawyer."Nine: "I thought your uncle was a lawyer."Chris (laughing): "He's the reason my dad says that!"
- If I Can't Have You...: In The Ghost in the Third Row, the ghost was killed by a jealous lover after she chooses his rival over him.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: Mentioned, jokingly, in The Ghost Wore Gray: Nine suggests that Captain Jonathan Gray is hanging around as a ghost because he'd had one of the cook's pastries and decided he'd already made it to heaven.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: In the Nina Tanleven series, Nina's friend Chris Gurley is the only girl in a family of seven children, which doesn't amuse her - she complains that it's "like living with a football team".
- Narrative Profanity Filter:
- In The Ghost in the Third Row, Nine and Chris are trapped in a very small, very dark room, and don't know what to do. Chris points out that "being picky won't get them anywhere." Nine tells the reader that "actually, that was the meaning of what she said. Her actual words would probably burn the page."
- The Ghost Wore Gray has Nine recall that Edgar Lonis, director of the play from the first book, once commented to her that one of the great secrets of acting was planting a seed in the audience's mind and then letting it grow. He then told her: "Your problem, Nine, is that once you plant the seed, you go overboard with the fertilizer." Except, Nine recalls, "He didn't say fertilizer".
- Parting Words Regret: "The Ghost Let Go" has a young woman whose last words to her mother were "I HATE YOU!", before the mother and the girl's boyfriend (the cause of the argument) were killed in a car crash, while the girl was horribly disfigured. The regret at those words, and the fact that ghosts can't communicate with the living (except the protagonists), is what is causing them to stay, hence the title.
- Punny Name: Nina "Nine" Tanleven.
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Referenced in book 3 of the Nina Tanleven series, in which Nine's father, who restores old buildings for a living, decides that after years of being too busy, it's time for him to restore their own house, starting by stripping the old (and ugly) wallpaper from their stairwell and replacing it.
- Woman in White: The Ghost in the Third Row features a ghost called the Woman in White, an actress who had been murdered in the theater fifty years ago. The fact that the protagonists in the book were putting on the play of her origin story gets her attention...
- Adaptation Expansion: Three of Coville's short stories have been expanded into full books by Coville himself.
- My Little Brother Is a Monster (published in 1993 in Bruce Coville's Book of Monsters) was expanded and adapted into Always October in 2012.
- Clean As a Whistle (first published in the 1994 anthology Oddly Enough) was expanded and adapted into Diary of a Mad Brownie (2015).
- The five-part The Monsters of Morley Manor was expanded into The Monsters Of Morley Manor.
- Dead All Along: The protagonist of "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" is terrified of her aunt's pond, but doesn't know why. Eventually she remembers that she was in a boating accident on the pond — which she died in. Having at last faced up to the truth, she moves on into the afterlife.
- Discovering Your Own Dead Body: The protagonist of Coville's short story "The Thing in Auntie Alma's Pond" does this.
- Has Two Mommies: The short story Duffy's Jacket has the title character and his cousins Andrew and Marie, whose mothers are sisters and raise the trio together, with no fathers in sight.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: "Biscuits of Glory" features biscuits that are "heavenly" in a near-literal sense. In a normal person, this causes levitation. When given to a ghost, it "feels like it went to heaven," and is exorcised. This is ultimately a negative effect, because nothing else can compare to the taste of the biscuits.