Happy almost Halloween! ‘Tis the season to be utterly creeped out, whether by ghosts and goblins or just straight-up gore. So turn off all the lights, fire up a jack-o’-lantern, and curl up with these chilling, bloody, horrifying YA reads…and maybe a teddy bear, just in case.
The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco
Japanese folklore meets literary horror in Chupeco’s chilling debut, following a ghostly girl who avenges murdered children. The central living, breathing human in this story is Tarquin, a mysteriously tattooed boy with literal demons who befriends the spectral Okiku. Rife with poetic language, beautiful Japanese imagery, plenty of cultural references, and the occasional incident of gore, this is horror with something for everyone.
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake
This book is the perfect gateway to YA horror for the uninitiated. Blake’s novel of a ghost-hunting boy who falls for a spirit with otherworldly strength and a grudge to match pairs a great and touching contemporary story of two grieving souls finding each other with a beautiful, atmospheric, and at times terrifying paranormal horror. Follow it up with the sequel, Girl of Nightmares, for the perfect literary trick-or-treat.
Mary: The Summoning, by Hillary Monahan
Everyone who loves to be terrified knows the legend of Bloody Mary. But what happens when the legend isn’t just a spooky story? That’s what Shauna and her friends learn when they perfect a summoning ritual and find themselves facing a violent, terrifying, decaying spirit who can appear in any shiny surface and will. Not. Let. Them. Go. They also learn they’re not the first to be haunted by Mary…and that surviving with their sanity intact may not be a possibility. Like Anna, this is a great horror gateway for contemporary lovers—one I’m glad I read with the lights on.
The Violet Hour, by Whitney A. Miller
Harlow Wintergreen isn’t just the daughter of a cult leader, she’s also the possessor of a voice in her head that makes her want to commit violent, brutal acts, and visions of herself doing just that. Fast-paced and delightfully horrific, Miller’s debut takes readers all over Asia, leaving plenty of blood and popped eyeballs in its wake, right up to a killer ending that’ll have you clamoring for the sequel, out next year.
I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga
I have to confess I haven’t yet read this one, but in my defense, it’s because I’ve heard Lyga read aloud from it at a panel, and I was so terrified by a single scene that I couldn’t handle sitting down with the entire book. Those braver than I can enjoy a whole lot of terror in this series about a boy with a serial killer father; not only did the final book of the trilogy, Blood of my Blood, publish last month, but the prequel novella, Lucky Day, is now available in digital format as well.
What’s your favorite YA tale of terror?