14 of the Best YA Gothic Novels

With fall finally upon us, there’s no better time to curl up with something slightly spooky and a little romantic. When the weather begins to cool down, you can’t ask for a better book to curl up with than a good gothic novel. Now is the time for the subtly supernatural and the hauntingly ominous stories, and we’ve got tons for you to get started with.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, by April Genevieve Tucholke
The real beauty in a good gothic story is the irresistible mixture of seductive horror and twisted romance, and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea checks those boxes, along with several others. Weird old-moneyed mansion? Check. Seaside setting? All-but-orphaned protagonist? Charismatic and probably dangerous new guy in town? Check, check, and check. Hauntings, eerie happenings, uncovered secrets, and death? Checkmate.

Compulsion, by Martina Boone
There’s something particularly sweet and satisfying about a Southern gothic tale, which is exactly what Boone’s cooked up in her Heirs of Watson Island series. Understandably, there’s a prevailing sense of the grotesque as Barrie Watson is shuttled off to her aunt’s South Carolina plantation after her mother’s death. Getting to the bottom of her family’s cursed legacy is critical for Barrie, as she’s surrounded on all sides by supernatural forces out to get her.

The Madman’s Daughter, by Megan Shepherd
There’s a reason the gothic genre has stuck around: so many of its novels are timeless. So, it’s always a delight when new authors reinterpret the canon texts. That’s what The Madman’s Daughter does with H.G. Wells’ classic The Island of Doctor Moreau. Here, the star is 16-year-old Juliet, the doctor’s daughter. After the events of that novel, Juliet has worked to make a life for herself, outside the shadow of her family’s past—until she discovers her father is alive and continuing his grisly experiments.

The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
Unless you’ve been living under a haunted rock, you’ve probably heard of the wildly successful Raven Cycle series. We’ll just take this opportunity to reiterate how breathtaking it is and how there are not nearly enough ancient Welsh kings buried in Virginia or ley-lines or teenage psychics in modern fiction these days. Oh, just go read it already.

The Girl From the Well, by Rin Chupeco
Just like Chupeco’s other standout novel, The Bone Witch, there’s a lot about death here to explore, and The Girl From the Well walks close to the line of straight Stephen King-like horror when doing so. But ultimately, this is a story about ghosts and how they both protect and haunt the living, prime gothic territory. Okiku was 16 when she was murdered. She’s spent the ensuing hundreds of years killing the murderers of children. Now, she’s fascinated by a boy with strange tattoos—and the malevolent presence that follows him.

This Monstrous Thing, by Mackenzi Lee
Frankenstein is the exemplar of all the brooding and moodiness that marks the gothic genre. In This Monstrous Thing, Mary Shelley’s classic story finds itself mixed up in a steampunk-y mystery. It’s Geneva, 1818, and mechanical clockwork is a new technology, one met with stigma and superstition. In this world, young Alasdair has done the unthinkable in resurrecting his brother, an act seemingly captured in a book about a man and a monster.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters
The world in 1918 felt like a world on the edge. As World War I raged, the Spanish influenza ravaged the streets of the United States. This is the setting for In the Shadow of Blackbirds and for the aptly named 16-year-old Mary Shelley Black, who’s plunged by the most vibrant of accidents into an occultist world of séances and spiritualism. The nature of her discoveries makes for an intensely intriguing love story that crosses into the beyond.

Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
There are lots of stories with characters who hear voices. There are fewer stories with characters who hear the voices of storytellers. Jeremy Johnson Johnson (yes, you read it right), however, is one such character, and in his head, he hears the ghost of Jacob Grimm, of The Brothers Grimm. The resulting book reads like one of Grimm’s fairy tales, part enchantment and part bone-chilling terror, with Jeremy along for the dangerous ride.

Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll
Are you in the market for an endlessly unsettling graphic novel? Great! Five chillingly illustrated stories take you on a journey of murder and of ghosts, of séances and of dreams—and of course those dark and dangerous woods. It’ll give you all the same feels you once had with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, only now you’re much more mature and less likely to sleep with the light on, of course.

The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson
The Shades of London series manages something special: bringing the Southern gothic to stalk the well-worn streets of London. Rory Deveaux leaves Louisiana behind for a boarding school in not-so-jolly England. Besides the run-of-the-mill new-kid struggles, Rory’s just stepped in to something more horrific: a series of copycat murders similar to Jack the Ripper’s killing spree. Also, London has a secret ghost-police force.

Beware the Wild, by Natalie C. Parker
You should pick this one up primarily because of two words: haunted swamp. Nothing good happens in the swamp outside of Sticks, Louisiana. Sterling knows this, and after her brother, Phin, goes missing in its muddy depths, she may be the only one who can figure out what happened. Phin didn’t return, but a girl named Lenora May comes home in his place—and Sterling’s the only one who remembers she had a brother, not a sister. It’s a Southern twist on changeling mythology.

The Dark Between, by Sonia Gensler
There’s a pleasure in suspense, particularly when that suspense is built in a world where the supernatural and the charlatan combine. Kate, Elsie, and Asher have all wound up at Summerfield College, all on the run from something unpleasant in their past. But the future doesn’t look much better: Their temporary peace is punctuated by mysterious deaths on campus. The old-fashioned Victorian mystery is fueled by the unknown: whether the deaths are the work of this world or the next.

Servants of the Storm, by Delilah S. Dawson
Hurricane Josephine destroyed Savannah, Georgia, and took the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Dovey’s spent most of the year since medicated, numbed to the world around her—until she sees Carly in a coffee shop. Dovey ditches her pills, and as she starts to see things clearly, those things get freakier by the minute. That hurricane? It doesn’t seem like the work of natural forces at all, dear reader.

Sweet Unrest, by Lisa Maxwell
It’s a steamy Louisiana summer in this story that flows swiftly and strangely between the waking and dream worlds. Lucy thinks she’s going to have a boring summer with her family in New Orleans until she’s plagued by dark, intense dreams. Black magic and voodoo mark Lucy’s quest to get to the bottom of her nightly journeys into a nightmarish past. A little forbidden romance doesn’t hurt the mixture.

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