Haunted houses strike fear into our hearts because they turn a place that’s meant to represent safety and comfort into a sinister trap to be outwitted and escaped under terrifying circumstances. And while most horror fans turn to the movies for their haunted house fix, fiction has dealt with its fair share of spiritually compromised spaces. This month’s new release, The Devils You Know, by M.C. Atwood, described as The Breakfast Club meets The Cabin in the Woods, got us thinking about other haunted houses in YA lit that make us hide under the covers and squeal into our pillows. Read these with the lights on.
The Devils You Know, by M.C. Atwood
A field trip to the infamous Boulder House during senior year turns deadly when five students—each with a dark secret which would destroy them if revealed—are separated from the larger group. Soon they’re fighting for their lives, but escaping the house’s clutches won’t be as easy as banding together; if they want to survive they’ll need to look inward and face the parts of themselves they don’t like. Brace yourself for jump-scares in this noteworthy debut.
Amity, by Micol Ostow
Inspired by the real-life murders depicted in the The Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson, Ostow’s creepy, dread-inducing novel depicts two timelines following two families who move into the same New England house. In the first, teenage twins Connor and Jules find their hatred for their abusive father boiling over into a plan to kill him in his sleep, and in the second, taking place years later, Gwen is plagued by violent visions that call into question her sanity. Amity may not be sentient, but it’s “potent, poisonous, drenched with decay… a house of ruin and rage.”
The Dead and Buried, by Kim Harrington
Country mouse Jade, a senior in high school, has recently moved to Boston with her family and she’s excited about living in the city. She loves her new home and the potential she feels for a fresh start, but when her little brother Colby begins acting strangely—almost as though he’s possessed—Jade must uncover the “100 percent pure, unfiltered, crazy truth” about what happened to murdered queen bee and “It girl” Kayla, who died the year before. Kayla’s diary, filled with her cruel treatment of her sycophantic classmates, provides ample suspects. Think Heathers with ghosts.
The Cabin, by Natasha Preston
Seven teens. One epic party. Five survivors. 17-year-old Mackenzie just wants to let loose with her friends at a secluded cabin, sans parents. They’re all still coming to terms with the car crash that killed two of their group over the summer. What they don’t realize is that two more of them have been targeted for murder. But by whom, and why, is a secret Mackenzie will have to figure out after the smoke clears and the bodies are discovered. A new twist on the classic locked-room mystery.
Asylum, by Madeleine Roux
Forced to live in a former psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane when his college prep dorm is unavailable, gifted high school graduate Dan Crawford and his new friends take to exploring the grounds. Soon they’re fascinated and disturbed by the asylum’s history of brutal treatments, including lobotomies. And that’s before the murders start. “Found photographs” and faux doctor journals add a creepy authenticity to the story.
Frost, by Marianna Baer
Leena Thomas had big plans for her senior year at Barcroft Academy. Boarding school is her escape from a tricky home life, and she’s excited to share the Frost House dorm, a Victorian-style cottage in the woods, with her two besties. Instead, she gets stuck with Celeste, a quirky, emotionally exhausting artist, as her roommate. Soon, Celeste is the least of Leena’s problems; Frost House itself appears to want something from the girls, and it may cost them their lives. Fans of boarding school lit and psychological dramas will eat this up.