You find yourself alone in the woods in the dead of night. From behind, you hear the rustle of bushes. Now a twig snaps to your right. You try to calm down. It’s probably just the wind, right? No need to panic. It’s all in your head. Then in the corner of your eye, a shadow starts to emerge…
For some reason, a lot of humans really love the woods. They willingly go into them at night and set up laughably feeble shelters, basically inviting anything to attack them. And I do mean anything. Bears aren’t the only dangerous things hiding out in the forest.
In Alexandra Sirowy’s The Creeping, Stella witnesses her friend Jeanie get taken by something in the woods, but suppresses the memory of what it was and why she was spared. Then, 11 years later, the scalped body of a child who looks exactly like Jeanie surfaces during a party in the woods. Now the past Stella tried so hard to run from is back, and she has to return to the woods to figure out what’s been hunting the children of Savage.
Sirowy isn’t the only one who knows there’s something sketchy about the deep, dark woods. Below are 5 more creepy YAs that take place in the woods. Read them around the campfire if you want, but don’t be surprised if you start getting the feeling something’s watching you from between the trees…
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll
Not all 5 of the stories in this awesome graphic novel take place in the woods, but you’ll still be powerless not to read every one. The illustrations are mind-blowingly gorgeous and creepy at the same time (just check out how beautiful the cover is!), and the tales themselves are dark and twisted retellings of your favorite fairy tales. Just be careful reading these at night, you’d be surprised how terrifying a comic can be.
What We Knew, by Barbara Stewart
Tracy and Lisa never went into the woods as kids, afraid the child-snatching Banana Man would get them. Now teenagers, they no longer believe in monsters. But maybe they should, since after a recent trip into the woods some weird things have been happening. Lisa doesn’t know whether she’s dealing with a stalker or, more frighteningly, if the monster from her childhood is back to haunt her.
Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge
Rachelle has very good reason to fear the forest: as a teenager she strayed from the path and was marked by a Forestborn, making her an agent of darkness. Though she devotes her life to protecting her kingdom from forest creatures intent on killing mankind, Rachelle knows it’s only a matter of time before the Devourer returns and the forest overtakes them. With the help of the King’s maimed illegitimate son, Rachelle must face the forest (and her own darkness) once and for all, and attempt to slay the creature that awaits her.
The Devil’s Footsteps, by E.E. Richardson
When Bryan was a kid, his brother Avery disappeared without a trace. Years later, he finds out Avery wasn’t the only kid to go missing. The adults in town may not believe them, but the kids know there’s something waiting for them in the woods. Now Bryan, with the help of others who’ve crossed paths with the fabled Dark Man, must solve the mystery of what’s taking kids before it’s too late.
The Escape, by Hannah Jayne
Fletcher and Adam go on a hike together, but only Fletcher comes out alive, bloodied and disoriented. He’s found by Avery, daughter of the chief of police, who’s determined to find out what happened to the boys. A few days later, Adam’s body is found, but Fletcher still can’t remember what happened to them in the woods. Is there a killer on the loose, or is Fletcher not sharing all that he knows?