BOO! First, a disclaimer. This post will be full of awful puns. No shame, only spooks. And BOOks. (You were warned…) It’s also a post I’m writing with my Hot Key Ambassador hat on, so these books are all published by them. That’s not to say they are any less creepy; we’re talking 10/10 on the YA spooky scale here.
One of the big misconceptions about young adult books that even I held until I started reading more of them is that they can’t scare you. BOY was I wrong. From murder mysteries to secret societies, young adult books manage to be just as scary, just without some of the (I find) unnecessary gore or brutality that adult thrillers have. I think as someone who likes to be scared but also likes a safety net, landing in the young adult bracket is brilliant for me. And what’s more, as the genre has grown so much in popularity, so has the selection available, which is even more exciting. So here are some spooky YA reads for this spooky season, perfect to read under a fluffy blanket – or under your blanket with a torch. Mwhahaha! Ahem.
Perfectly Preventable Deaths – Deirdre Sullivan
Full of magic, sisterhood and disappearing teenage girls, this book is just ready to be read right now. Focused around a set of sixteen year old twins living in a strange and spooky village in Ireland, with corpses scattered in the mountains, the novel follows them as they grow as people – and a distance grows between them. But when one sister realises the other is in grave danger, what she is prepared to do, and who she is prepared to become, to save her comes into question. Look out for my review of this soon!
The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge
“Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.”
A ghost story with a whole world of Nordic mythology surrounding it, The Twisted Tree is the book you didn’t know you needed to read this Halloween until right now.
The Crooked Mask – Rachel Burge
The sequel to the above, The Crooked Mask takes its roots from Norway and runs wild with them. Martha has found her way to The Circus of Myth and Mayhem – and this might not be the best turn of events. All around her, Norse tales of the Gods are acted out… yet Martha goes unnoticed. Until an old friend appears, throwing a wave of emotion her way. But he isn’t the only person she needs to worry about. Loki himself has now taken an interest…
Just as creepy as the first book, but in a totally different way!
Midnight’s Twins – Holly Race
If your dreams can come true, then so can your nightmares.
In this book, a pair of twins who couldn’t hate each other more have inherited their mother’s ability to slip into the dream world, Annwn. And in this dream version of London, Fern is discovering that all is not well. Having to face off against her brother as well as run from killers in her sleep, there are so many layers of subplot, each creepier than the next.
S.T.A.G.S series – M.A. Bennett
I originally just had S.T.A.G.S written down, but I think all three books deserve equal mention! All very different but hinging around a deep, dark secret that is revealed at the very end of book one, these books have everything you could look for in YA thrillers: death, hauntings, teenage angst, and deadly terror. I’ve just finished D.O.G.S, leaving me with the third book, F.O.X.E.S to read this spooky season. Perfect timing.
The Cruel Prince – Holly Black
The first in The Folk of the Air series, this book starts with an immediate horror, the murder of Jude’s parents, and their kidnapping to the world of Faerie. As mortals in a world full of fey, the only way to stay alive and stay in control is to fight, and that’s just what she’s prepared to do. These books might not be scary in the same way as some of the others listed, but I think the power and control balance if nothing else, added into the constant bloodshed, is terrifying.
Poisoned – Jennifer Donnelly
I’ve already reviewed this book recently (you can find my review here) but it’s so worth mentioning again! A twist on the traditional Snow White tale, Poisoned takes the very concept of fear and brings it to the forefront of the book, leaving you feeling like you should be looking over your own shoulder as much as Sophie needs to look over hers. Starting with a huntsman cutting out a princess’s heart and meeting all sorts of beasts along the way, this isn’t one to miss.
Spellslinger – Sabestien de Castell
As Kellen approaches his sixteenth birthday, he readies himself for his first mage’s duel, the first of the four challenges that would see him made a Spell Caster. But his magic has gone. Taking a chance on what might be his very only chance, Kellen sides with Ferius in this first in the magical adventure series. With the feeling of being watched and hunted following them everywhere, this is another of my choices that might not see immediately frightening, but certainly keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Sabriel: The Old Kingdom – Garth Nix
“Sabriel has spent most of her young life far away from the magical realm of the Old Kingdom, and the Dead that roam it. So when a creature from across the Wall arrives at her all-girls boarding school, she surprises herself with her ability to deal with it. The creature carries a message from her father, the Abhorsen – the magical protector of the realm whose task it is to bind and send back to Death those that won’t stay Dead.” – Need I say more? <shudder>
Well, there you have it. My spooky YA reading recommendations for this spooky season! Even if you don’t read them before Halloween, these are books to check out if you’re a YA fan. Let me know what you think below!