Lake Zurich, IL. A self professed “scaredy-cat,” when I asked Becca to suggest some YA horror, she was nervous to say the least, but being the consummate professional and award winning librarian that she is, Becca took on this terrifying challenge. The results are below and ready for you to use to help a patron right now.
Pumpkin Spice & Not So Nice* by Becca Boland
I love October. I love Halloween. I love autumn. I love apple picking, pumpkins, skulls, changing leaves and cardigans.
I do not love haunted houses or scary movies. I’m a fall-loving scaredy-cat**. When I was asked to write something for 31 Days of Horror, I said, “yes.” But it was 100% because I love RA For All and 0% because I am any kind of horror expert. After going through my Goodreads list, I realized I’ve actually read a fair amount of horror.
This list is for you if you:
- like to read YA
- think you don’t like horror
- if you want to challenge yourself enough to feel good but not so much that you will have nightmares for days***
Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake - I cannot describe this book better than Holly Black did in her NYT review - "It's the old boy meets girl story, if the boy is a wry, self-destructive ghost-hunter bent on avenging his father and the girl is a homicidal ghost trapped in a house full of everyone she's ever murdered. Needless to say, Cas and Anna are my new favorite twosome. When I got to the last page, I flipped back to the first." I mean, come on!
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Graphic Novel) - Different. Odd. Unusual. That’s how Anya feels. While walking through the park, she falls into a deep dark hole in the ground. Anya is trapped and she’s not alone. There is also a skeleton and the skeleton’s ghost. Being stuck in a hole with a ghost is beyond freaky, but Anya quickly sees that Emily is lonely and just wants someone to talk to. When Anya is rescued two days later, she takes a small bone from the skeleton, which allows Anya to bring the ghost of Emily with her. At first, having a personal ghost is fun. Emily acts as Anya’s private scout—she goes through backpacks, digs out personal information about other students and stealing answers from other people’s tests. Anya confides in Emily about her crush, and Emily becomes fixated on helping Anya win him over. Emily seems to be growing stronger every day and Anya doesn’t like the way she is acting. Maybe having a ghost for a best friend isn’t such a great idea.
Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender - If you want something a little creepier than Wait Till Helen Comes, but still not too creepy, this is the book for you. Alexis’ parents are having trouble in their marriage and her sister has an uncomfortable obsession with creeptastic dolls. The family lives in an old Victorian home and something isn’t right. Doors open and close on their own, water boils on an unlit stove, air conditioners that aren’t plugged in turn on. Now, Alexis’ sister has started acting very strange . . .
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - This is a YA vampire novel. But not that kind of YA vampire novel. There are walled cities called “Coldtowns” where monsters are kept locked up to keep them from infecting humans. People can choose to go into a Coldtown but once they’ve made that choice, they can never come out. Tana goes to a seemingly normal high school party but when she wakes up the next morning, she is surrounded by corpses. The only other survivor is her ex-boyfriend who has been infected. There is another boy too. A boy she’s never met before who has a dark secret. The only way to save all three of them is to go into Coldtown. But is she willing to be stuck there forever?
Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen - He’s young. He’s hot. He’s the new librarian and he’s a demon. It’s funny. There is musical theatre (Sweeney Todd, of course!) And if you love it, it’s the first book in a series.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman- Bod is a living boy who grows up amongst gravestones. A modern retelling of the Jungle Book story only the jungle is replaced by a graveyard and the jungle animals are replaced by ghosts, werewolves, witches and more.
Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington - Liv is thrilled and honored to get an art scholarship to Wickham Hall. She is even happier when she starts dating Malcolm Astor (even though her best friend and fellow scholarship kid, Gabe warns her against dating someone who comes from a line of Wickham alum going back to the school’s finding.) Liv’s happiness is cut short when she is murdered. Her murder might not be a one-off experience but part of a long line of Wickham murders going back hundreds of years.
Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender Heads will roll! Colette is thrilled be in Paris for the first time. But a series of murders around the city are putting everyone on edge. As she tours the sights, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks like Marie Antoinette.
Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller - Charlie Laird lives in a world of fear. His mom died three years ago and now he is faced with a lot of problems. His dad married a woman he is sure is a witch. He had to move into the witch’s purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark. He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. He can’t sleep - he can’t even nap! Charlie’s problems are about to get worse. Way worse. Bad. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Part Coraline and part Monster’s Inc part Nightmare Before Christmas - Nightmares! is as entertaining as it is scary.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a perfect town with a perfect family but Mackie Doyle is not what he appears to be. He is not of this world. He belongs to a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. Mackie is a Replacement. He was left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is slowly dying in the human world and his world wants him back.
Doll Bones by Holly Black - Did you know that Bone China is made from bones? Usually it is animal bones but in this book, it is human bones. And those human bones are haunted by the little girl that they belonged to and she wants to be reunited with her body. Three friends have to decide if they’re willing to try to get her back and avenge her death. A middle grade novel that is pretty freaking creepy.
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson - Maggie moves to Gill Creek, Door County with her family when her mom loses her job and they can no longer afford to live in Chicago. As Maggie arrives in Gill Creek someone else arrives along with her: the Door County Killer. He’s targeting teenage girls. Watching this happen is the quietest, loneliest ghost in the world - always watching, waiting. Part thriller. Part ghost story. The perfect book for a cold fall night.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn - Yes. This book skews young which is why it is perfect for someone who isn’t sure how they feel about horror. Molly and Michael’s stepsister Heather is not nice. She makes their lives miserable. Naturally, their parents move them to the middle of nowhere with a cemetary in the backyard. Like you do. It isn’t long before Heather starts talking to a ghost called Helen and warning that she is going to enact her revenge. Like all great YA, Mom and Dad don’t listen. The kids have to figure it out for themselves. I read this book about 300 years ago and I still remember it. That’s the power of this book. Hahn has written a ton of horror-light books but (in my humble opinion) this is the best one.
* This title was created by my coworker, Amanda Novak - almost librarian and beautiful creative library genius.
** However, I do love true crime. That’s a list for another time. Don’t try to make sense of my mind. I stopped trying a long time ago.
*** I can’t control your brain. If these give you nightmares, please don’t put that on me.