Greetings, boys and ghouls! It is almost Halloween, and I have been a very bad Crypt Keeper indeed. I realize that this year, I have yet to post a SINGLE list of horror goodness!
But fear not, darlings, for I have decided to combine all of my half-concocted list ideas into a single post – a resource for anyone excited to try out some of the YA and MG books we haven’t reviewed this week, but would very much like to single out.
The Middle Grade Favorites List
(Both New and Old)
Claire Legrand’s debut novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, is fiendishly sadistic and terrifying – as all middle grade horror should be. (Her sophomore effort, The Year of Shadows, ain’t so bad either!)
Speaking of scary stories, this is the original recipe and I bust out the collection for a reread at least once a year. This series is among one of the frequently challenged and banned books for young readers – all the more reason to champion the series and give it a go. You won’t regret it. (Unless you scare easily, in which case don’t look at the drawings…)
Of all of Neil Gaiman’s books for young readers, Coraline is my favorite, and holds a very dear place in my heart. This is a terrifying story of family and curiosity, imagination and courage. Coraline is one of my very favorite heroines in MG fiction, and the Other Mother is one of the most feared villains.
The House with a Clock in its Walls is creepily atmospheric and plays with tension very well, but my favorite book of John Bellairs’ is The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring, following Rose Rita and a summer adventure.
James Ponti’s middle grade zombie-busting Dead City series is unique, inventive, and criminally under-read. There’s a reason Suzanne Collins blurbed this book – it’s that good. Try it. I promise you’ll enjoy it.
I know I just reviewed this collection a few days ago, but it is so good I simply have to include it on the list. For those who like creepy short stories, packaged within a larger creepy story – perfect for reading aloud on All Hallow’s Eve.
I have to thank Ana profusely for making me read The Boneshaker – which is part folk tale, part Americana-fable, and part creeping horror story. It will make you think twice about crossroads, and making bets with the devil (not that you would have done that to begin with… right?).
I can’t close out this mini-list with another old school favorite – a middle grade title from my childhood that both delighted and terrified. You’ll never look at square-toed shoes the same way (and you may be leery of chocolate for a little while after reading this one). While this one isn’t my Roald Dahl favorite (that would be Matilda), The Witches is very high on the list.
The YA Favorites List
I know you’ve probably heard me rave about Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist books many times over the past few years, but it bears repeating: these are some of the finest horror novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Historical horror, rife with monsters, a tortured relationship between master and assistant/surrogate father and reluctant son, the Monstrumologist adventures are dark and deep and I love them wholeheartedly.
Dan Wells’ John Wayne Cleaver books deeply disturbing excursions into the mind of a teenage psychopath. With monsters. Think of it as a young Dexter (back when Dexter was good before its disastrous final seasons) meets The X-Files. Intrigued? Good.
Speaking of deeply disturbing (and teenage psychopaths), I don’t know if there’s a better example than Dia Reeves’ sadistic serial killer sisters in Slice of Cherry. Somehow the girls are frightening and lovable at once.
I read Undead when it first came out in the UK and enjoyed it oh-so-very-much. A school retreat, zombies, nefarious carrot juice… what’s not to love? The sequel just recently came out, and I really must get to it soon (also, I love this cover).
I feel like I need a good science fiction horror novel on this list, so I’m going with the recent YA SF novel 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad. This is a book with flaws, but the horrific elements – not to mention the science behind the science fiction – are solid. Definitely recommended.
Both Ana and I reviewed this title for Halloween Week 2 years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Channeling The Wicker Man (the original, of course), Midwinterblood is a tragic love story about a pair of soulmates that find each other, and lose each other, generation after generation after generation.
Speaking of The Wicker Man, Karen Healey’s second novel, The Shattering channels the same small-island-with-dark-secrets material as Midwinterblood, to similarly spectacular ends. I loved this book very much, and highly recommend it.
Finally, the most recent YA horror novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading was another stunner from author Erin Bow. Sorrow’s Knot is frightening, elegiac, and poignant.
The Books I Haven’t Read Yet
(Books I Have On My TBR But Haven’t Yet Read)
I haven’t read any of these books yet, but I’ve got ’em lined up and waiting for review. Any votes for what I should be reading sooner rather than later?
15-year-old Savannah Grey has never felt she’s belonged.
She keeps her distance, so she’s surprised by her attraction to the new boy Reece. Then strange things begin to happen: nature, it seems, is exerting an overpowering force on the world. Birds behave strangely; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah learns she has supernatural powers. Nature has a purpose for Savannah and her friends. They are on course to meet the vile and evil Orcrassa, who wants to destroy the world by corrupting natureand it wants Savannah Grey to help realize its savage intent.
WELCOME TO NOWHERE.
Danny’s dad takes a job as caretaker at a marina on the shore of a vast, frozen lake in Harvest Cove, a tiny town tucked away in Canada’s Big Empty. If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it.
It’s the worst winter in years. One night, running in the dark, Danny is attacked by a creature so strange and terrifying he tries to convince himself he was hallucinating. Then he learns about Native American legends of a monster that’s haunted the lake for a thousand years. And that every generation, in the coldest winters, kids have disappeared into the night. People think they ran away.
Danny knows better. Because now the beast is after him.
Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.
Is winning a writing contest worth risking your life?
Nothing exciting ever happens in the town of Maplewood–that is, until famous thriller writer Ian Tremblin holds a short-story writing contest with a prize that seems to be the opportunity of a lifetime: five finalists will get to spend the evening with Tremblin himself in the haunted mansion Daemon Hall, and the winner of the best short story will see publication.
Wade Reilly and the other finalists could never have imagined what they find lurking in the shadows of this demonic mansion. During a suspenseful night of tale-telling, strange incidents mix the realms of the real and the supernatural. What is Tremblin really up to, and can he be trusted? What about Daemon Hall–is it alive? And, more to the point, will any of the contestants make it out of this hall of horrors to tell their story?
In the tradition of Stephen King, this chilling novel will have teen readers on edge in anticipation of what’s to come with the next extinguished candle.
Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control.
Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.
Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.
Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.
Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.
But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.
By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?
From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.
“I was sixteen the first time my grandmother died . . .”
Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for lost diamonds in its walls.
But all of that is about to change. After her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds–and the house comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the house’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. She grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when the visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the house’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.
The truth is more terrifying than you can imagine.
Darren and Beth Lynwood always dreamed of having a son, but when young amnesiac runaway Adam enters their lives, he brings with him a creeping darkness that threatens to engulf their family and everyone around them. When Adam’s memories claw their way to the surface, Darren finds himself haunted by thoughts of his own childhood – and of a boy very much like Adam who was done an unspeakable wrong. As buried secrets are unearthed, the Lynwood’s happy home becomes the hunting ground for a relentless evil and an obsession that will not die. There’s no point locking the door. There’s no use shutting out the night. Because the orphan is already inside. Dare you read to the end of The Orphan? Discover the chilling new novel from the author of The Birthing House and The People Next Door.
And there you have it. A list of lists for Halloween Week.