Best Horror Books for Young Adults
Any teenager will tell you that being a teenager is hell. Joss Whedon knew this when he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He once said, “What makes the show popular is the central myth of high school as horrific… The humiliation, the alienation.. the confusion of high school is taken to such great proportions that they become demonic.” This is what many of these books do. Although they are filled with zombies, ghosts, and murderers, they deal with the very real monsters that teens face while growing up. In Doll Bones, three friends on the verge of adolescence must lay their pretend games to rest. Everlost and The Forest of Hands and Teeth need their characters to question their leaders and the rules of the world around them, begging their readers to do the same. Some of these books deal with incredibly harsh topics that teens face, such as the loss of a parent, like Silver Kiss and A Monster Calls, but all of these books portray the horrors of growing up. This is great because in these books, the characters face down terrible things and come out wiser. Teen readers see and identify this and learn how to deal with these problems in their own lives. That’s not to say that these books are didactic moral tales that are difficult to swallow. These books are FUN! Even if you’re an adult, you will find something to enjoy in these novels. There is adventure, mystery, romance, and all of these are genuinely creepy stories. This Dark Endeavor will appeal to fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as it is the tale of how the titular mad scientist grew up. Anna Dressed in Blood is a perfectly terrifying love story that is nothing like most of the angsty, teen paranormal romance out there. The Monstrumologist will appeal to fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series as Dr. Warthrop pursues his mysterious monster with the single-minded determination of the legendary detective. If you like zombies, this list has books for you. If you like ghosts, monsters, vampires, this list has books for you. If you like your horror to be of a more realistic variety, killers and deadly viruses, this list has books for you. Basically, if you’re looking for a book that is a fun horror read that recognizes the terrors of growing up and turns them into
Winner of the 2012 Carnegie medal, Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd, tells the story of grief and loss and the truths that are sometimes too painful to face. Thirteen year old Conor O’Malley is awakened just after midnight from the horrible nightmare that he’s had every night since his mother began chemotherapy treatments. When he wakes up, he finds a monster that looks suspiciously like a twisted, humanoid version of the yew tree in his garden standing at his window. The monster claims that Conor has called for him and threatens to eat him, but first the monster will tell Conor three stories, in return, if he doesn’t want to be eaten, Conor must find the courage to tell the monster his own story. Read this book with a box of tissues because you’re about to get your heart ripped out. That’s not to say that it’s not a fantastic book. It absolutely is! It’s just heart-rending and beautiful. The monster is not so scary as the nightmare that haunts Conor every night, but it is the truth of what Conor feels that scares him the most. It is never fully explained where the monster comes from, and that just adds to the atmosphere of the tale. Is this a monster of Conor’s mind or a supernatural entity out to torment or heal Conor? A Monster Calls is a beautiful and haunting tale.
The 2011 Printz Award winner Rot and Ruin is a zombie book about what it means to be human. Benny is a normal fifteen year old boy. He fights with his brother; he notices girls; he collects trading cards, but Benny has grown up fourteen years after First Night, the night of the zombie apocalypse. At fifteen, it’s time for him to get a job in the small community of Mountainside or risk having his rations halved. Rather than be an apprentice to the brother that he despises but everyone else in the town looks up to, Benny tries every job imaginable until he’s out of options. When he joins his brother, Tom, in the family business of zombie hunting, Benny learns that not all monsters are of the undead variety. If you’re looking for a zombie-killing romp, this book will be a gut punch. Rot and Ruin is as much a story about Benny’s coming of age and learning to reconcile with his brother Tom as it is a wild adventure off into the “rot and ruin”. It’s a deeply moving story, but that’s not to say that there aren’t any action scenes or scary parts. There are, and they are awesome! The book is just so much more than that. If you like the heartfelt drama of the zombie apocalypse, like The Walking Dead, why are you reading this review? Go read Rot and Ruin and the rest of the Benny Imura series right now!
Winner of the 2009 Newbery Award, the 2010 Carnegie medal, and the 2009 Hugo Award, The Graveyard Book is a spooky and fun story about a brave young boy who longs for human contact and his adventures growing up among ghosts. In the first few pages, a killer named “the man Jack” slaughters an entire family, except for one toddler who has wandered away and down to the nearby cemetery. He is adopted by a group of ghosts. They name him Nobody (or Bod for short) Owens. Bod grows up in the safety of the graveyard and learns all the tricks of the ghosts. As he gets older, he makes friends and tries to venture out into the world outside the cemetery. This is like The Jungle Book of gothic horror. In fact, Neil Gaiman actually said that The Jungle Book served as an inspiration for The Graveyard Book. The Graveyard Book is not so much scary as it is spooky and fun. Bod grows up and explores the graveyard with not much danger to himself. Sure, the graveyard has some creepy monsters, but Bod knows how to deal with them from growing up there. The only true danger that he is in is when Bod becomes restless and wants to leave the graveyard because “the man Jack” may find him. If you’re looking for a fun, but spooky Halloween read, definitely give this one a try!
Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare is the first book in the twelve book Darren Shan saga. Darren Shan is a twelve year old boy who is lucky enough to score tickets to a forbidden freak show that he attends with his best friend Steve. The show is every bit as horrifying as Darren could imagine, but it is the trained, deadly spider, Madame Octa, that Darren becomes obsessed with. After the show, he hatches a plot to steal the spider from its owner, but when he is successful, the consequences are dire. Both his and Steve’s lives will be changed forever. The book has a wonderful suspenseful build up and is an ode to all of the things that excite horror fans, vampires, werewolves, and monsters. It’s not one of those books that will keep you up at night. It’s a fast-paced, fun read, filled with adventure and danger. Darren is a normal teenage boy who is thrust into some extraordinary circumstances and forced to make some tough calls. In the end, he is incredibly brave as he takes his first steps into a living nightmare. If you’ve grown out of the middle-grade horror books like the Goosebumps series and you’re in the mood for something with a darker flavor, the Darren Shan saga is just what you need.
Set in an alternate history London where monsters called wych-kin prowl the streets of every major city in the world, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is jam-packed with British folklore’s worst horrors. The Cradle Jacks are analogous to Spring-heeled Jack; Stitch Face is an even more frightening version of Jack the Ripper; and even Rawhead and Bloody Bones make an appearance, working for the shadowy and sinister Fraternity. Among these monsters is where Thaniel Fox finds poor, mad Alaizabel Cray. Thaniel, a young wych-hunter makes it his job to destroy the wych-kin plaguing London. He takes Alaizabel in and tries to help her, but Alaizabel’s craziness is hiding a dark secret. The monsters in Wooding’s steampunk London are scary. They practically leap off the page and stalk you down dark alleys. Secrets lurk in the shadows and spell danger for both Thaniel and Alaizabel, and the mystery surrounding Alaizabel’s madness will have you turning page after page like a fiend. As the plot twists and turns, you’re never quite sure who the real monsters are or what terrible motives they might have. You’ll quickly find that there’s a thin line between friend and foe when you’re dealing with monsters like the wych-kin.
Christopher Pike is another undisputed master of teen horror. His books, like R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and the Point Horror books were staples of every 1990’s teen horror fan. Remember Me is like a cross between Gossip Girl and the I Know Who Killed Me. Shari Cooper is dead. All of her friends believe that she committed suicide at a party after hearing that her boyfriend was cheating on her, but Shari feels differently. In the afterlife, she teams up with the ghost of her dead friend, Peter Nichols, to find and exact revenge on whoever was responsible for her murder. They are stalked throughout their quest by the menacing Shadow. One thing that Christopher Pike knows how to do well is ratchet up the tension. Although the reader will spend a good portion of the book learning all about Shari’s seemingly perfect life, all of these mundane details will somehow come into play after her death. After her death, the book is a roller-coaster ride with so many twists and turns that, at times, it’s hard to keep up. The scenes where the teens play with the Ouija board are incredibly eerie and dark, and the Shadow is a creature straight out of your nightmares. If you’re looking for a breezy Halloween read, Remember Me may be old, but it still packs a punch.
This book is riveting, a ghost story, a love story, a school drama, and a thriller, all wrapped up in one incredible package. Along with his herb-witch mother, Cas travels the country looking for ghosts, preparing himself to face the one that killed his father. Case moves to Thunder Bay for one reason: to find and kill the ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood. With Anna, Cas gets more than he bargained for. She is a tragic figure, and her loneliness is similar to that of Cas, a boy who, by necessity, lives on the fringe of society. The two are drawn to each other, and though, you know their story cannot end well, you will be surprised. This story will blow you away and make you beg for more. (Luckily, there is a sequel, Girl of Nightmares.) The characters are so full of life that they explode off the page. Anna is terrible and cruel, but at the same time vulnerable and caring. She is, by far, the star of the show. Cas is a brooding hero that will make any fangirl swoon, but he’s also a typical teenage boy with typical teenage boy concerns, such as he doesn’t like it when his mom fusses over him. The tension and suspense will have you speeding through the book, and there are some genuinely spooky scenes that will keep you up at night. Seriously, if you like to be scared at all, you need to read Anna Dressed in Blood.
In The Last Apprentice series, witches are scary, evil, like something straight out of an old fairy tale. When Tom is 12, he is apprenticed him to the county Spook, the man responsible for ridding the area of boggarts and witches and other creatures of the night. It’s a scary job, but as the seventh son of a seventh son, his parents are sure that he’s up for the task. When Mr. Gregory is called away, and Tom disobeys one rule and ends up unwittingly freeing the most feared witch in the country. This kind of reminded me of Hocus Pocus, if it weren’t funny. I mean, if you look past the campiness of that movie and really think about the things that the Sanderson sisters are said to have done, and talk about doing when some young man unwittingly frees them, that movie could be pretty dark. The Last Apprentice is, that, dark. Everyone that Tom comes across in the book has a secret. No one is who they seem to be, and that just ratchets up the tension. The creepy, woodcut illustrations add to the atmosphere of this eerie fantasy. If you like your horror like it’s straight out of Grimm, you’ll love Revenge of the Witch, the first of thirteen book The Last Apprentice series (now on book 9).
Looking for a roaring historical and paranormal mystery with plenty of spookiness? The Diviners is “positutely” the book for you. It opens when a bunch of vapid flappers experiment with a Ouija board, and being “thoroughly modern” not believing in it when they accidentally unleash an evil spirit known as Naughty John. The story flashes to Evie O’Neill, a young flapper with a strange gift that has caused her to be ostracized from her small town community and sent to New York to live with her uncle. Her story entwines with that of a charming Harlem boy named Memphis, and Theta, a showgirl. When Evie’s uncle is called in to assist in the investigations of gruesome occult murders, she is drawn into the mystery, and soon, the others will be too. The Diviners may not be for everyone. Some reviewers had difficulty delving into all of the different character’s stories, but if you can handle it, you will race through the pages trying to figure out how each of the characters is connected to both each other and to the mystery. The creep factor is high, even when Evie enters her uncle’s museum, you can feel the spookiness, but it’s the scenes with Naughty John that will keep you up at night. An eerie thriller with a host of colorful, vibrant characters, you “bet-ski”!
In the Shadow of Blackbirds should win some kind of creepy setting award. I mean, seriously, there is death, EVERYWHERE, and that’s just the setting. It’s 1918, in the middle of World War I which coincides with the outbreak of the Spanish Flu. Spiritualism has had a big revival because everyone has lost someone that they’d like to talk to again. After Mary Shelley Black’s father is arrested for treason, she is sent to live with her Aunt Eva who is obsessed with spirit photography. Mary’s pretty skeptical about all of that paranormal stuff until a freak accident suddenly allows her to communicate with the dead. Now, she’s being haunted by the ghost of her childhood love, and he’s in trouble. Now, just dealing with the time period would be great fodder for a spooky story, but with hauntings as well, you’ve got a truly frightening tale. Plus, the book is filled with old photographs, which highlight its atmosphere. This is no light, beach read. The eerie feeling of the book is something that washes over you as soon as you read the first page. In such a dark, gothic tale, you’d think that our heroine would be some sort of damsel in distress, but refreshingly, she’s not. Mary Shelley is the kind of girl who wears Boy Scout boots in case she ever needs to “run at a moment’s notice.” In short, she is practical and fearless and not unlike her horror-writing namesake.
The 2010 Printz Award winning The Monstrumologist is an eerie blend of science fiction and gothic horror. It tells the tale of young Will Henry, an apprentice of Dr. Warthrop, the titular monstrumologist. When a grave-robber named Erasmus Gray discovers the body of a young girl wrapped in horrible, deathly embrace with an Anthropophagus, a monster not native to America, the Dr. and Will search for clues as to how the monster came to be in America and how to defeat it. Their journey will uncover shocking secrets about the monstrumologist and the danger that the whole of New England now faces. This book will give you nightmares and calls to mind some of the great, old gothic horror stories like Frankenstein or The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Warthrop is like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Victor Frankenstein in his singular determination to find the origin of the monster infestation. There is a scene where they visit an insane asylum that is truly horrifying and disgusting, but also, sadly, telling of the time period in which the story is set. The Anthropophagi are terrifying, and the scenes with these creatures are thick with suspense. The Monstrumologist is a good old-fashioned monster tale that will send your heart racing and make you afraid of what might be lurking in the dark.
Everlost explores a world in between death and the afterlife that is filled with danger and monsters. A car accident lands Nick and Allie in Everlost, a land for children that exists in between life and death. There, they meet Lief, a ghost who lives in the forest near the crash site. He explains to them the dangers of Everlost, dangers that they will be forced to face themselves, like being sucked into the Earth if they stay in living places too long and the McGill who forces ghosts children into pickle barrels. They are taken under the wing of Mary Hightower, a seemingly benevolent ghost, who hides a secret of her own. Everlost is not your typical ghost story. Nick and Allie aren’t scary ghosts. In fact, most of the ghosts in Everlost aren’t scary. Instead, they are just like the title implies, lost. Some of the “rules” of Everlost appear bizarre to Nick and Allie, although they are assured that these rules are for their own good. There are some scary scenes, particularly those surrounding the McGill, but Everlost reads more like a deliciously spooky adventure tale, perfect for younger teens, that will have them questioning exactly who makes the rules and why.
Lois Duncan is undisputed queen of teen horror and suspense. Locked in Time is one of her supernatural thrillers. A year after her mother dies, Nore returns from boarding school to visit her father and her new stepfamily at their ancient plantation home in Louisiana. Strange things occur that Nore can’t explain, and soon, she discovers that her new step-family has been hiding a dark secret. When Nore tries to tell her father about her fears, he brushes them off, but Nore is in grave danger. It’s hard to say much about this book without giving away the big secret, which is half of the fun! Nore definitely isn’t a wilting violet, and although there is some vaguely creepy romantic tension between her and her new stepbrother, that is pretty quickly evaporated when he tries to kill her. In addition to the supernatural mystery surrounding her new stepfamily, Nore herself has a special ability. She has the ability to sense time and keeps track of time exceptionally well. This comes into play as Nore unravels the mystery, and Nore poses even more of a threat to her truly wicked stepmother. Lois Duncan ratchets up the tension as the mystery slowly unfolds and the fear mounts. Soon, Nore has nowhere left to turn. Though some of the references in the book are a bit dated (the book was published in 1985), you won’t want to miss this classic, haunting thriller.
Full of quirky humor, The Name of the Star pulls together a spooky ghost story and a compelling mystery seamlessly. When Louisiana native, Rory Deveaux, arrives at her posh new boarding school in London, she has a little trouble fitting in, and when she nearly dies, it doesn’t help matters much. On top of that, a string of unexplained killings that have all the earmarks of a Jack the Ripper copycat have been happening near her school, and everyone is on edge. Then, Rory sees a shadowy figure on school grounds that no one else can see, and she is in real danger. The Name of the Star is the first in Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series, and it’s full of twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, she pulls the rug out from underneath you. Rory is so engaging and chatty that you sometimes forget that she is in grave danger. In fact, at first, she suspects that she is not, and that just like her crazy family back in Louisiana, she’s finally lost it. Rory’s references to her aunt who can speak to angels will have you rolling on the floor in laughter, which is a welcome relief from the tense and terrifying moments. If you like a good dose of a humor with your thrills, check out the Shades of London series.
If you’re a fan of Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein, you’ll love This Dark Endeavor, even if you’re not, it will captivate you. This Dark Endeavor is a gothic, creepy ride into the teenage years of Mary Shelley’s titular mad scientist. It all begins when Victor and his twin brother Konrad find a secret library deep in the family home. The library contains books on forbidden subjects such as alchemy, and when their father learns of their discovery, he forbids his children from going into the library. Then, Konrad becomes ill, and as Victor watches doctors fail to cure him, he becomes obsessed with the idea that the answer to saving his brother lies in the dark library, and that only he can find it. It’s hard to live up to a book that has captured our cultural imagination for almost 200 years, but Kenneth Oppel manages it brilliantly.
This Dark Endeavor is the perfect prequel to the Frankenstein story with little nods to its source material throughout. If you aren’t familiar with Mary Shelley’s story will find a suspenseful adventure of a boy desperate for answers in the face of tragedy. Victor, himself, is such a real teenage boy. He is, at times, insanely jealous of his brother who has all the wit and charm that he does not, but they are very close. The book is haunting, just like the dark library is to Victor, and filled with scary bits as he quests to find a cure for his brother.
You know in a horror movie, that moment when you try to warn the characters that something bad is going to happen? You don’t know how you know, maybe it’s the music, but you just feel unsettled, Breathe is like that, and then, the spooky stuff really starts happening. When Jack and his mother move into a new house, Jack immediately senses that something is amiss. Then, he finds the ghosts in the house. For the most part, they are friendly, but one of the ghosts wants Jack to join them and will stop at nothing to make that happen. Breathe is a tense, haunting read that calls to mind, a much darker version of the story told in Coraline. The Ghost Mother is incredibly creepy. Even when she seems nice, you know that there’s something up. She just latches on to Jack so desperately. There are scenes in this book that will keep you up at night. The descriptions of the Nightmare Passage, a place where all of the ghosts are afraid to go, are literally the stuff of nightmares, and when you learn how the Ghost Mother has managed to stick around for so long, you’ll be truly terrified. If you want a no-frills, up-all-night ghost story with a satisfying ending, Breathe won’t disappoint! Just remember to read with the lights on.
The Crossroads is the first in the Haunted Mystery series by Chris Grabenstein. If you like a ghost story that twists and turns like a good psychological thriller, this is the book for you. Poor Zack Jennings is haunted. First, by his cruel mother who died of cancer, and now by the evil spirit lurking in the tree behind his new home. His father promised that life would be different when he remarried and they moved to his father’s hometown in Connecticut, and it seems like things are looking up. Then, Zack discovers that his new home hides some terrifying secrets, and a ghost that is out to get him. The 2009 Anthony Award winner for Best Children’s/ Young Adult Novel, The Crossroads is a riveting page-turner that is great for reading on a dark and stormy night. It’s got urban legends, creepy old ladies, and one seriously angry ghost. While there is violence and death in the book, there’s no straight out gore, making it perfect for the younger teen reader or someone who is easily scared. What this book lacks in chills though, it makes up for in thrills. From the first page, you’ll be hooked and dragged along for the ride as Zack, his friend Davy, and his stepmother Judy, try to piece together the mystery of what happened at the crossroads fifty years ago, and why it threatens Zack’s family to this day.
Doll Bones is the 2014 Newbery Honor story that straddles the line between middle-grade and young adult, just like its characters are dealing with their budding adolescence. It’s also a delightful mix of supernatural adventure and coming of age story. When Jack is 12, he’s joined the basketball team and a great student, but his father has decided that it’s time for him to stop playing with dolls and action figures. So, he throws the toys away. Zack is angry and embarrassed and abandons the pretend game that he and his childhood friends Alice and Poppy have been playing for years. Then, Poppy tells Jack and Alice that she has been haunted the Queen, a china doll made from the bones of a murdered girl, and that they must put the Queen to rest. Doll Bones is delightfully eerie. On the surface, it’s a good old-fashioned ghost story, or is it a new game that Poppy made up because she is resistant to the changes that adolescence is bringing the three friends. As the plot progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what is real from what is fantasy. The doll’s history is incredibly spooky too, and Zack and his friends deal with strange adults who try to shut down their quest as well as real concerns such as their parents and money. It’s a deceptively deep and satisfying read.
Infused with amazing description of Japanese culture, Dreams of the Dead, the first of The Waking trilogy by Thomas Randall, is like a lighter version of such Japanese horror classics as The Ring and The Grudge. When Kara and her father move to Japan after her mother dies in a car accident, Kara is not prepared for how different it is from life in suburban America. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Kara finds the natural beauty of Japan to be magical, but her classmates who dislike her because she is a foreigner… not so much. Then, there’s the girl who was killed behind Kara’s prestigious new school, and the killers who are still on the loose. It’s no wonder that Kara starts having nightmares, but what’s really terrifying is that the nightmares are starting to come true. Dreams of the Dead combines Japanese mythology, school drama, and a mystery to create a gripping tale. There’s even a little bit of romance thrown in. While this book is not as scary as some Japanese horror stories, there are scenes which will creep you out, particularly the dream sequences, and the mystery makes this a compelling page-turner. The star of the show, though, is the setting. If you are an anime or manga fan and can’t get enough of Japanese culture, but you want a little spookiness in your life, Dreams of the Dead is for you.
The Way We Fall is the first book in The Fallen World trilogy by Megan Crewe, and it’s like a cross between Outbreak and Life As We Knew It. A strange, flu-like virus has overtaken the resident’s of Kaelyn’s small island. It starts off with simple flu-like symptoms. Then, you’re suddenly acting like everyone is your best friend; next thing you know, bam-- you’re stark raving mad, and when the virus runs its course, the ending is inevitable. Fearful of a massive outbreak, the government quarantines the island. Cut off from supplies and civilization, Kaelyn’s world slowly starts to crumble. Things that could actually happen are much scarier, in some respects, than ghosts and goblins, and this virus is a doozy. It starts off so quietly, and everyone you know is suspect. The drama on the island unfolds slowly, but there’s never a dull moment as the reader speeds through the pages to find who else is sick, and how the survivors are handling the descent of the island into lawlessness. Kaelyn pours out her fears in a journal meant for her estranged friend, Leo, as she struggles to keep her family together and safe. If you’re looking for an eerily realistic post-apocalyptic tale that deals with how people band together in the wake of the destruction of their word, you will love The Way We Fall.
Long before Twilight made vampires sparkly and sexy, there came The Silver Kiss. Zoe is a sixteen-year-old girl who is adrift in life. Her mother is dying of cancer; her best friend is moving away, and her father doesn’t seem to care about her. She is sad and terribly lonely, and it is on a lonely walk in the park that she discovers Simon, feeding off a bird. Simon is a vampire, and though Zoe finds him beautiful, she’s also disgusted by him. The Silver Kiss chronicles the development of Simon and Zoe’s relationship as they each find something in one another that speaks to them, and the danger they find themselves in. It is an amazing example of one of the first vampire love stories. Though Simon is preternaturally beautiful, he’s a vampire, with all of the attendant powers that make him incredibly creepy. Zoe is not instantly attracted to him either. There’s no magical spell or compulsion that she feels to be with him. They both just recognize something in each other that each of them need. This story is incredibly beautiful and moving with plenty of tension and suspense and eerie moments. If you want to see what good paranormal romance looks like, pick up The Silver Kiss.
The Devil’s Footsteps is the haunting tale of an urban legend that may or may not be true. Bryan tries to tell himself that the legend surrounding the strange stepping stones in the forest, the ones that predict how you’re going to die, is just that, a story, a kid’s game that you play to scare yourself, but he can’t quite convince himself that that’s true. His brother, Adam, disappeared five years ago, after playing on the Devil’s Footsteps in the woods, and Bryan saw it happen. When he finds other boys who have lost someone to the monster in the woods known as the Dark Man, they begin to discover that something is targeting the children the children in Redford. Creepy rhymes are a huge staple in horror literature, and The Devil’s Footsteps wins the prize for eeriest rhyme. Reading this book made me want to find The Devil’s Footsteps and play, just to see what would happen… not really. This book is super scary! The Dark Man is such a menacing presence throughout the novel, and frustratingly none of the adults seem to want to acknowledge that something spooky is going on. It’s a truly gripping supernatural thriller that will have you afraid to read in the dark. On top of that, this book is haunting. It will be with you long after you've turned the last page.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is very much Mary's story about her struggle to escape a world riddled with fear, no matter what the cost. In Mary’s world, zombies roam the forest outside the fence surrounding her small village. Her mother consistently prowls the fence searching for Mary’s father who went missing several years before and tells Mary stories of the world before the Return, a kind of zombie apocalypse. Mary’s brother is a Guardian, enforcing the strict rules imposed by the Sisterhood, and her best friend is betrothed to the boy that she loves. Things only get worse when a stranger, hidden by the Sisterhood turns into a zombie and destroys the village. Mary is a fiery, passionate girl who is constantly questioning the things around her and her place in the village. She craves the world outside, in part because of her mother’s stories and in part, because she really doesn’t fit in in her village. Despite the zombies, Mary’s a pretty typical teenage girl. She’s jealous of her best friend, resentful of her brother, and at times, a bit melodramatic and willing to throw herself into danger over the slightest emotional trauma. Not the the traumas in Mary’s world are slight, after all, she’s lost both of her parents to zombies, and then, all of her village. It’s Mary’s courage and her hope when all odds are against her that make this story a page-turner with some seriously creepy moments.
If you are looking for a book that is shivery and gripping, the 2011 Carnegie Medal nominated White Crow is the book for you. From the very first lines, you are clutched in the novel’s cold embrace, and like the town of Winterfold, it will not let you go. Rebecca’s father dragged her away to the dreary seaside town of Winterfold, where she befriends Ferelith, a goth girl who is obsessed with the possibility of life after death. Their story intertwines with that of the rector of Winterfold Hall in the year 1798. He, too, is obsessed with the idea of life after death. He assists the enigmatic Dr. Barrieux in gruesome experiments designed to diving the realities of life after death. As Ferelith and Rebecca explore the crumbling Winterfold Hall, they discover the truth about the experiments and what they might mean. Winterfold is crumbling into the sea, and with it its secrets. It’s a place filled with a creeping darkness. Eerie things happen that Rebecca just can’t explain. There is something unsettling about both Ferelith and Winterfold itself. As the girls unlock the town’s darkest secrets, the reader discovers that Rebecca and Ferelith’s relationship in some horrifying ways mirrors that of the Rector and Dr. Barrieux.
The Mall is a genuinely creepy book that will stay with you. I read this as a girl scout right before the big mall lock-in, and I can just tell you with all authority that this is a very. bad. idea! The mall in The Mall is insanely spooky with all of these hidden doors and secret passageways. It is in this mall that Trish works, and she’s being stalked, but who is is the stalker? The strange Muffin Man who frequents the food court where Trish works and makes vaguely sexual comments about her? Storm, the hottest guy in the mall, or Wyatt, the guy who does odd jobs and always seems to be hanging around? Then tension mounts, and when Trish finds a body in the mall with an ice pick through its throat, she figures out that she’s in real danger. The Mall is creepy and fun, and a quick read. It will definitely make you think twice about staying in the mall after dark, and you will never look at mannequins the same way. The plot twists and turns, and like a classic horror movie, you’ll be screaming at Trish as she makes wrong decision after wrong decision, making the tension mount and her situation more and more dire. With so many suspicious characters, it’s hard to figure out just who the stalker is, and when his identity and motives are finally revealed, it’s nothing short of eerie.