The theme for Angela’s reader’s advisory challenge in January is horror. I decided to take her challenge as a jumping point and offer up a book list of recent YA books that fit the genre, as well as offer up additional resources for those looking to beef up their YA horror knowledge.
Let’s start with a definition, shall we? The Horror Writers Association offers up this great explanation for horror. The long and short of it is that horror isn’t necessarily a distinct genre in and of itself. It’s an emotion. That emotion pervades all genres, then, meaning that horror can be a part of realistic fiction as much as it can be a part of science fiction or mystery or thriller (the latter two being the genres most likely to be tied to horror).
As such, the books I’ve teased out as examples of YA horror span genres. There are some paranormal titles, alongside some realistic titles and thrillers. I’m going to start with books that are already out and I’ll end with a preview of some 2013 titles. All descriptions are from WorldCat, and I’ve noted where books are part of a series (including only the first in series here).
I hope other people jump in with additional horror titles in the comments.
One note about horror I think is worth mentioning: like science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, and other genre fiction, I think many teen readers find that adult titles are just as satisfying as young adult titles. Keep an eye out for not only new adult titles by the classic horror names, but having a few names of lesser-known authors is important, too. If you have any good suggestions for adult horror with YA crossover appeal, leave those suggestions, too. For me? I’ve got my eyes on Liz Jensen (her 2013 title The Uninvited looks fantastic).
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (first in series): For three years, seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood has carried on his father’s work of dispatching the murderous dead, traveling with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat, but everything changes when he meets Anna, a girl unlike any ghost he has faced before.
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (stand alone): When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their great Auntie Ida in an isolated village in 1958, they discover that they are in danger from a centuries-old evil and, along with village boys Roger and Peter, strive to uncover the horrifying truth before it is too late.
The Devouring by Simon Holt (first in series): The existence of Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, becomes a terrifying reality for fifteen-year-old Reggie when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.
Velveteen by Daniel Marks: Velveteen was murdered at 16, but that’s not her real problem. Life in purgatory is hard work when your side job is haunting the serial killer who killed you.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil: Ten teens head to a house party at a remote island mansion off the Washington coast . . . only for them to picked off by a killer one by one.
The Diviners by Libba Bray (first in series): Seventeen-year-old Evie O’Neill is thrilled when she is exiled from small-town Ohio to New York City in 1926, even when a rash of occult-based murders thrusts Evie and her uncle, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, into the thick of the investigation.
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (stand alone): Barricaded in Cortege High with five other teens while zombies try to get in, Sloane Price observes her fellow captives become more unpredictable and violent as time passes although they each have much more reason to live than she has.
Beyond by Graham McNamee (stand alone): Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Jane has attempted suicide more than once, but Jane knows the truth: her shadow is trying to kill her.
The Turning by Francine Prose (stand alone): A teen boy becomes the babysitter for two very peculiar children on a haunted island in this modern retelling of The Turn of the Screw.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (first in series): Rory, of Bénouville, Louisiana, is spending a year at a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat and becomes involved with the very unusual investigation.
Tighter by Adele Griffin (stand alone): Based on Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw,” tells the story of Jamie Atkinson’s summer spent as a nanny in a small Rhode Island beach town, where she begins to fear that the estate may be haunted, especially after she learns of two deaths that occurred there the previous summer.
Rotters by Daniel Kraus (stand alone): Sixteen-year-old Joey’s life takes a very strange turn when his mother’s tragic death forces him to move from Chicago to rural Iowa with the father he has never known, and who is the town pariah.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (stand alone): Sixteen-year-old Mackie Doyle knows that he replaced a human child when he was just an infant, and when a friend’s sister disappears he goes against his family’s and town’s deliberate denial of the problem to confront the beings that dwell under the town, tampering with human lives.
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (stand alone): Seventeen-year-old Amy Goodnight has long been the one who makes her family of witches seem somewhat normal to others, but while spending a summer with her sister caring for their aunt’s farm, Amy becomes the center of weirdness when she becomes tied to a powerful ghost.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (first in series): After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.
White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick (stand alone): Sixteen-year-old Rebecca moves with her father from London to a small, seaside village, where she befriends another motherless girl and they spend the summer together exploring the village’s sinister history.
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (first in series): In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (first in series): In 1888, twelve-year-old Will Henry chronicles his apprenticeship with Dr. Warthrop, a New Escientist who hunts and studies real-life monsters, as they discover and attempt to destroy a pod of Anthropophagi.
Ruined by Paula Morris (first in series): Rebecca goes to New Orleans to stay with her aunt and sees the destruction of Hurricane Katrina and meets a ghost girl named Lisette.
Frost by Marianna Baer (stand alone): When Leena Thomas gets her wish to live in an old Victorian house with her two closest friends during their senior year at boarding school, the unexpected arrival of another roommate–a confrontational and eccentric classmate–seems to bring up old anxieties and fears for Leena that may or may not be in her own mind.
Don’t forget the solid horror that Charles Higson and Darren Shan write for teens. Both have high appeal, particularly to male readers. Shan’s written numerous series, including Cirque du Freak and Zom-B.
As for some 2013 YA horror titles, here’s a handful:
The Murmurings by Carly Anne West: After her older sister dies from an apparent suicide and her body is found hanging upside down by one toe from a tree, sixteen-year-old Sophie starts to hear the same voices that drove her sister to a psychotic break.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd: Dr. Moreau’s daughter, Juliet, travels to her estranged father’s island, only to encounter murder, medical horrors, and a love triangle.
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn: A year after vanishing from a party, screaming and drenched in blood, seventeen-year-old Annaliese Rose Gordon appears hundreds of miles from home with no memory, but a haunting certainty that she is actually another girl trapped in Annaliese’s body.
In the After by Demitria Lunetta: In a post-apocalyptic world where nothing is as it seems, seventeen-year-old Amy and Baby, a child she found while scavenging, struggle to survive while vicious, predatory creatures from another planet roam the Earth.
The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington: New student Jade uncovers a murder mystery when she moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a beautiful, mean girl who ruled Jade’s high school.
Looking for further information or resources on horror? Check out the following:
- Becky at RA for All — she’s THE reader’s advisory expert on horror. The resources on her blog are unparalleled for readers and reader’s advisors.
- The Monster Librarian blogs about horror books, too, including YA titles.
- Matt Jackson, blogger for Blastr.com, has written about horror here at STACKED a number of times. You can catch all of those posts, as well as our own horror posts, here.