Horror and YA go hand-in-hand. From the days of the Point Horror novels that littered any secondary school in the 90’s, to the paranormal romance craze spearheaded by Twilight in the 2000’s, Young Adult readers have often craved something at the darker end of the spectrum. And whether it’s blood-soaked gore or creeping dread you’re after, authors have got you covered. Here’s my list of thirteen (because spoopy) YA horrors that are worth visiting late at night…
Say Her Name by Juno Dawson
A classic urban myth given a Point Horror twist, Say Her Name is a ghostly tale of revenge wrapped up in the twisted drama of high school. With chills aplenty and a real sense of claustrophobia, do you dare say her name?
Unrest by Michelle Harrison
One of my favourite and most underrated ghost stories of recent years, Harrison – known best for her twisted fairy stories – captures a truly Stephen King style haunting here. Dripping with slow-build terror as the main character starts to doubt the world around them, it’s a masterful tale.
The Call by Peadar O’Guilin
Twisted Irish Fairies snatch teenagers and hunt them across a truly horrific landscape in O’Guilin’s body-shock novel, which sees distorted humans and ruthless and cold creatures lurking in every shadow. Not for the faint of heart, but with a real sense of strength and hope at its core.
Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud
Kept in younger fiction, I’d argue Lockwood & Co works for any age. Although I am biased, as they’re maybe my favourite series since a certain boy lived. Fusing a Woman in Black classic horror style with a Percy Jackson-like cast of warm friends who bounce off each other, these are detective stories with a gothic twist.
Daughters unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
It takes a lot to make a story of demonic possession stand out from the crowd, but Lukavics really hammers home the horror in this historical tale. And it’s relentless, the isolation of the snowbound forest and the open plains of turn of the century America. Short, powerful and deeply upsetting, it’s not one for younger readers, but the bleak reality of it is effecting.
Monster by CJ Skuse
A boarding school, cut off by snowfall. An urban myth come to life, stalking the students. Bitter rivalries and distrust. Skuse brings so many classic ideas into this story that it feels like a chaotic storm of a tale, filled with twists and that blind panic that comes with real terror.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I’m not sure if this counts as horror. It certainly has unsettling moments, and a sense of the weird and forgotten about it. Either way, Ransom Riggs’ debut is a fun YA novel for fans of something a bit different. Filled with found photographs that chill the blood, and an oddball cast that I adored, there’s a reason it was such a success.
The Fallen Children by David Owen
Mysterious pregnancies, unseen alien forces, and dead-end lives – Owen has a talent for dropping the weird and unsettling into a modern, mundane setting and creating a slow-burn horror that unfolds gradually. Perfectly realised, very honest characters helps make this an outstanding read.
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Perhaps not horror in the strictest sense, award winner The Lie Tree still follows all the traditions of a classic gothic novel, filled with beautiful, poetic writing and a bleak, windswept setting. There’s also a good dose of magic and madness mixed into the witches brew too, as well as a slippery mystery to be solved.
There’s someone in your House by Stephanie Perkins
Best known for her romantic contemporaries, Stephanie Perkins brings her talents to a classic slasher story here, and does it with all the precision of a scalpel blade. Romance is still the glue that binds the characters together, but the fabric is all tension, as students begin to die one-by-one.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
A bit more towards the paranormal romance end of the horror spectrum, I have a real soft spot for this series. Set in London, and filled with the shades and spirits of the city’s bloody history, it’s got some genuine scares wrapped up in twisted mysteries and some incredibly loveable characters.
Department 19 by Will Hill
Think less sparkling vampires, more “rip off your head and dance in the fountain of your blood” vampires. High stakes (pun intended) action and powerfully driven storylines are beautifully offset by Will Hill’s passion for classic gothic literature, with references all over the place. Some of my favourite fiction vampires this side of Sunnydale.
Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton/The Wrong Train by Jeremy De Quidt
I’m not cheating. You’re cheating. Shut up. I picked these two last, because both a short story collections – the true home of horror. In Thirteen Chairs we get thirteen ghost stories, told by the ghosts themselves – perhaps more dark and mournful than scary, it’s still a brilliantly stitched together collection. Similarly, The Wrong Train tells tales of the macabre and the downright unnerving, all wrapped up in a larger narrative, building the unease with each unfortunate ending.
Hope there’s something on that list that catches your eye! I’m a massive horror nerd, so by all means find me on twitter (@shinraalpha) for more recommendations.