Halloween season is upon us, but the spookiest time of the year is so much more than just pumpkin spice lattes and the latest Saw sequel. Once you've decked the halls with boughs of candy corn, found the perfect pop culture costumes for Halloweekend, and marathoned the Twitches franchise, try picking up one of these spooky YA books to round out your Halloween experience. There's no reason to do anything that isn't directly related to Halloween from the middle of September through the beginning of November, so make sure you have the best young adult thrillers and paranormal romances to get you in the Halloween mood.
The Merciless even *looks* creepy. If you regularly find yourself debating whether you should stream Mean Girls or Saw, Danielle Vega's debut is the spooky YA book you've been needing. When Sofia Flores befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis during her first day at a new school, she believed them when they said they wanted to save Brooklyn. Sofia didn't realize her new BFFs thought Brooklyn was possessed, and she had no idea their idea of an exorcism involved a basement torture chamber. Sofia needs to find a way out but standing up to this clique could make her their next victim.
Tom Doherty Associates
Nothing says Halloween like a good ghost story. Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood landed on NPR's list of the Top 5 Young Adult Novels of 2011 and Kirkus's Best Teen Books of the Year, and the young adult thriller still packs a spooky punch. Cas Lowood took up his father's ghost killing mantle after the patriarch was gruesomely killed by one of his targets. Now, the younger Lowood travels the country in search of the murderous dead. Searching for a local legend, Cas discovers the spirit called Anna Dressed in Blood is like no ghost he's ever faced. Tangled in a web of curses and rage, Anna kills any person who's entered her former home, but for reasons unknown, Cas's life is spared.
Katherine Tegen Books
Talk about a bad romance. In Sean Olin's thriller Wicked Games, a small beach town's "it couple" unravels in a flurry of blood and betrayal when Jules rolls through town. Lilah was a loyal girlfriend to nice guy Carter despite her troubled past, and Carter doesn't intend to fall in love with the witty new girl in town. Once Lilah catches wind of Carter's betrayal, all bets are off, and it only takes one summer for the lines between right and wrong to disappear forever.
Simon & Schuster UK
Abigail Haas is YA's answer to Gillian Flynn. Dangerous Boys (and its companion, Dangerous Girls) weave complex psychology through twisted, dark relationships for a thriller that will leave you wondering what inner demons are lying inside of yourselves. In Dangerous Boys, three teens enter the abandoned Monroe estate, but only two escape from its burning wreckage. Chloe is the only one who knows whether one brother's death was a tragic accident, self-defense, or murder, assuming she can piece together the dark story of jealous passion that led the Reznick brothers to their undoing.
If you prefer your spooky YA books with a Gothic twist, Megan Shepherd's The Madman's Daughter series is an embarrassment of riches. Inspired by H.G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter follows 16-year-old Juliet Moreau, a London maid trying to escape the life-ruining scandal surrounding her father's rumored gruesome experiments. When Juliet discovers her father is alive and continuing his studies on a remote island, Juliet sets off to find out if the accusations are true. As Juliet and her companions, the handsome assistant Mongomery and a mysterious castaway named Edward, realize the depths of her father's madness, Juliet is forced to confront how much of her father's darkness echoes her own.
Horror fans who watched The Ring and immediately wanted more need to pick up Rin Chupeco's suspenseful YA horror novel The Girl from the Well and its sequel The Suffering. Based on a Japenese ghost story, The Girl from the Well follows a murder victim who wanders the Earth freeing the spirits of other murdered souls and taking the lives of their killers. Okiku remains restless until she meets Tark, a moody teen with evil trapped beneath his skin by a series of tattoos. Only Okiku can see that Tark is not the monster that lives within him, but freeing him from this demon would also mean killing its host.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Libba Bray serves Gothic horror realness better than anyone else. Her Great and Terrible Beauty series is an aesthetic journey into paranoia any time of the year, but her Diviners series take Libba's singular voice and brings it to 1926 New York City. Something about '20s flappers in the big city screams Halloween deliciousness. After Evie O'Neill is exiled from her hometown, she finds herself living in New York City with another family black sheep — her occult-obsessed uncle Will. Ironically, Evie herself has secret supernatural powers that could help him catch a serial killer, but something evil has awakened in NYC that only Evie can fight.
Fans of spooky YA books probably already know about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs's hit debut novel. The series became so popular, Tim Burton directed Miss Peregrine's film adaptation with stars like Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson. If you've been living under a rock and are looking for a guarenteed W this Halloween szn, pick up the first book in Ransom's New York Times best-selling series following 16-year-old Jacob, a boy who discovers that the abandoned ruins of Miss Peregrine's orphanage might not be abandoned after all.
It wouldn't be Halloween without witches. Adriana Mather's How to Hang a Witch revisits the Salem Witch Trials in the 21st century when Samantha Mather returns to her ancestral home. As an ancestor of the Puritan who began the trials in 1692, Sam isn't exactly given a warm welcome. Descendants of the accused witches aren't happy with the Mather family's return, and to make things worse, Sam finds herself entangled with a handsome, angry ghost who just wants her to stop touching his stuff. Just when Sam thinks things can't get any worse, she discovers a centuries-old curse that is still working its deadly magic on the town of Salem, and history might be poised to repeat itself.
Hyperion Book CH
Not all Halloween treats have to be scary. If you're looking for a spooky YA book that's more Halloweentown and less Halloween, Rachel Hawkins has brought her signature bad*ss-ery to a supernatural boarding school in the Hex Hall series. Sophie Mercer finds herself shipped off to a reform school for wayward witches, faeries, and shapeshifters when her powers wreak havoc at a highschool prom. Oops! Unfortunately for Sophie, she's arrived at Hex Hall right as a mysterious predator has begun attacking students, and her only friend is the top suspect.
Random House Books for Young Readers
Amazon says Blood Magic is a must-read for fans of Stephanie Meyer, but don't let that turn you off from this disturbing, dark YA romance. These monsters don't sparkle. After Silla Kennicott's parents die in an alleged murder-suicide, she receives a mysterious spellbook in the mail filled with the secrets of blood magic, an ancient art that harnesses primal human desires for wealth, power, and immortality. Consumed by its possibilities, Silla is willing to spill blood to uncover the truth behind her parents' death. The hot new guy at school knows the draw of blood magic a little too well, and as he's drawn to Silla, they discover someone else in their Missouri town knows their secret and will do anything to harness blood magic's power for themselves.
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Stephanie Perkins got her start writing John Green-approved YA romances, but her first foray into teen thrills was called the best new horror of the season by Mashable and a hair-raiser of Scream proportions by Seventeen. When students of a small-town high school begin to die in a series of grotesque murders, new student Makani Young will have to confront dark secrets from her past in Hawaii as the hunt for the slasher reaches terrifying heights. Fear is everywhere. Read There's Someone Inside Your House before its Netflix adaptation comes out next year.
Witches, ghosts, and ghouls are probably fictional, but creepy science experiments are very, very real. In, Dreamfall, seven teens suffering from insomnia (#RelatableContent) agree to a radical new procedure assuming their sleep issues couldn't get any worse. Spoiler alert: They were wrong. When lab equipment malfunctions, these teens are trapped in a terrifying dreamscape where their worst nightmares come to life with no memory of how they got there. If they can't find a way to defeat their dreams and their darkest secrets, our anti-heroes will never wake up. Be careful what you wish for.
If the insanely creepy cover of this spooky YA book hasn't already tipped you off, M. Verano's Diary of a Haunting isn't for the faint of heart. Literature's answer to a found footage film à la The Blair Witch Project, Paige's story is told in letters, pictures, and a journal left behind in the dark aftermath of a small town mansion's harrowing history. A cult's experimental rituals nearly a century earlier left something sinister behind in a haunted house tale that makes the Amity horror look like a Goosebumps novel.
Feiwel & Friends
Where would classic horror stories be without Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula's legendary monster hunter? Shutter's protagonist Micheline Helsing comes from Abraham's noble lineage and has followed his footsteps to take down the undead. Armed with bullets for corporeal monsters and an SLR camera to destroy horrors in the spiritual plane, Micheline and her crew were doing fine until a routine ghost hunt went sour and infected the quartet with a soul chain curse. Now, her monster-hunting father has sworn to destroy them, and the team only has seven days to exorcise the entity before succumbing to its influence.
Horror film fanatics will find their favorite tropes in Laurie Faria Stolarz's Welcome to the Dark House, a meta, spooky YA book inspired by classic slasher movies. Seven essay contestants win an exclusive trip to see director Justin Blake film his latest confidential project. Things start out a little odd: a serial killer look-alike is their hostess, a dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking around every corner, and the seventh member of the group is nowhere to be found. Once our heroes Ivy and Parker realize what's really going on behind-the-scenes, it's too late to run away.
In Kali Wallace's spooky YA book Shallow Graves, Brezzy doesn't know who killed her. All she remembers when she wakes up in her own grave is leaving the party a year ago. She can't explain why the man lying in her grave died from her touch, why her heartbeat comes and goes, or why she can sense who around her is hiding murderous secrets, but Breezy is determined to find out. It's a brave new world with killers around every corner, a sinister cult hunting her kind, and paranormal revenge.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
During Halloween szn, we tend to focus on supernatural scares when the real horror is human nature. The villain in Kim Savage's disturbing horror novel After the Woods isn't a vampire or a werewolf. That would be comforting compared to the paroled predator that attacked two girls in the woods. Liv ran, leaving Julia for a terrifying 48-hour ordeal she only remembers in pieces. When a dead girl turns up in those same woods a year later, a reporter begins unearthing details that make the devastating truth of Julia's abduction clear as she realizes escaping was just the beginning.
Cole Sear isn't the only kid who sees dead people. In Apryl Baker's The Ghost Files, 16-year-old Mattie Hathaway has been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old, but she's never told her foster families about her supernatural abilities. When Mattie's missing foster sister Sally shows up as a ghost, she teams up with a young policeman to discover the truth behind Sally's disappearance that only Mattie knows, only to discover that there's a serial killer on her trail. In this game of cat and mouse, there's no way to tell who's the bait.
Spooky YA books don't have to keep you up at night. For fans of suspense that prefer Veronica Mars, The Craft, or Heathers to cut-and-dry horror classics, Undead Girl Gang brings you into the world of teenage Wiccan artist Mila Flores, whose BFF Riley dies under mysterious circumstances alongside resident mean girls June and Dayton. Unwilling to accept explanations that the girls were involved in a suicide pact, Mila uses her grimoire to bring the girls back to life. Riley, June, and Dayton are more distracted by high school politics than discovering who killed them, but Mila only has seven days before the spell wears off to wrangle these undead teens and solve their murder before the killer strikes again.