So you want a spooky book for spooky season? A YA horror master list

Alternate Worlds

The idea that alternate worlds that may exist is fascinating, more so when that alternate world is terrifying.

Classics (Based on Classic Horror Novels and Movies)

Creepy Towns

Though I say this for a lot of these categories, I do love a creepy town. I don’t want to live in one, but reading about them is delightful in that way that reading terrifying things often is.

Deadly Boarding Schools

Boarding schools is a thing in YA, and my favorite boarding schools are the ones in which someone dies. A lot of them can be more mysteries, but they are all thrilling.

Hauntings

When I was in the 3rd grade, my best friend who lived across the street swore her house was haunted. And one night I spent the night and her parents were out late and things happened. Do I think her house was haunted? I do not know. But haunted houses and ghost stories are a ton of fun. AND THE TREES CREPT IN has some amazingly haunting scenes, and it is probably the book that I think about the most. Also, it has a great title.

Monsters

Sometimes the monster is a man, but sometimes the monster is also a monster. The Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld is an older series with a unique concept and some cool monsters, I recommend it. Although I would hesitate to call the Miss Peregrine series horror, it has one of the most terrifying opening scenes. And THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab has my favorite take on monsters ever.

Mythology

Mythology is made of monsters: Gods that kill, mermaids that also kill, and horses that kill.

Psychics

I recently did a list of psychic books for my Stranger Things read alike post and I’m here to tell you, you can’t go wrong with any book by Libba Bray and that includes The Diviners series.

Revenge

The sweet, sweet taste of revenge. Revenge in real life can be, you know, illegal, so here are some revenge fantasies for that sweet taste of revenge, but in a totally safe way that harms no one.

Serial Killers

If you can get your hands on it, be sure and check out the OG YA serial killer novel TENDERNESS by Robert Cormier. Cormier, Lois Duncan, RL Stine, Christopher Pike and Joan Lowery Nixon wrote some of the original YA horror and thriller novels back in the 1990s, when horror paperbacks were all the rage, and a lot of them still hold up. Tenderness by Cormier was the first YA I read that asked readers to step into the mind of a serial killer, but it was not the last. Though all serial killer books are about horrifying topics, not all serial killer books are necessarily what you might classify as horror. There is a good list of YA serial killer books at Goodreads.

Slasher Fiction

Now at the age of 13, my kid and all her friends are rediscovering the Scream movies and are all about slasher fiction. These are some great reads for thos teens and teens like them. I recently read HOW TO SURVIVE YOUR MUDER and it’s a lot of fun with a unique take on the genre and it directly references the Scream movies.

Space Horror

I honestly love this genre. Both of these titles are very, very good. I wish there was more just outright horror set in space, because it’s hard to imagine anything scarier than the big nothingness of space and the terror that awaits in the unknown.

Vampires

I love vampire novels but, it’s important to note, not all vampire novels are horror. Twilight, for example, is more romance. But it’s also true that almost all vampire novels have a lot of death and gore, so by that definition, they would all work. The late 90s and early 2000s were ripe with a lot of glorious vampire fiction, so definitely check those out. If you really and truly want to kick it old school, definitely check out The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause. And you’ll want to reach into titles like The Vampire Academy (now a TV show streaming on Peacock), The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, and The Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Cain. Vampire novels are a pretty prolific genre at this point and this list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good start.

Werewolves