Oh, the Horror!

Elizabeth Bluemle -- September 12th, 2017

Requests for thriller and horror titles have been creeping steadily upward over the past year, and I realize that I’m not up on the best of the recent scariest kids’ books anymore. It’s been several years since horror had a strong fan base among our children and teen readers, but it seems to be coming back.

Several of my go-to’s are still wonderful, from the mild-to-medium-scary John Bellairs series (The House with a Clock in its Walls, etc.) to Mary Downing Hahn’s decidedly creepy Wait Till Helen Comes to Patricia Clapp’s somewhat gothic Jane-Emily. I can still point teens toward Lois Duncan’s guilty pleasure, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and seven-year-olds toward James Howe’s delicious Bunnicula. I know, of course, that R.L. Stine continues to thrill scare-seeking nine-year-olds, and that Darren Shan is a solid pick for thirteen-year-olds who want some gore with their fright. I will forever hand young readers of many ages Ray Bradbury’s mesmerizing Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Stephen King is, well, still king.

But I just discovered that Chris Wooding’s riveting The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is out of stock indefinitely, and that sad discovery set me thinking about how long it’s been since I added new titles (beyond bestsellers like Ransom Riggs) to my library of recommendations to kids. So I want to ask you, dear ShelfTalker readers, what recent books for kids and teens have raised the hair on the back of your necks? What are your sure-fire spooky reads?

14 thoughts on “Oh, the Horror!

  1. Stacie Williams

    The Hill by Karen Bass – Two boys from very different worlds clash as they try to survive a creature stalking them in the woods in this creepy tale rooted in Cree folklore. A tense, atmospheric thriller for young readers which is also a story about unlikely friendship.

    Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward – Equal parts horror film and coming-of-age story, this visceral, fast-paced teen read sets a budding high school girl’s relationship with her first girlfriend against an eerie backdrop of blood, hair, and bone.

    (Sorry for the formal-ish wording! I’m a sales rep, so tend to be “blurby”)

  2. Sarah Mohler

    I loved Jane-Emily and still have my 1980s Dell paperback! For recent reads, I would recommend The Dead Gentleman by Matthew Cody, The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, the Jackaby series by William Ritter, and Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud.

  3. Katherine Johnson

    Though marketed as fantasy, the Serafina books by Robert Beatty had me shaking in my boots at a few points — and I’m 67 years old! There’s some truly evil sorcery in those stories.

  4. Robert Durant

    I too loved Chris Wooding’s book, “The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray.” I also loved his other books, “Poison” and “Malice”.

  5. Diana

    Anna Dressed in Blood had some awesome creepy moments. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was quite good too, especially for being a youtube spinoff. But my favorite of YA suspense is Carlos Ruiz Zafon, there were several times reading Marina, Watcher in the Woods, Midnight Palace, and Prince of Mist where I was severely startled by innocuous noises!

  6. Meghan Dietsche Goel

    Have you read THORNHILL by Pam Smy? It just came out this month. So creepy … so good. Last year’s THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE was also a terrifically scary addition to the genre — Meghan

  7. ALR

    Here are some pretty chilling horror YA and middle grade favorites of mine!
    The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey
    Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward
    The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín
    And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    Coraline by Neil Gaimain
    The House on Hackman’s Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon
    Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
    Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell (just rereleased with original illustrations!)
    Paul Zindell’s Reef of Death, Loch, and The Doom Stone are also in the same vein as Goosebumps.

  8. Sally Conners

    Marina Cohen has written The Doll’s Eye and the InnBetween, both of which are spooky &/or scary. Another great new(ish) ghost story is The Swallow by Charis Cotter.

  9. Mary Clark

    Some that my middle schoolers like: anything by Dan Poblocki, especially The Nightmarys, the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud, the Rot and Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry, the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, and The Nest by Kenneth Oppel.

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