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?