Just because Halloween is over, that doesn’t mean the spookiness has to stop! Here at Nightfire, we pride ourselves on keeping the chills and thrills alive all year round. And what better way to celebrate the extension of spooky season than with a list of YA titles?
Now, I know what you may be thinking: Wait, YA? As in: Young Adult? That’s not scary. Isn’t that supposed to be fluffy? And, dear reader, perhaps you are right in some cases–but not all! The YA genre has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and gone are the days of showcasing just vampires, werewolves, and the occasional zombie. Now, we have monstrous plots, unreliable narrators, and twists and turns that’ll have you dying to get to the very last page (pun intended).
So, without further ado (and in no particular order), here are five YA titles I’ve read recently that put the eep! in creepy:
The Bone Houses, Emily Lloyd-Jones
The Bone Houses is about a grave-diggin’ girl who fights skeletons that come back to life from the dead. Zombified skeletons, with a hint of possible necromancy? Sign me up!
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (Ryn) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
What I loved most about this book: there was never a dull moment! The corpses weren’t just a one-and-done situation, or few and far between. They were an infestation that didn’t disappoint. Every inch of this book was jam-packed with scary moments that kept me on my toes the entire time.
House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig
Mysterious murders, ghosts, a rumored curse, and the inability to discern what’s real and what’s an illusion: House of Salt and Sorrows is dark and twisted in all the best ways.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
What I loved most about this book: how utterly dark it was. House of Salt and Sorrows had such an unexpected darkness about it, and we couldn’t get enough of those vibes. It made our skin crawl multiple times, which made for a rather chilling reading experience. Plus, the gruesome deaths, the “whodunit?” mysterious element, and the unreliability of the main character were all aspects that were incredibly well-executed.
Five Midnights, Ann Dávila Cardinal
A YA horror novel set in Puerto Rico? A mystery-driven retelling of the el Cuco myth? I’m HERE for it.
Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.
If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping through Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?
What I loved most about this book: the setting, along with the supernatural/mythical elements that were included, were defining and strong aspects of Five Midnights. I haven’t come across many YA novels set in Puerto Rico, so it was really intriguing to read a book based on folklore from the island. Overall, this book was gritty, creepy, and the setting made it highly atmospheric.
The Tenth Girl, Sara Faring
*Hides under the covers in fear, but then remembers that we are Nightfire, and we don’t cower—we embrace the spook.*
Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.
At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.
Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.
One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.
What I loved most about this book: it’s as chilling as they can get! What made The Tenth Girl so terrifying were the vivid descriptions. It was beautifully written and painted such perfectly gruesome pictures. It’s a story that made me stretch my imagination, bent my expectations, and included twists that practically left my jaw on the floor.
The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert
A cult-classic storybook full of deliciously dark fairy tales + a supposedly-perfect supernatural world that isn’t what it seems = Nightfire’s recipe for an ideal eerie read.
Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”
Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.
What I loved most about this book: The Hazel Wood is definitely one of the creepiest YA books out there. I love how the author created a crooked world entirely of her own, and with unique (and terribly twisted) fairy tales. It felt like the fairy tale characters stepped straight out of a nightmare. Not to mention, the sequel, The Night Country, is due out in January, and I may or may not have already gotten the chance to dip into it. And in the case that I did indeed get to read it, I can confirm the next one is just as creepy (and even more murderous) than the first!
Thanks for reading! We hope you creep it real and enjoy these thoroughly spine-chilling books.