Spooky YA books to read this Halloween
Want the perfect Halloween TBR? Look no further than these 10 YA books.
October has officially arrived and with Halloween just around the corner, there’s never been a better excuse to gorge yourself on candy, hide in a blanket fort and scare yourself silly with a new read. Whether it’s a chilling horror your after, a pinch of magic, or something in-between, these YA books offer the perfect Halloween reading experience.
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation, the problem is, she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. Unfortunately, it backfires. Big time. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.
Following a bisexual Latina main character, a predominantly POC cast and featuring an f/f relationship, Labyrinth Lost is brimming with diversity, magic and dark twists.
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Balancing adorable romance with gruesome murders, There’s Someone Inside Your House is the YA slasher horror novel of your Halloween reading dreams.
With new friends and a potential romance on the horizon, Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind when she moved from Hawaii to Nebraska to live with her Grandma.
Then, one by one, students from her high school start to die in a series of grotesque murders, each with increasingly grisly theatrics. The terror begins to get closer and as Makani’s new, safe life is threatened, she’s forced question the new faces she’s welcomed into her life and confront her own dark secrets.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
If you’re looking for a lighthearted yet creepy read, look no further than Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang. It’s got witches, the undead, unsolved murders and is brilliantly intersectional in its feminism.
Mila Flores and her best friend, Riley, have always been inseparable. That is, they were until Riley was found dead. Refusing to believe the theory that Riley was involved in a suicide pact alongside two other high school mean girls who were also found dead under suspicious circumstances, Mila takes matters into her own hands. Being a Wiccan teen has its ups and downs but bringing your peers back to life to help you solve their murder? Major bonus. At least, it would have been, had they been able to remember their murders. With seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their grave, Mila and her undead girl gang race to settle scores and catch a murder before they can strike again.
Say Her Name by Juno Dawson
With curses, mysterious disappearances and a creepy boarding school setting, Say Her Name brings the terrifying urban legend of Bloody Mary to life.
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe isn’t surprised when nothing happens after a Halloween dare leads her to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’, alongside her best friend, Naya and cute local boy, Caine.
The next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror ‘five days’. She has no idea what it means or who left it there but after things get more and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, it becomes increasingly clear that Bloody Mary was summoned that night after all.
With the countdown well and truly on, it’s a race against time before Bobbie, Naya and Caine’s five days are up.
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholk
Collecting stories from a number of incredible YA authors, including Leigh Bardugo, Kendare Blake, Marie Lu, Jay Kristoff, Nova Ren Suma and Megan Shepard, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys is a Halloween must read.
Whether it be a renowned horror movie or a well-loved book, each short story in this anthology is inspired by a classic tale. The fun part is, you only know what inspired the story after reading. From the mildly scary to the downright ‘keep you up at night’ terrifying, no matter what you’re looking for, there’s story in this collection for everyone.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls, delivers the perfect keep you up at night, addictively creepy Halloween read.
The only similarity shared between Marion, Zoey and Val, is that they live on Sawkill Rock, an island where girls have been disappearing for decades. Having moved to Sawkill Rock, to work in Val’s home after the death of her father, Marion’s the newest Sawkill girl. Zoey and Val do not get on, at all, but when they meet Marion, they find themselves thrust together, looking into their islands dark past. No one has dared to fight the evil ravaging Sawkill Rock but this unlikely trio are about to change that.
The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.
One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.
She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.
Whilst The Hollow Girl is undeniably disturbing and terrifying, it also tackles hard-hitting topics such as rape and sexual assault. It’s not an easy read in any sense but it’s a fantastic one.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
This east Asian inspired retelling of Snow White and The Evil Queen might not immediately seem like an obvious choice for a Halloween read but its dark twists and turns, black magic and sorcerous (whose magic is fuelled by eating the hearts of the recently killed), beg to differ. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns follows the story of how the Evil Queen came to be. It’s dark, twisted, disturbing and utterly addictive.
Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?
Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
If being trapped in high school during the zombie apocalypse sounds like your worst nightmare, with its high stakes, mental illness representation and gory deaths, This is Not a Test is a book you need to read asap.
It’s safe to assume high school isn’t always a sanctuary but for Solane Price and six of her fellow students, it’s become a shelter. Or a prison, considering the dead are currently pounding at the doors.
One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. If there were ever a moment to give up, the apocalypse seems like the perfect time. As Sloane eagerly waits the seemingly inevitable fall of the barricades, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. However, as days pass by, motivations for survival being to change and the groups’ fate lies less in what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.
Toil & Trouble edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood
Nothing screams Halloween louder than witches and considering Toil & Trouble follows 15 tales of women and witches, there’s no better time to dive into this anthology.
From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, Toil & Trouble features contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era. It’s an anthology written by 15 YA authors, including Brandy Colbert, Tess Sharpe, Emery Lord, Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore.