In honor of “Haunted Reads” this month at Novel Novice, we talked to a few of our favorite authors to find out what their favorite scary stories are. Here are their picks if you’re in the mood for something spooky!
Books don’t really scare me–not when I grew up with an older brother who regularly let me watch slasher flicks at 2 a.m. on HBO and haunted me with a Freddy Krueger doll. Of course, MOVIES terrify me. The worst? I wouldn’t really know because I usually shut my eyes and block my ears. But just describing Pet Sematary to my children the other night gave me nightmares. This picture shows how my sister and I watch scary movies.
– Suzanne Young, author of the Naughty List series, A Need So Beautiful, A Want So Wicked, and The Program (2013)
I think my lasting favorite scary book is Shadowland by Peter Straub. The setting is very Dead Poet’s Society private prep school, but it’s also about bullies and friendship and the line between reality and magic and horror and death. It’s a hard book to describe, but every time I pick it up I get sucked into the world, and every time I worry and wish for a different ending and it never happens.
– Bethany Griffin, author of Handcuffs, Masque of the Red Death, and Dance of the Red Death (2013)
Jo Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box was the last truly scary book I’ve read. It’s an adult novel about a has-been rocker who buys a suit on ebay that’s guaranteed to be haunted.
And it is.
– Lissa Price, author of Starters and Enders (2013)
Hands down my favorite scary read this year has been ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. Author Kendare Blake builds upon the classic newcomer-to-high-school story by creating a world in which magic hovers around everyone, whether they are aware of its power or not. Intensely creepy; curiously romantic; heart-rendingly bloody; and written with the surefire pen of a master storyteller, this is a must-read for fans of great writing in any genre.
– Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of Audition
I remember being a teenager and having Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street marathons with my little sister, and loving me some Poe and as much King as I could take when it came to reading. But when I think back on what words stick with me and still run through my blood stream, it comes down to Ray Bradbury and a story called “The Emissary.” The building tension, the magic grounded in every day details, the look at wildness unleashed–still gives me a flock of goosebumps. That Bradbury delivers. The protagonist is Martin, an isolated sick boy whose best friend is Dog (who is a dog). Their closeness feels instantly supernatural–Dog is Martin’s connection to the outside world, and Dog communicates volumes with scents–the fall details in this story are luscious and luminous. Dog also brings friends to Martin, like Ms. Haight, Martin’s beloved teacher. Dog seems to be Martin’s wild side, the one we all have, the one that is often disapproved of but essential, the part of us that will go digging in the earth, maybe where we shouldn’t but must, digging to understand death–which is what happens unexpectedly to Ms. Haight–and to bring death close to life, and possibly right through the front door.
– Jen Violi, author of Putting Makeup on Dead People
I’ve read a couple really scary books lately, but neither of them is YA. The first is an unpublished manuscript by my friend and writing partner Israel Parker. It’s more sci-fi/dystopian, but there are definitely elements of horror. (Hello, people putting other people in slow-cookers.) It’s called Green Valley, so be on the look-out for it.
The other book is actually a collection of short pieces called The Stories: Fear in Words by Jason Darrick. (Warning: It is NOT appropriate for younger readers.) The last story, “Mr. Vore”, is an extremely chilling, visceral tale of medical horror. At one point, I almost had to put it down, but I pushed through and was rewarded with a deliciously creepy, skin-crawling ending with an unforgettable character.
– Stephanie Lawton, author of Want
For the comments: Share your recommendations below!