It’s October, and Halloween is just a few weeks away. To celebrate, we thought we’d share our top 31 picks for spooky YA (& middle grade) reads. So grab your favorite “fun size” candy bars — or a bowl of candy corn — and curl up with one of these Halloween-ready reads.
The Fall by Bethany Griffin
A re-imagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It’s uber-creepy.
Dark Eden by Patrick Carman
“Fear is the cure” is the spooky tagline for this book, about a group of teens sent to an institution where each must face their own crippling phobias. But there’s definitely something more sinister at work.
In the Shadows by Kiersten White & Jim DiBartolo
A magical mystery unfolds in two parts — half through the prose written by White, and the other half through DiBartolo’s hauntingly beautiful illustrations. It’s spooky and creepy and a delightful read.
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
A summer program held at a former insane asylum? Yeah, that’s got aaaaall the ingredients of a creep-tastic story.
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler
Ghosts, murder, and romance abound in this historical paranormal thriller set in Cambridge.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Mixing fiction with (super creepy) photography, any story that takes place at an abandoned orphanage is sure to be spooky.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Ghost killer meets killer ghost. Complicated relationship ensues.
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The secret diary of the assistant to a man who studies monsters. Very much in the vein of Frankenstein, this is the first in a series of spooky stories.
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Shepherd’s creepy Gothic story is inspired by the classic story, The Island of Dr. Moreau. The book has two sequels (one forthcoming), based on Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, respectively. You can’t find much creepier source material than that!
The Forest of Hands & Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Fast-moving zombies, man. I repeat: FAST. Zombies.
Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Post-apocalyptic saga plus zombies plus crazed humans. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand — and we all know how good King is at horror, so that should give you an inkling of what to expect from this book, the first in a trilogy.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
Oppel’s imagined prequel to Frankenstein is easily more creepy than Mary Shelley’s original story. The second book, Such Wicked Intent, is even creepier.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Sinister forces are at work in this story about a dangerous boy, with sometimes deadly impulses.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
It’s about a boy who grows up in a graveyard (after his family is murdered), andis raised by its supernatural inhabitants.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
A modern approach to the grisly Jack the Ripper killings, mixed in with teens and supernatural abilities.
Jackaby by William Ritter
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in this fantastic debut, about a detective with the uncanny ability to see the supernatural. There’s also a grisly murderer on the loose, and plenty of Gothic Victorian atmosphere.
Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
A team of teen ghost-hunters team up to try and save the world. This book (and its sequel) very much have a flair similar to the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural.
A Midsummer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine
Did you see where it says this book is written by R.L. Stine? That’s all you need to know. (But if you need more, there’s a haunted Hollywood set, too. But dude, seriously. R.L. STINE!)
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
A mysterious killing spree in a small Kansas town — with a sinister force brewing for even more violence and gore.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
Teen horror story at its finest. A party weekend at an isolated island home turns deadly … and of course, there’s no way off the island.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Incredibly creepy stories told in graphic novel form will surely leave a haunting impression.
The Turning by Francine Prose
Here’s another classic retold for teen readers, this time the source material is Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.
The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin
A world of labyrinths, monsters and pirates enfolds after a boy accidentally transports himself into a Renaissance painting. The third book in this series came out earlier this year.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Proving once again that bone china dolls can be creepy as hell, Black writes a kid-friendly but still totally spooky story that’s also about growing up as much as it is about a haunted toy.
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Edgar Allan Poe serves as the inspiration for this story about the unlikely relationship between cheerleader Isobel and her brooding, Poe-loving classmate Varen.
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
Zombies, man. You’ll never look at ’em the same way again after Beaudoin’s irreverent and weirdly hilarious (but still very gory) story.
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray
This excellent story about witches set in a small New England town is packed with Halloween-perfect atmosphere. It helps that Gray is one of the best when it comes to writing about the paranormal.
Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
The first of a two-part retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death,” set in an imaginary world where a deadly plague has left society in shambles.
Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Taking place in a world where vampires (and the humans who admire them) thrive in so-called Coldtowns, Black’s story is spooky and seductive.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
A chilling story of one girl who must rescue her real parents, and escape the enchantment of her deceptively sinister “Other” parents.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
A dark and twisted story about the “Replacement,” who was left in the crib of a human baby and has grown up in a world where his differences have left him an outsider.
For the comments: What other spooky YA or MG books would you add to this list?
I adore this list! I’m a real scaredy-cat but I’ve been wanting to try my hand at scary books a little more. I want to try Ten, Doll Bones and Miss Peregrine.
I LOVE this list! For all of those that I’ve read I definitely agree they are creeeepy and perfect for Halloween reading. I really want to read The Monstrumologist and I HAVE to catch up on The Madman’s Daughter series. 🙂
Very good list! I’m sharing it 🙂
So many fabulous books on this list! I’ve read many of these titles and LOVED them. In fact, I think it’s time to read The Replacement again. Adding the rest to my TBR wish list. 🙂
Dead girls of hysteria hall !!!
I would add I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, and Peeps by Scott Westerfeld to this list, but it is a very good list!