Middle Grade and YA Horror Books and Thrillers
Get ready for thrills and chills with this collection of middle grade and YA horror books and thrillers, just in time for Halloween!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you.
Middle Grade and YA Horror Books and Thrillers
Prepare to get scared with these wonderfully creepy middle grade and YA horror books and thrillers!
Someone has delivered a bag to Zenith’s porch. He is both repulsed and fascinated by the strange bag, but when he tries to open it, he accidentally frees a spiderlike creature who drags Zenith’s older sister inside the bag. When Zenith follows them inside in an attempt to save his sister, he discovers a strange, horror-filled world within. Can he survive the dangers that surround him in order to escape the bag in time to save himself and his sister? The Horrible Bag of Terrible Things is a unique middle grade read that is sure to thrill and terrify readers.
More Tales to Keep You Up at Night
is a satisfying collection of interconnected stories designed to keep you up way past your bedtime. Gilbert’s brother Ant leaves him a cryptic voicemail (“Don’t listen to the tapes…”) just before his mysterious accident. When Gilbert visits his unconscious brother in the hospital, he discovers a satchel full of audio cassettes. Ignoring his brother’s warning, Gilbert listens to the tapes. At first, they seem to simply contain recordings of spooky stories; yet, soon Gilbert notices connections between the stories and real life. Can the stories help him save his brother, or are they a portal to a terrible fate?
Riley and the other werewolves in the Winter Pack are used to danger. After all, they defeated the The Devouring Wolf! But now there is a new danger, a young runaway witch. Riley and her friends understand what it’s like to be misunderstood, but they also know that this witch is soon to be the new The Nameless Witch, terror of all werewolves – and even the witches are scared. This middle grade read does a wonderful job of exploring the emotional complexity the young werewolves experience as they realize that a young girl who has become their friend will soon turn into the feared Witch that could destroy them and all of the werewolves of Clawroot.
The graphic novel The Glass Scientists, Volume 1 is a fresh take on the classic story of the mad scientist, from Dr. Jekyll to Frankenstein. The tide of public opinion has turned against such out-of-the-box thinkers, but luckily a young Dr. Jekyll has the foresight to gather them all together and allow them to complete their research away from public scrutiny. But when a new arrival has different ideas, Dr. Jekyll finds his life spinning out of control, threatening to reveal his own dark secret. This collection brings together the first seven chapters of the beloved webcomic, along with a brand-new side story, a behind-the-scenes look at how the art is created, and exclusive bonus material.
Ahiahia the Orphan is a traditional tale, reold by an Inuit elder and made into a graphic YA graphic novel by a Native artist. It tells of an orphan, raised by his grandmother after his parents were killed. But his parents’ killers still live in the same camp and are merely biding their time until they can kill Ahiahia, too. But thanks to the protection given to him by his grandmother, Ahiahia is able to ward off all attacks, finally driving the would-be assassins from the camp so he can live in peace.
The Other Ones is another fresh take on traditional characters that should be part of any collection of YA horror books. This #OwnVoices book uses Inuit tales as the basis for two modern stories about young people who unexpectedly find themselves face to face with terrifying creatures they had previously encountered only in stories. With vivid imagery and suspenseful storytelling, the author skillfully brings these ancient creatures to life for a new generation.
Popular kids and nobodies, teen queens and misfits, bullies and bullied. A group of high school kids with little in common find themselves strangely bonded when they enter a haunted house on a dare. Passing through, they find themselves in a terrible alternate world, full of horrors. They return forever changed by the experience. While some feel drawn to each other by the trauma (and the mysterious new powers they possess), others just want to forget anything ever happened. But when they discover that a monster followed them back from that other realm, they will need to work together to stop it from destroying their world. The Darkness We Brought Back is a page turning YA graphic novel that is equal parts thriller and superheroes origin story.
Bittersweet in the Hollow is a potent mix of horror, mystery, and folklore. Linden and her sisters all exhibit unusual talents, such as Linden’s ability to “taste” other people’s feelings. But Linden’s mysterious disappearance one year earlier (and her inability to remember anything about that time) have left her feeling more out of place than ever among her peers in their small rural town. But when another girl goes missing – and is later found dead – Linden enlists her sisters to help her solve the mystery. Yet as she uncovers the dark truth behind the disappearances and how they are related to the Moth-Winged Man said to haunt the area, Linden begins to wonder if some secrets are best left alone.
As someone who grew up with images of the bonneted Holly Hobbie, I was curious to read Holly Horror. This new addition to the canon of YA horror books is fueled by a nightmarish version of Holly Hobbie, a girl who disappeared under mysterious circumstances decades ago. When Evie moves into the Hobbie House with her mother, she discovers Holly’s diary. This sets off a cascade of nightmares and strange happenings, until Evie is no longer sure what is real. Can she solve the mystery of Holly’s disappearance before she meets the same fate?
Your Lonely Nights Are Over is a campy thriller with a sharp sense of humor (what one reviewer called “hilariffying”) that pays tribute to classic slasher stories. Dearie and Cole are focus of a lot of catty talk at their high school, but luckily they don’t pay attention to such pettiness. But when a serial killer emerges from a long retirement and begins targeting members of the school’s Queer Club – and Dearie and Cole are among the suspects – they know the need to step up and find the real killer. Along the way, they discover their small town is home to a remarkable number of secrets, which makes it maybe more interesting? A chillingly fun read that tackles big issues of racism and bullying in a way that is both snarky and heartfelt.
Last Girls Standing is a queer YA psychological thriller about Sloan, who narrowly survives a mass murder, along with Cherry, her now girlfriend. Bonded by the horror they survived, the two become inseparable, much to the consternation of Sloan’s mother. Cherry is always there to protect Sloan, though little by little Sloan starts to wonder how much she can really believe Cherry about those key moments from that night that Sloan can never seem to remember. As Sloan uncovers more details about the murder, her understanding of her relationship with Cherry and even her own adoption years earlier begin to unravel. Can Sloan undercover the truth before she is claimed as another victim?
Roses & Violets is a wonderful YA read for fans of books about schools for students with supernatural powers. Translated from the Danish, it is the first installment of the Rosenholm Trilogy. It focuses on four roommates at the Rosenholm Academy, each of whom has a different strength, such as Earth or Blood. At first, it seems the girls have little in common, but they are quickly drawn into the mystery of a student who was murdered at the academy. Her ghost attempts to communicate with them, but can they solve the mystery before the killer strikes again? This is a fast-paced mystery, as well as a coming of age story, complete with romance and complicated friendships. I also love how this magical world draws on elements of Viking history and mythology. Contains mature themes, such as violence, demons, and sexual assault.
Grim is a gothic suspense novel about a teen whose dreams are haunted by visions of his father’s friend, who died decades earlier. Soon after the dreams begin, Kasper meets Iris, a trans girl who works with Kasper at a haunted house. They decide to investigate the mysterious death and the metal band that his father and friends had formed back in the day, but they soon uncover more than they bargained for. This powerful thriller from a renowned Swedish author will be loved by fans of 80s metal bands and anyone who loves a good mystery.
Iron Wolf is the first in a trilogy of YA horror books based on Norse mythology. From the beginning, the reader is invited into a masterfully built fantasy world of blood readers, immortal beings, wolf hunters, and the devil. When Juva’s family is threatened, she is forced to confront the memory she has tried to suppress for years – of when she met the devil. Was it the devil who killed her father? What does her mother know? Set within a richly detailed fantasy world, this compelling story is driven by its passionate yet angst-filled teenage heroine.