Last year, I posted my most-recommended YA Halloween reads. I wasn’t planning on posting more this year, but then I checked my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf, and there are so many fantastic, spooky new books that I couldn’t help but share.
So, without further ado, my favourite YA horrors and paranormals from the last year…
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
If James Dawson is Queen of Teen, he also has to be king of YA horror. Say Her Name is based on the legend of Bloody Mary, and is suitably scary (as you might guess from the cover) but not so scary that you’ll have nightmares (probably). It’s like the perfect teen horror movie in book form — boarding school setting, lots of creepy goings-on, a ticking clock, and a smidge of romance.
Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.
Read my review here.
‘The gates to Frost Hollow Hall loomed before us. They were great tall things, the ironwork all twisted leaves and queer-looking flowers. And they were very definitely shut.’
Tilly’s heart sinks. Will’s at the door of their cottage, daring her to come ice-skating up at Frost Hollow Hall. No one goes near the place these days. Rumour has it that the house is haunted . . . Ten years ago the young heir, Kit Barrington, drowned there in the lake. But Tilly never turns down a dare.
Emma Carroll’s debut is a historical novel that reads like an instant classic. Set in Victorian times, it follows the plucky Tilly as she encounters the ghost of local boy Kit. Tilly’s investigations into the mystery surrounding his ghost take her to Frost Hollow Hall, where she encounters even more strange goings-on. Pleasurably chilly, if not that scary.
Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
This series really surprised me. The first book, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, reads like an entertaining but conventional paranormal romance, complete with asylums, amnesia, and a hot boy with a mysterious connection to the main character. Book two, however, turns everything on its head, which I loved. The final book is out in November, and I’m curious to find out how everything wraps up.
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.
A fun series about a Louisiana girl who moves to London, only to be caught up in a series of murders emulating Jack the Ripper. The story takes a ghostly turn which is really quite original. Loved the first two books, and am keen to read the third when it comes out next year.
In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?
Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
A highly original, very clever book. In the Shadow of Blackbirds is set in 1918, a time when death constantly threatened from the Spanish flu and the First World War. Cat Winters takes advantage of the fears and superstitions of the time, weaving in seances, spirit photography and a touch of romance to create a truly mesmerising, unflinching story.
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.
Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?
Read my review here. Possibly my favourite book of the year so far. I’m kind of disgusted with myself that I haven’t read book two yet, and am determined to get to it soon.
What happens if you’ve done something terrible? But you can’t remember what. And you don’t know how to put it right… When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. What happened in the water? He can’t remember And when he glimpses a beautiful girl he thinks he recognizes, she runs away. Suddenly he knows he must find her – because together they must face the truth before it drowns them.
Rachel Ward has to be one of my favourite UKYA authors. The Drowning is a creepy story about a boy who’s haunted by the vengeful, murderous ghost of his brother. Claustrophobic, with a very dramatic ending.
What will you be reading this Halloween? I’d love to know!