Ok there’s no shortage of horror books out there but these are just a few from MG to YA I have enjoyed and are deliciously creepy or in a few cases scare your knickers off terrifying.
For someone who wants to think along with their horror
The Maker of Monsters- Lorraine Gregory
Although a tad more gentle on horror than many of the books on this list, Wrath is a truly scary villain and army of blood thirsty reanimated hybrid monsters chasing down humans to destroy is pretty dark!! But it also has a wonderful warmth from the family Brat has created with the monsters rejected for being too sweet and a bundle of joy and love in Tingle.
It’s also is a wonderful tribute to the ethics and philosophy behind some of the greatest sci-fi horror stories ever, including Frankenstein and The Island of Doctor Moreau questioning what it means to be human.
For those who like relatable sleuthing heroines kicking murderous ghoulish butt
The Ghouls of Howlfair– Nick Tomlinson
Someone is using ghouls to intimidate the residents of Howlfair, and now they are beginning to scare people to death and Molly is having none of it!
This is such a fabulously spooky book with flavours of cult tv (Buffy meets Veronica Mars with a little Winchester Brothers sass) but retaining a uniquely fresh world and a strong heroine to get behind who is brave, bold and logical, yet still has a vulnerability and a belief in the supernatural.
For those who like a dash of faerie tale with their thriller
The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods- Samuel J Halpin
This book is one of my favourites, I love the interplay between Poppy and Erasmus and the faerie-folkish nightmare of the Peggs.
Poppy’s grandmother as the herald of folkish survival wisdom ‘Hide the Sugar, bring the washing in before 6pm, never dust your windowsills’ sounds a bit potty but turns out there’s method in the madness as everything unravels about strange disappearances, accidents and changings in the history of the town and the strange differences that only occur there and only when the investigation gets too deep so the children uncover the true scale of the horror.
Yet alongside the creepiness the friendship and struggles of grieving Poppy and Erasmus with his differences infused the tale with a warmth and hope.
For those who are not afraid of the dark
The Night’s Realm– Nick Ward
This is an illustrated middle grade horror that doesn’t disappoint on the nightmarish creations. The book explores the tale of a boy snatched into a world of eternal night for his fear to fuel a wicked magician’s power and his fight to not only get home but help all the other children do so too.
With shadow monsters, hellish wolf like creatures, nightmarish creepers and evil witches and wizards all keeping the children in this trap it’s not for the faint of heart. However it has a nostalgic tone to the tale making it feel like a tale passed down through the ages and coupled with our protagonist’s determination to save everyone thus has hope and magic.
For those who like atmospheric tales of the seaside and the unknown monsters that lurk
Malamander – Thomas Taylor
Eerie-on-sea is a fantastically creative place with strangely yet appropriately named people and a lot of secrets.
Herbert Lemon washed up as a child in a crate of lemons and is now in charge of the Lost And Foundery at the Grand Nautilus Hotel. His life is turned upside down when a girl fumbles through his window and asks him to help her uncover what happened to her parents and it has something to do with a monster that haunts the shore.
A richly dark and atmospheric tale with a quintessential British eccentricity that twists together the building horror in an abandoned place feel of The Lost Boys (1987) with a good old fashioned sea monster tale.
For tales of a terrifying monster that eats dreams and snatches children
The Switching Hour– Damaris Young (Scholastic)
This is a truly brilliant, atmospheric and terrifying tale of a drought awakening an ancient evil that feeds on children’s dreams and its hunger leads it to snatch children and curse those left behind to forget the person but never the pain & despair of the loss.
That’s absolutely petrifying, but then we throw in our protagonist who when left alone to care for her toddler brother accidentally leaves the door unlocked and sets out on a quest to get him back no matter the cost. In a Labyrinth meets The Village with a monster worthy of The Upside Down this tale doesn’t disappoint on peril and horror, but it does deliver heart and grit as an utterly ordinary girl finds the strength to chase down the demon and demand her brother back.
For a colourful yet scary twist on a contemporary quest
The True Colours of Coral Glen – Juliette Forrest (Scholastic)
This is a creepy book, fantastically so and not for the faint of heart. Set in contemporary Scotland, our heroine Coral made a mistake just before her grandmother died and would do anything to correct it, this coupled with the fact her obsession with colour is connected to her ability to see between the realms means she ends up forced to hunt down horrifying relics to release the ghost of a child murderer so he can resume his curse upon the children of Scotland.
With terrifying witches, cannibals and child murdering ghosts this is not for sensitive souls BUT there is a lot of hope and courage in this coming of age tale.
For a classic ghost story with a modern twist
Seaglass– Eloise Williams
This is a beautiful yet deeply atmospheric ghost tale full of anger, anxiety and apparitions that allows the readers imagination to run away with that of our protagonist Lark.
The imaginings are as bad as the reality as the creeping horror begins to mess with the reader’s mind. Whilst the content isn’t as scary as some others on the page it’s what Eloise does with that material in the character and our minds that makes this so unsettling and scary.
It’s storycraft like this that showcases exactly why Eloise Williams deserves to be the Childrens Laureate of Wales until 2021
For chilling horror that flutters between supernatural and psychological with an earthy twist
Fir- Sharon Gosling (Red Eye/Stripes)
Oh my goodness this is one of those books where the claustrophobia and the the fear is so palpable and insidious that your goosepimples get goosepimples!
A tale of an unnamed narrator whose family suddenly relocates to a logging plantation in the remote north of Sweden where no one seems to hack it for very long, and people are known to go missing in the woods. However, it seems there is something not just IN the woods but the woods themselves hold an ancient power, and they are waiting for that which they are owed plus that housekeeper is creepy!
Gosh this is a thriller and had me frantic at the end!! It’s both an eco-thriller with its topics of conservation of ancient woodlands and hints of supernatural horror at the same time, without spoilers it’s one that will leave you constantly guessing as to whether no internet and no phone make narrator go crazy or there’s something far far worse in the snow.
For scare your knickers off creepiness that will have you looking around at noises and leaving the lights on
Rules for Vanishing– Kate Alice Marshall (Walker)
Ok this one scared me. I stupidly read it at night but it’s scary.
It starts all ‘high school’ urban legend and you think piffle until the terror begins and you realise how you’ve been tricked, soon you are flicking back pages in horror of how did you miss this or gasping at the next thing the teens have to deal with and who isn’t going to make it this time?
Weaving together found footage transcripts, interviews and narrated testimony this is a book where you are so unsettled you cannot trust a thing. Fantastic!
For those who like messed up dark Sidhe in their dystopia
The Call- Peadar Ó Guilín (David Fickling Press)
I first found out about this book when someone on Twitter was saying they don’t want to read books about fairies unless they are dark scary ones like in Peadar Ó Guilín’s The Call. Well that was enough to have me googling, and within a few lines of the synopsis it was ordered and sat on my shelf until stupid me decided to read it at 11pm at night!!
Whilst it’s not jump out of your skin atmospheric terror like Rules For Vanishing it has a supernatural and visceral horror of violence, mutilation and unpredictability. I also adore that it features a disabled female protagonist who has to use strength and her wits to overcome her limitations as she is determined against the odds and all judgment and pity she will survive. Although yes there is prejudice and stupidity about her condition, overall Nessa breaks down barriers (with readers at least) about disabilities especially with regards to physical strength, attraction and romance.