Spooky Books for Fall: Young Adult/YA

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. YA books are not usually my jam. Sometimes they’re just a little too adult for me, when they’re meant for kids. And a lot of times I just can’t get into the story. But, every year I bite the bullet so that I can do these book round ups- and I’m not gonna lie… I’m starting to like them a little more. And this year, I think I’ve come up with some good ones. For pretty much any type of YA reader- whether you want really creepy, suspense, or mystery!

Unreliable Narrator

Little Creeping Things was my most recent, and final read for this round-up. Like, I just finished it this morning. Haha! As far as a creepy, mystery type YA book- I enjoyed this one. The main character is very flawed and at sometimes unreliable, which makes the story that much more enjoyable. This book is about guilt, and friendship, and protecting yourself. About not being able to trust your own memories and being afraid of who you might really be, inside.

The struggle, along with the mystery of a missing girl, and typical teenage angst made it feel a little more believable than a lot of these types of books. I also always enjoy when the teens trying to solve a mystery, muck it up a little bit. That seems more rooted in reality- because Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys aren’t real life. This one was just scary and mysterious- but not too much that I wouldn’t want my teen reading it. And that’s hard to find these days!

Dark and Creepy

House of Hollow was really unexpected for YA! I thought this book was a really well written, disturbing and creepy read. There were several parts that just had my skin absolutely crawling. It creates a world that doesn’t exist in reality that you can envision- and it’s not a place I want to ever be. There are parts of this book that I didn’t love, and it was hard to find any of the characters very likeable. But, the whole twisted, Brother’s Grimm type feel kept bringing me back to it.

I wouldn’t say the mystery of it is hard to figure out- but the way that it gets there is a creepy ride. I listened to it on audio- and it was a good one to listen to, the whispering voices of some of the characters were made even more eerie, being able to hear it. This one reminded me a lot of The Twisted Ones (which I shared last year) as far as creating a weird alternate type-universe. So, if you enjoyed that, you would most likely enjoy this one as well.

Haunted

You know I’m a sucker for a ‘haunted house’ type story- which is why I picked up Don’t Tell a Soul. If you’re in the market for a Rebecca-esque gothic thriller for the YA generation, this one’s perfect for you!

Everyone has a past, and Bram is trying to escape hers by staying with her uncle in a really old, gothic style mansion with a long history of girls dying/losing their minds. She’s also there to prove that that everything might not be what it seems- especially since the last victim of the mansion was her cousin.

This book is very atmospheric and creepy with a small town that hates outsiders, things that go bump in the night, deep family secrets, and a group of girls who won’t give up trying to figure it all out. It’s YA, so of course there’s some love interests and typical teenage angst- but you’ve also got a decent ‘haunted house’ story to keep you hooked. This book also felt a little more appropriate for the age range that it’s intended- which I always appreciate!

Campus Mystery

If you’re on the market for more of a mystery with no super natural undertones- The Ivies might be for you. As an older reader, I don’t love seeing the things that are in younger people’s books- underage sex/drugs/drinking, etc. As a Mom it terrifies me! But, I get it, and it probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much as an actual teen… But, just to say- I’m trying to read these a little more objectively so that I can recommend them better. This one would definitely be for much older teens in my opinion, but was an enjoyable mystery.

Having gone to a public high school, I couldn’t really connect with the cut throat world of Ivy League college acceptances- but I do remember Junior year and the crazy college scramble that happens. The Ivies does a good job of making you feel that pressure- from the school, parents, and that the actual students put on themselves. You see a group of friends who are willing to do ANYTHING to get into the schools that they want. And you see a lot of back stabbing and a dark look into the underbelly of college admissions.

What if you’ve wanted to go to Harvard your whole life? And you don’t get in- but your friends who are supposed to be applying elsewhere do? What if you’ve gotten into your dream school, but are scared to tell your friends, because you’ve seen what they’re willing to do to get into theirs? What if one of your friends ends up murdered and you know that the killer lives on the campus with you, and what if you suspect it might be someone closest to you?

These are the kind of questions that The Ivies answers. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to see how this one ends up! A campus setting always makes for a good read. I always like to see the world that the author creates, and this one was pretty good.

Twisted Fairy Tale

Last year after reading House of Salt and Sorrows (that I shared in my 2020 YA Round Up) Erin A. Craig rocketed to the top of my favorite author’s list! And this year she has done it again with Small Favors. I was worried it might not live up to my love for her previous work. But, she totally knocked it out of the park! I don’t know, I may even like this one more, if that’s even possible!

I do have to point out the similarities to the film, The Village. But, that’s totally a compliment. The characters, the monsters, the setting, were all spectacularly written. Her take on fairy tales, and making them eerie and ominous- perfection. I couldn’t put this book down. Read it in under 2 days and kinda wish I would have savored it a little slower, because I really enjoyed the ride. If you want creepy fantasy, safe for an older teen to read- this one is a must read in my opinion. (I will say this book is very violent and bloody, if that’s not your thing.)

Family Secrets

Another one of my favorite YA mystery/suspense authors is Karen M. McManus. If you liked One of Us is Lying– you also need to check out The Cousins and Two Can Keep a Secret. Both books are suspenseful, but not too scary. They both have well rounded casts of characters and mysteries that are not super easy to figure out. {Again, they’re YA so there are always love interests and typical angsty teen issues- but they’re not too adult or overly inappropriate.} I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.

I hope this round-up helps you or your teen find some good reads for this Halloween season. If you’ve read any good horror/mystery/suspense, leave me a recommendation in the comments!

You may also like: Spooky Books for Fall: If You Love B Horror and Slasher Films.

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