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13 Spine Tingling YA Books to Read NOW - part 1

Halloween is the time to test your fear factor and reach for the scary stuff. Surprisingly young adult has a lot to offer. From witches, ghosts, and demons, to serial killers and creepy homes it offers just as much as it's adult counterparts. Today I am sharing part 1 of my spine tingling YA recommendations. Are you scared yet?


Asylum by Madeleine Roux


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.


As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.


Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.


Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”


Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.


True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 


The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.


New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.


So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.


Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.


Yet she spares Cas's life.


House of Furies by Madeleine Roux


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house. But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house’s mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more than lodging for his guests. Far from a place of rest, the house is a place of judgment, and Mr. Morningside and his unusual staff are meant to execute their own justice on those who are past being saved.


Louisa begins to fear for a young man named Lee who is not like the other guests. He is charismatic and kind, and Louisa knows that it may be up to her to save him from an untimely judgment. But in this house of distortions and lies, how can Louisa be sure whom to trust?


Horrid by Katrina Leno


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.


Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.


As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....


Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?


The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next....

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.







Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.


So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.


Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.


Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.












Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.


“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”


These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.


Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.


As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.


The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London — working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.


Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward — both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.


Inspired by H. G. Wells’ classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.


Slasher Girls & Monster Boys


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror


A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.


Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.


Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through tales by these talented authors:


Stefan Bachmann

Leigh Bardugo

Kendare Blake

A. G. Howard

Jay Kristoff

Marie Lu

Jonathan Maberry

Danielle Paige

Carrie Ryan

Megan Shepherd

Nova Ren Suma

McCormick Templeman

April Genevieve Tucholke

Cat Winters


Dollhouse by Anya Allyn


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: A spine-tingling Gothic Thriller


An abandoned mansion, deep in the woods. A dollhouse, filled with life-sized toys. A doorway into other realms. And girls who keep disappearing...


When Cassie’s best friend, Aisha, vanishes during a school hike, Cassie sets off with Aisha's boyfriend and their friend Lacey, determined to find her. Instead, the three teens fall into a carefully-laid trap—deep into the surreal nightmare and dark secrets of the Dollhouse.


Now, Cassie must uncover the mysteries of the Dollhouse and her own connection to it-- before it's too late.


With the horror and otherworldliness of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and the gothic romance of A Great and Terrible Beauty, Dollhouse is a tantalizing start to The Dark Carousel series.


The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.


At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.


Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.


One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi's existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.