When I first read Daniel Kraus’s Rotters, with its vivid descriptions of modern grave robbery, I couldn’t help but think that these characters would understand my life uniquely. My mom is an Episcopal priest and my dad works part time at a funeral home, so death and burial is not a forbidden topic at their house. In fact, you could title some of our standard dinner conversations “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Morgue.” For sheer spookiness and gore and a dark sense of humor, Rotters is the Halloween read I return to over and over.
I’m not a big one for scary reads but having read and loved Stroud’s previous series, I immediately gave this one a chance without even really knowing it was going to be creepy. But I loved it despite the fact there are ghosts out there trying to kill people and that adults can’t see or feel them until it’s too late! There are now four books in the series and the creep factor continues to ratchet with each book.
When I try to describe the Girl With All The Gifts, I tend to classify it as Mathilda…with zombies. This title is often shelved as a general adult horror book, but for my teens who loved zombies, I found that it fit perfectly. Take Matilda, and The Walking Dead, and The Last of Us, and just a smidgen of Jurassic Park. Slosh all of those plots around in your head, and then blanket them with a fresh dose of “Whoa. What just happened?” That is The Girl With All the Gifts. (BONUS: Just learned it’s gonna be a movie AND the trailer is already out)
As a teen, I somehow came across an old copy of Nightmares and Dreamscapes and fell in LOVE. It led to a lifelong passion for Stephen King as a writer. A collection of short stories with just enough jump scare, N&D is the perfect thing to put in the hands of your teen aspiring horror writers, or horror lovers.
The thing I love most about I Hunt Killers is that it kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s written with an air of sophistication that does not belittle its audience. It was creepy and awesome, and scary, and haunting, and wonderful.
Survive the Night by Danielle Vega is a wild pastiche of all those teen slasher horror films about making bad decisions, and it totally WORKS. I mean, secret New York City subway stations, monsters in the tunnels, hallucinations? Yes please! I grew up in the era of the 90s slasher films (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer), and this is a winky nod to those films while still completely and utterly scaring your pants off. Also, the cover is just perfectly trippy.
The Devouring by Simon Holt
This has it all. Creepy child, check. Clowns, check. Incanations, check. Nightmares, check. Creatures that take over your body and mind, check. It’s a super fast read that will keep you up at night. And as an added bonus, it’s a trilogy!