11 Best Horror Books For Teens Update 05/2022

It was hard for me as a child to understand why I would want to read scary books. The cover of a horror movie VHS tape at my local video store could make me have nightmares for a whole week. But I came of age in the era of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine (and, yes, VHS tapes, too), and I saw my peers read these books and want to do the same. Also, the covers and font were drawn. You can go at your own pace and picture the scenes yourself in scary books, unlike in films. If the stories were scary or I read a lot of them in a single night, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy having a little bit of control over what I read. I liked having that little bit of control.

Some of the classic books on this list show that horror is a genre that stays popular over time. As other book trends come and go, horror is always there for you. Teens will be scared by these 18 creepy books, some old, some new.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

It was five years ago that five Sunnybrook High School cheerleaders died. Two were killed in a car accident, two were killed by someone else, and one took his own life. Since then, the school has broken up the cheer team. It was Monica’s sister who was the last cheerleader to die, and now she just wants to forget about it. Things start to happen that make it clear that what happened five years ago isn’t over. Even though there aren’t any more cheerleaders, that doesn’t mean that everyone is safe.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

If you like the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Erin A. Craig has a twist on it that is a little scary. It used to be that Annaleigh lived with her 11 sisters in a house that was safe from the rain and the sea. Four of them have now died in a tragic accident. Annaleigh sees ghosts and thinks her sisters were killed when they went out to dance until dawn. Who or what are they dancing with? When Annaleigh meets a stranger with his own secrets and their relationship grows stronger, she’ll do everything she can to find out what’s wrong with her family before she’s the next one to die.

The Babysitters Coven by Kate M. Williams

17-year-old Esme could really use the money because she seems to get into trouble every time she goes somewhere. Cassandra wants to join Esme’s babysitters club because her mother told her to “find the babysitters.” The two girls end up having more in common than they thought when they learn about a heroic lineage of powers and magic. They realize that their true calling might be to protect innocents from evil. December is the date that the second book in the series, For Better or for Worse, comes out.

A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens

A Wicked Magic is set on the northern coast of California and tells the story of two witches, Dan and Liss. Dan and Liss accidentally unleash dark forces that capture Liss’ boyfriend and keep him underground. It doesn’t matter how bad their friendship is, Dan and Liss will have to work together if they want to save the people this dark force is taking. A powerful story about friendship, magic, and embracing the dark parts of ourselves that we all have.

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

In New York City, Lola Nox’s horror film director father is brutally killed in their apartment. She is sent to live with her grandmother in Harrow Lake, which is where her father made his most famous horror film. In the movie, the locals are still weirdly obsessed with it, but there’s also something more sinister going on. People keep disappearing and someone is following Lola around. Is she going to be able to get out of Harrow Lake before her own demons find her?

Carrie by Stephen King

Horror-master King’s first book, which came out in 1974, is great for young horror fans. Carrie is a short story that is told through fictionalized news stories, articles, and interviews. It tells the story of a telekinetic teenager who is so bullied at school that she destroys her town to get back at her cruel classmates. If you want to read a book that’s often banned in the United States, you should read this one. It’s worth it just because of how King deals with the subject matter.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a book that many people enjoy reading. After they finish it, they can read this chilling reimagining from best-selling author Kiersten White. White’s version goes back to when Victor Frankenstein was a child, and his family takes in a girl named Elizabeth Lavenza. The two become inseparable, and White says that this is where the story starts to make sense. Elizabeth has to deal with Victor’s anger and depraved whims for years, trying to keep her life in the process. This captivating retelling of the story was named an NPR Best Book of the Year.

The Haunted by Danielle Vega

Danielle Vega has been called YA’s Stephen King, and her new book, The Haunted, is an exquisitely scary story. Hendricks Becker-parents O’Malley’s move to a small town in New York. Hendricks soon learns that the town is known for being haunted. She doesn’t know for sure whether the evil in her house comes from something supernatural or is something that comes from her past. There’s a lot more where that came from, because Vega is also the author of the The Merciless books.

Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

The fact that Shelley wrote this classic when she was just 18 is a big deal. Even more impressive is that she wrote it as part of a fun competition with her husband, Lord Byron, and John Polidori, who were all her friends at the same time. After thinking about scary stories, Shelley had a dream about a scientist who makes life and then is afraid of it. The rest is history, as well as years of people telling people that the monster’s name isn’t Frankenstein, because it isn’t. No, that’s the name of the doctor.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

It’s scary when someone calls from inside your house. Perkins’s teen slasher story is a lot like Carrie and Scream, and the suspense she builds before everything comes crashing down is real. There are a lot of students at Makani Young’s high school who have died. She lives with her grandmother in a small town in Nebraska where a lot of them have. Readers who aren’t sure if they want to ride the horror train can relax a little with a romantic subplot.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This book by Carnegie Medal winner Ness was made into a movie in 2016. It was based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd, and it tells the story of Conor, a boy who has had the same nightmare since his mother got sick. But the monster that shows up at his window isn’t the one he saw in his dream. It’s not the one he saw. In this case, Conor has to do something different. Darkness, magic, and a haunting message make it a fairy tale in the truest sense of the word.

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