Genre Spotlight: Horror for Teens

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Fall is an excellent time to get into some spooky, haunty, ghoulish titles, and there are a variety of new books to tantalize teens. Horror isn’t so much a genre with a specific set of rules, but a mood that comes into a variety of other genres whether it is fantasy, paranormal, mystery, historical, or realistic and can contain elements of slasher, body horror, gothic, dark fantasy, or folk horror just to name a few. There are a variety of short story collections and novels for teens, and some adult crossovers to suggest that will be sure to give teens thrills and chills in whatever their genre inclinations are.

Short Stories

Man Made Monsters by Andrea L. Rogers, illustrations by Jeff Edwards

A collection of short stories following one extended Cherokee family over 200 years from 1839 to 2039. Vampires, zombies, ghosts, and werewolves are interspersed with Deer Woman and sea creatures and others coming from long-told Cherokee stories, but some of the real monsters are what stem from colonialism and dispossession. 

Our Shadows Have Claws: 15 Latin American Monster Stories edited by Yamile Saied Méndez and Amparo Ortiz; Illustrated by Ricardo López Ortiz; and stories by Chantel Acevedo, Courtney Alameda, David Bowles, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Mia Garcia, Gabriela Martins, Racquel Marie, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Maika Moulite, Maritza Moulite, Claribel A. Ortega, Lilliam Rivera, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Alexandra Villasante, and Ari Tison

Fifteen short stories featuring monsters of Latine myths and legends, from star-crossed lovers of monster hunter and shape shifter to zombies, cannibals, vampires, brujas and more from the Latine diaspora. 

The Gathering Dark: An Anthology of Folk Horror edited by Tori Bovalino and stories by Alex Brown, Olivia Chadha, Chloe Gong, Courtney Gould, Shakira Moise, Aden Polydoros, Allison Saft, Erica Waters, and Hannah F. Whitten

Ten short stories steeped in folk horror, often in rural settings with haunted houses, cursed towns, and urban legends full of surprise twists. 


The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

Told as a true crime podcast about what happened on the night a small Georgia town tried to hold it’s first ever interracial prom, where most of the town goes up in flames. A retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie, this weaves in the themes of isolation, otherness, bullying to the issues of systemic racism. 

The Getaway by Lamar Giles 

Food scarcity due to climate change has society quickly losing its humanity. Some lucky families, like Jay and his family, find work at Karloff Country, a world class resort and theme park where they get to eat plenty of food and have steady work. There would be no reason to leave until one of his best friends disappears, and everyone is in lockdown with the “Trustees,” who are so privileged they become sociopathic, torturing and tormenting the staff of Karloff with no repercussions. Get Out meets Big Brother in this rollercoaster of fear and survival.

Direwood by Catherine Yu 

A Gothic horror set in the late 1990s, Aja’s older sister Fiona goes missing. Soon more teenagers start to disappear. Chinese-American Aja, sees signs, but everyone in their predominantly white neighborhood blows her off. Soon she meets a vampire named Padraic, who may be responsible for all the strange occurrences, and who wants Aja to come with him. In hopes of finding her sister, she strikes a deal – she will go with him, but he must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Filled with atmospheric creepiness and gore.

Dead Flip by Sara Farizan

Jumanji meets Strangers Things in this fast-paced horror. In 1987 Maz and Cori’s friend Sam disappeared on Halloween, and they believe it has something to do with the pinball game they love to play. Maz and Cori haven’t really spoken since, but now, five years later, they reunite only to find that Sam has returned, but is still twelve-years-old. Now people and animals turn up petrified throughout the community, and they realize something more sinister is going on.

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala 

After the horrific death of their twin sister, Gender-fluid Mars, takes her place at an idyllic summer camp where Mars is welcomed into his sisters elite circle of friends known as the Honeys. Mars is seeking answers to what might have led to their sister’s deterioration, and as they get close to answers, people start to disappear. 

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne

After failing out of college,  Laurel Early returns to her small farming town of Dry Valley, Kentucky. Laurel seems to have inherited some of her late mother’s magical abilities to where she can see how something died by handling its bones. Soon animals are found brutally killed but uneaten, and in their wake she must face a giant monster made of bone to protect those she cares about.

Adult Crossover

The Ballad of Perilous Graves by Alex Jennings

In Nola, a fantastical version of New Orleans, music is magic. Nine songs of power have escaped from a magical piano and without them, Nola will fail. Perilous, “Perry” Graves and his sister, Brendy, two young mages, are tasked with saving the city and fight the Haint of All Haints and capture the nine songs. Filled with vibrant world-building and homages to children’s classics like Pippy Longstockings, Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, and more. 

The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson 

A gothic horror where Nellie Gardner, looking to escape an abusive marriage, leaves with her tween son, Max, and heads to Empire, Georgia, to claim an inheritance from the grandfather she barely knew. The “estate”she thought she was going to find is actually a decrepit farmhouse on a thousand acres of forest where something sinister lurks beneath the soil full of long-kept secrets, guilt, remorse, and madness.

The Ghost that Ate Us: The Tragic True Story of the Burger City Poltergeist by Daniel Kraus

A “true” crime chronicle of an event where six people were killed at a Burger City franchise near Jonny, Iowa on June 1, 2017 after nine months of alleged paranormal activity  known as “the Burger City Poltergeist.” Author, Daniel Kraus, weaves togethr the events through a series of interviews, visiting the charred remains of the crime scene, and meeting with the alleged murderer. 

Thistlefoot by Genna Rose Nethercott 

The estranged Yaga siblings are reunited after finding out that the two of them have inherited a strange, sentient house on chicken legs named Thistlefoot. To Bellatine, a young woodworker, she sees the opportunity to finally have a home, and to Isaac, a con artist and street performer, sees a way to make some money by turning it into a traveling theater. Soon the two discover that something else more sinister is following the house, a figure only known as the Longshadow Man, and it’s also following them, and leaving destruction in its wake. 

The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne 

A dark retelling of the fairytale of Rapunzel, but from the perspective of the witch that put her in the tower. Reading like historical fiction, and set in Germany in the twelfth century, Haelewise has never quite fit in, with black eyes and fainting spells, so when her protector mother dies, she seeks help by finding a wise woman named Gothel  in the forest that gives her shelter. There she also meets a girl named Rika, who brings secrets of a dark world of ancient spells. 

Fairy Tale by Stephen King 

After his mother’s death, teen Charlie befriends a recluse that leaves him everything, including a garden shed that apparently is a portal to another world. In this other world there is a battle of good and evil, and an evil that wants to break free into Charlie’s home world.

-Danielle Jones