Those of you who spend a lot of time on Vine or Twitter may already be familiar with this game: divide a piece of paper into four quadrants, writing “yes” and “no” in opposite corners. Place a pencil along one center line, and another pencil balanced on it crossways. Ask “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” If the top pencil moves to point to “yes,” you can ask the spirit further questions. Or just scream and run away.
The #CharlieCharlieChallenge spiked last month, and teens who’ve discovered the delight of scaring themselves silly may be looking for the next fright. Hopefully they’re well-schooled in the existence of Charlie Charlie’s cousins in spooking and fortunetelling, the Ouija board, Bloody Mary, the Magic 8 ball, and cootie catchers.
Book-wise, here are some titles to keep readers’ eyes wide and hearts pounding.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwarz — The original scare-yourself-to-death-at-a-sleepover book, this one bears repeating simply because the folklore-sourced stories are still powerful today. For maximum effect, get the original version with the terrifying watercolors by Stephen Gammell.
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman — The supposedly-kids’ story that’s really plenty scary enough for teens. A short, Alice-through-the-looking-glass tale with a decidedly dark twist and visuals you won’t soon forget.
The Nightmarys, by Dan Poblocki — Possibly the most-requested scary book in my teen section. Cursed to be tormented by your greatest fears brought to life? Yep.
The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe (Graphic Novel version by Benjamin Harper) — If you’ve read a lot of the scary YA that’s out there, be sure you don’t miss the master of terror, Mr. Poe himself. For an especially vivid gateway, try the graphic novel series of his short stories.
Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll (Graphic Novel) — There are woods, ghosts, and fairy tale themes here, but not like you’re used to. Get ready for some major spine tingles and gore.
Hub readers shared their own thoughts on this topic in Books that Spooked Us!, and some of my peers wanted it known that the adult titles House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski) and It (Stephen King) still give them nightmares.
There are a lot of scary books to choose from — which are your favorites? And since we’ve progressed all the way from pencils to nightmares…Charlie, Charlie, can we stop?
–Rebecca O’Neil, currently reading The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan