This is so hard. Why did I commit to doing this? Welcome to my inaugural Top Ten Tuesday post: there’s a first for everything, and it seems that if I can start with the one hardest theme of all, I’ve chosen it.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish, and today’s topic is “Top Ten All-Time Favourite Books” in the genre of your choosing. I’ve dithered between horror and young adult horror. While the assumption that YA horror is supposed to be age-appropriate, I think the interpretation is that it’s less graphic or less intense than adult horror. That’s not always the case. YA Horror tends to be shorter with respects to overall word count, and injects the reader into the action quicker, but often, YA horror is as aggressive in content as horror novels meant for adult audiences.
I’m offering a mix of the ultra bleak, dark, and scary, alongside a couple of titles that I consider more creepy than outright frightening.
Horror comes in many shapes and sizes; what you get out of it is up to you as a reader. (If you need any of these books vetted because you don’t usually read horror novels, feel free to ask in the comments. Fear is a sliding scale that’s often subjective to the reader’s preference and triggers. For example: I’m terrified of butterflies — no joke — but I can sit through a screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and not flinch.)
Top Ten All-Time Favourite Books in YA Horror
Since we’re steadily creeping towards The Month of Halloween, I’m trying to sort of all my feels about books in the horror genre: the most influential, my favourites, the ones that broke me (in a good way.) Consider this my recommended reading list for YA Horror as it stands effective today: September 12th, 2016.
I’m a finicky creature and my tastes wave wildly. Ask me what my favourites are tomorrow, and my tastes will have expanded to include another ten books I forgot about.
On with it, then: into the darkness.
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Goth boy meets cheerleader girl: stuck together for a school english project, the pair venture deep into the world of dream and nightmare as Isobel discovers the manic notebook that Varen keeps about Edgar Allen Poe.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
A school burned down. Recovered from the wreckage was a diary of a student who had a twin sister who only came out at night… except, there was no sister to speak of on record. Madness, arcane rituals, and an account of events documented through psychiatric evaluations, diary entries, and film footage. Chilling.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Oh, Highgate Cemetery: let me count the ways in which I love thee. Vampires, ghosts, ghouls, and tombstones abound in this story about an orphaned boy who grows up raised by all manner of creepy things in a derelict cemetery in London.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
One could argue that Coldest Girl in Coldtown is more a dark fantasy than horror, but personally, it’s on the grim side for something absent unicorns. This is what would happen in a dystopian future where vampires were the norm. It’s pretty bleak.
Scowler by Daniel Kraus
Hallucinatory, dark, and teetering on the edge of pitch black as far as fiction goes: Scowler is a book that uses escapism and imaginary childhood friends to cope with child abuse. It’s got some triggers, and it is a difficult read that is gory at times. If it doesn’t turn your stomach, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am.
White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
I discovered White Crow while hunting for Gothic Horror in YA. It’s a gnarly little ghost story that uses a crumbling seaside town, a twisted friendship, and the sense of not belonging to move along the characters. Lovely.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
A story about a teenage boy who grows up and comes to realize he is a changeling: a fairy child exchanged in secret for a human baby. Let me tell you what: the world of fairy in The Replacement is a dark place, full of dead things and shambling monsters. The Replacement is a grim, creepy little book about fitting in though you know you never will.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
A ghost hunter falls in love with a ghost: the creepiest, nastiest, vengeful variety… who’s died as a young girl herself. Clever, dark, and utterly charming as a haunting. I wish there were more books in this series beyond it’s sequel, Girl of Nightmares.
Daughters unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
A despairing look at life on the prairie, complete with isolation, a touch of insanity, and the ghosts of miscarried children. It also serves as a cautionary tale against teenage pregnancy.
I may have mentioned Rotters several hundred times already in previous posts. It’s a grotesque story about inheritance and graverobbing, continuing the family legacy, and claiming your place as you grow into adulthood. It’s a coming of age story, but with dead bodies.
Have you read any of these YA Horror titles? Which were your faves?
Wait until you see what’s on my TBR. THAT list is a beast: there are SO many amazing upcoming YA Horror titles this autumn that I can’t even. Gibbering madness, I tell you: that’s all I am these days, the closer we get to Halloween.
If you’ve got any recommendations as to what I ought to be reading (and what I might’ve missed on this list), let me know in the comments.