5 Books for Your TBR if You’re Not Done with Halloween YetBy Katya de Becerra
For someone whose book is reportedly making people reconsider their nighttime walks in the woods, I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror. Whether it’s movies or books or some other kind of creative media that can be used to tell a story these days, I like to be unsettled—but gently so. The only time I’d watch a proper horror movie is when I’m stuck on a 10+ hour international flight because I reckon my chances of being attacked by a killer clown are seriously reduced when I’m surrounded by people on all sides. So the scariest type of book I can stomach would be something atmospheric, dark, and playing with the elements of horror rather than unleashing a full-on gore attack on the reader.
Therefore, to keep Halloween going and to satisfy my squeamish nature which can nonetheless appreciate a good scare, here are my five spooky young adult book recommendations. Read these when the night is dark and you’re feeling restless deep down in your bones.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, because of a very special moment involving a certain bloodstained dress and a seriously haunted house. Oh, and there was also that creeptastic sequence when the Big Bad is revealed. Blake is such a master of creepy suspense. Years on, just thinking about this book now gives me the shivers, I swear!
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace, because it’s got the most disturbing first chapter ever. Ever. And the whole book is also so gritty and unsettling and so very dark. Yes, please!
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, because it’s set on a strange windswept island and the land is semi-sentient and I’m a total sucker for a talking mountain. Plus it’s got the whole paying-for-the-bloody-sins-of-our-ancestors-and-being-beholden-to-the-ancient-evil thing going for it, which makes me squeal in the darkest David Lynchian delight.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, because it’s got vampires that are genuinely scary. And also, you know that rule saying writers shouldn’t start books with a protagonist-waking-up scene because it’s been done to death? Black laughs in the face of that rule in the most evil way.
The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé, because it’s the best psychological horror possession story I’ve read in a while. I normally stay far far far away from exorcist stories, but I just couldn’t say no to this one. I mean, it was pitched as "Black Swan" meets "Paranormal Activity", and if that’s not an example of perfect marketing, I don’t know what is.
And of course, let’s go for recommendation number six, because how can I not mention What The Woods Keep, my spooktacular debut that early readers helpfully dubbed “that murdery forest book,” which is not an inaccurate description.
What the Woods Keep by Katya de Beccera
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.