Once upon a time, I would spend Halloween trick-or-treating. It is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the spookiness, the jack-o-lanterns, and the Celtic roots and just… everything. I love everything about Halloween as I know it. Except. I am now an adult and trick-or-treating has turned into crowded parties and drinking and that part of the holiday is not for me.
So, like I do just about every other holiday, I celebrate by eating something chocolate and bad for me and reading.
Of course, if I’m going to read, I might as well read something in-theme with the season. If you’re a YA reader and you’re looking for something spooky, something bloody, or something campy… I’ve got you covered!
If you’re looking for zombies… try Feed by Mira Grant
Feed is part post-apocalytpic dystopia, part zombie flick. The closest pop culture comparison I can think of is Zombieland. Sure, there’s more journalism and less Twinkie-hunting, but you can’t go wrong with a book about the risen dead on Halloween.
I’ll admit – the ending was a little odd on this one, but the journey is worthwhile and I’m curious to see what comes next.
If you prefer a slasher story… try There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
There’s Someone Inside Your House has a slow build and leaves you guessing about the truth behind the crimes. This is the closest to traditional popular horror that I’ve found in the YA genre.
The book has everything. It’s autumn. There’s a corn maze. There’s a killer with a knife. There’s a bunch of high schoolers. There are twists and turns and misleads. It’s quite a lot of fun, though it’s not quite as scary as an adult slasher novel, so you don’t have to worry about someone lurking in the shadows. Or do you?
If you want a ghost story… try Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake
The beginning of this book gave me Scooby-Doo vibes but that didn’t last long! The ghosts in this book and impressive and Blake writes them with such imagery that the first time we encountered the ghost, I admit I was a little spooked.
Anna Dressed In Blood isn’t all scary – it takes an unexpected turn just past the middle of the book. But those spooky ghostly vibes at the beginning were amazing!
If you’d like to read a book about a witch… try The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab
While I could have gone with These Witches Don’t Burn or The Wicked Deep for a witches book (both or which are good and I recommend!) I had to give a little love to V. E. Schwab’s debut novel. This is far less shouted about then her other books, but it is alive with that fairytale witch feel that can make your skin crawl.
The witches in this book may be a little different than you’d expect, but there’s something raw about the story and the atmosphere that makes this one top my list.
If you’re most into campy horror… try The New Girl by R. L. Stine
For those who have seen Netflix’s Fear Street miniseries (which I highly recommend), The New Girl is the first book in Stine’s Fear Street series. There are seventeen books in all, and the content for the Netflix series was picked here and there from all the books. You may find something familiar with this first book in the series, but even if you don’t… you’ll be hooked.
If you would like a vampire story… try Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
Sure, you may reach for Twilight first when you’re thinking about a YA vampire book, but let me throw a twist out to you here. Blue Bloods is alluring and deceiving as a vampire book, and it’s a little bit lighter than some other options if you’re looking for a quick read. Add in secret societies and New York’s most elite, and there’s a compelling story to be had.
If you’re searching for a werewolf book… try Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Sisters Red is an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood and while a fairytale adaptation may seem a strange choice for Halloween, these sisters are not to be messed with. This book features a pair of fierce female characters who don’t mind getting their hands dirty… in fact, one of them lives for it.
If you want to go a more traditional route… whelp, there’s always Shiver or Twilight. But Sisters Red is worth a look.
If you can’t decide… The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Finally, we come to my personal favorite on this list. What if you want to read a little bit of everything? If that’s the case, you want The Graveyard Book. You’ve got ghosts and shapeshifters and vampires and goblins and murderers. As a bonus, it takes place in a cemetery!
The Graveyard Book is a Halloween staple for me and I’ve read it every couple of years around Halloween… if you haven’t tried it yet, I can’t recommend it enough.
What is your favorite Halloween read? What style of spooky YA books (or even just spooky books in general!) do you prefer? Share your favorites in the comments!