Horror novels that are classroom appropriate can be tricky to find. Finding recommendations for horror-loving students that wouldn’t get me fired used to be difficult. After lots of reading, I have found seven spooky YA novels your high school students will love.
These reads are perfect for independent reading while the leaves are changing and temperatures are dropping. Some are scarier than others, but they all evoke that magical October feeling.
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Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #1: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
No book feels more conventionally horror than The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alendar.
When Delia inherits her grandmother’s home, she’s shocked to find out that it actually used to be an insane asylum for young girls. The more she explores, the more strange events seem to occur in the house.
This book has everything your horror-craving students are looking for–a spooky setting, ghosts, and a surprising twist.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #2: The Grace Year
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett has serious The Village vibes to me.
Every year, Garner County sends out its young girls of Garner County to expel their magic. This year is Tierney’s grace year. Even though Tierney has never felt this supposed magic. Or seen it. Nor has anyone else.
Some girls are never seen again after the grace year. Others come back, broken and irrevocably changed. This year is Tierney’s grace year, and nothing can prepare her for the horrors waiting in the woods.
As an English teacher, I appreciate this novel’s themes of survival and friendship and the complex female relationships portrayed. But as a reader, it’s the creepy atmosphere and the “truth is more horrifying than fiction” ending that gets me.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #3: A Monster Calls
If you need a great October read for younger, more reluctant, or struggling reads, look no further than A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. With many beautiful illustrations, it’s an approachable book for those easily scared off by long stories. However, A Monster Calls remains an incredibly powerful read.
While the monster in this novel turns out to be more metaphorical than real, that doesn’t change the fact that the monster is very real to Conor.
The monster comes for Conor again and again at night. If Conor can’t give the monster what it wants, then the monster will take what it wants from Conor.
The fear in this novel starts as a giant, scary monster only to become something worse and even more real and terrifying at the end.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #4: Dread Nation
I freakin’ love Dread Nation by Justina Ireland! I rarely finish YA series, but this was a rare case in which I read all of the sequels.
Dread Nation is an alternative history novel in which the dead begin to rise after the Civil War. States forcibly “recruit” formerly enslaved persons to fight the undead including the protagonist Jane. She learns to fight with the best at the most prestigious school for those tasked with fighting the “shamblers.”
This novel has everything–strong female characters, epic action scenes, and, most importantly, zombies! Dystopian-loving students will find this a perfect October read.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #5: Broken Things
I lived in Wisconsin during the Slenderman trials, so when I began reading Broken Things by Lauren Oliver I couldn’t help but see the parallels.
Everyone in town believes Mia and Brynn, two thirteen-year-old girls, murdered their best friend–except in Broken Things, they didn’t do it. Now, years later, Mia and Brynn try to solve their friend’s murder and clear their own names and reputations.
It’s a murder mystery with lots of flashbacks to a dark past. The atmosphere in this text makes it perfect to cozy up next to on a full moon’s night.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #6: Allegedly
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is maybe a bit of a stretch for this list. It’s definitely not horror, but it’s certainly an amazing thriller. This makes it a fantastic October read for students who hate horror but still want edge-of-your-seat suspense.
When she is just nine years old, the state convicts Mary of killing baby Alyssa. Through old newspaper articles, Mary’s memories, and other scraps of writing, a murky picture is painted of that night. It seems that the state didn’t have the full picture when it made its conviction.
Years later, Mary is pregnant with a baby of her own and is finally ready to tell the truth.
This is a novel with which you may need to tread lightly. The death of a baby is triggering for many and some parents might not find it entirely appropriate. It has, however, engaged even my most reluctant, too-cool-for-this-class kids, so I love having it on my shelf. Definitely give it a read yourself before recommending it.
Spooky YA Novels Your High School Students Will Love #7: Scythe
Everything Neil Shusterman touches is gold and Scythe is no different. Like Allegedly, there’s no conventional horror here, but Scythe and its sequels do center around death. To me, this makes it a perfectly acceptable Halloween read.
In a future in which death has been cured, how do you maintain the population? The Scythedom is created to determine who forfeits their lives for the greater good. Citra and Rowan find themselves unwilling apprentices to the Scythedom. Will they embrace their destiny or find a way out?
Shusterman creates a believable and richly detailed world in this novel. He also grapples with massive themes like death, duty, and technology. This is as deep and nuanced as I’ve ever seen YA and for that, it’s a must-read.
There are so many spooky ya novels your high school students will love this October. Some are conventionally scary while others provoke intense suspense. So whether your students love the macabre or just want a good mystery, I know you can find a great recommendation for them on this list!
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