Horror books for young adults
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Young Adult Horror Books that are jaw droppingly scary

horror books for young adults

Welcome to Owl Book World! If you’re new here, then my name is Kaili. Today I’m talking about young adult horror books that you really should be adding to your TBR. Whether you’re looking for a book for yourself or looking for a book for a teenager in your life these are all excellent books.

This is actually a post that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now because it seems like some readers genuinely didn’t know that there are young adult horror books out there. Or there are readers out there who kind of want to dig their toes into the genre but they don’t exactly want to read anything super scary. That’s why I wanted to create this post. There really seems to be a lot of people who don’t know where to start when it comes to horror and they don’t want to read something that’s pretty extreme. I can’t say that I blame them because the genre can be a bit overwhelming.

Horror is one of my favorite genres as you can probably tell! And I would absolutely love to talk about it more to anyone who enjoys it or wants to try and read more in that genre. Here’s to hoping I can find some like-minded people who enjoy it just as much as I do!

Horror books for Young Adults
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List of young adult horror books you should add to your Tbr

For those who are wanting to ease into horror and see if it is something they like or not I always suggest young adult horror books or middle-grade horror books. My reasoning is because most of them aren’t going to be as scary as adult books and most of the time they aren’t as graphic either. Just a bit of a warning that some young adult horror books can be on the graphic side. It’s hit or miss and I suggest doing research on the book if you can’t handle graphic stories. Who doesn’t love a scary ya book every once in a while!

Even though these are the best horror books for teens I still recommend adults reading them as well. I get YA books aren’t for everyone, but they really have changed a lot over the years, so these stories just might surprise you.

The Folcroft Ghosts by Darcy Coates

horror books for young adults

The Folcroft Ghosts wasn’t exactly my favorite horror book because it reads more like a middle-grade novel rather than a young adult so I was a bit blindsided by that. But the book is still pretty good!

The book is about two kids whose mother gets into a pretty bad car accident. They aren’t really sure if she’s going to make it. So, unfortunately, the brother and sisters are forced to go stay with their grandparents. At first, they don’t really mind it because their grandparents are good to them. Eventually, things start to get weird and the kids start to notice that their grandparents are a bit strange. Can they figure out what’s going on before something bad happens? 

I do kind of feel like Folcroft Ghosts is the perfect book for those that get scared easily. Since this book isn’t super scary it’s a good way to ease just about anyone into the horror genre.

If you want to see my full review then you can find that here.

If you’re interested in The Folcroft Ghost then you can find it through the link below.

Amazon | Bookshop

Reaper by Jonathan Pongratz

horror books for young adults

Reaper is a young adult horror novella about a boy who is babysitting his sister on Halloween night. It’s different because Halloween is one of his favorite holidays. He and his parents always celebrate it by going trick or treating. But this year he’s too old for that. The main perk though is that if he does well babysitting her this time then it’ll become a regular thing and his parents will give him an allowance. But what happens when a mysterious door shows up in the basement that he’s never seen before? Where does it lead? And why is it just showing up now?

So, Reaper is the first book I read by Jonathan Pongratz and I absolutely loved it. Books that deal with portals are so interesting to me especially if they are done right. This story really was done right and it’s not super scary for those who get scared pretty easily. This is definitely a high recommendation for those who kind of want to ease into horror. The best part is that this book actually kind of reminds me of some of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books.

If you’d like to purchase Reaper you can find it through the link below.

Amazon | Goodreads

The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

So, the Ravenous is probably one of the scarier horror books for young adults that I have on here. It is about a military family that just moved to a new area and don’t really know anyone yet. They’re having a hard time connecting with people like a lot of military families do. With their father being deployed and their mother basically being an absentee mother four sisters pretty much stay glued to each other despite their age difference. When the youngest dies in a tragic accident their mother finds a way to step up her game. She does this by going to someone to bring her baby back to life. But she’s really not the same girl she once was. What should the girls do about her? If she’s getting violent, should they consider getting rid of her? But families should really stick together, shouldn’t they?

This is by far one of my favorite young adult horror books because it is so well written and so creepy.

If this book is something you’d like to purchase then you can find it in the link below.

Amazon | Bookshop

Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

YA horror books 2020

Clown in a cornfield is actually one of the top reads that I have read this year. Granted I didn’t really do a review of it on my blog because I couldn’t really get a good thought process on what I wanted to talk about with it. 

Clown in a Cornfield is a young adult slasher book by Adam Cesare. It’s about Quinn Maybrook who just moved to a new town with her father. Her mother just passed away and her father needs a new start. So, Quinn is just trying to make it until graduation so she can move and get out of a town that she really didn’t want to move to. As the town battles between new and old traditions, Quinn and her father get caught in the middle. Will they be able to make it out okay?

I think this book has been my one and only 5 star read of 2021 and it completely deserves it. I highly recommend this book if you’re really wanting horror books for young adults because it is such a good book. It’s highly talked about in the horror community and it will bring back so much nostalgia if you’ve watched a lot of 80s/90s slasher movies. Granted this book does take place in the present time but the storyline gives off that vibe.

If you would like to purchase this book (do it!!) then you can get it through the link below.

Amazon | Bookshop

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

Full Tilt is a horror book for young adults that you should really be able to finish in a day. This book follows sixteen-year-old Blake who is watching his little brother Quinn. You would think that they would be somewhat similar but Quinn is the risk-taker out of the two of them. Blake is the more cautious and dependable of the two. When Blake takes Quinn to a carnival there’s something strange about the place. He soon realizes what it is after Quinn runs off and he has to chase after him. Will Blake be able to get Quinn back?

So, this one wasn’t exactly one of my favorite ya horror books but it’s still really good. The ending actually really surprised me and has one of those WTH moments that I love so much. I always love a good ending that you can’t really see a mile away. This is another book that I would actually recommend to those who are trying to ease into horror. It has its moments, but Full Tilt isn’t super scary and it’s a book you can get through quickly.

If this is a book you would like to purchase you can find it through the link below.

Amazon | Bookshop

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Harrow Lake is a horror book for young adults that actually came out last year. This book follows Lola Nox who just so happens to be the daughter of a popular horror film director. When he gets attacked in the streets he starts to worry for his daughter and sends her to live with her grandma since he can’t keep his eyes on her all of the time. But Lola doesn’t even know her grandma. She’s never met her and hasn’t really talked to her either.

It just happens that her grandma lives in the town that Lola’s father filmed one of his most iconic films. Most of the town is obsessed with it and they have a festival for it every year where tourists can come and visit. But what does Lola do when she gets a creepy stalkerish fan herself?  It doesn’t help that Harrow lake is already a weird town but will it be the death of her?

This was actually one of my favorites from last year and I highly recommend everyone read it. The pacing is super fast and I just ended up liking the whole vibe from the plot to the creepy little town.

If you want to see my full review then make sure to check it out here.

If you’re looking into buying this book then you can find it through the link below. 

Amazon | Bookshop

Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis

YA horror books 2021

Wicked Little Deeds is a Ya horror book that came out early in 2021. I have to say that Kat Ellis is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This is by far one of the best YA horror books that I have read this year.

This story follows Ava who lives in a small town. She has been plagued by nightmares since her parents were brutally murdered. Now that someone else close to her has been killed she is the primary suspect. Burden Falls has its secrets and they are bound to escape soon.

This story is perfect because it is a small-town horror story with urban legends. There are so many twists and turns and a mind-blowing ending that was the absolute best!

I don’t recall there being anything graphic in this story but please don’t take my word for it. Typically graphic books don’t stand out much to me because I do read and watch a lot of horror. So, unless there’s rape or animal abuse most of the time I won’t really remember.

Just a little bit of warning though. When I read this story it was called Wicked Little Deed, but I guess right before it was published they changed the title name to Burden Falls.

Amazon | Bookshop

YA Horror Books that are a Series

So, I’m actually going to group these three together and talk about them. I wouldn’t necessarily group Diary of a Haunting as a series. They’re grouped as a series mostly because they’re all by the same author and they are all in some way about a diary. 

I actually read all three of the Diary of a Haunting’s when I was younger and they are all pretty creepy. All of them deal with a diary that something is attached to and the girls have to go through something pretty scary the more that they write in them. These are the perfect books for you if you like haunting type books and the best thing is that you don’t have to read these in any particular order.

If you would like to grab any of these you can find them below.

Diary of a Haunting | Possession | Book of Shadows


Teenage horror books from the 90s

If you want to read young adult horror books that published in the nineties then I highly recommend R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike. These two were pretty much the kings of horror/thrillers back in the 80s/90s. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I don’t praise these two especially since I was constantly reading their books when I was younger. Now that I’m talking about it it makes me want to start reading their books again!

If you like this post about young adult horror books, then make sure to subscribe to my newsletter! I will be constantly updating this post once I find more books and actually read them. Subscribing to my newsletter will help you stay up to date on it!!

Horror Books for young adults
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13 thoughts on “Young Adult Horror Books that are jaw droppingly scary

  1. Rebecca Smith

    It has been a while since I have read a horror book – I’ve enjoyed the odd Stephen King horror-esque book and I loved RL Stine and Point Horrors when I was younger. I would definitely love to read more in the genre though. Some great suggestions here.

    1. Kaili

      If you get any of them I hope you enjoy them!

  2. Mehsi

    Fantastic article and great choice of books! I so love Darcy Coates, and the Diary of a Haunting series was great. I still want to read Clown in a Cornfield, got it on my Kindle, so very soon!

    1. Kaili

      I really hope you enjoy it!

  3. Alice Myles

    I’m really not much of a horror reader although that being said my favourite book series of all time is The Diviners by Libba Bray which definitely has some horror elements to it but definitely isn’t straight up horror! I also used to LOVE the Goosebumps books when I was a kid! I have heard such great things about Clown in a Cornfield though so it’s good to see that you also liked it.

    1. Kaili

      I really need to read The Diviners. I heard a lot of good things about it but I wasn’t sure if it would be something I would enjoy.

  4. Hannah

    I really want to read Clown in a Cornfield, it’s been in my Amazon basket for weeks now! I absolutely love a good horror book so love these suggestions!

    1. Kaili

      This is definitely your sign to get it!

  5. Karen Siddall

    My boys loved R.L Stine and Christopher Pike when they were young. Your updated suggestions sound great – very creepy – even for adults!

    1. Kaili

      Thank you!

  6. Bianca

    I have been wanting to read Harrow Lake for a while. I like creepy books. Thanks for this list!

    1. Kaili

      I hope you get the chance to read Harrow Lake soon!

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