When Halloween is around the corner, it’s a great opportunity to huddle down with a mystery, thriller, or scary book. If you’re like me, nothing gets you more in the mood for Halloween season than a spooky ghost story or a paranormal thriller.
Whether you like something that is truly bone-chilling, like a slasher novel, or something that explores out of this world alien phenomena, there is a book out there for you.
Many of these books are ideal for teenagers and young adults, too. Scary books can be hugely enjoyable because they offer an escape from the real world of school, college, and exams.
These books can take teens into a world filled with suspense, mystery, and horror. Teenagers are often at a stage in their lives where they are searching for a sense of identity and seeking out new experiences.
Scary books can provide a thrilling and adrenaline-fueled experience that can be both exhilarating and fulfilling.
That is why I have chosen my favorite scary books for teens to read this Halloween. Some are very scary whilst others are not. Let’s not wait any longer and get reading!
Why Read A Scary Book This Halloween?
Scary books are not for everyone. Some of us prefer to read light hearted stories that make us feel good and not ones that make our skin crawl.
That being said, scary books are hugely popular with teenagers and young adults, but it’s not only about the entertainment derived from the stories.
The genre also provides an opportunity for teenagers to explore and confront their fears in a safe and controlled environment, which can help them gain a sense of confidence and mastery over their emotions.
Scary and spooky books can also foster a sense of community among readers as they discuss and exchange their thoughts and theories with one another. This can lead to meaningful and memorable experiences that can last a lifetime.
They can offer a fun and exciting experience for teenagers, as well as provide opportunities for personal growth and social interaction. Of course, some of us get scared more easily so it’s important to find the right book.
If you scare easily, you don’t want something that will leave you too frightened to sleep with the light off tonight. On the other hand, if it takes a lot to scare you, you may want a storyline that will shock you to your core.
The good news is that there are scary books for all teens to enjoy. From ghost stories to courageous fighting for survival tales, the following books will hopefully get you in the mood for a spooktacular Halloween this year.
Best Scary Books For Teens This Halloween
We start with a not-so-scary Halloween read that is suitable for all teenagers. Written by Sonia Hartl, The Lost Girls is the perfect read for any vampire fan. The story follows a teenager who turns into a vampire for her one true love.
But, the boyfriend decided to ditch her decades later and she discovers that he has done the same with other girls in the past. This leads to mass revenge among all the “lost girls” as they want to kill him before he turns another girl into a vampire.
Yes, teenage vampire love stories have been done to death but this story is a great twist on the generic ones we are so used to. And, everyone loves a good revenge story!
- A refreshing take on the often generic teenage vampire love stories and is not as male-gazey as we have come to expect
- Explores important themes of sisterhood, identity, and female empowerment
- The ending seems a little rushed which may disappoint readers
Okay, this may not be a single book. Instead, we are including the House of Night series of novels for our second entry today. We meet Zoe Redbird who is terrified when she becomes “Marked.”
This crescent moon-shaped mark appears on her forehead but this sentence her and any teenagers with the marking to four years at the House of Night. Here, they transform into vampires, a process that can be deadly.
Intended for slightly older teens, the House of Night series is often enjoyed by the ages of thirteen up.
I love these stories as they are more original than many vampire novels, especially with elements of Wicca incorporated into the story as the reader can find out the meaning behind the vampire’s tattoos.
- The perfect read for teenagers who love vampire stories and something quite light (not too scary)
- Has a unique take on vampire mythology
- Teenagers seem to be more like caricatures as the authors try to sound like teens a bit too much. Probably not captivating enough for older teenagers
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is considered a good scary read for teenagers.
The book is a blend of mystery, fantasy, and horror, and tells the story of a teenage boy named Jacob who travels to a remote island off the coast of Wales to investigate his grandfather’s tales of a strange home for children with special abilities.
Well received by both teenagers and adults, this book has been praised for its imaginative world-building and suspenseful storytelling. The storyline is thrilling and captivating, and the characters are quirky and endearing.
The story also contains elements of dark magic and the supernatural, which add to the creepy and eerie atmosphere that teenagers are known to love.
- A great read for teens who enjoy suspenseful and creepy stories with a touch of fantasy and magic
- The unique concept of a group of children with peculiar abilities living in a time loop is both fascinating and engaging
- Contains some mature content, such as violence and gore, so it may not be suitable for all teenagers
Written by Maureen Johnson, the bestselling author of several Young Adult novels, The Name of the Star is a mystery-thriller that follows the story of a teenage girl named Rory who is studying at a boarding school in London.
When a series of gruesome murders occur in the city, Rory finds herself caught up in a web of danger and suspense, and the reader is taken on a voyage as she tries to uncover the truth behind the killings.
The book has been well-received by teens and adults thanks to its gripping storyline, suspenseful plot twists, and likable characters.
The atmosphere of the book is creepy and eerie, and the mystery elements keep the reader engaged and on the edge of their seat.
Themes of friendship, bravery, and personal growth, are also present throughout the novel, making it an enjoyable read for teens who enjoy a good scare but who are also looking for a coming-of-age story with a twist.
- A thrilling, engaging book that is certain to keep any teenagers on the edge of their seats
- A great mystery read for any inquisitive mind to enjoy
- Contains some mature content, such as violence and gore, so it may not be suitable for all teenagers
Another great scary read for teenagers and young adults, The Graveyard Book is a dark fantasy novel about a young boy named Nobody Owens who is raised by ghosts in a cemetery after his family is murdered.
As he grows up, Nobody must confront the dangers that come with being alive in a world of the dead and the sinister forces that threaten his existence.
There is a lot to love about this book, but it’s Neil Gaiman’s ability to weave imaginative world-building and an eerie atmosphere with a heart-warming coming-of-age story that helps it stand out from so many other scary Young Adult novels.
The characters are quirky and endearing, and the story is both suspenseful and touching. The book also contains elements of horror and the supernatural, adding to the spooky and eerie vibe.
- A great read for teens who enjoy suspenseful and creepy stories with a blanketing of fantasy and magic
- Touches on themes of friendship, bravery, and personal growth, making it an enjoyable read for teens who are looking for a coming-of-age story with a twist
- Some violence and gore occur throughout so it may not be suitable for younger audiences
Iron Cast is an excellent, gripping read that creates a perfectly eerie atmosphere for teenagers this Halloween. It has everything you’d ever want from a teen perspective, including magic and a gritty setting.
The magic is in the form of blood that allows the characters to form illusions via art and the book is set in the rough and tumble streets of Boston in 1919.
One of the many strong points of Iron Cast is Destiny Soria’s inclusion of strong female characters, something that can sometimes be lacking in young adult novels.
Interspersed the interesting characters with their fascinating magical abilities and page-turning scenes, and this book becomes one that is hard to put down.
Soon, things start to go from bad to worse for the characters, and you, the reader, are taken on a magical yet unnerving journey. Viewed as outcasts by society, many teenagers may associate with the characters throughout Iron Cast.
- An intriguing story that takes the reader down a web of entangled, dangerous secrets and lies
- Features elements of mystery, magic, and suspense that make it a captivating and thrilling read for teenagers
- The depiction of historical events are not as accurate as they could be
Let The Right One In is another vampire story (teenagers love them) on the list. Not only is this story frightening, but it is also thought-provoking. John Ajvide Lindqvist unfurls a tale of a young boy called Oskar who befriends Eli, a vampire.
This newfound friendship soon takes the two into an unpredictable, dangerous world with terror and violence at the helm.
This novel explores various themes, including friendship, love, and coming of age, making it an ideal read for teenagers and young adults. It is suspenseful and creepy with hints of mature content that may not be suitable for all teenagers.
- The themes explored throughout Let The Right One In are often key aspects of teenage life, such as friendship, love, and coming of age
- The reader is taken on a journey and we get to witness the characters develop and the complexities that come with growing up
- Some parts are slow-paced which may not be interesting enough to keep the reader engrossed
This gothic horror suspense thriller will not be for everyone, particularly if you struggle with the themes of animal cruelty or animal deaths.
Essentially a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, The Madam’s Daughter explores dark imagery but is certainly a page turner.
It is a young adult novel that is a good read for teenagers who have a higher tolerance for horror and suspense in novels.
Atmospheric and intriguing throughout, this novel is not overly graphic or violent, but some segments may be a bit too much to cope with for young teenagers.
Whether you love it depends on your personal preference of what you consider “horror.” Overall, however, it has been well-received by readers and will almost certainly get you in the mood for Halloween.
- The themes of the novel are thought-provoking, such as science and ethics. These raise questions about the ethics of scientific experimentation and the consequences of playing God
- Explores how various emotions can drive characters to make difficult choices
- Animal cruelty and experiments may put off many from reading this book
For any teens that are fans of horror and mystery novels, this is a must-read. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin blends themes of horror, mystery, and romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
We meet the main character, Mara Dyer, who is on a quest to try and uncover the truth about what happened to her and her friends inside an abandoned mental asylum (yep, no vampires!) Mara is a compelling and relatable protagonist that you as the reader will soon start to like.
This story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing, and the supernatural elements are both creepy and intriguing. This is one book to keep you up at night, whether that be reading or wondering what will happen next.
- The mysterious tales and investigations into an abandoned mental asylum keep you on edge from early on in the book
- A fascinating storyline that keeps you gripped from page one
- Contains some mature content, so it may not be suitable for all teenagers
If you’re a fan or know someone who is a fan of Lemony Snicket, Nightmares, and Neil Gaiman’s stories, then The Curse of the Werewolf Boy is a great book to check out.
Sometimes, humor can be forgotten in scary, Halloween books, but this book by acclaimed author Christ Priestley is filled with funny moments as well as action-packed adventures and creepy goings on!
The story centers around Mildew and Sponge (great names) who are not all that enamored with the gloomy, gargoyle-riddled Maudlin Towers. Maudlin Tower is, of course, their school.
It gets even worse as a mysterious thief steals the School Spoon and the teachers threaten to cancel the pupil’s break until the culprit has been found.
Step in our heroes, Mildew and Sponge who spring into action to try and solve the crime. Soon, they come across a ghost in the attic, a time-traveling history teacher, and a mad gang of Vikings! Read it to believe it!
- A more light-hearted spooky book compared to others on my list
- Geared more towards younger teenagers up to the age of around 15 or so with a wonderful unique wit from page one making it perfect for young readers who like mysteries with a bit of humor
- Older teens may find it a bit too silly and childish to read
This young adult suspense thriller, with a healthy dose of horror, is an excellent read, especially if you’re a fan of the TV show Lost. The story is about a girl, Lily, who ends up lost on a remote island after a diving trip has gone wrong.
Here, she tries to look for her missing sister. But, not all is as it seems and the island is more dangerous than she first believes. Fractured Tide is more focused on mystery and suspense, rather than being an outright scary book.
But, there are plenty of elements of tension and danger to keep you on your toes. The plot is packed with twists and turns with an atmospheric setting.
If you are looking for a mystery novel, rather than something that will keep you up at night, Fractured Tide is a good one to read.
- Many twists and turns, and moments that make you jump out of your seat with astonishment
- Ideal if you enjoy suspense and terror
- Come scenes may be disturbing and triggering for readers
Rin Chupeco is a Chinese Filipino writer who has become known for her young adult fictional stories.
The Girl From The Well is one of her most popular horror stories to date and is considered an excellent scary read for teenagers who like supernatural and horror fiction.
A retelling of various Japanese ghost stories, this novel follows the story of a vengeful spirit named Okiku who is haunting a young man named Tark.
The plot is full of creepy and suspenseful moments, with a dark and haunting atmosphere to get any teen in the mood for Halloween.
Death and the afterlife are the main themes in this book as it explores what happens after we die and how we are remembered.
The novel also touches on the topic of mental health and the consequences of trauma, especially in Tark’s character which is both fascinating and something some readers may be able to relate to.
- Packed with supernatural aspects and full of horror
- A dark and atmospheric novel that explores several complex themes which many teenagers may be able to relate to
- Some themes may be too mature for some teenagers, such as death and revenge
Time to go out of this world with Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Black. If you love books that are set in space with themes of horror, zombies, and aliens, then Pitch Dark is the one for you.
This book is jam-packed with action, from spaceships to the zombie apocalypse. Set in the future, Pitch Dark is about a time after the Earth has been abandoned because of depleted resources.
Humanity’s future is at risk but there is a chance to save it. The key lies inside a spaceship that has been roaming space for centuries. The crew is all in stasis (a state of equilibrium) and alien monsters have invaded the important vessel.
There are hoards of novels about a dystopian future where a group of survivors must fight for their lives against an alien threat, but this novel is aimed at a younger audience, making it perfect for teenagers.
- A fast-paced and intense novel that explores several complex themes
- Perfect for fans of science fiction, horror, or those just looking for a good scary story
- If science fiction is not your “cup of tea,” then this may not be the right choice for you
Another post-apocalyptic novel, Wilder Girls by the winner of Goodreads Choice Awards Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction Rory Power is a psychological horror/thriller that is stuffed with adventurous happenings and stories.
The world has been hit by a disease called the Tox and a girl’s boarding school has been in quarantine for eighteen months.
Whilst the pupils and staff wait for help, Tox continues to ravage the world and infect people here, there, and everywhere. However, the girls have remained safe.
That is until a girl mysteriously vanishes leading the girls to face the horror of leaving the school grounds to find her.
Although a story about a pandemic may be a little too close to many of our hearts right now, Wilder Girls is a unique, chilling read with suspense and horror splashed across its pages.
- For lovers of horror, post-apocalyptic thrillers with a dash of science fiction, Wilder Girls is a must-read
- It is fast-paced and chilling in parts to keep you hooked
- Its ending may leave you feeling a little frustrated
Even before you read this book, its premise will creep you out. As the name suggests, The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall centers around a haunted house. But, this isn’t any old haunted house; it was once an insane asylum for young girls.
We are taken on a journey as the main character, Delia, tries to uncover the truth about the mysterious deaths that have occurred at the old asylum. The house has its fair share of secrets and evil seems to lurk around every corner.
The house is intent on harming Delia as she uncovers more and more secrets and has no intention of letting the girl’s spirits free.
Delia, though, is determined, and works tirelessly to find the truth of what happened and set the house’ dark secrets free, as well as herself, before it’s too late.
- The atmosphere throughout is unsurprisingly dark and creepy, making it a great read for fans of horror and the supernatural
- Great character development as the story progresses
- Some plot twists are a little predictable
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is an excellent read for teens who enjoy horror and supernatural fiction.
Set in the late 19th century, this book follows the story of a young boy named Will Henry who assists a scientist known as the Monstrumologist in his hunt for monsters.
Full of horror and suspense, this book is unique and captivating and most young adults will enjoy it. One highlight of The Monstrumologist is its well-developed characters.
Rick Yancey has created characters who have unique personalities and motivations that help drive the story forward. This adds to the novel’s richness and suspense, making it stand out in the genre of horror and suspense.
- Fast-paced with a rich, detailed world make this a suspenseful yet entertaining read and a great choice if you like immersing yourself in fun stories
- A sophisticated and immersive writing style
- Dark themes throughout which may upset some younger readers
Before we get into this novel, we must warn you that it includes adult themes, such as graphic violence and assault. Therefore, adult consent is required for teenage readers and reading discretion is advised.
If you are above the age of sixteen, this book can be considered safe to read. The Hollow Girl is a feminist, revenge horror novel and besides its dark themes, I believe it is a great read for teenagers this Halloween.
The story is about Bethan who is left for dead after being assaulted. As she recovers, Bethan learns on how to exact revenge from her Grandmother, a healer. In doing so, she can also save her new friend’s life.
Although gory and a dark read in parts, The Hollow Girl is a smart and emotional read that will have you rooting for Bethan as she yearns for revenge on those who assaulted her.
- This book has everything you may want in a young adult scary novel, such as revenge, love, gore, and supernatural aspects
- Features diverse cultures giving the horror genre a fresh and unique perspective
- Has some darker themes meaning it is not suitable for all audiences and may be a little too gory for your liking
Here’s another super scary book by bestselling young adult author Hillary Monahan. Compared to all the books on my list today, I’d have to say this is one of, if not, the most terrifying of the lot!
Ever heard the tale of Bloody Mary? She is a legend of a ghost, spirit, or phantom whose apparition appears in a mirror when her name is repeated.
This apparition can be benign or malevolent, but as we’re focusing on scary books for Halloween, you can guess how Mary is in this book.
Mary: The Summoning is about a group of friends who decide to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name.
This is the moment in a movie where you shout at the screen “DON’T DO IT!” Of course, this leads to frightening consequences. Scary but truly exhilarating to read, this book is one of the best young adult scary stories out there.
- Can’t help but feel a chill go down your spine as you read this book, making it ideal for Halloween
- You think you know what will happen but twists and turns await around every page
- The concept of summoning a demon is nothing new, and many readers find the whole story a little too familiar and predictable
In The Book of Lies, the two main characters, Piper and Quinn, find out that they are identical twins after their mother passes away.
What’s interesting about this book is that acclaimed author Terri Terry has written it so there is an alternating viewpoint from both twins in different chapters of the book giving the reader a deeper insight into how the characters feel and their development.
This psychological, supernatural thriller is genuinely spooky with a compelling plot packed with unexpected events to keep you engaged as you read.
I love the creepy, suspenseful atmosphere of this book and am sure it will appeal to teenage fans of thriller and horror stories.
- Has an intriguing plot and complex, well-developed characters
- Keeps the reader’s mind ticking over, trying to guess what will happen next, and often failing
- Can be a little slow-moving at times and the outcome can be considered somewhat expected
Next, we have a fictional retelling of Vlad the Impaler and his rise to power. The only difference in And I Darken is that Kiersten White’s Vlad is actually Lady Lada.
Having a strong female protagonist is not necessarily rare in young adult fiction but Lady Lada is incredibly brutal, something not seen in such stories.
And I Darken has political intrigue and fascinating character relationships that are gripping from one page to the next. Lady Lada is an anti-heroine who you will root for all the way through the book.
But, it’s the unexpected twist that floors you as the reader. So, if you like twists and turns throughout a plot, you will love Lady Lada’s strong story.
- Has one of the strongest but most brutal female characters in all young adult books which is important for teenage girls who often find female characters weaker and prone to making decisions based on love
- Interesting and detailed descriptions of the Ottoman Empire
- Lady Lada’s hate for her own femininity and her fierceness can be a bit too severe at times
Historical horror thrillers are generally very entertaining and interesting to read. If you like these types of books, then you will love Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.
If you’re a teen looking for the perfect Halloween read, a story revolving around one of the world’s most infamous serial killers is as good as it gets.
Stalking Jack The Ripper is about a wealthy girl who likes to sneak into her Uncle’s laboratory and study medicine. Of course, during the nineteenth century when this book was based, this was no place for a lady.
This is just one of the book’s many highlights as it has a strong female lead who works with murdered corpses only to land up in the middle of the mass hunt for Jack The Ripper.
Mystery and violence occupy page after page but some scenes may be disturbing for younger readers, so parental consent is advised.
- Takes the reader into the midst of the investigations surrounding the search for Jack the Ripper
- With elements of truth, the story is essentially fictional adding to its entertainment value
- Features mature themes such as murder and forensic descriptions, which may not be suitable for all teenagers
Isolated on an island, ten teenagers begin to get picked off one by one. It’s a fight for survival with each page holding more drama than the previous. Ten is a real page-turner!
Inspired by And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (see above), Ten’s premise and plot may be similar to some slasher-type movies such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and books by RL Stine and Christopher Pike, but you join the protagonist in trying to figure out who the killer is and the tension is almost unbearable.
This young adult thriller is an excellent read for teens this Halloween. If you enjoy horror and mystery genres, Ten is a must-read.
However, there are some graphic scenes and mature themes in sections of the book, such as betrayal, trauma, and death, which may be upsetting for some readers.
So, if you’re looking to find a book for your teenage son or daughter, consider their maturity level first.
- A captivating, engaging read from page one with a plot that is full of shock and horror to keep you guessing throughout
- The isolated island setting is well done, with the creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere escalating the tension and horror
- The storyline of people being stuck on a deserted island and slowly being murdered one by one is nothing new, so you may get a little tired at some points
Best Scary Books For Teens Buyer’s Guide
There are a few things to think about when looking for a scary read for teenagers this Halloween. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations below:
If you are buying a book for a teenager, you must check the age range and content of the book before purchasing it. Some scary books may not be suitable for younger teenagers, as they may contain violent or mature themes.
Horror is a broad genre, so consider what kind of horror your teenager may enjoy. Do they like supernatural horror, psychological horror, or slasher-style horror?
Knowing their preferences can help you find a book that they’ll be more likely to enjoy.
If your teenager has read and enjoyed a scary book by a particular author, consider looking for more books by that author. This can be a great way to ensure that your teenager will like the book you buy with a similar style.
For instance, if they love authors who focus on vampire stories, look for books with similar themes.
Look for book recommendations from sources that you trust, such as friends, librarians, or reputable book bloggers. You can also search online for “best scary books for teenagers” or “top horror novels for young adults” to get some great ideas.
Read reviews of the book to get a sense of what other readers thought. Look for books with a high rating and positive reviews, as this can be a good sign that the book is well-written and engaging.
As you can see above, some books are more appropriate for some teens than others. Reviews from previous readers will give you a clearer picture of whether the book will be enjoyable or not.
There are many scary books for teenagers to enjoy reading this Halloween. As you can see from the list above, different themes are explored in many of these novels.
Some are ghost stories or include monsters, whilst others are more mystery thrillers to keep the reader engaged.
I am sure you and whoever you are recommending them for will love the books above and they will get you in the mood for Halloween right away!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Scary Books Appropriate For All Teenagers?
No, not all scary books are appropriate for all teenagers. Parents and guardians should consider the maturity level of the teenager and review the content of the book before recommending or purchasing it.
Some scary books may contain violent or mature themes that may not be suitable for younger teenagers.
Can Scary Books Harm Teenagers?
Overall, scary books are intended to be entertaining and not have any negative consequences on the reader.
However, some scary books can harm teenagers if they’re not age-appropriate or if they contain themes that may trigger negative emotions or experiences.
Again, this can be avoided if parents and guardians review the book’s themes beforehand to ensure it is suitable.
What Is The Most Popular Horror Genre In Books For Teens?
The most popular horror genre in books for teens can vary, but some of the most common sub-genres include supernatural horror, psychological horror, and slasher-style horror.
Supernatural horror tends to include ghosts and demons whereas psychological horror focuses on the character’s emotions more.
Slasher-style horror books generally focus on an unknown killer, terrorizing characters throughout a story.
Ultimately, the most popular horror genre in books for teens depends on personal preference and the current trends in the market.