Watching scary movies is always a fun and fright-filled way to spend an evening around Halloween, but if you’re looking for something that will really draw you in and leave you on tenterhooks for days and weeks on end, only a book will do. For literary thrills and chills that you can really sink your teeth into, try these four new scary YA novels.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Kiersten White (Delacorte)
Inspired by Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein, Kiersten White’s fascinating Gothic retelling is from the point of view of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein’s love interest, Elizabeth Lavenza.
Dark Descent chronicles in flashbacks how Elizabeth was taken in at an early age by the Frankenstein family, and becomes close friends with their strange little boy, Victor. Later, the novel sees Elizabeth, now 17, travel to Ingolstadt in search of Victor after he mysteriously flees Geneva. She figures out what he’s been up to – naturally, this is where Frankenstein’s infamous creature comes into play – and other characters are drawn into the action, from Elizabeth’s travel companion Justine to young German bookseller Mary.
What’s interesting here is White’s depiction of Elizabeth not as a pure heroine, but as a young woman who, no matter how loyal she is to her friend, will put her own survival above all else.
Grim Lovelies, Megan Shepherd (HMH Books for Young Reader)
If you’ve always felt the talking mice from Cinderella deserved more of a starring role in the story, you’ll enjoy this dark fantasy fable.
Anouk is one of several “Beasties” (lowly animals given magical life) who work for Mada Vittora, a member of French magical society the Haute, and who has ambitions to be the most powerful witch in Paris.
Anouk is a maid, and thanks to spell placed over her by Mada Vittora, she can never go outside. That is, until one day she finds her boss dead and bloody on the floor. The good news is, she can now go outside, but the bad news is she is the No. 1 suspect in the killing. With the Haute chasing after them, Anouk and the other Beasties must find the real killer in three days or else revert back to ordinary critters.
Megan Shepherd’s novel –the first in a series – is full of intrigue and action, and will have you excited to read the next instalment.
Not Even Bones, Rebecca Schaeffer (HMH Books for Young Readers)
This series debut explores the fine line between human and monster. Rebecca Schaeffer’s gory tale centres around the existence of “unnaturals”: groups of creatures – many of whom look like normal people – with horror-esque characteristics. Some eat souls, some consume fat, some gorge on pain.
Nita, meanwhile, is a part-human, part-unnatural teen girl who dissects whatever unnaturals her ruthless mother puts on her examination table. After all, selling the limbs and other parts of dead unnaturals is big business.
While her mother usually brings her dead monsters to carve up, Nita is shocked when she is given a living child. Nita helps him escape, which leads to her ending up on the chopping block herself and trying to survive this shady business.
Sawkill Girls, By Claire Legrand (Katherine Tegen Books)
Girl power meets Stranger Things in Claire Legrand’s novel about a trio of teenagers who take on the dark force plaguing the beautiful island of Sawkill Rock. Dozens of girls have gone missing over the years in this place, and according to an urban legend, it is at the hands of someone called the Collector.
Newcomer Marion gets thrown headfirst into the supernatural drama after moving to the Rock after the death of her father. She meets Zoey, the daughter of the police chief who’s still coming to terms with the disappearance of a close friend; and Val, a girl from the island’s wealthiest family – one with a connection to the mysterious activities taking place.
This novel takes the old-school horror/thriller genre and adds some well-placed modern themes for a contemporary audience.