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Find more Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth
Where’s The Graveyard Book in our list of the top recent horror novels for youth? The answer raises the always-thorny question, What is horror? Though Neil Gaiman’s celebrated Newbery winner kicks off in an indubitably horrifying way, it is overall a warmhearted work buoyed by flights of fancy. Horror, served straight, requires a pervading sense of dread—something the books below have in spades. And shovels. And stakes.
Bliss. By Lauren Myracle. 2008. Abrams, $16.95 (9780810970717). Gr. 9–12.
Adjusting to a new school, Bliss befriends Sandy—a gruff, troubled girl who may be related to the creepy voices calling from an abandoned building. Myracle’s novel boasts the creepiest sleepover scene of all time.
The Enemy. By Charlie Higson. 2010. Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423131755). Gr. 9–12.
Eighteen months after a virus turned everyone over 16 into ravenous cannibals, teen refugees make a trek across London. This straightforward zombie apocalypse thriller plays out with smarts and gusto.
Goth: A Novel of Horror. By Otsuichi. 2008. Tokyopop, $12.99 (9781427811370). Gr. 9–12.
This gory, nihilistic shocker is irredeemably brutal, a quality that will endear it to certain horror fans. Six interconnected stories follow two impassive Japanese teens as they work their way into the twisted lives of various pyschopaths.
Half-Minute Horrors. By M. T. Anderson, Jerry Spinelli, and others. Ed. by Susan Rich. Illus. by Lisa Brown. 2009. Harper, $12.99 (9780061833793). Gr. 5–8.
A volume of one- and two-page stories from more than 70 authors sounds like a stunt, but these are exemplars of narrative economy and gut-punch endings, and together, they read like the worst 10 weeks of nightmares you’ll ever have.
iDrakula. By Bekka Black. 2010. Sourcebooks/Fire, $9.99 (9781402244650). Gr. 7–10.
The gimmick—Bram Stoker’s tale retold entirely via smart phones, text messages, PDFs, etc.—results in a surprisingly upsetting one-shock-per-page pulse. And all those auto-rejected e-mails from Dracula’s lair? Shudder.
The Monstrumologist. By Rick Yancey. 2009. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781416984481). Gr. 9–12.
This Printz Honor–winning gothic novel has it all: monsters, corpses, catacombs, and exemplary writing. The sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo (2010), is nearly as fine.
The Replacement. By Brenna Yovanoff. 2010. Penguin/Razorbill, $17.99 (9781595143372). Gr. 9–12.
Two menageries of monsters battle over a blood sacrifice in this Bradburian horror fantasy. It shaves dangerously close to paranormal romance, but Yovanoff’s world is singularly unsettling.
Rot & Ruin. By Jonathan Maberry. 2010. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781442402324). Gr. 9–12.
Fourteen years after zombies took over the world, slacker Benny gets a job with his bounty hunter brother taking out “zoms.” Infused with sadness, this is the sensitive reader’s zombie novel.
Rotters. By Daniel Kraus. 2011. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780385738576). Gr. 9–12.
Joey’s estranged father turns out to be a master grave robber, and the teen’s induction into that underworld society is scored by madness and mayhem. By turns shocking and tender, this is a searing, ambitious epic from the author of The Monster Variations (2009).
White Crow. By Marcus Sedgwick. 2011. Roaring Brook, $15.99 (9781596435940). Gr. 8–12.
Balancing two plots 200 years apart, Sedgwick spins a genuinely chilling yarn of a visionary doctor obsessed with the secrets of life and, a century later, two girls who uncover the appalling evidence of his investigations.
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