There is no lack of gory details and slasher attacks in horror and a zombie apocalypse always seem to be the next big thing. There is a reason why we love Dexter, Ripper Stefan and The Walking Dead on TV and why we’d be willing to read such books. However, most of us seem to like a genre obsessively while reading others only occasionally so we need the occasional genres to be irresistible. I’m pretty much a contemporary girl which is why I need a paranormal as good as the Vampire Academy or a dystopia as good as The Hunger Games to reel me in. But what to read when it comes to YA horror?
Classic horror like Flowers in the Attic and Frankenstein will never cease to creep out generations to come and horror movies like the Evil Dead will never cease to reboot. But it is cringe-worthy for any YA readers to see The Mortal Instruments series, or the Twilight saga for that matter, being classified as horror. Yes, horror is hard to define which is why it works as a perfect disguise in fiction. There are things that go bump in the night in a seemingly contemporary fiction and I love when that happens. Horror exists in YA because there is no lack of demons, monsters, spirits and zombie but good horror needs to be filtered out.
Ghosts, ghouls and possessed souls are a forte of YA writers like Patrick Ness (A Monster Calls), Gretchen McNeil (Possess), Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed In Blood), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Brenna Yovanoff (The Space Between) and Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children). What’s a ghost story without it being a psychological thriller? I like it when books make me question the reality. Creepy but titillating like White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick and Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore.
Mind takes over sleep in Insomnia by J. R. Johansson, Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender and Sleepless by Thomas Fahy. While, Mary Lindsey’s Shattered Souls is all about helping the lost souls and boarding school horror is all too real in Frost by Marianna Baer and Possessions by Nancy Holder.
Whether it’s murder on the island as retold in Gretchen McNeil’s Ten or how Victor Frankenstein came to be in Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor, retellings are always hard to resist. Jackson Pearce is doing it in her Fairytale Retellings series. Meanwhile, gothic retellings such as Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd and New Girl by Paige Harbison are also on the rise.
Murders are always interesting. A serial killer on the loose makes for a great horror mystery story such as Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series, Stefan Petrucha’s Ripper (coincidence much?) or Robin Wasserman’s The Waking Dark. Killers are dark, psychotic and violent but the best part is that they could totally be even real and get haunted by the kills (Velveteen by Daniel Marks). A killer imaginary friend exists Damage by Anya Parish which is nothing compared to the inhumane creatures in prison in Alexander Gordon Smith’s Lockdown.
What’s better than falling in love with a beast? Falling in love with a devil (April Genevieve Tucholke’s Between series). But the horror truly begins when demonic beings come to inhabit humans in The Devouring by Simon Holt. Historical horror is very much alive in books like The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey, The Diviners by Libba Bray, Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard and Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough. Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed an antique era has been modeled in the future and there are zombies to be reckoned with. ‘What if’ should’ve been declared a genre by now.
We’re all prepared for a zombie apocalypse in some way. Or is it just me? Seriously, what can happen during a zombie apocalypse (Courtney Summers’ This is Not a Test) or in a post-apocalyptic zombie world (Carrie Ryan’s The Forests of Hands and Teeth)? What if a zombie falls in love with you (Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies), infects you with a zombie virus (Mira Grant’s Newflesh trilogy) and you barely escape from a zombie hunter (Jonathan Maberry’s Benny Imura series) only to start decaying into something other than a typical zombie (Rotters by Daniel Kraus)? Clearly I’m just going off a wild tangent here.
And oh, vampires are truly scary creatures in Darren Shan’s A Living Nightmare (Cirque Du Freak).
There is more YA horror to come in the future. Sequels aside, Nova Ren Suma is set to release her YA ghost story The Walls Around Us in 2015 while Gretchen McNeil’s latest release, 3:59, is about creepy overlapping parallel universes. The Troop by Nick Cutter is a survivor story of boy scouts on a deserted island while in Dead Set by Richard Kadrey there’s a strange presence in Zoe’s dreamscape.
So there you have it, the many kinds of horror YA to devour on. It’s a great way to scare yourself snuggled under a blanket during winters, isn’t it?
Also, if you want to read more about YA Horror, I found an article by SLJ on how Horror in YA Lit is a Staple, Not a Trend and there’s also a Horror Writers Association for YA.
Le Horror out.