11 spooky YA books we’re excited to read under the covers this fall

Dark and shallow lies by Ginny Myers Sain (Little Penguin)

In this first film by Ginny Myers Sain, supernatural thrills and a mysterious murder merge into a story set in La Cachette, Louisiana, which, in the novel, bills itself as the “psychic capital of the world” – an inspired nickname from Cassadaga, Fla., who makes the same claim in real life. The setting for the story is a city full of mediums, mystics, and secrets, all precariously balanced on stilts above the Mississippi River, creating a compelling Louisiana bayou tale to lose yourself in.

Witches’ paradise by Sasha Peyton Smith (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

This historic first fantasy film follows the adventures of 17-year-old seamstress Frances in 1911 in New York City. She is falsely accused of murder, but instead of being convicted, Frances suddenly finds herself whisked away and enrolled in a secret school for witches cleverly disguised as a sanatorium. Lessons in magic, chaos, a Manhattan power struggle, and a high-risk romance ensue.

The take of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (Son of GP Putnam Books for Young Readers)

In this creepy YA horror novel from Atlanta author Ryan Douglass, teenager Jake Livingston has a lot going on: He’s one of the only black and gay students in his predominantly white prep school, and he sees ghosts – constantly. As an aspiring psychic, Jake has figured out how to deal with most ghouls, while a love affair on the horizon with his new classmate Allister has positive results in school as well. But when Jake begins to be haunted by the malevolent spirit of a deceased school shooter named Sawyer, he realizes he’s way over his head – and must find answers before he is. too late.

“The Corpse Queen” by Heather M. HerrmanHandout

The corpse queen by Heather M. Herrman (Son of GP Putnam Books for Young Readers)

A landmark thriller set in Philadelphia, this story follows 17-year-old orphan Molly Green, who is surprised to be cared for by a separated aunt. Her relative, she learns, is extremely wealthy, with his wealth gained from looting graves and selling corpses to medical professors to teach students anatomy and surgical procedures. But with a murderer on the run, Molly must find a balance between her growing interest in learning medicine and her fear for her life.

Me (Butterfly) by Amber McBride (Feiwel & Friends)

A lyrical ghost story, love story and coming-of-age story, this first verse novel by Amber McBride, professor at the University of Virginia and holder of an MFA in poetry from the Emerson College, is ideal for a cold night. The book was recently announced as a finalist for a National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. Teenage dancer Moth loses her family in a traumatic car crash and subsequently struggles to struggle with both her grief and her knowledge of who she is. She and a new friend Sani, struggling with depression, go on a journey to try to understand their roots and deal with their ghosts.

White smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson (Katherine Tegen Books)

A family moving from a California beach town to a small town in the Midwest with the promise of “fresh start” is the stuff of classic horror. And Jackson’s weird haunted house thriller doesn’t disappoint. While you stay on Maple Street, expect things to happen in the night: dark figures, wandering doors, flickering lights, voices, and maybe even ghosts with deeper secrets to reveal about. past and present injustices.

"Lies like wildfire" by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
“Lies Like Wildfire” by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Lies like wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez (Delacorte Press)

This tense story centers on five friends with a dangerous secret: They accidentally started a massive and deadly wildfire in their rural California town. Now, the aftermath of their lies on their crime – and the ever-increasing effort it takes to cover them up – is catching up with them as the fire rages towards Yosemite National Park. Mainly with 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the daughter of a rule-abiding sheriff who dreams of being an FBI agent.

A dark and starless forest by Sarah Hollowell (HMH Books for Young Readers)

In this first fantasy, Derry and her eight siblings each have magical powers and live, sequestered, in a secluded house by a lake. Their guardian, Frank, taught them to fear the outside world, especially the dark and dangerous forest. But when Derry’s siblings begin to disappear and she begins to question Frank’s motives, Derry must embark on a terrifying, otherworldly journey into the gloom of the forest – and the darkness within it. – even – to save his family.

The Hawthorne Legacy, from the Inheritance Games series, Vol. 2 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little, Brown)

Perfect for fans of hot cider while reading cozy mysteries (or if you love books like “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin and movies like “Knives Out”), this sequel to 2020’s “The Inheritance Games” thriller offers readers a clue – a mystery filled with the death of a family patriarch, from Jennifer Lynn Barnes, a professor at the University of Oklahoma who studied for her doctorate at Yale. Expect a love triangle, wealthy untrustworthy parents, and plenty of twists and turns. Be warned though: this volume is the middle part of a trilogy, so it may leave you craving more Hawthorne family resolutions in the next book.

"Edie in between" by Laura Sibson
“Edie between the two” by Laura Sibson Handout

Edie in between by Laura Sibson (Viking Books for Young Readers)

In this modern tale of love, family and magic, young Edie mourns the death of her mother, who still visits her as a ghost. Edie’s grandmother, GG, tells him it’s normal for their supernatural family. Edie wouldn’t want anything to do with magic, mysticism, or her past. It’s a coming-of-age story in which Edie seeks to embrace her power, realizes that she is gay and finds her first love, and learns to live with the loss.

Beasts of prey by Ayana Gray (Son of GP Putnam Books for young readers)

A fantasy debut novel that kicks off an upcoming trilogy, this read follows 16-year-old Koffi, a indentured servant at the Deadly and Magical Night Zoo. When her family is in danger, Koffi realizes that she possesses a secret and inexplicable power. And when an ancient monster threatens the whole town, Koffi teams up with the young warrior Ekon to embark on a perilous mission to hunt him down the jungle, but neither are what they appear to be.

Gina Tomaine can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @gtomaine.

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