Six new YA books that are scary (but not too scary)

October book recommendations with just the right amount of spook.


Oh, October. A month of crisp fall leaves, pumpkin spice lattes and things that go bump in the night. Not to mention, of course, scary YA books.

I am a fan of the Spooktacular. Every year, I enjoy getting in the Halloween spirit by watching scary movies, reading spooky books and eating lots of candy. I enjoy the strange, the mysterious and the bizarre. I just don’t like feeling too scared.

It’s true. I prefer my ghosts friendly, my vampires to fall in love and my monsters to be unmasked by gangs of meddling teenagers. I want my stories to be scary, just not *too scary*. Luckily, young adult fiction is full of stories like these and new spooky books are released every year.

Here are six new scary YA books from 2020 with varying degrees of shock and horror to help you find your perfect October read. 

Related: October 2020 YA Book Releases

Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite by Various Writers

Cover of ‘Vampires Never Get Old’ (Imprint)

From the Blurb:

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out—and going out for their first kill—and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

There are two reasons to check out this anthology from Imprint: 1. You love vampires 2. You love YA. New blood-sucking stories from so many of your favorite YA authors–  including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cover of ‘Cemetery Boys’ (Swoon Reads)

From the Blurb:

A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”

A celebration of culture and identity and sure to be on many “best of” year end lists, Cemetery Boys is also receiving praise for being the first time an openly transgender author with a book centering a transgender character has appeared on the New York Times‘ Best Sellers List. Read this one if you love ghosts and you love loving ghosts.

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons

Cover ‘Girls Save the World in This One’ (Philomel Books)

From the Blurb:

Shaun of the Dead’ meets ‘Clueless’ in this hilarious YA horror comedy set at a local zombie convention–featuring a teenage girl gang that has to save the world from a horde of actual zombies. Perfect for fans of ‘Geekerella’, ‘Undead Girl Gang’, and ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’. 

For the fan girl in all of us, this feminist zombie invasion book set at a local fan convention features female friendships, undead walkers, cosplay and zombie bites. Read this one if you love to laugh while you scream and scream when you laugh.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland

Cover of ‘Deathless Divide’ (Balzer + Bray)

From the Blurb:

The sequel to the New York Times bestselling epic ‘Dread Nation’ is an unforgettable journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.

The sequel to the wildly popular and successful alternative history of a zombie infested Civil War era United States. It contains just as much awesome and dismantling of the undead as the first book. Read this one if you were a fan of Dread Nation.

Burn the Dark by S.A. Hunt

Cover of ‘Burn the Dark’ (Tor Books)

From the Blurb:

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ meets’ Stranger Things’ in award-winning author S. A. Hunt’s Burn the Dark, first in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time. 

Sometimes you know a book is going to be awesome just from hearing the premise. A witch hunting YouTuber on a dark mission of revenge? Count me in. Read this one if you like a blend of fantasy and horror.

I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

Cover of ‘I Hope You’re Listening’ (Aw Teen)

From the Blurb:

Seventeen year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way. When another little girl goes missing, how much is “Dee” willing to reveal about herself in order to uncover the truth?

Love feeling spooked out but not a big fan of the supernatural? This book about a series of mysterious disappearances in a small town is one of the best YA thrillers of the year. Read this book if you’re a fan of true crime, podcasts and mystery stories.

What are your favorite scary YA books? Will you be picking up any of the ones on this list?

Spencer is a high school English teacher in Montréal, Canada. He loves graphic novels and books about road trips.

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