For those of us who celebrate, tonight is a night to encounter all things spooky and terrifying. Oh, sure, there’s the fun stuff like parties and apple bobbing and corn mazes and YA Highway pumpkin carving contests, but Halloween is also a time to face our fears: to enjoy being scared.
See, what’s great about Halloween is also the best thing about scary books and scary movies. When and where else can you go up against giant spiders and were-turkeys and ventriloquist dummies* and bad candy and live to tell about it?
But what makes a story frightening? For writers, that’s an interesting question to ponder. Perhaps the better question is what scares you? Is it perceived risk? The fear of dying? The fear of the unknown? The fear of helplessness? The fear of oneself?
For me personally, I’ve always connected to this statement by Koji Suzuki, author of RING (which became the Japanese film, Ringu, and then The Ring when it was made in the States).
“Everyone has a different thing that really scares him. For me, it's not ghosts or the occult--I don't believe in ghosts or spirits. For me, losing someone that you love is the scariest thing.”
So for your Halloween enjoyment, here’s a list of frightening YA books, from the gothic to the demonic to the psychological to the, well, just pure evil.
Marcus Sedgwick’s WHITE CROW
Dia Reeves’s SLICE OF CHERRY
Andrew Smith’s THE MARBURY LENS
Gretchen McNeil’s POSSESS
Lisa McMann’s CRYER’S CROSS
Michael Ford’s THE POISONED HOUSE
Did I miss your favorite? I'm sure I did. Put it in the comments and let me know. And tonight, after you've had your fill of Dum Dums and candy corn, go pick up a scary book, keep the lights on, and enjoy…
*By the way, R.L. Stine’s Slappy notwithstanding, I feel the YA world is ripe for a good ventriloquist dummy story. Can someone please make that happen? Please???