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Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween!

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
Gretchen McNeil’s POSSESS

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???


Stephanie Kuehn

Stephanie is the William C. Morris award-winning author of Charm & Strange, Complicit, Delicate Monsters, and The Smaller Evil.

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  1. I have to let you know, the girl in that picture creeps me out. Thanks for the Halloween scare.

  2. Ventriloquists make me want to cry. But I think you're right! YA is lacking in this area.

  3. Cynthia, I hope it was a good scare!

    And Kaitlin, you might be the perfect person to pen this dummy frightmare....

  4. Anna Dressed in Blood is a good YA Halloween read.

  5. I'll second Anna Dressed in Blood.

    I find that even in my non-horror projects, that I'm generally dedicating a lot of page space to stuff that scares me. Isolation, loss of identity, losing those close to me, feeling powerless, etc.

    Happy Halloween!

  6. Charlie Higson's "The Enemy" series is perfect for halloween. Lots of zombies!

  7. Thanks all, I will have to check out these recommendations!

  8. Oh that was good. I haven't read a good scary book in so long. I'm adding those to my list to check out ASAP. Yes everyone has fears that are to some...strange or silly. Irrational fears are always interesting too, phobias. Personally, i'm deathly afraid of chickens/roosters. I never liked them with their weird talon feet, their beaks for pecking, that red thing that hangs from their mouth, the way they run...but after being attacked twice in my own backyard a couple years ago I no will not go near them. See not scarry to most but to me...YIKES!


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