Fantasy worlds are great, but sometimes the supernatural is spookier when it happens in your own backyard. This fall, we have some great new YA horror hitting the shelves. For some seasonally atmospheric scares, check out these stories set in small towns, rural places and remote areas:
Dead Flip by Sara Farizan
Fans of Stranger Things and IT should take a look at Sara Farizan’s latest. If you can’t tell from the retro cover, it takes place in 1992, five years after 12-year-old Sam goes missing and was (maybe) sucked into a supernatural pinball machine. Now in high school, his childhood friends are trying to move on, but they must reunite to solve the mystery of what really happened the night he disappeared. If you love Halloween, 80s arcade games, and 90s mall CD stores, this book is for you.
The Witchery by S. Isabelle
Keeping with the 90s vibe, this debut from S. Isabelle draws heavily on The Craft in the best possible way. Her quartet of witches are powerful, unapologetic and complex. They go to a secret magic school in the hazy and humid town of Haelsford, Florida, which also happens to be a hellmouth inhabited by witches, werewolves and other supernatural creatures. Point-of-view shifts from chapter to chapter, revealing the conflicting desires and motivations that shape each character.
Into the Sublime by Kate A. Boorman
If found footage is your type of horror, this book is good at building tension in much the same way as The Blair Witch Project. Four thrill-seekers head into the Colorado wilderness to investigate the source of a local legend – a fabled lake that can change the lives of anyone who swims in its waters. But along the way, secrets are revealed, and the legend turns out to be far more terrifying than any of them thought possible.
The Woods are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins
For Stephanie Perkins’ last horror novel, There’s Someone Inside Your House, she wrote a high school slasher and, rather than mix it up, stuck to tried-and-true conventions. The result was a tight, suspenseful thriller, a simple story done well. Here again she approaches a familiar genre – the wilderness survival story – and brings with her the same expertise. When two friends go on one last camping trip in the Appalachian Mountains before college, everything that could possibly go wrong does. Besides the threat of exposure, they must also contend with something, or someone, sinister that lurks in the woods.
Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne
This debut is highly original for a number of reasons – its rural farm setting is not often seen in YA lit, and Kilcoyne opts for atmospheric magical realism over jump scares, a creative choice her crafted prose supports. Laurel drops out of college looking to return to a quiet life on the farm she grew up on, but mysterious supernatural forces are stirring, threatening her with the same evil that went after her mother years earlier. If you’re in the mood for something strange and different, take a leap of faith and try this novel.