The best YA books about girls battling monsters

The Books I Picked & Why

Sawkill Girls

By Claire Legrand

Book cover of Sawkill Girls

Why this book?

Sawkill Girls is so scary that I couldn’t read it before bed. In fact, I wouldn’t even bring it into my bedroom! But it’s also gorgeously written—eerie and atmospheric, with the most immersive worldbuilding. Its monster is terrifying, but the main characters—all girls—are so, so powerful. This is one of my top YA novels of all time. 

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The Dead and the Dark

By Courtney Gould

Book cover of The Dead and the Dark

Why this book?

The Dead and the Dark is a whole mood: A small town full of secrets, a mysterious dark force killing teenagers, a swoony-worthy sapphic romance, and absolutely gorgeous, moody writing. (I kept reading lines out loud to anyone who would listen!) Throw in a pair of TV ghost hunters and a great supporting cast and you have the perfect read for a dark and stormy evening under the covers.  

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Dread Nation

By Justina Ireland

Book cover of Dread Nation

Why this book?

I’m not sure I can adequately express how brilliant and original Dread Nation is. A Civil War-era alternate history about girls who battle the undead in the context of Reconstruction? I don’t even particularly like zombies, but I was completely and totally hooked. The main character is so well written and her voice is so strong and compelling that you can’t help but want to follow her anywhere. 

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What We Harvest

By Ann Fraistat

Book cover of What We Harvest

Why this book?

Action-packed and fast-moving, What We Harvest is one of those books that you can’t put down. A horrible (sentient?) blight infecting crops, animals, and people is a terrifying foe, and at times this book is brutal. But its main character and her friends are the most resilient, resourceful crew I’ve encountered in a long time. I rooted for them so hard.

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Within These Wicked Walls

By Lauren Blackwood

Book cover of Within These Wicked Walls

Why this book?

I initially picked up Within These Wicked Walls because it was inspired by Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorite books, but I kept reading because it has some of the most original and interesting worldbuilding I’ve seen in YA. The main character is an exorcist hired to cleanse a big spooky house of its unsettling supernatural manifestations, and she puts everything on the line to get the job done. 

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