The best YA books to scare away a good night’s sleep

Who am I?

I’ve always loved to be scared! When I was young I turned off the lights to watch movies like Alien and It. When I got older, I played Resident Evil and Silent Hill. And when I got even older, I started writing things that would make me jump if the dog came in too suddenly mid-chapter. I think we are drawn to scary books and movies because they give us a safe way to explore the unknown – and, less philosophically, because sometimes it’s just fun to get sucked into a dark and creepy universe!


I wrote...

Sanctuary

By Caryn Lix,

Book cover of Sanctuary

What is my book about?

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company. But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than getting Kenzie out safely. As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming.

The books I picked & why

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The Diviners

By Libba Bray,

Book cover of The Diviners

Why this book?

Diviners is a book full of fascinating characters, eerie happenings, and surprise twists. It describes the world of 1920s New York so vividly you’ll feel you’re actually there, and then rips the rug of reality right out from underneath your feet. If, like me, you have a penchant for ghost stories and a fascination with the not-so-distant past, The Diviners will hook you from page one. 


Illuminae

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Book cover of Illuminae

Why this book?

The coolest thing about Illuminae is the sheer variety of storytelling techniques. You weave in and out of people’s heads, journals, and hacked conversations as you try to piece together the frightening story of what really happened on the planet Kady and Ezra had to flee. The story is so fast-paced you won’t have a minute to gasp for breath until the book sucker punches you out of nowhere, leaving you reeling and desperate to learn what happens next!


Icarus

By Danika Stone,

Book cover of Icarus

Why this book?

Icarus is a totally different kind of scary read from what I normally pick up, more psychological thriller than actual horror – but don’t let that stop you from reading this amazing book. In Icarus, Stone leads us through a complicated, dark, and forgotten history until we find the place Tess’ present intersects with her half-forgotten past. The ride is thrilling and the conclusion won’t leave you disappointed!


House of Furies

By Madeleine Roux, Iris Compiet (illustrator),

Book cover of House of Furies

Why this book?

This is another period piece, this one a classic Victorian gothic that appeals to my secret nostalgia for the old original horror pieces such as Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, or Jane Eyre. The main character finds herself enmeshed in a strange and dark world where right and wrong become blurred as she struggles to find the place she fits in. You won’t be able to stop reading between one chapter and the next. 


Contagion

By Erin Bowman,

Book cover of Contagion

Why this book?

Pre-Covid, I loved to read about dangerous viruses taking over the world. The genre has lost a liiiiitle bit of its charm since then, but Contagion is too good a story to pass up. It reminds me powerfully of the Dead Space video games, with its mysteriously uninhabited space stations. Like the very best scary sci-fi, it blurs the line between the terrifying things close to home – like an unexplained illness – and the deep, dark, scary depths of space we have yet to understand!


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