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.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Diviners

Caryn Lix Why did I love 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. 

By Libba Bray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Diviners as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just…


Book cover of Illuminae

Caryn Lix Why did I love 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!

By Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Illuminae as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

'Never have I read a book so wholly unique and utterly captivating.' Marie Lu

'It certainly filled the Battlestar Galactica-shaped hole in my heart.' Victoria Aveyard

The internationally bestselling first book in a high-octane trilogy

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she'd ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has…


Book cover of Icarus

Caryn Lix Why did I love 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!

By Danika Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Icarus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Being the ‘new kid’ at school is hard, but for Tess Novak - who’s moved more times than she can remember - it’s a role she knows by heart. Transferring during senior year means yet another place she’ll eventually leave, more classmates she’ll forget. Fate, it seems, has other plans.From the moment Tess is introduced to honor student Drew Martinez, she is convinced she has met him before. But when? Confident and attractive, Drew is exactly the type of ‘rich kid’ Tess’s father hates, and Tess avoids. Thrown together by a class project, their tentative friendship sparks a smoldering attraction.…


Book cover of House of Furies

Caryn Lix Why did I love 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. 

By Madeleine Roux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked House of Furies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

An all-new creepy fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author of Asylum.

Featuring stunning interior illustrations from artist Iris Compiet, plus photo-collages that bring the story to chilling life, House of Furies invites readers to a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin.

After escaping a harsh school where punishment was the lesson of the day, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton is thrilled to find employment as a maid at a boarding house.

But soon after her arrival at Coldthistle House, Louisa begins to realize that the house's mysterious owner, Mr. Morningside, is providing much more…


Book cover of Contagion

Caryn Lix Why did I love 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!

By Erin Bowman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Contagion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Mystery

Perfect for fans of Madeleine Roux, Jonathan Maberry, and horror films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, this pulse-pounding, hair-raising, utterly terrifying novel is the first in a duology from the critically acclaimed author of the Taken trilogy.

After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.

When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could…


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The Romanov Heiress

By Jennifer Laam,

Book cover of The Romanov Heiress

Jennifer Laam Author Of The Romanov Heiress

New book alert!

Who am I?

A proud native of Stockton, CA, Jennifer Laam resides in California with a temperamental tabby cat named Jonesy. Her other works of historical fiction are The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, The Tsarina’s Legacy, and The Lost Season of Love and Snow. When not reading or writing, she enjoys planning cosplay for the next San Diego Comic-Con, experimenting with vegetarian recipes (to mixed results), cooing at Baby Yoda, or obsessing over House Targaryen. 

Jennifer's book list on the last Romanovs

What is my book about?

Four sisters in hiding. A grand duchess in disguise. Dark family secrets revealed. An alternate future for the Romanovs from Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter Of The Tsar.

With her parents and brother missing and presumed dead, former Grand Duchess Olga Romanova must keep her younger sisters safe. The Bolsheviks are determined to eliminate any remaining holdovers from the tsarist regime, hunting down the last Romanovs and putting them to death. Now living in England, the Romanov sisters remain hidden to protect their identities, even as isolation strains their relationships. But they can’t distance themselves from the world forever.

The Romanov Heiress

By Jennifer Laam,

What is this book about?

Four sisters in hiding. A grand duchess in disguise. Dark family secrets revealed...an alternate future for the Romanovs from Jennifer Laam, author of The Secret Daughter of the Tsar and The Lost Season of Love and Snow.

With her parents and brother missing and presumed dead, Grand Duchess Olga Romanova must keep her younger sisters safe. The Bolsheviks are determined to eliminate any remaining holdovers from the tsarist regime, hunting down the last Romanovs and putting them to death. Now living in England, the Romanov sisters remain hidden to protect their identities, even as isolation strains their relationships.

But they…


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