Though you haven't been able to tell it by the weather here in the Seattle suburbs lately, it is the season of scary stories. When October 1st rolls around, I start to get the popular question, "Where are the SCARY books?" Luckily, this is also the time of year, where I pull all the scary stories off the shelf and display them front and center at the library's entrance.
Unfortunately, "scary" is much like "humor," it's all subjective...and sometimes dependent on where and when you are reading the book. The middle of the night when you are home alone may make a book slightly scarier than if you were reading it during homeroom surrounded by 30 of your classmates.
But since I am often asked what MY favorite scary/creepy/horror books are, I thought I would make the first Friday 15 column of the year about my Top 15 Scary Stories, perfect for a dark and scary night! In no particular order:
(1) The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Rory is spending a year in a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat...or is it a copycat?
(2) White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. This is one of the creepiest books that I have ever read. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy in my middle school library because it is pretty dark, but oh soooo good if you're older. I can still see the scenes in my head. Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow.
(3) This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins who stumble upon The Dark Library where secret books are stored.
(4) Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I am the first to admit that I do not like zombie novels, but this series starter had me hooked and I LOVE it. In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother's footsteps and become a bounty hunter.
(5) My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick. In the dangerous dark of winter in an Eastern European village during the early seventeenth century, Peter learns from a gypsy girl that the Shadow Queen is behind the recent murders and reanimations, and his father's secret past may hold the key to stopping her.
(6) Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Set after the second Civil War in America, this is the story of three teens attempting to escape from a society that wants to salvage their body parts.
(7) Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Mysterious blood-thirsty horses that come from the sea once each year. Brilliant writing and sense of place.
(8) Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Again, zombie novels are not my thing, but WOW does this book ever grab you! Mary wants to know what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead live.
(9) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. 13-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.
(10) Enemy by Charlie Higson. Roaming adult zombies out to kill the teen survivors of the apocalypse...in Buckingham Palace. Non-stop action.
(11) Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding. Thaniel, a wych-hunter, and Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to destroy the terrible creatures that infest the alleys of London's Old Quarter, their lives become entwined with that of Alaizabel Cray, a woman who may be either mad or possessed.
(12) Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick. Sensing a pattern of this author here? You should...the man is an amazing writer! A magician named Valerian has only the days between Christmas and New Years to save his own life after making a pact with the devil years before and seeks the help of a servant boy and an orphan girl named Willow.
(13) Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Well of course you have to have a title by Neil Gaiman!
(14) Blood Red Road by Moira Young. Okay, maybe not the scariest story. But it does have "blood" in the title and is quite possibly one of the best dystopian books I've read. Saba is one of the strongest girl characters to come across my shelves. I truly believe that she could take Katniss in a battle. Saba sets out to save her twin brother in one of the bleakest, most desolate settings. Captured, she is forced to cage fight for her freedom.
(15) Ashfall by Mike Mullin. This was the scariest dystopian book for me, because it was the one most based on reality. After the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano destroys his city and its surroundings, 15-year-old Alex must journey to find his parents and sister, trying to survive in a transformed landscape and a new society in which all the old rules of living have vanished.
Enjoy...and you might want to keep the lights on!