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Horror Books I Wish I Had Growing Up

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P.N. Hinton

Contributing Editor

Born into a family of readers, P.N. gained a love reading as a sort of herd mentality. This love of reading has remained a life long passion, resulting in an English Degree from The University of Houston in Houston, Texas. She normally reads three to four books at any given time, in the futile Sisyphean hope of whittling down her ever growing to be read pile of no specific genre.

It is that time of year: spooky book season.

My love for horror may not be as obvious my love for romance and cozy mystery, but I do enjoy it very much. In the last few months especially, I have found myself drawn to it increasingly. I’m not exactly sure why—maybe it is just the idea that as wild as the world is, at least I’m not dealing with supernatural baddies.

Well, not yet at least.

Whatever the reason, I am happy to start off the spooky book season early. I have been gravitating more towards YA horror since there are so many new options there. When I was growing up, those book were very white. I mean no disrespect to the books of that era, the nostalgia is very real. I still enjoy the occasional R.L. Stine or Point Horror, but I never saw someone like me in those books that wasn’t the token best friend and/or hapless victim. It is very important for young impressionable readers to see themselves in books, something I have touched on before. 

Nowadays young horror fans have it much better in terms of diversity. I’m constantly amazed at the variety that is available there across multiple genres. Here are a few that a younger me would have loved to see at her book fair.

The Jumbies cover

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

As someone who didn’t grow up with a specific kind of boogeyman, I have always had a fascination with the various types of them out there. It seems every culture has its own way of trying to keep children in line through the threat of a supernatural baddie coming to get you, and this series has that in droves.

One thing I really enjoy in this series is that you see the story from the main Jumbie’s point of view. It’s an interesting take since that doesn’t happen very often in YA, and it helped to put a new perspective on the story and its ending. She’s still very much the villain of the story, but you understand the why. I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more about Corinne and the Jumbies.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This book surprised me with the sheer rawness of it. No disrespect intended, but the premise wasn’t exactly unique. Cas definitely exudes Supernatural vibes which isn’t a bad thing; it is a popular show for a reason. The idea of a vengeful ghost dressed in white is something that is prevalent in all camp fire stories. But the sheer ferocity of Anna is startling.

I remember reading an especially violent moment early on in the book and just sitting there in a bit of a shock that it went that far that soon. Once I read that, I knew that this book was going to stick out for me and stand out among other ghost stories I’ve read. I am not sure that a book this explicit in its violence would have been well received in the era that I grew up in. As morbid as it sounds, I’m glad it is around to enjoy now.

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

In my opinion, some of the best stories are the ones that also teach you something about history you may not have previously known. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t know that cemeteries were segregated at one point, or if I did know, I’d forgotten about it. This story brings up that part of our history and weaves it in with a spooky ghost story about a little girl long forgotten by the world. She wants not only to be remembered, but to have a friend to play with in the afterlife.

There were so many parts of this book that sent up chills up my spine and had me making sure all my curtains were drawn, lest I look out and see ghost eyes staring back at me. On top of being a good read, it also opens the door to have good conversations with the youth about the importance of remembering our history and how everyone contributes to the world as a whole in some way.

Say Her Name by Juno Dawson

I have a love/hate relationship with the Bloody Mary lore. I did the Bloody Mary thing as a youth and it was a terrible idea. Until my dying day, I will swear that something appeared in that mirror. This story is a marriage of that lore plus The Ring where lead character Bobbie allows herself to get teased into saying that name in front of a mirror.

The next day she gets a message in the mirror: “five days.” From there it is a race against the clock to find out whatever it is this supernatural being wants her to discover. With the help of her friends Naya and Caine, will she be able to solve the mystery before her time is up? This kept me on the edge of my seat and the ending gave me pause. I wholeheartedly recommend this for the spooky season.

Hide and Seeker by Daka Harmon

This looks like the perfect book to read on rainy Friday night when you’re missing the joy of sleepovers. After going missing for a year, Zee mysteriously reappears with no one being sure what happened to him. Everyone is just happy to have him back including his friends Lyric, Justin, and Nia.

But his friends notice that there is something different about him, a concern that is compounded when Zee freaks out at a seemingly innocent game of hide and seek. After the game, all the participants receive a weird mark on their wrist and then go missing. They have been pulled into the Nowhere and must band together to defeat the Seeker, a being who is their worst nightmares personified.

I am always on the hunt for more horror, YA or otherwise. Let us know over on social media some of your favorites. Whether you’re young or young at heart, help me scare myself even more. Don’t worry about contributing to my lack of sleep; it’s already minimal at best!