As soon as the calendar flips from summer to fall, you’ll find horror lovers reaching for chilling reads for the next couple of months. If you’re looking for excellent horror books for middle school, there are plenty of options for your middle grade readers to get you through the spooky season.
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Harper Raine is a 7th grader who’s just moved into a new home with her family. From the moment she steps foot in this house, she knows something strange is going on. The place gives Harper a strange sense of deja vu that she can’t explain, and her brother is acting very much unlike himself. It doesn’t help that there are rumors that the family’s new home is haunted. Harper feels like there’s something she should remember that would help her uncover the secrets of the house, but for some reason she’s having trouble unlocking those memories. Will Harper be able to put together the mysteries of the house in time to save her brother?
Hide and Seeker by Daka Herman
In this book, a classic childhood game of hide-and-seek becomes a gateway to a nightmare world. Justin’s best friend Zee has been missing for a whole year. Then out of nowhere and without explanation, Zee comes back, and Justin can tell something about him is different. At Zee’s welcome home party, a group of kids decide to play hide-and-seek, and the game goes terribly wrong. One by one, the children playing the game start to disappear, transported to a world of their nightmares.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
In author Katherine Arden’s middle grade debut, she tells the story of an 11-year-old girl named Ollie who finds solace in books. In fact, she loves books so much that when she sees a woman about to throw a book into the river, Ollie rushes to save the book. Then she starts to read it, discovering the chilling story of a girl named Beth and a deal made with “the smiling man.” The story immediately captures Ollie’s attention, but when she discovers the graves of the people she’s been reading about, it all becomes too real.
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Bunnicula is a classic horror book for middle school that had to be on this list. If you love animals or if you love vampires, you are going to love this book. In Bunnicula, Harold the dog and Chester the cat must get to the bottom of what’s going on with the newest pet in the Monroe household. It’s a bunny with fangs and unusual eating habits. Could this seemingly adorable but strange bunny actually be a vampire?
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Speaking of classic horror books for middle school, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is so spooky that it even scares adult readers. Beware of this disturbingly uncanny book if you easily scare! Coraline’s new home has 14 doors. Thirteen of them easily open and close. But the 14th? It’s usually locked, and when Coraline unlocks it, there’s only a brick wall on the other side. Then one day, Coraline unlocks the door to find a passageway to another world. One that looks just like her own, only different.
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
The Jumbies is a creepy story based on the Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree,” and middle graders will not want to put this one down. Corinne is certain that jumbies are just made-up tricksters that parents created to frighten children into behaving, so she’s not scared of them one bit. Then one day she wanders into the forbidden forest and sees shining yellow eyes watching her from the edge of the trees, and she wonders if it could be a real jumbie. The next day, Corinne sees a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch, and she knows something unexpected is about to happen.
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
Iris and her best friend Daniel are playing in the freshly fallen snow when they come across something unexpected: the crumbling gravestone of a young girl named Avery Moore. From that moment forward, strange things start happening to Iris. She has vivid nightmares, and she’s certain she’s seeing the shadow of Avery lurking in the woods. When Iris and Daniel start a school project researching the area, they discover that Avery’s grave is part of a forgotten Black cemetery, from a time when cemeteries were segregated. And they become determined to restore Avery’s grave to pay proper respect to the young girl and others buried there.
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
This spooky middle grade novel is the story of orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip who move to a creepy, crumbling English manor to work as servants. But as soon as the children get there, they realize that everything is not as it seems. Not only does the old house hide a mysterious spectre, there’s also an ancient curse that is a threat to the children’s lives. Auxier’s novel is a fresh take on the classic gothic ghost story that’s perfect for spooky season.
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Victoria leads a perfect life and has zero tolerance for nonsense. She’s the exact opposite of her best friend Lawrence who is lazy, always wears his shirt untucked, and is obsessed with his piano. They’re so different that they make for unlikely friends, and he often gets on Victoria’s nerves. That is…until Lawrence goes missing. Soon Victoria discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it seems. The children who go in to the school come out different—if they come out at all.
Charlie and the Grandmothers by Katy Towell
Your trips to visit your grandmother have never been this scary. This middle grade horror novel is the story of 12-year-old Charlie Ougght. He knows something strange is going on as soon as he and his sister are sent off to stay with a grandmother they’ve never met. At first their grandmother Pearl and her sister Opal seem harmless. But soon Charlie will discover the truth behind the grandmothers and their dastardly plot to help an ancient queen rule the world.
Where the Woods End by Charlotte Salter
Kestrel is a young huntress who lives in a forest filled with dangerous beasts. Most frightening of all are the Grabbers, a creature that’s born when you are and follows you throughout your life, trying to snatch you up. Once someone is attacked by their Grabber, they never survive. Kestrel has been given the seemingly impossible task of hunting down these Grabbers to protect the village. But while she hunts down these creatures, her own Grabber is hunting her.
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafeh
Whichwood is the follow-up to Tahereh Mafeh’s Furthermore, but you can read Whichwood as a standalone and as it’s more of a companion novel than a true sequel. If you’re looking for something spooky, it’s the darker book of the two, but both are great reads. This is the story of a girl named Laylee who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead and prepare their souls for the afterlife. The work makes Laylee feel extremely lonely, not to mention her hands are stiffening and her hair is turning silver. Then a pair of strangers appears, and suddenly Laylee’s life opens up to new possibilities.
Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
This book follows the story of Lucely and her best friend Syd who set out to save Lucely’s firefly spirits and accidentally end up awakening malicious spirits instead. Now they must work with Lucely’s witch grandmother Babette and her tabby Chunk to save the town from the bad spirits and save the firefly spirits too. Ghost Squad has elements of Ghostbusters, Coco, and Stranger Things that will appeal to readers of all ages, but especially middle school readers looking for fun horror books.
Doll Bones by Holly Black
Zach, Poppy, and Alice are best friends. For nearly their entire lives, they’ve been playing together, imagining worlds of adventure and magic. Then one day Zach’s father decides he’s too old to play make-believe anymore, and Zach decides it’s time to stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. However, now that Zach is no longer playing with them, strange things start happening to Poppy and Alice. Poppy swears she’s being haunted by a china doll that claims to be made of the ground-up bones of a dead girl. Now, they must return the bones to where they came from or be cursed for eternity.
Lilac Skully and the Haunted House by Amy Cesari
What horror lover doesn’t appreciate a good haunted house story? In Amy Cesari’s middle grade horror novel, Lilac Skully must fight against the ghosts that haunt her house after her father’s mysterious disappearance, even though she’s terrified of ghosts. Then, to make matters worse, intruders break into Lilac’s home, and she realizes there are things in this world even scarier than haunted houses. This is the first book in the Supernatural Adventures of Lilac Skully series, which are all great horror books for middle school.
If you’re looking for more horror book recommendations, never fear. Unless you want to fear, because it’s horror. But either way, we’ve got plenty of horror for you for all reading levels. Check out these Young Adult Horror Books or these Must-Read Scary Children’s Books!