Small But Frighty: 8 Horror Novels About Creepy Kids to Haunt You This Holiday Season

Addison Rizer


Addison Rizer is a writer and reader of anything that can be described as weird, sad, or scary. She has an MA in Professional Writing and a BA in English. She writes for Book Riot and Publishers Weekly and is always looking for more ways to gush about the books she loves. Find her published work or contact her on her website or at addisonrizer at gmaildotcom.

I can’t be the only one who gets such a kick out of those Tweets or Reddit threats about creepy things kids did. Like telling the story of a past life in which they were married to someone lost at sea, or families they had before. Kids who seem to know things they shouldn’t about lost family members or strangers they’ve never met. Times they lingered over their sleeping parents or saw monsters in the corner of the room or invisible malicious friends. Kids just say the darnedest things, don’t they?

These threats are all in good fun with a sense of teasing to them now the creep factor of whatever was said subsided. There’s a “they grew out of it” vibe to a lot of these threads. Kids’ imaginations run wild and their grip on reality and language is unstable at best, so what they say isn’t always to be trusted.

But what happens when it’s not just a phase? When it’s genuine creepiness coming from the child living in the bedroom down the hallway? Horror books happen, that’s what!

Here are eight horror novels with some of my favorite creepy kid characters to enjoy this festive holiday season!

Horror Novels About Creepy Kids

Cover of The Other by Thomas Tryon

The Other by Thomas Tyron

Twins Holland and Niles grew up on a remote farm with a strange sort of telepathy between them. Holland was always the troublemaker, Niles the one cleaning up the damage left in his wake. After the loss of their father in an accident pushes their mother to the brink mentally, they are largely left to care for themselves. As Holland’s aggressive behavior gets more and more worrying and tragedy seems to follow the twins, Holland and Niles’s relationship is pushed to the edge.

cover of Such Small Hands by Andres Barba

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba, Translated by Lisa Dillman

Seven-year-old Marina loses her parents in a car accident that also leaves her injured and needing therapy. Afterwards, she’s sent to an orphanage, now alone in the world. Despite them all being orphans, the kids around her bully and steal from her, ruining the doll she was given by the psychologist at the hospital. To win them over, she asks them to play a game at night where they pretend to be dolls, but the game isn’t quite so innocent after all.

cover of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage; photo of a smashed red lollipop

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Hanna is 7 and adores her father. Too bad her mom, Suzette, is in the picture too, always taking her away from him. As a result, Hanna develops the habit of scaring her mother, tricking her, willfully going against everything she wants her to do. Despite her husband’s oblivion to Hanna’s escalating behavior, Suzette is at her wit’s end with Hannah’s every attempt to get rid of her for good.

cover of Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin

Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin

Amanda is dying in a hospital room in Argentina, a young boy named David beside her. But he isn’t her son and his interrogation of her and her past isn’t friendly or even comprehensible at times. He wants to know about the worms in the body. In the process of their conversation, Amanda reveals her past with her own daughter. Strangely, her past intersects with David’s more closely than she realized.

cover of Ghostwritten by Ronald Malfi; photo of a young boy in clown makeup standing in shadow

Ghostwritten by Ronald Malfi

Ghostwritten is a compilation of four novellas all on the theme of books. In This Book Belongs to Olo, a homeschooled son of authors creates his own pop-up book of his house. But it’s not just a normal book; it shifts the layout of his home, making hidden hallways appear. Desperate for companionship, Olo invites a group of kids over for his birthday to try to make them his best friends forever.

cover of the icarus girl by helen oyeyemi

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi

Jessamy is half Nigerian and half English. At eight, she’s imaginative and intelligent to a fault, her ability to fit in at school impacted by her tendency to wander off inside her mind. While on a visit to Nigeria, Jessamy meets TillyTilly, a young girl who pushes her to break rules and do things she shouldn’t do. As TillyTilly’s actions get more and more scary, Jessamy wonders if she’s really her friend after all.

Cover of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco

Murdered hundreds of years ago, Okiku haunts the Earth seeking revenge on people who hurt children, especially men. When she meets a boy, Tarquin, his strange tattoos and the evil she can see inside of him catch her attention. But her every attempt at saving him fails and she must turn to extreme measures in the hopes of keeping him safe and alive.

cover of Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

After a disease kills all of the children around the world who haven’t yet hit puberty, the remaining people on Earth are left grieving and with no answers as to why. But then three days later, the children, buried, rise from the dead. But they’re not quite right with their gray skin and lack of heartbeats with only a craving for blood. The novel focuses on three families dealing with their children who’ve come back from the dead with bloody, bloody appetites.

I hope you found at least one of these kids creepy enough to add to your TBR. If you’re in the mood for more creep-filled reading, check out these suburban horror novels or these under the radar horror books!