It’s officially spooky season, AKA the time of the year when I try and stuff as many eerie and unsettling books on my TBR as humanly possible. I never quite manage to get to them all, but I always start out with a lot of ambition. Earlier this year I enjoyed Netflix’s Fear Street adaptation, which subverted that boring old convention of killing off its queer characters early on. In the film trilogy, queer love is clearly portrayed on the screen and it is challenged (oh, is it ever challenged) but it ultimately triumphs. I want to see more stories like that in horror, which is why I am so pleased that these three YA horror novels feature queer characters front and center. It’s enough to push them to the top of my reading list! And as happy as I am to see it, I would love to see publishing put out even more queer horror books by authors of color.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglas
Jake Livingston is a student at St. Clair Prep, where the racist teachers make his life nearly as miserable as the ghosts he can see everywhere he goes. He tries to help the ghosts along as best he can and does a decent job at it, and when another Black student starts at St. Clair, he thinks that maybe his life is finally turning around. Then comes Sawyer Doon, a troubled ghost who was a mass murderer before taking his own life, and is intent on making Jake’s life a living hell.
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
Logan is the daughter of two supernatural ghost hunters with their own TV show. She’s reluctantly dragged along to their various shooting sites, but when she arrives in Snakebite, Oregon, she knows something here is different. Teens are disappearing and weather patterns are weird. Logan meets Ashley, whose boyfriend was an early victim on Snakebite, and the two begin searching for answers for what is happening…and maybe falling for each other along the way.
The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Dare is the host of the podcast Attachments, which investigates matters of the paranormal. Dare is privately a skeptic, but she doesn’t let on to her listeners that she thinks the first case she’s discussing — a mysterious death at Arrington Estate — has a much more mundane cause. As Dare peels back the layers of this cold case, expecting to find evidence of murder, she instead discovers dark secrets that point to something lurking in the lake…and she might not be able to escape its thrall.
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