‘Tis the season of spooks, scares, and black cat hairs. To get yourself into the mood for all things haunted, strap in and prepare to get your scary reading on. These YA horror books of 2018 range from books about zombies and witches to books about catastrophic diseases, ghosts, and deep, dark woods.
What makes horror special is that it’s not a genre. It’s a mood. This means that YA horror can cross genres and allow readers frightening reads from contemporary fiction to fantasy and science fiction. Horror allows space not only for monsters and creatures and beings, but also for serial killers, for natural disasters, and more.
Included in this roundup of YA horror 2018 titles are books that are sequels or companions to earlier series titles, indicated with a *. The descriptions should be spoiler-free, but as always, be careful with titles carrying a “*” beside them.
While I’ve read a good number of these books this year so far, many more are still piled atop my TBR. I wish I could write my own snappy descriptions for each one, but…I’m going to have to rely on Goodreads.
Are there any other YA horror 2018 books you’d add to the list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, especially if you know of more titles by authors of color.
YA Horror 2018 Books
The Agony House by Cherie Priest and Tara O’Connor
Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast. Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here. Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn’t budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive…
Beneath The Citadel by Destiny Soria
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her—and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city—or themselves.
Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.
When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.
*Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova
Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.
Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…
Campfire by Shawn Sarles
While camping in a remote location, Maddie Davenport gathers around the fire with her friends and family to tell scary stories. Caleb, the handsome young guide, shares the local legend of the ferocious Mountain Men who hunt unsuspecting campers and leave their mark by carving grisly antlers into their victims’ foreheads.
The next day, the story comes true.
Now Maddie and her family are lost in the deep woods—with no way out—being stalked by their worst nightmares. Because there were other, more horrifying stories told that night—and Maddie’s about to find out just how they end.
*Contagion by Erin Bowman
It got in us.
After receiving an urgent SOS from a work detail on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is dispatched to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.
Most are dead.
But when the crew arrives, they find an abandoned site, littered with rotten food, discarded weapons…and dead bodies.
Don’t set foot here again.
As they try to piece together who—or what—could have decimated an entire operation, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
*Court of Shadows by Madeleine Roux
In this second book of Madeleine Roux’s expansive gothic horror series, illustrations from artist Iris Compiet and chilling photographs help bring to life a world where the line between monsters and men is ghostly thin.
After the frightful events of last autumn, seventeen-year-old Louisa Ditton has settled into her role as a maid at Coldthistle House, but she has not settled into what that means for her humanity.
As Louisa struggles to figure out whether she is worthy of redemption, the devilish Mr. Morningside plans a fete—one that will bring new guests to Coldthistle House. From wicked humans to Upworlders, angelic beings who look down upon Mr. Morningside’s monstrous staff, all are armed with their own brand of self-righteous justice.
Even a man claiming to be Louisa’s father has a role to play, though what his true motive is, Louisa cannot tell. The conflicts will eventually come to a head on the grounds of Coldthistle House—and the stakes include Louisa’s very soul.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets…until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything—except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable—and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost…as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist
Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.
*Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.
The Fade by Demitria Lunetta
We don’t want to disappear. We want to be found.
Something terrible happened in her basement. Haley can feel it.
Four girls went missing several years ago, and the police never solved the case. But Haley know the missing girls were murdered. How else can she explain the hostile presence in her house?
The ghostly girls need something from her. And unless Haley can figure out what they want…she might be next.
The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas
Clare has been miserable since her exorcism. The preacher that rid her of evil didn’t understand that her demon—simply known as Her—was like a sister to Clare. Now, Clare will do almost anything to get Her back. After a chance encounter with the son of the preacher who exorcised her, Clare goes on an adventure through the dark underbelly of her small Southern town, discovering its deep-seated occult roots. As she searches for Her, she must question the fine lines between good and evil, love and hate, and religion and free will. Vivid and sharp, The Good Demon tells the unusual story of friendship amid dark Gothic horror.
The Gone Away Place by Christopher Barzak
Ellie heads up her high school yearbook, and until the tornadoes come, her biggest worry is how to raise enough money to print them. But since the day when a rash of powerful tornadoes touched down in Newfoundland, Ohio—killing more than half of the students in her school, not to mention dozens more people throughout the town—she’s been haunted: by the ghosts of her best friends, by the boy next door, even by her boyfriend. And the living are haunting her too, all those left behind in the storm’s wake to cope with the “gone away” pieces in their lives. A chance encounter with one ghost leads Ellie to discover a way to free the spirits that have been lingering since the storm, and she learns that she’s not the only one seeing the ghosts—it’s a town-wide epidemic.
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love. But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human. Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittora, the evil witch who spelled her into existence. That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood—and Anouk is accused of the crime.
Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away. If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known…but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.
*Heart of Ash by Kim Liggett
Ash may have escaped the immortal-worshipping cult that killed her mother, but the love of her life is still under its thrall. Dane has been possessed by his diabolical ancestor Coronado, a man who’s fabulously wealthy, dripping with fame, and the leader of Europe’s most dangerous immortal network. Dane begs Ash to join him at Coronado’s castle in Spain, and swears that his blood bond with Ash is stronger than Coronado’s hold over him. Ash is desperate to help Dane vanquish Coronado without having to sacrifice herself to the darkness. But when you’re all in, blood and salt, the only way to hold on to the light might just be by setting everything on fire.
*Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco
In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection—now she’s after revenge…
No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her—and took the life of her one true love.
But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…
War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.
Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…
June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.
*Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out—dissecting living people is a step too far.
But when she tries to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold on the black market in his place—because Nita herself is a supernatural being. Now Nita is on the other side of the bars, and there is no line she won’t cross to escape and make sure no one can ever capture her again.
Nita did a good deed, and it cost her everything. Now she’s going to do a lot of bad deeds to get it all back.
Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Cecile Brun
Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter follows the adventures of two young foreigners as they travel to a remote and mysterious corner of Japan. Along the way, they purchase an old camera that has the unique ability to capture images of Japan’s invisible spirit world. Armed with their magical camera, they explore the countryside and meet people who tell them about the forgotten ghosts, ghouls and demons who lie in wait ready to play tricks on them. These Yokai, or supernatural beings, are sometimes kind, sometimes mischievous, and sometimes downright dangerous!
Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato
When Lacy wakes up dead in Westminster Cemetery, final resting place of Edgar Allan Poe, she’s confused. It’s the job of Sam, a young soldier who died in 1865, to teach her the rules of the afterlife and to warn her about Suppression—a punishment worse than death.
Lacy desperately wants to leave the cemetery and find out how she died, but every soul is obligated to perform a job. Given the task of providing entertainment, Lacy proposes an open mic, which becomes a chance for the cemetery’s residents to express themselves. But Lacy is in for another shock when surprising and long-buried truths begin to emerge.
Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.
Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.
Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.
Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.
In space, nobody can hear you scream…but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.
A Room Away From The Wolves by Nova Ren Suma
Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.
Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave.
The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart
1982, the summer before seventh grade. Five kids with nothing in common—Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb, and Mack—become instant friends. On the last day of summer, they find a stone box buried in the forest, and each places an object inside to seal their friendship. And they make rules:
Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice.
1986, the summer before eleventh grade. The five haven’t spoken since that day in 1982. Sep has gone through the past four years alone and plans to escape to boarding school. But strange things are happening—mirrors are breaking unexpectedly, electricity is flickering in and out, and people are coming down with inexplicable physical ailments.
Someone has broken the rules. And it seems the five committed more than objects to the box’s ancient stone—they gave it their deepest secrets and darkest fears, and now these are being returned in a flood of shambling corpses, murderous toys, and undead pets. The gang must reunite in an attempt to discover the secrets of the sacrifice box—and Sep might be the only one who can stem its tide of evil before it’s too late.
Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand
Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.
He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.
Who are the Sawkill Girls?
Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.
Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.
Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.
Scream All Night by Derek Milman
Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.
But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.
With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
What The Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.
Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.
As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…
Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.
You May Now Kill The Bride by R.L. Stine
Two sisters, divided by time. Each with a terrible resentment she can barely contain.
Two Fear family weddings, decades apart…Each bride will find that the ancient curse that haunts the Fears LIVES ON. It feeds off the evil that courses through their blood. It takes its toll in unexpected ways, and allows dark history to repeat itself.
In this all-new Fear Street story, family ties bind sisters together—till DEATH do they part.