YA Horror, Reflections


The Scream by Edvard Munch

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to write YA horror. I suppose a lot of fiction that I like is horror but maybe not in the typical ways. I love Gothics of all kinds and am reading a book by Carol Goodman right now. In some places, it’s pretty horrific. People die. There’s constant tension over a really nasty villain. Even some of the good people are willing to kill over their beliefs. But I don’t think many readers consider The Blythewood series horror, but it’s very dark, dark in all the right places. So, I did some research and found this article at the School Library Journal.


I found the article insightful and tend to agree in so many areas. Many of the books listed in the essay I have bought for my own library. I think YA readers love “dark things” in their books and that horror covers a wide field of what’s being printed in the YA genre. Horror fiction, in general, is highly imaginative. It’s just not gore; there’s real psychological complication, sometimes with rich metaphors. Monsters are not just monsters, but boyfriends and girlfriends or inner selves. It’s all about dread. I love that word. I first felt it consciously as a young reader when confronted with school homework on Poe whose fiction is all about that sense of dread. Poe, like the article in School Library Journal, covered all areas of horror, from the supernatural to psychological horror to crime fiction, using “dread” at the center of all his fiction. Dread defined is anticipatory anxiety, a state in which we all feel fear, which can range from sudden threat of danger to what I call the three A’s—angst, anger, and alienation. The latter often reflects our perceptions of the times in which we live. It’s about the uncanny, you know, that little feeling that creeps into your life at odd times, making you feel strange and utterly alone, as though no one understands you, as though you are unconnected to the world at large. And yet, you can’t connect that feeling with anything solid. No label. No true understanding.

Here is a list of popular YA Horror listed at Goodreads. It’s a long, long list with so many different kinds of books.


And guess what?—I’ve made me a list of books I want to read.

So what is your favorite kind of YA Horror? Do you like serial killers, ghosts, witches and demons? Do you like the dark fantasy of fairy tale and other literary retellings? Do vampires seduce you? What YA Horror are you looking forward to reading this year? I’d love recommendations.


Leave a Reply

Previous Post
Next Post
Horror Author: Elizabeth Fields Visits Our Graveyard