I am not a big horror fan. I’m actually a big chicken, but I do love a good YA ghost story. I’ve read many of these and others I haven’t but come highly recommended by my 6th and 7th grade students.
Mary Downing Hahn Books
One of my all time favorite spooky story authors is Mary Downing Hahn. I’ve read almost all of her books I think. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Closed for the Season
- All the Lovely Bad Ones
- Promises to the Dead
- Deep, Dark, and Dangerous
- Wait til Helen Comes
Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw
This is a story that has stuck with me for years and years. I loved this story. It has elements of mystery, thriller pacing, and horror.
“With every step he takes around the carefully manicured grounds of Minerva Hall, Jim is haunted by the ghosts of children, long dead, whom no one else can see. Urging him to “find the Seventh,” the children leave him cryptic clues pointing to a devastating ancient prophecy that only he can stop from being fulfilled.
Jim befriends another boy–Einstein, who lives at the Hall. Einstein is autistic and very, very smart. If anyone can help Jim find the Seventh, perhaps he can–Einstein clearly knows more than he is saying. At the same time, the dead children seem to be leaving Jim some sort of macabre treasure trail.
If Jim doesn’t figure out the clues, innocent people will die. But how can Jim find the answers while the dangers of the Hall grow ever more threatening? And even if he can, the real question is–is Jim already too late?” (from Goodreads Synopsis)
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
“For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.” (from Goodreads Synopsis)
Anya’s Ghost (Graphic Novel) by Vera Brosgol
“Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.” (from Goodreads Synopsis)
This was a pretty good story. I was hesitant to put this on my shelf because the main character (a child) smokes in a very nonchalant way. I don’t like that aspect but my desire to not censor won out and it is on my shelf. My students are enjoying the story.
Stone Child by Dan Poblacki
“Eddie Fennicks has always been a loner, content to lose himself in a mystery novel by his favorite author, Nathaniel Olmstead. That’s why moving to the small town of Gatesweed becomes a dream come true when Eddie discovers that Olmstead lived there before mysteriously disappearing thirteen years ago. Even better, Eddie finds a handwritten, never-before-seen Nathaniel Olmstead book printed in code and befriends Harris, who’s as much an Olmsteady as he is. But then the frightening creatures of Olmstead’s books begin to show up in real life, and Eddie’s dream turns into a nightmare. Eddie, Harris, and their new friend, Maggie, must break Olmstead’s code, banish all gremlins and monster lake-dogs from the town of Gatesweed, and solve the mystery of the missing author, all before Eddie’s mom finishes writing her own tale of terror and brings to life the scariest creature of all.” (from Amazon Synopsis)
My students LOVE Dan Poblocki books! Some other excellent books by him are:
- The Ghosts of Graylock
- The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe
- Shadow House Series
- The Nightmarys
- The Book of Bad Things
Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, Larkin Reed
“Sarah Parsons has never seen Amber House, the grand Maryland estate that’s been in her family for three centuries. She’s never walked its hedge maze nor found its secret chambers; she’s never glimpsed the shades that haunt it, nor hunted for the lost diamonds in its walls. But after her grandmother passes away, Sarah and her friend Jackson decide to search for the diamonds–and the House comes alive. She discovers that she can see visions of the House’s past, like the eighteenth-century sea captain who hid the jewels, or the glamorous great-grandmother driven mad by grief. Sarah grows closer to both Jackson and a young man named Richard Hathaway, whose family histories are each deeply entwined with her own. But when her ghostly visions start to threaten the person she holds most dear, Sarah must do everything she can to get to the bottom of the House’s secrets, and stop the course of history before it is cemented forever.” (from Amazon Synopsis)
This book and its sequel has been wildly popular with my students!
Ruined by Paula Morris
This is another one I read. It is very well written. This is a New Orleans ghost story…no better place for a good ghost story, right?!
“Rebecca couldn’t feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She’s staying in a creepy old house with her Aunt Claudia, who reads Tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she’s invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he’s got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city.” (from Goodreads)
I hope that one or more of these stories piqued your interest. If you’ve read some of these, let me know in the comments which ones are your favorite.
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