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Best New Thrillers, Scary Tales and Mysteries for Teens

The Seattle Public Library’s top picks for teen horror fiction

Published on: October 26, 2022

Wide eyes looking out over an open book

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Seattle Public Library Shelf Talk Blog and is reprinted here by permission. 

October is the month for costumes and candy and scary stories. While the little children jump at the word “Boo,” older teens are looking for something a little more, shall we say, visceral?

Here are some new books for teen readers hungry for the real thing.

In “Clown in a Cornfield” by Adam Cesare, Quinn and her father try to start a new life in small Kettle Springs, but find the town is well split between the adults trying to uphold tired traditions and the kids who just want to have fun. The town may fall apart, but then the school mascot, dressed as a clown in a porkpie hat, starts to cull the rotten kids.

The Taking of Jake Livingston” follows Jake, one of the only Black kids at his school, and certainly the only person who can see the dead. Most of them are harmless, but one, a school shooter who took his own life, sees that Jake can see him, and he has plans to bring him into the afterlife.

In “Killing Time,” true-crime fan Natalie takes matters into her own hand when her favorite teacher is murdered. With the help of a new boy in town, she soon learns that some secrets are not meant to be revealed.

Very Bad People” tells how Calliope leaves her small village behind to attend a boarding school, where she might uncover the secrets behind her mother’s death.

In “The Counselors,” three girls advance from camp kids to become camp counselors, but when a local is found dead right before the new batch of camp kids arrives for the summer, the girls know they have a number of mysteries to solve.

Two Truths and a Lie” follows a vanload of theater kids stranded in a snowstorm along with a group of robotics students. A game of Two Truths and a Lie reveals that one person in the remote hotel is a killer. And then the murders begin.

In “Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets,” Savannah joins a survival club on a hike near where her sister fell and nearly died, but the long hike reveals there are many people who may have wanted her sister dead.

It Will End Like This” follows sisters Charlotte and Maddi, who suspect their father and his new girlfriend are behind their mother’s sudden death.

You’ll Be the Death of Me” tells the story of how three students decide to skip school and go downtown, and how they see another student skipping class, follow him and find themselves in a murder scene.

In “Dig Two Graves,” Neve and Diane meet at a girls’ empowerment camp, where they joke about killing off each other’s enemies, but when Neve’s estranged friend is found dead and Diane blackmails Neve to kill her stepbrother, what can Neve do?

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