The Ladies of Horror Fiction team is putting a spotlight on Young Adult and Middle Grade horror each month. Below we are featuring the books that were released in July as well as what our team has been reading and reviewing.
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
The Unleashed (The Haunted #2) by Danielle Vega
In the terrifying sequel to The Haunted, Hendricks discovers that even though Steele House is gone, the hauntings in Drearfield are far from over — and it’s up to her to stop them.
Following the devastating blaze at Steele House, Hendricks and her friends are trying to return to normal. Prom is coming up and the school is in full preparation mode. Hendricks tries to pitch in, to mimic Portia’s enthusiasm, but the events of the last few months still haunt her. Steele House. Raven. Eddie.
Hendricks believes Eddie is still out there. She just has to find a way to reach him. Together with her friends, she forms a circle of seven and attempts to summon his spirit. Suddenly things start happening again. Flickering lights in the school library. Mysterious girls roaming the halls. The same song playing on a loop wherever she goes.
It all culminates in a violent attack and Hendricks realizes what they summoned may not be Eddie at all. The one thing she does know is that Steele House was only the beginning. And whatever they’ve unleashed is more dangerous than anything they’ve ever seen before.
Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
Sawkill Girls meets Beautiful Creatures in this lush and eerie debut, where the boundary between reality and nightmares is as thin as the veil between the living and the dead.
If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.
Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.
But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.
In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing.
Family secrets, a gorgeously resonant LGBTQ love triangle, and just the right amount of creepiness make this young adult debut a haunting and hopeful story about facing everything that haunts us in the dark.
The Glare by Margot Harrison
After ten years of living on an isolated, tech-free ranch with her mother, sixteen-year-old Hedda is going back to the world of the Glare-her word for cell phones, computers, and tablets. Hedda was taught to be afraid of technology, afraid that it would get inside her mind and hurt her. But now she’s going to stay with her dad in California, where she was born, and she’s finally ready to be normal. She’s not going to go “off-kilter,” like her mom says she did when she was just a little kid.
Once she arrives, Hedda finally feels like she’s in control. She reunites with old friends and connects with her stepmom and half-brother. Never mind the terrifying nightmares and visions that start trickling back-they’re not real.
Then Hedda rediscovers the Glare—the real Glare, a first-person shooter game from the dark web that scared her when she was younger. They say if you die thirteen times on level thirteen, you die in real life. But as Hedda starts playing the so-called “death game”—and the game begins spreading among her friends—she realizes the truth behind her nightmares is even more twisted than she could have imagined. And in order to stop the Glare, she’ll have to first confront the darkness within herself.
Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully
Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is the Sparrow, cursed with the ability to give ghosts and demonic spirits a body—a flesh and blood anchor in the mortal world—with the touch of her hand. When a ghost attacks her high school and awakens her powers, her father dumps her unceremoniously in the care of her estranged older sister Liz, leaving only his journal as an explanation.
Drawn to the power of the Sparrow, the supernatural creatures preying on Savannah, Georgia will do anything to receive Jennifer’s powerful gift. The sisters must learn to trust each other again and uncover the truth about their family history by deciphering their father’s journal…because if they can’t, Jennifer’s uncontrolled power will rip apart the veil that separates the living from the dead.
A fast-paced and splattery romp, fans of Supernatural, Buffy, and Evil Dead will enjoy JENNIFER STRANGE – the first illustrated novel in a trilogy of stylish queer young adult horror books with big scares for readers not quite ready for adult horror.
A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.
Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.
During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?
Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.
When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?
Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.
Young Adult Books Reviewed
Emily recently read and reviewed This Coven Won’t Break and This Spell Can’t Last from Isabel Sterling’s These Witches Don’t Burn series. Be sure to check out her review for This Coven Won’t Break (“I like that we get more of a look into how the witch and hunter communities work in this one.”) and her review of This Spell Can’t Last (“I really enjoyed getting to see what actually happened leading up to the two novels.”)
Jen also recently read Category Five by Ann Dávila Cardinal. Stay tuned for an upcoming review!
Have you read any of the books we read or reviewed this month? Let us know what YA or MG books you have read recently!