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 February as well as what our team has been reading and reviewing.
Young Adult New Releases
The Project by Courtney Summers
Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.
When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.
What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo
Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.
Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.
Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.
The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis
Welcome to Amontillado, Ohio, where your last name is worth more than money, and secrets can be kept… for a price.
Tress Montor knows that her family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. She might still be a Montor, but the entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo,” – a wild animal attraction featuring a zebra, a chimpanzee, and a panther, among other things.
Felicity Turnado has it all – looks, money, and a secret that she’s kept hidden. She knows that one misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is… only that she can’t look at Tress without having a panic attack.
But she’ll have to.
Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity – brick by brick – as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. With a drunken party above them, and a loose panther on the prowl, Tress will have her answers – or settle for revenge.
In the first book of this duology, award-winning author Mindy McGinnis draws inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and masterfully delivers a dark, propulsive mystery in alternating points of view that unravels a friendship… forevermore.
The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith
Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling tale of power, shadow, and revenge set during World War II.
World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he’s better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he’s uncovered, and the monsters that live within it–before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold.
As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large–and threateningly close–the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?
Middle Grade New Releases
The Ash House by Angharad Walker
An unsettling, gripping middle grade debut about searching for a sense of belonging in the wrong places, and the bravery it takes to defy those who seek to control us. This is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children meets Lord of the Flies for fans of Neil Gaiman and Holly Black.
When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.
The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn’t he? At least he did before he walked through those gates…
This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.
And then The Doctor arrives…
Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape? And better yet, can he convince the others?
The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book (Greenglass House #5) by Kate Milford
Nothing is what it seems and there’s always more than one side to the story as a group of strangers trapped in an inn slowly reveal their secrets…
The rain hasn’t stopped for a week, and the twelve guests of the Blue Vein Tavern are trapped by flooded roads and the rising Skidwrack River. Among them are a ship’s captain, tattooed twins, a musician, and a young girl traveling on her own. To pass the time, they begin to tell stories—each a different type of folklore—that eventually reveal more about their own secrets than they intended.
As the rain continues to pour down—an uncanny, unnatural amount of rain—the guests begin to realize that the entire city is in danger, and not just from the flood. But they have only their stories, and one another, to save them. Will it be enough?
Middle Grade Books Reviewed
This month Jen read and reviewed Thirteens by LOHF favorite Kate Alice Marshall. Be sure to check out her review of Thirteens (“I adored this book. It’s strange, and it has the perfect amount of unsettling that kids would really understand.”)
This month Alex read and reviewed The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. Don’t miss his review of The Jumbies (“I highly encourage this if you are into some MG spooks, Caribbean folklore, or just want some entertaining read!”)
Jen also read and loved Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon this month. You don’t want to miss her 5⭐ review of Hide and Seeker (“Books like Hide and Seeker are exactly why I read – and will continue to read – middle grade. I haven’t found an adult book with this kind of heart in a long time.”)
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!
Jen is one of our LOHF admins. Jen manages the technical side of the Ladies of Horror Fiction website. She also keeps a spotlight on middle grade and young adult horror each month.