Young Adult and Middle Grade Horror Spotlight
YA and MG Horror

YA/MG Horror Spotlight August 2021

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 August as well as what our team has been reading and reviewing.

Young Adult New Releases

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself. 

Published August 3, 2021 by Delacorte Press Goodreads | Bookshop

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

Published August 3, 2021 by Wednesday Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.

Published August 10, 2021 by Page Street Kids Goodreads | Bookshop

Mark of the Wicked by Georgia Bowers

A young witch tries to unravel the mystery of who is framing her for dark magic in Georgia Bowers’ creepy YA debut fantasy, Mark of the Wicked.

Magic always leaves its mark.

All her life, Matilda has been told one thing about her magic: You use only when necessary. But Matilda isn’t interested in being a good witch. She wants revenge and popularity, and to live her life free of consequences, free of the scars that dark magic leaves on her face as a reminder of her misdeeds.

When a spell goes awry and the new boy at school catches her in the act, Matilda thinks her secret might be out. But far from being afraid, Oliver already knows about her magic – and he wants to learn more. As Oliver and Matilda grow closer, bizarre things begin to happen: Animals show up with their throats slashed and odd markings carved into their bodies, a young girl dies mysteriously, and everyone blames Matilda. But she isn’t responsible — at least, not that she can remember. As her magic begins to spin out of control, Matilda must decide for herself what makes a good witch, and discover the truth…before anyone else turns up dead.

Published August 10, 2021 by Swoon Reads Goodreads | Bookshop

Mine by Delilah S. Dawson

A twisty, terrifying ghost story about twelve-year-old Lily, her creepy new home in Florida, and the territorial ghost of the young girl who lived there before her.

Lily’s new house is a real nightmare. . . .

Lily Horne is a drama queen. It’s helped her rise to stardom in the school play, but it’s also landed her in trouble. Her parents warn her that Florida has to be different. It’s a fresh start. No theatrics. But this time, the drama is coming for her.

The Hornes’ new house is awful. The pool is full of slime, the dock is rotten, and the swamp creeps closer every day. But worst of all, the house isn’t empty . . . it’s packed full of trash, memories, and, Lily begins to fear, the ghost of the girl who lived there before her.

And whatever is waiting in the shadows wants to come out to play.

Published August 10th 2021 by Delacorte Press | Amazon | Goodreads

Have You Seen Me? by Alexandrea Weis

Lindsey Gillett is missing.

And she’s not the first girl at Waverly High to vanish without a trace.

To help cope with the tragedy, new history teacher Aubrey LaRoux organizes a student investigation team. But when the project’s key members start turning up dead across campus, Aubrey suspects there’s more going on than anyone is willing to admit.

The murdered students all had something in common with Lindsey. They shared a secret. And what they uncovered could threaten the future of the historic school.

At Waverly High, someone wants to keep the past buried—and you don’t want to get in their way.

Published August 17, 2021 by Vesuvian Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

Published August 24, 2021 by Delacorte Goodreads | Bookshop

Burden Falls by Kat Ellis

Riverdale meets Stephen King in the terrifying new thriller from the author of Harrow Lake.

The town of Burden Falls drips with superstition, from rumors of its cursed waterfall to Dead-Eyed Sadie, the disturbing specter who haunts it. Ava Thorn grew up right beside the falls, and since a horrific accident killed her parents a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares in which Sadie comes calling—nightmares so chilling, Ava feels as if she’ll never wake up. But when someone close to Ava is brutally murdered and she’s the primary suspect, she begins to wonder if the stories might be more than legends—and if the ghost haunting her dreams might be terrifyingly real. Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose . . . with a vendetta against the Thorns.

Published August 24, 2021 by Dial Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

New from bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, and the perfect companion to her New York Times bestseller There’s Someone Inside Your House, soon to be a Netflix feature.

Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.

Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.

Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

Stephanie Perkins, the bestselling author of There’s Someone Inside Your House, returns with a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching novel about friendship, survival, and navigating unmarked paths even as evil watches from the shadows.

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Dutton Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

Middle Grade New Releases

Dark Waters (Small Spaces #3) by Katherine Arden

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces and Dead Voices.

Having met and outsmarted the smiling man in Dead Voices but fearful of when he’ll come again, Ollie, Brian, and Coco are anxiously searching for a way to defeat him once and for all. By staying together and avoiding remote places, they’ve steered clear of him so far but their constant worry and stress is taking a toll on their lives and friendship. So when Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom plan a “fun” boat trip on Lake Champlain, the three are apprehensive to say the least. They haven’t had the best of luck on their recent trips and even worse their frenemy Phil is on the boat as well. But when a lake monster destroys their boat, they end up shipwrecked on a deserted island. This isn’t just any island though. It’s hidden from the outside world in a fog and unless everyone works together to find a way to escape, they won’t survive long. 

Published August 3, 2021 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

Escape to Witch City by E. Latimer

In a world ruled by fear of witches, some secrets are deadly. A thrilling new fantasy adventure set in historical London for fans of V.E. Schwab’s City of Ghosts and Serafina and the Black Cloak.

Emmaline Black has a secret. She can hear the rhythm of heartbeats. Not just her own, but others’ too. It’s a rhythm she’s learned to control, and that can only mean one thing… Emma’s a witch.

In a world where a sentence of witchcraft comes with dire consequences and all children who have reached the age of thirteen are tested to ensure they have no witch blood, Emma must attempt to stamp out her power before her own test comes. But the more she researches, the more she begins to suspect that her radically anti-witch aunt and mother are hiding something. The truth about their sister, her Aunt Lenore, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago.

The day of the test comes, and Emma’s results not only pair her up with strange new friends, but set her on a course to challenge everything she’s ever been taught about magic, and reveal long-buried family secrets. It seems witches may not have been so easy to banish after all. Secret cities, untapped powers, missing family members — Emma is about to discover a whole new world.

Published August 3, 2021 by Tundra Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Hide and Don’t Seek by Anica Mrose Rissi

If you’re feeling brave, turn the page.
A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long…
A look-alike doll makes itself right at home…
A school talent-show act leaves the audience aghast…
And a summer at camp takes a turn for the braaaains
This collection of all-new spooky stories is sure to keep readers up past their bedtimes, laughing, gasping, and looking over their shoulders to see what goes bump in the night. 

Published August 3, 2021 by HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares (Paola Santiago #2) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.

Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.

Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?

Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.

Published August 3, 2021 by Rick Riordan Presents Goodreads | Bookshop

The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner

In Heather Kassner’s spine-chilling fantasy novel, reminiscent of Serafina and the Black Cloak, an orphaned girl chases a thieving boy into a magician’s land of starless, moonless gloom where other children have gone missing before her.

Though the darkness is indeed plentiful, this book gleams with an eerie magic, its characters burning bright and fierce. A visual treat of a tale. –Stefan Bachmann, international bestselling author of Cinders and Sparrows

In order to survive on her own, twelve-year-old Rooney de Barra collects precious moonlight, which she draws from the evening sky with her (very rare and most magical) lunar mirror. All the while she tries to avoid the rival roughhouse boys, and yet another, more terrifying danger: the dreaded thing that’s been disappearing children in the night.

When Trick Aidan, the worst of the roughhouse boys, steals her lunar mirror, Rooney will do whatever it takes to get it back. Even if it means leaping into a pool of darkness after it swallows Trick and her mirror. Or braving the Plentiful Darkness, a bewitching world devoid of sky and stars. Or begrudgingly teaming up with Trick to confront the magician and unravel the magic that has trapped Warybone’s children. 

Published August 3, 2021 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Goodreads | Bookshop

Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko

Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!

Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.

It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.

When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.

But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.

To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.

Published August 10, 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books Goodreads | Bookshop

A Sprinkle of Sorcery (Pinch of Magic #2) by Michelle Harrison

This sequel to A Pinch of Magic is another spellbinding sisterly adventure, this time with a haunted shipwreck, a fierce pirate, and, of course, a little magic!

The family curse has been lifted, and the Widdershins sisters—Betty, Fliss, and Charlie—are free to leave the misty prison isle of Crowstone. But when a mysterious girl arrives at their inn accompanied by a will-o’-the-wisp, or ghost, it seems another adventure has landed on their doorstep. The stranger, named Willow, is an escaped prisoner from nearby Lament, desperate to clear her father’s name before he’s executed for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Then Charlie is kidnapped by poachers, swept away on a dangerous mission in search of pirate treasure that’s protected by a vengeful ghost. Betty, Fliss, and Willow pile into their trusty boat and embark on another incredible adventure, one that involves ghosts, fierce pirates, and a journey to a mythic island that exists only in legends. Can they save their sister—and themselves—once more?

Published August 17, 2021 by Clarion Books Goodreads | Bookshop

This Town Is a Nightmare by M. K. Krys

In the sequel to This Town Is Not All Right, Beacon, Everleigh, and Arthur think they’ve left the horror of Driftwood Harbor behind them, but the worst is yet to come.

After barely escaping Driftwood Harbor and the wrath of the town, twins Beacon and Everleigh McCullough are on the run with their father and their friend and resident genius Arthur. Only, there’s something strange going on with their dad. As they start to unravel what’s wrong, Beacon quickly realizes they have much bigger problems on their hands, as the group is drawn back to the very same place they left, in order to prevent a terrifying plot from unfolding. Because this time it’s not just their family or the town that’s in danger — this time, it’s the planet.

Published August 21, 2021 by Penguin Workshop Goodreads | Bookshop

Brackenbeast (Thirteens #2) by Kate Alice Marshall

On the night of their thirteenth birthday, Eleanor, Pip, and Otto bested the mysterious Mr. January before he could make them disappear. . . forever.

Eleanor and her two best friends have narrowly escaped the clutches of the January Society and their nefarious leader, but life in the too-quiet Eden Eld isn’t safe just yet. Not when there’s giant mud monsters snatching up their neighbors and classmates. This time, Mr. January’s devilishly stylish sister, Mrs. Prosper, is behind the chaos. Though unsuspecting adults can’t see past her irresistable line of make up and skincare products under the name SixSeed.

Inside their book of twisted fairytales, Thirteen Tales of the Gray, Eleanor, Pip, and Otto might find the secret to warding off the brackenbeasts and thwart Mrs. Prosper. That is, if they accept the help of a mysterious figure seemingly plucked from its pages, who looks disquietingly familiar to Eleanor. They quickly learn that the power of the stories they’ve turned to for help have a stronger hold on them–and their futures–than they realized. 

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Viking Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

The Collectors (Fright Watch #2) by Lorien Lawrence

The Ladies in White want you to join their family—forever. . .

After defeating the Oldies, Quinn and Mike thought that things would settle down on Goodie Lane. But then new neighbors move in. Maybe it’s because they all work at the interior design firm, but Abigail, Eleanor, Jade, Brea, and Cami seem to always be together, dressed in only white.

After everything that happened last summer, Quinn’s a bit wary of the Ladies in White, but her friend Lex is thrilled that someone in town finally has some style. But when Lex starts volunteering at the Ladies’ design firm, things get strange. Lex is acting less like herself, and Quinn begins seeing strange shadows lurking in their neighborhood. She knows the Ladies are to blame; she just has to prove it.

Twisty and haunting, The Collectors is the second book in the Fright Watch series, which SLJ called “Perfect for fans of Goosebumps and Stranger Things” and Booklist called “Reminiscent of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street . . . [Fright Watch] can be counted on to deliver chills.”

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Amulet Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Dollhouse by Charis Cotter

A creepy, mysterious dollhouse takes center stage in this atmospheric middle-grade mystery for fans of Doll Bones and Small Spaces.

Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady.

The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse . . .

When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Tundra Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Young Adult Books Reviewed

It’s another 5⭐ spotlight month here at Ladies of Horror Fiction!

Emily read and reviewed Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis. Don’t miss her review of Bad Witch Burning (“For whatever reason, I thought this was going to be a fun fantasy story, but it’s kind of the opposite (and ended up being one of my favorite books this year).”)

Kathy reviewed The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky. Be sure to check out her review of The Mary Shelley Club (“The mystery of this club and the reason/outcome of Rachel’s attack before she moves to New York City will soon be revealed. You will not be disappointed.”)


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.

You can also find Jen on her blog Book Den, Twitter as @bookden, Instagram as @bookdenjen, on Goodreads, and Letterboxd.

2 Comments

  • Angie

    I already have The Dead and the Dark and A Lesson in Vengeance. And I want to read the Mary Shelley Club.
    I might have to check all of these out!

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