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YA Book Reviews by Amy: Spooky Reads

Whether it’s the middle of September or just the want of fall to begin, the ‘spooky’ season is my favorite, and I eagerly await it. I like the cooler weather, the various colors of amber, scarlet, and oranges leaves that light up the sky, the mix of iced and hot coffees, and so much more!

One thing I love during the month of October is reading spooky books; the kind of books that make my heart race, and books that maybe I only read in the daylight because one never knows who might be watching over their shoulder in the dark. Some times the books may be murder mysteries and others are supernatural tales.

Here are some of my favorite spooky reads that you may enjoy for the month!

14 Ways to Die by Vincent Ralph

Jessica has been haunted ever since her mother was murdered just steps away from her home, sparking the first of many murders by the same serial killer. 10 years later, Jessica has not gotten justice for her mother, and she plans on doing something about it. She decides to compete in a reality show contest that will film her daily activities for views; her goal is not to become famous like the other competitors, but to bring attention to the murderer. Someone must know something, and it only takes one person that could crack this cold case wide open. Can they catch the serial killer before he kills again?

This was an eerie and suspenseful read. The mix between true-crime experience and the life that Jessica leads is compelling, and I constantly wondered if the truth would be revealed. This is a super quick read with short chapters that will make you say, “just one more,” until you have finished it!

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and Hoopla, and at the library* for checkout.

The Woods are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Neena and Josie decide to hike and camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Ashville as a last hurrah before they are separated seemly forever; Neena is going to live on the other side of the country for college, while Josie is remaining home. Both girls are inexperienced but prepared for this three-day hike, but when tensions rise and they begin to pick fights with each other, will their friendship survive? Even worse, one of them gets severely injured, they must split up, but someone has been watching them.

This is such an interesting survival tale that plays on fears. This novel is man vs man, man vs nature, man vs self, and overall posing the questions to the readers: which one is the scariest? A fast and spooky read that you can finish in a sitting.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

Felicity has returned to Dalloway School after the death of her best friend and girlfriend, Alex. After a year of researching, Felicity wants to find out the truth of the Dalloway Five: five girls that were accused of being witches and murdered in seemingly impossible ways. Not sure what to believe other than thinking she is being haunted by Alex and the house she lives in seems alive, Felicity wants to move on after her senior year. Ellis, new girl and author, moves into her building and starts prompting Felicity to remember. What is real? And what is not?

This book pays respect to many gothic and spooky stories such as Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and so many others, but remains to be absolutely original and fantastic. I was constantly interested in Felicity and her story along with learning the history of the school and the deaths of the ‘witches.’ This was such an atmospheric read that is perfect for October!

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

White Fox by Sara Faring

When two sisters return to their home on the 10th anniversary of their mother’s disappearance, they decide they must solve the mystery of what truly happened. Some believe she died, while others think she just ran away, but the only thing that the public knows for sure is that she left without sharing her latest script. The script that was said would have all the answers. Is finding the lost script titled, “White Fox,” the answer to finding their mother? Or are there things that should be left untouched?

This collage novel presents newspaper articles, interviews, movie clips, and the infamous “White Fox” script for readers to try and piece together what happened to the girls’ mother. The atmosphere of the fairytale elements give this book a chilling edge.

Available as an eBook on Overdrive, an eAudiobook on Hoopla, and at the library* for checkout.

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldie Moldavsky

Rachel is trying to forget about her traumatic past after a home invasion. Moving to a new house and attending a new school may help, but she has not made many friends. Rachel also begins to have a slight obsession with horror movies to cope with her incident. When she finds a group of friends that are a part of a secret club called the Mary Shelley club, they begin to become close while watching, writing, and “performing” everything horror. Could this club be doing more harm to Rachel than good?

This has got to be one of my favorite books this year! This was such a good book and was super suspenseful and creepy. This book is a love letter to the horror genre, and Goldie Moldavsky is clearly passionate about the genre, makes many fun allusions to other works, and writes some really compelling commentary that is done beautifully. This book read like a movie, and I would love to see it turned into a miniseries. So good and so dark.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

House of Hollow by Crystal Sutherland

Iris always knew that she and her sisters were never normal since strange things began to happen after they went missing when they were children. People became obsessed, wanting to know what happened to them during that time, and their fame grew dangerous. Now, Iris’ older sisters, Grey and Vivi have moved out, and used their fame. When Grey goes missing, Vivi and Iris go on a wild adventure to find her. Will Iris find out about the past that she keeps hiding from?

This was a spooky read! The mysterious mood and dark tone would be for fans of the unknown and the supernatural. The sisters are fleshed out and while not entirely likable, were very distinct. I enjoyed a lot of the twists and thought this book was very original and beautifully written.

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

A mystery that has plagued Ellingham Academy since the 1930’s is getting looked at through a fresh set of eyes of new student, Stevie Bell. Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped; one of the only pieces of evidence was a ransom note left a week earlier. The dark and twisted note created by letters from newspapers was left by Truly, Devious. While Stevie searches for clues in present day, things surrounding her are starting to become deadly. Someone is trying to stop her from finding the truth.

This is an absolutely creepy and goose bump inducing tale that is part historical fiction, part contemporary and completely a mystery. This story opens up with an incredibly spooky ransom letter that is sure to chill your blood. Be sure to check out the rest of the trilogy and the standalone novel: The Box in the Woods.

Available in Overdrive, Hoopla, and at the library* for checkout.

The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

Tress’s life completely changed one night when she was ten, when her parents went missing after driving her best friend, Felicity, home. Felicity never made it home; she was found injured and dirtied, but there was not a trace of Tress’s parents. Now years later, these old friends have become worse than strangers—they’re enemies. Tress wants answers and revenge. Will she commit a heinous crime to learn the truth of that night?

This is a modern retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s Cask of Amontillado, and Mindy McGinnis makes many more fun allusions to Poe’s other works. This story is both suspenseful and amazing. McGinnis does a fabulous job mixing the ugliness of humanity and the harsh realities of life and death. There is a panther that steals the show in this book that is both dangerous and poetic. I cannot wait for the sequel!

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

Spooky Sounded Reads I Cannot Wait to Read this Month:

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.


How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

Available as an eBook on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.


All These Bodies by Kendare Blake

Available on Overdrive and at the library* for checkout.

*check the link for available copies or to place on hold


Hello everyone! I’m Amy and I am a Youth Services Librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. When I’m not trying to reach my reading goal for the year, I like to talk about what I’m reading to my family, friends, and coworkers. You could say I am a little obsessed with reading Young Adult books. I enjoy most genres, but my favorites include: Westerns, Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy, and Mystery. I am always looking for the next great book that makes me connect to its characters and hits me in the feels.