Ginger Nuts of Horror
With Christmas fast approaching and the dread of all that Christmas shopping ahead of you, why don't you let Ginger Nuts of Horror take some of the pressure of you? With our four part guide to purchase horror books suitable for your precious ones.
Our Festive 50 is designed as a buying guide for parents who would love to introduce their younglings to the horror genre, but who might be a little concerned with exposing them to something that might distress them too much. The books featured here have all been vetted and deemed suitable for teenage readers. So read on for the final part of this massive countdown of the best YA horror fiction out there...
Laura Powell - Burn Mark Series
Witchcraft is an acceptable, but feared, part of modern society in this dark thriller set in a slightly skewered version of the UK today where witch burnings are seen as popular entertainment on TV and where getting a job for the Inquisition is seen as a cool thing to do. Glory is our main character, who hails from a family of witches, and is desperate to develop the 'Fae' and become a full witch herself. A funky update of ‘Witchfinder General’ for the teen generation maybe? “The Game of Triumphs” was another entertaining supernatural fantasy from this talented author who seems to keep a pretty low profile.
Chris Priestley - The Dead of Winter
Sam finds out that things really do go bump in the night when he arrives at the house of his sinister and odd new guardian. This is a great example of an old fashioned ghost story set over one very cold Christmas holiday. Priestley writes this sort of fun and is a real master of the modern gothic ghost story. It’s short, accessible, has some traditional ghost story scares and perfect for kids who struggle with long books. Just don’t expect any presents…..
Thomas Taylor – Haunters
This novel was a nice blend of SF, fantasy and the supernatural. Different kids are linked by their ability to time-travel. Using their dreams, they can appear like ghosts, wherever and whenever they want. The first is the genius who discovers dreamwalking. The second is a Haunter, a dream-terrorist, determined to change history for his own ends. The last is the novice dream-walker who must battle to save his family, and himself, from oblivion.
Lisa Stasse - The Forsaken Trilogy
Alenna fails a genetic ‘test’ which predicts she has the genetic makeup to become a violent criminal. So she is sent to an island for the criminally insane she has to fight for survival and her own sanity. A fine mash of dystopia, thriller and horror and one of my favourites of the many ‘post Hunger Games’ reads which clogged the bookshops in recent years. It’s not that well known in the UK, but really deserves to be. I’m looking forward to seeing what this American author does next.
Helen Grant - Wish Me Dead
Steffi and her friends visits the house of a long-dead local witch and is seemingly given the power to make wishes come true. This is far from a blessing as she is soon plagued with locals wanting her to do their dirty work over the most trivial slights. It’s clever in that for a decent chunk of the novel you’re not 100% sure whether there is anything supernatural or not. Grant is a British author who lives in Germany, where most of her books are set, often playing with the supernatural and local German superstitions. Others I recommend are “The Glass Demon” and “The Vanishing of Katharina Linden” which was a highly successful novel inspired by the Pied Piper story.
Kim Harrington - Clarity
This is an enjoyable paranormal murder mystery with a teenage girl who has the power to see visions of the things she touches and after a local murder is sucked into the mystery, as is her brother who has a supernatural gift of his own. A lighter read for those who like an old fashioned heroine and the ‘psychic girl’ returns in a second novel “Perception”
Kate Harrison - Soul Beach Trilogy
Gripping supernatural thriller about a virtual cyber world full of dead souls stuck in an online type of Purgatory which has been billed ‘Facebook for the Dead’. Alice receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick joke, but it includes details that only her sister would know. Later, Alice receives an invitation to the virtual world of Soul Beach which really is much more than it seems in this neat self-contained trilogy that plays around with social media.
Malorie Blackman - Stuff of Nightmares
Frightening and scary novel which is really a collection of short stories which center on the small, irrational fears that affect us all whilst we’re having nightmares. These dreams are especially nasty after a train crash which badly injures Kyle who has the ability to ‘hop’ from nightmare to nightmare, where each dream plays out like a self-contained story. Former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman is probably best known for her “Noughts and Crosses” series, but I always had a soft spot for this novel. Some of the sections had previously been published as standalone short stories.
Darren Shan - The Thin Executioner
Few authors have contributed more to UK horror for kids than Darren Shan, who has been one of the leading lights since he was first published around 2000. He often writes pretty long sequences, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this standalone novel, one of his lesser known books, which is a lovely written coming of age tale which fuses together fantasy, sorcery and horror as a teenage boy fights to save the honour of his family and become the next ‘Thin Executioner’. I love it when authors change direction and with not a trademark vampire in sight Darren does it expertly here. A number of years ago I met Darren on a couple of occasions and he also is great with kids and has a very entertaining live show.
Joanne Dahme – Creepers
Entertaining mix of thriller and ghost story in this clever tale of a house built beside an old graveyard. Thirteen year old Courtney and her family are the new occupants in the house and she is sure she can feel something lurking in the walls and when she meets decidedly dodgy neighbours she soon realizes this is a town with a history. Not at all well known, but an easy read for a young teen looking for a page-turning ghost story.
Tom Becker - DarkSide Series
Jonathan Starling's home has been attacked, his dad is in an asylum, he's running for his life, and there's nowhere to hide having stumbled upon London's greatest secret, Darkside. It's a world of nightmares and secrets, where fear and evil rule, and Jonathan has to find a way out.... I have always been a big fan of this crossover fantasy/horror five book series which won the prestigious Waterstone’s Prize and also the author’s cool supernatural prison novel “Traitors”.
Kirsty McKay – Undead Series
A kick-ass teen-action-zombie fest which plays it for laughs in amongst the gore. A group of teens returning from a Scottish skiing holiday run into a zombie plague. An enjoyable read as Bobby tries to avoid being eaten by her classmates in this fun mix of teen angst and horror. Kirsty also wrote a serial killer thriller set in a boarding school called “Killer Game” which I also enjoyed.
Rachel Vincent - My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Series)
Great supernatural thriller about a girl who senses when someone near her is going to die and when she does involuntarily releases a deafening banshee like scream. This is a very enjoyable horror thriller series to try from a highly prolific author who likes to mix romance with her urban fantasy/horror. I wasn’t a huge fan of the paranormal romance sub-genre of horror as a whole, but this was one of the better examples of those I did read.
G P Taylor – Shadowmancer
Many of you will have heard of “Shadowmancer” which meshes fantasy, adventure and horror together in an entertaining tale of an evil sorcerer trying to take over the world with only a few plucky kids standing in his way. This book was one of the earliest examples of self-publishing being really successful and then being bought in a bidding war in the quest to find the ‘next’ Harry Potter. Although I thought this book was fun comparing it to the mighty HP never did it any favours. Sales were helped along by an author who had a big personality and a colourful career ranging from policeman to vicar. An enjoyable read, best read if you know nothing of the hype which surrounded it on initial publication.
Kathleen Peacock – Deadly Hemlock Trilogy
Lupine Syndrome, the werewolf virus, infects more and more people in this clever series which takes the werewolf story into the world of science and viruses and away from the supernatural. Never fear, it still manages to throw in some paranormal romance and an entertaining thriller along the way and book two picks up the story in a neat way.
Bekka Black – iDracula
It’s sad but true, many kids haven’t the staying power to read the original Stoker’s “Dracula” these days so this quirky modern rewrite of the legendary novel is an enjoyable speed read mostly written in text, email and mobile phone format ideal for those with a limited attention span or a reading ability which would struggle with the original. You could argue it cheapens the Stoker masterpiece, but if it’s going to get kids with lower ability reading ages familiar with the original I am all for it.
Sarwat Chadda – Devil’s Kiss Series
This excellent debut was wrongly punted at the Stephanie Meyer crowd when released in 2009, but it’s so much more. It’s a cross between urban fantasy, way before it was trendy, and an old fashioned horror novel with an approaching apocalypse and a plucky teenage girl who is a descendant of the Knights Templar a mythical, but near extinct group, who fight demons, carry out exorcisms and battle fallen angels. It doesn’t help that fifteen year old Billy is of Muslim extraction and the Knights are an ancient Christian group of fighters. A sequel followed a couple of years later. It really is something different.
Steve Voake – Dark Woods
This pretty diverse author is a former primary school headteacher who usually writes for much younger kids, but once in a while pops out a supernatural thriller with a tasty dose of fantasy. Dreams can be turned into reality in a remote part of Montana USA, when a teenager out camping is sucked into what turns out to be a nightmare which takes him to the brink of death and are very, very real. Cool stuff, “Blood Hunters” is also highly recommended
Dayna Lorentz – No Safety in Numbers Trilogy
This super cool trilogy is pretty well known in the USA, less known in the UK and builds the trilogy tightly around a group of teenagers trapped and later quarantined in a giant shopping mall after there has been some sort of biological germ attack which affects the air ducts. The exciting story is told via four points of view and is a riveting read of instinctual survival.
H E Goodhue - Zombie Youth Series
What will the survivors do when everyone over the age of twenty suddenly dies in a viral outbreak? Worse yet, what will they do when the dead refuse stay dead? Some students are left trapped in their school as the adults they once relied upon suffer strange symptoms and die, only to return and feed. Yes, the zombie fad really has had its day but I’ve got a soft spot for this rather obscure novel and its fun battleground between the living and dead. A couple of sequels have since come out.