Chills and Thrills: YA Horror and Thrillers for 2021

By Susan the Librarian

By Susan the Librarian
No Beauties or Monsters

No Beauties or Monsters

Tara Goedjen

$17.99 $16.73

All These Bodies

All These Bodies

Kendare Blake

$18.99 $17.66

This slow-boil, noir mystery has an excruciatingly pacing and an eerie atmosphere that will keep your spine tingling from page one. It's not for readers who need fast action but rather for those of us who relish a gradually unfolding, suspenseful mystery with a touch of the otherworldly. This one is for fans of the gothic and the noir, a great book to curl up with on a cold, dark night.

Seven Dirty Secrets

Seven Dirty Secrets

Natalie D. Richards

$10.99 $10.22

Fast-moving and packed full of clues and suspects, SEVEN DIRTY SECRETS will satisfy teen thriller fans who love a mystery to solve. Well-founded twists and complicated characters add depth to the edge-of-your seat plot. A fun, quick read for YA thriller readers!

Dark and Shallow Lies

Dark and Shallow Lies

Ginny Myers Sain

$17.99 $16.73

World-tilting twists and an eerie, immersive atmosphere guarantee a gut-plummeting ride in this YA Mystery-Horror hybrid. Though it takes a few chapters to acclimate to the number of important players and their various superhuman abilities, the volume of characters and secrets makes the mystery that much more difficult to unravel. Suspense junkies won’t want to miss this stellar debut!

The Girls Are Never Gone

The Girls Are Never Gone

Sarah Glenn Marsh

$17.99 $16.73

Deliciously chilling, THE GIRLS ARE NEVER GONE has the perfect blend of eerie atmosphere and ancient mystery, blood-curdling scares and false alarms–not something you’ll want to bring on your vacation to a remote lake! Its queer romance and Type-1 Diabetes representation set it apart from other YA horror while the thoughtful character development is just as engrossing as the mystery. Pick this one up if you want a ghost story that will have you jumping every time someone turns on a faucet!

The Violent Season

The Violent Season

Sara Walters

$10.99 $10.22

YA readers who like horrifying thrillers (or thrilling horror?) won't be able to stop turning these pages. Themes of abuse run underneath the suspenseful thriller plot adding depth to this high-concept story. Though the premise might sound like a mystery, it is really more on the thriller/horror border and will most satisfy readers of those genres.

Burden Falls

Burden Falls

Kat Ellis

$18.99 $17.66

From an eerie start to a dramatic, pulse-pounding conclusion, this thriller does not disappoint. There are great twists, an emotional hook, and even a touch of forbidden romance. Fans of YA thrillers and psychological horror will not want to miss this one!

White Smoke

White Smoke

Tiffany D. Jackson

$18.99 $17.66

Jackson makes her pivot from psychological thrillers to horror look easy in this ghostly, unputdownable novel about a girl overcoming fears and prejudices to take on both supernatural and human threats to her family and community. As in all of Jackson's work, the characters are multifaceted, the family and community dynamics complex, and the social justice themes prominent, accessible, and timely. Fans of YA horror and/or psychological thrillers will not want to miss WHITE SMOKE!

Violet Ghosts

Violet Ghosts

Leah Thomas

$18.99 $17.66

Although there is a thrilling dose of speculative fiction in this ghost story, at its core, VIOLET GHOSTS is a story of surviving and healing after abuse and fighting to be true to one's identity. It is set in the recent past, and until late in the book, Dani doesn't know that there are other transgender people in the world (or even the term "transgender"). His struggle to figure out how to identify and even describe himself parallels the struggle of the ghosts to find a new way to fit into the world where they've existed merely as invisible victims, lying in the places where they died for years or even decades. The story is beautifully, emotionally told (I keep wanting to use the word haunting, but it will sound like a bad pun ... but it is haunting...), and ultimately full of hope. I highly recommend it to fans of YA speculative fiction AND fans of YA contemporary.

You're So Dead

You're So Dead

Ash Parsons

$18.99 $17.66

The mystery-thriller plot of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE meets the comic ridiculousness of CLUE in this new YA thriller. Don't get me wrong--this is a murder mystery and the serial killer will keep you on the edge of your seat--but what makes this novel work is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The premise is over-the-top, but not unrealistic given the over-the-top reality of private-island-festivals and Influencer culture, and there is always a thread of humor, or a comment on the absurd extravagance of the murder's pageantry, even at the most tense moments. It's not true farce (like EAT YOUR HEART OUT), but it's a heart-pounder that will also make you laugh (+ a warm-fuzzy friendship subplot). I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't need their thrillers to be dark.

Darling

Darling

K. Ancrum

$18.99 $17.66

This dark Peter Pan twist is impossible to put down! I loved how Ancrum turned it into a thriller instead of a fantasy, drawing out the darkness that already exists in the original Peter Pan and infusing it with a new take on the concept of "eternal youth." I was riveted. Highly recommend to fans of YA thrillers and dark contemporary.

House of Hollow

House of Hollow

Krystal Sutherland

$18.99 $17.66

Part fantasy, part horror, HOUSE OF HOLLOW will lead readers into a grounded nightmare in the space between life and death. The shining thread through the whole narrative is the theme of family--of love, loyalty, and belonging--that exists on two sides of a coin: life-giving and deadly, good and evil. Great pick for a YA book club and any older teen who loves dark fantasy. Highly recommend!

That Weekend

That Weekend

Kara Thomas

$18.99 $17.66

A twisty YA thriller that hits the ground running!

Room Service

Room Service

Maren Stoffels

$9.99 $9.29

I usually guess twists in YA thrillers (and to be fair I guessed a couple of the twists in this one) but the ending still managed to surprise me! Fans of the genre will love the suspense, the character building, the subversion of tropes, and the big reveals. It also has some crossover horror appeal (four kids trapped in a hotel with a lunatic but for some inexplicable reason do not call the police when it is obvious that they should be calling the police why are they not calling the police??!!). If you're in the mood for a fun page-turner, check this one out!

When All the Girls Are Sleeping

When All the Girls Are Sleeping

Emily Arsenault

$17.99 $16.73

I read this book in one day--could not wait to find out what happened! There were so many red herrings that complicated the mystery, plus the horror-like ghost story atmosphere added a lot of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Highly recommend to YA mystery and psychological thriller fans!

Small Favors

Small Favors

Erin A. Craig

$18.99 $17.66

Another chilling, grounded, folklore-infused horror novel from Erin A. Craig! She masterfully keeps us turning pages while keeping the narrative focused on family, community, and the protagonist's self-discovery. Fans of character-driven, suspense-laden horror will not want to miss this one. I highly recommend it!

A Lesson in Vengeance

A Lesson in Vengeance

Victoria Lee

$18.99 $17.66

This novel walks the line between psychological thriller and horror. (For me, most of the suspense came from the atmosphere and the questionable sanity of the narrator, so it felt more like Kingian horror than a thriller.) Character drives the novel, and though the key reveals weren't particularly surprising, the suspense and tension are so high throughout that I had trouble putting it down. I'd recommend it to fans of the genre(s), especially readers who enjoyed books like WHEN ALL THE GIRLS ARE SLEEPING by Emily Arsenault.

Eat Your Heart Out

Eat Your Heart Out

Kelly Devos

$18.99 $17.66

EAT YOUR HEART OUT is intentional and self-aware in how it mimics and updates Night of the Living Dead, even down to the character archetypes. It starts out with a list of the characters and the likelihood that each will survive which makes it really easy to keep track of who each of the narrators is and to get a handle on each of these characters even though they're sharing "screen time" with so many other people. The social commentary in this one, as you can probably tell from the premise, focuses on how society devalues fat people--even to the point that death is sometimes perceived as preferable to fatness. There is a disclaimer at the front of the book for anyone who might find this material triggering. For me as a reader, though, I felt like the absurd, satirical tone of the book both "lightened" the dark reality, making it palatable and even fun, and made the darkness even darker, when you think about how the over-the-top horror story has a substantial foundation in reality. So maybe it's my love of NOTLD, or my love of satire, or my love of YA SFF, but I was incapable of putting this book down. It was such a thrill! Highly recommend it to others who enjoy these kind of satirical SFF stories!

Bad Witch Burning

Bad Witch Burning

Jessica Lewis

$17.99 $16.73

The most brilliant (and most disturbing) aspect of this quasi-horror novel is the fact that the darkness doesn't come from the revenants. It comes from the humans. With all of the fantasy elements removed, this story would still be a torturous story of the physical and emotional abuse of a child and the strength she finds to endure and ultimately accept help. It is truly a battle for Katrell to cling to her own self-worth and recognize the found-family of supportive adults and friends that has grown up around her. And it is her righteous anger at the way her mother and her mother's boyfriend treat her that manifests as the ghosts and revenants and Katrell's own need to burn things down. Despite its often disturbing content, the book has a cathartic feel that I believe the author intended. Although I would advise readers to consider their own life experiences and whether this content is likely to be triggering or unduly disturbing before picking it up, I think some readers with difficult or even cruel family backgrounds will find solidarity and hope in Katrell's experiences.

14 Ways to Die

14 Ways to Die

Vincent Ralph

$10.99 $10.22

This YA thriller is everything the title suggests: a fast, edge-of-your-seat, OMG-why-are-you-taunting-the-serial-killer?!?! murder mystery. It is heart-pounding fun, pure and simple. Perfect for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.