Young Adult Books That Scared the Crap Out of Me

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  How nice that author Neil Gaiman, producer of spooky prose, spearheads All Hallows Read, an initiative observing the day when the veil between the living and the dead is lifted by gifting books.  My usual method of celebration involves eating myself into a candy coma, so this is a welcome change.   Upon pondering my giveaway list, I thought about books I read as a yoot that kept me up at night and gave me paranoaic shifty-eyes.

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

My family has Southern roots and migrated north, just like the Smalls, and a healthy fear respect of the supernatural, so I immediately identified with this story.  There’s Pluto, the spooky caretaker who may or may not have been in league with Devil, a deranged family next door and an old house full of secret Underground Railroad tunnels  once owned by Dies Drear, an abolitionist murdered by ghosts.


Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

This book definitely straddles the line between being a book for young adults or simply about them, but before reading this, I had no idea adults were capable of such immense cruelty.  Yeah, I got whuppings (usually due to diarrhea of the mouth), but nothing worthy of calling the people.  If you think you know dysfunction, please read this and think again.


Anna to the Infinite Power by Mildred Ames

Anna is such a completely unlikeable character–she lies, steals and connives–but I connected with her familial black sheep status.  Set in a futuristic world controlled by computers (eep!), it all starts going to hell when Anna defies the robotic overlords, sparking the discovery of a diabolical and sinister plot with her fate at its center. 


Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan

I mistakenly read this book about a young girl terrorized by her doppelgänger on a late summer evening.  My mother was out picking up  my father, who got off work around midnight.  My older brother ditched us for his girlfriend’s house, leaving me and my younger brother and sister home alone.   We lived in the middle of nowhere.   Closest neighbors? The cows on the farm behind us.  Coyotes howled at night.  Yeah, perfect timing.

Slumber party by Christopher Pike

I easily could’ve filled this entire list with Christopher Pike novels, that’s how skilled the author was at making me cry for my mommy.   Seriously, it was about six months before I would even consider going to another sleepover.  The idea that an innocent gathering of young women in a secluded location could quickly dissolve into murder was not so far-fetched, especially with the girls I knew.


8 thoughts on “Young Adult Books That Scared the Crap Out of Me”

  1. I really do not enjoy being scared, so I tried to avoid horror books. But Christopher Pike? Yeah, I totally made an exception to my rule for him. 🙂

    For me, it was more movies that scared me. The mere THOUGHT of Candyman makes me uncomfortable…


    1. “Slumber Party” was the first Christopher Pike book I read and I was hooked from then on. I just found a few of them at the flea market and did a happy dance in the aisle. 🙂 I’m with you on Candyman, for such a simple movie it was truly horrific. I remember seeing it with one of my friends and afterward she had the nerve to try calling him up in the mirror. I never took that chance!


      1. OMG. Even now, as a rational, logical adult, I can’t look in the mirror with the lights off. Just can’t do it. Candyman and Arachnophobia were the two movies where I had to sleep with my mom because I was so scared and I was *easily* in high school when they came out!


      2. Ugh, that movie and “Eight Legged Freaks” both gave me the creeps. I can’t stand spiders. And I’ll never feel right looking at a mirror in the dark. Nope, I don’t want to risk seeing Candyman or Bloody Mary.

        I don’t call Beetlejuice either.


  2. That’s it! Anna to the Infinite Power! I knew I was missing a book from my library runs. It was suggested to me a while ago and I looked, but my library in Memphis didn’t have it. Must check here.

    That said, I can’t recall any book as a kid that really scared me. I’m very, very hard to scare. I’m working my way slowly through Flowers in the Attic now (among other books, so much reading!) and it’s definitely…a little unnerving.


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