Best horror book for teens


If you are a teen or shopping for one, don’t shy away from the classics. Mary Shelly was only 19 years old when she wrote “Frankenstein” and inspired an entire genre of science-fiction horror.

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Which horror book for teens is best?

Are you looking for something spooky to read this Halloween season? Does you teen like a little scare before bedtime? Try horror books for teens. These are great for younger audiences, those just getting into the horror genre or adults that like their scares milder than what Stephen King delivers. You can find all your favorite monster tropes, and just because they’re written for a younger audience does not mean they lack quality. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman is an excellent novel for teens and stands up to the scrutiny of experienced readers. 

What to know before you buy a horror book for teens

What is YA?

YA stands for “young adult,” and you’ll find most teens reading in this category. The most common explanation for what makes a book sit in the YA category is the age of its protagonist. Most YA books have a protagonist between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. You can also identify YA books by a lower word count, less complex stories and a protagonist with a more immediate perspective instead of a more contemplative one. While categorizing books is always subjective, publishers and bookstores do a solid job labeling novels for their targeted audience. You can search for “YA horror books” if you want to find horror books targeted toward teen readers. 

What makes it horror?

It might be horror if the story makes you want to turn on more than just your reading light. A horror story is any tale whose purpose or main element is to inspire fear in the reader. These types of stories often feature elements of the supernatural. These can include ghosts, witches, vampires, werewolves and zombies. Other popular horror story elements are science gone wrong, scary places like asylums and creepy legends or myths. 

Horror authors 

There are many well-established horror authors out there who have written masterful novels that can make good horror books for teens. Stephen King’s first novel “Carrie” is much shorter than his later works and centers around a teenage girl. Also, if you are a teen or shopping for one, don’t shy away from the classics. Mary Shelly was only 19 years old when she wrote “Frankenstein” and inspired an entire genre of science-fiction horror. Checking out well-established horror authors can be an excellent place to start your search. 

What to look for in a quality horror book for teens


YA novels tend to be 40,000-80,000 words. This makes many of them a manageable read for teens with after-school activities and homework taking up significant time. If you enjoy reading in short bites, check the table of contents to see the average chapter length. Opt for chapters under 10 pages if you’re too busy to commit to reading for hours at a time. 


Paperbacks are great for the reader who loves to read a book once. While they will often hold up to multiple readings, they are not as durable as their hardback counterparts. They are the most affordable option and can be super cheap if you buy used. This is useful if you are on a budget or a fast reader purchasing a new book every week. 


Hardback books are perfect for those who love to collect their books to keep forever. These often have the prettiest covers and can last for years. They often come with dust covers and will stand up to many readings. 


Audiobooks can be an exciting way to experience a horror book. Narrators add suspense and surprise to the story in a way reading from a page can’t. There is also an element of being out of control when someone else reads the story, making the experience even scarier. 

How much you can expect to spend on a horror book for teens

A paperback novel will cost you $9-$15. A hardback book will cost $15-$30, depending on its size. An audiobook usually costs $10-$16. 

Horror book for teens FAQ

How can you check the content to make sure the book is appropriate for your teen?

A. Like teens in real life, the teens of YA novels often deal with very adult issues, such as abuse, sex, alcohol and violence. Some of these things might be milder than they would appear in a novel written with adults as the intended audience, but they can still make an appearance. If you are worried about content, try reading reviews online. Many readers will mention the content. Especially in the horror genre, reviewers will comment on the level of graphic violence and how scary it was. 

Can you order used books online?

A. Many online booksellers offer used books as well as new ones. You can buy these in a variety of conditions. The worse the condition, the cheaper the book will be. 

What’s the best horror book for teens to buy?

Top horror book for teens

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman 

What you need to know: Awarded many times over, this Neil Gaiman classic is sure to delight any teen horror fan. 

What you’ll love: Unique in its plot, this book is about a young boy raised by the ghostly occupants of a graveyard after his family is murdered. This book is filled with Neil Gaiman’s dark humor, suspenseful storytelling, many adventures and a lot of heart. 

What you should consider: This is a unique entity in the horror genre and might not be the best choice for fans who want an abundance of the more violent or grizzly horror happenings. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top horror book for teens for the money

Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan

“Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare” by Darren Shan 

What you need to know: This fun, easy read starts a longer series of books. 

What you’ll love: This book does a unique take on vampires for those who like the gothic and weird. The book follows protagonist Darren Shan’s transformation from a normal teenager to a half-vampire. It is a perfect story for teen readers looking for something fun and easily digestible. 

What you should consider: This book is part of a series, and you won’t get a full resolution without reading the entire series. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out 

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

“The Girl From the Well” by Rin Chupeco

What you need to know: A story about a murderous spirit and a possessed 15-year-old boy, this novel delivers all the scars and horror a teen reader could want. 

What you’ll love: Taking inspiration from a Japanese folk tale, this story is about an Okiku, a girl murdered hundreds of years ago. Her vengeful spirit wanders the earth searching out child murderers to kill. When she meets Tarquin, a boy whose body holds an evil entity, she is inspired to try and save his life. 

What you should consider: Some readers have commented that this book’s plot unveils a little too slowly for some tastes. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Morgan Freeman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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