The Best YA Books to Read Before Halloween

Halloween season is the best time of year to bring out your favorite mystery, thriller or horror books. Sitting under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate, tea or coffee and reading by candlelight on a chilly night is the perfect way to spend an October night. We have some recommendations for our readers, both old and new YA books, to make this month one full of fright. keep reading…if you’re brave enough.

1. How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine

Alice Lawrence is the only witness to her sister’s murder. She’s terrified of the day she has to testify and face a courtroom full of people. But the day of the trial, Alice is knocked out and wakes up on the day her sister was killed last year. Alice has only a few hours to save her sister before the killer takes another victim. Set on Halloween night in a haunted corn maze, How to Survive Your Murder is the perfect spooky book for October. We just bought the book and can’t wait to dive in ASAP.

2. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

We have to admit, we haven’t read There’s Someone Inside Your House yet, but it’s on our TBR for this October. However, we watched the Netflix movie adaption and really enjoyed it. We know it’s not exactly the same as the book, but we still can’t wait to compare. Makani Young thought Nebraska would be the fresh start that she craved. Then the students of Osborne High start to die and Makani knows she and her friends aren’t safe in this small town. The book is advertised as perfect for fans of 90s teen slashers and its set in October.

3. The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

The Killing Code is another book on our TBR that we recently discovered and it released in September. Set during World War II, Kit Sutherland is recruited to the war effort as a code breaker. But another problem has Kit’s attention, girls in Washington D.C. are being brutally murdered. Together with her friends, Kit plans to solve this case, but the killer is closer than she realizes. Set in our hometown, we can’t wait to read this historical murder mystery.

4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

In Beautiful Creatures, Ethan Wate wants nothing more than to leave the boring town of Gatlin, South Carolina. Then, a new girl named Lena Duchanes shows up at school and everything turns to chaos. Ethan can’t help but get pulled into Lena’s dark and dangerous world. She’s a caster and he’s mortal, making their relationship almost impossible. When the two of them come together to discover the secrets of their families, nothing in this Gothic Southern town will ever be the same.

5. The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith

Everything on the island of New Salem is strange. The large house Cassie’s grandmother lives in looks rundown on the outside, a group of teens at her new school act like they own the place and everyone else seems to be afraid of something. Cassie wants to join their elite club, but the members tell her they need to keep her out for her own good. Everything changes when a student is murdered and suddenly, a spot in the club opened up. Cassie finds herself being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to her initiation ceremony. Every member of the club is actually a witch and so is Cassie and they need a 12th member to complete the circle.

To make things worse, Adam, a member of the Circle, found a crystal skull and when the Circle tries to use it for power, it awakens a type of dark magic…which leads to residents of New Salem winding up dead in freaky ways.

6. Nothing More to Tell by Karen McManus

Brynn Gallagher never thought she’d have to return to Sturgis, Massachusetts, her dumpy hometown. But when her dad tells her they’re moving back, Brynn and her sister Ellie realize they have to attend to Saint Ambrose School, a local private school where Brynn’s favorite teacher was murdered four years ago.

To help her journalist career, Brynn applied for an internship at Motive, a true crime network. When she pitched the idea that the show covers her former teacher, William Larkin, she never suspected for her superiors to go for it. But now that Brynn is back, she’s determined to know the truth. Three students found Mr. Larkin, including Brynn’s former best friend Tripp Talbot.

7. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

You’ve all heard the stories surrounding Jack the Ripper. But what you don’t know is that the case was solved by Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her hot crime-solving boyfriend, Thomas Cresswell. Stalking Jack the Ripper, an unforgettable murder mystery, will keep you on the edge of your seat until Audrey ultimately discovers the culprit. Maniscalco did a great job with the ending, which felt resolved and still left the reader wanting to read more. She hid little clues about the murderer throughout the novel while still leaving an air of mystery. As a reader, we could tell that Maniscalco did her research into the Jack the Ripper story— all the details were woven together well.

8. These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

Crystal Donovan and her five best friends are all preparing for a tournament for MortalDusk, a videogame that could win them all a lot of money. But the Friday before the weekend tournament, Crystal gets a message from an anonymous person from a messenger app stating that they have her sister Caelyn and if Crystal doesn’t do exactly what they say, Caelyn will get killed. Anonymous has created a timed game, giving Crystal strange instructions to complete in the allotted time…or else Caelyn will suffer the consequences.

They seemed harmless, until one by one, Crystal’s five best friends: Zoey, Randall, Matty, Akira and Dylan start to face the consequences of these actions. Anonymous has a plan to pick off this friend group one by one, but for what reason? Crystal is desperate to try to find anonymous before it’s too late for her, her friends and her sister. 

9. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Secret History is a Dark Academia cult classic, set at an elite college in Vermont. Under the influence of their classics professor, a group of carefully selected students are challenged in ways they never thought possible. But when a murder occurs, the group of students battles with the idea of morality. The Secret History moved near the top of our TBR.

10. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

There’s something spooky about Autumn in New England, especially in the small town of Echo Ridge, Vermont. Ellery and Ezra are shipped off to live with their grandmother in this small town when their mother is sent to rehab. More than 20 years ago, their mom’s sister disappeared. Five years ago, another girl was found murdered. Soon after Ellery and Ezra arrive, another girl goes missing.

As a true crime fanatic, Ellery, along with her new friends, is determined to find out who is tormenting the town and to see if this person is connected with the past crimes. But Ellery puts herself into a lot of danger and realizes her past might be more connected to the killer than she ever thought possible. Two Can Keep a Secret is the perfect autumn book, it even includes a Halloween-themed amusement park.

11. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals tells the story of gifted seventeen-year-old profiler, Cassie, who is recruited with other teens for the FBI’s newest project, the Naturals program. The Naturals program recruits only the best and brightest teens. Their task? Unlocking infamous cold cases using their special talents. Among the cast of characters is sarcastic Michael, who can read emotions, and broody Dean, who is also a gifted profiler. When a killer strikes, Cassie is sucked into a dangerous case that closely resembles that of her own mother’s murder a decade earlier. We love a good murder mystery, and this series did not disappoint!

12. Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch

Dare You to Lie was pitched as for fans of Riverdale and Pretty Little Liars so we had to see for ourselves. Except, this book is even better! Kylene won us over in the first few pages. It’s clear that she’s strong, fiercely loyal and won’t let anyone dictate how she feels about herself. The thriller aspect of this book kept us on the edge of our seats because the web of lies and how many people are involved went much deeper than we ever thought. Somehow the football players, the local police force, whoever framed her father for murder and the disappearance of young girls are all related. 

13. Killing November by Adriana Mather

November Adley’s life changes instantly when she arrives at Academy Absconditi. 1) She has no idea where the school is located. 2) Instead of math and english, she’s enrolled in knife throwing, body language reading and accents. 3) The students are ruthless and competitive to the point where November fears her physical safety. 

We know we’ve talked about Killing November a lot, but that’s because it’s amazing and underrated. We love the creepy vibes of Academy Absconditi and the bright minds who attend the school. November is a great MC and learning about her family secrets kept us intrigued.

14. The Culling Trials by K.F. Breene and Shannon Mayer

The Culling Trials is the first book in the Shadowspell Academy series. The book descriptions tell us right away that the academy chooses you. The academy is so dangerous they don’t guarantee you’ll make it out alive. So when Wild’s brother gets an invitation to attend, she pretends to be him to go to the academy in his place. Wild is determined to take down the academy from the inside, but at what cost? All she knows is that magic and monsters are real, even if she grew up in the mundane world.

15. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys is a cult classic YA series! Blue Sargent is clairvoyant. One evening when she goes with her mother to watch the soon-to-be-dead walk into the afterlife, a boy named Gansey speaks directly to her. Gansey, along with his friends from Aglionby Academy (called the Raven boys for their school’s crest), Adam, Ronan, and Noah, are on a quest to find the grave of The Raven King. Against her better judgement, Blue helps the boys on their journey, growing closer to Gansey despite the prophecy that she has had since birth: she will cause her true love to die. This series is full of magic and ghosts. The plot is one of the best developed in the game, and the characters are iconic.

16. All Hallow’s Eve by Vivian Vande Velde

Who can resist a 13 terrifying stories in October? This book has a collection of short stories to scare the pants off you just in time for Halloween. Think cemeteries, woods and psychics. All 13 of these tales take place on Halloween night. If you prefer horror instead of mystery, this book is for you! Just remember to lock the doors and sleep with the lights on.

17. Out of Control by Sarah Alderson

Liva witnessed a brutal murder and is taken into police custody for her own safety. While relaying her statement, the police station comes under fire by unknown assassins. During the chaos, Liva is saved by a car thief named Jay, who was being held for booking. Liva soon realizes that these attacks are not a coincidence, and that someone may be trying to kill her. Jay and Liva go on the run through New York City, trying to uncover who is out to get her.  Out of Control was incredibly thrilling, and we would definitely recommend it to those of our readers looking for a romantic mystery.

18. Prep School Confidential series by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential is comparable to Truly Devious in that both plot lines involve a murder at a private school. The comparisons stop there, though— we promise! The book’s synopsis labels the story as a cross between Gossip Girl and Twin Peaks, and we have to say this description is spot on.  After burning down part of her exclusive prep academy on the Upper East Side, queen bee Anne Dowling is sent to a prestigious boarding school on the outskirts of Boston. Anne is less than enthused to be attending the Wheatley School and plans to book a ticket back to NYC the first chance she gets. Too bad her roommate, Isabella, is found murdered in the woods behind their school shortly after Anne arrives. Together with Isabella’s broody twin brother, Anthony and class hottie, Brent, Anne tries to uncover the mystery. 

19. Wait for Me by Sara Shepard

Okay, so technically Wait for Me releases on November 1, 2022, but we couldn’t hep but include Sara Shepard’s latest YA thriller. We received an ARC that we’re starting soon and can’t wait to get sucked in to a twisted mystery involving dark secrets. Casey Rhodes need to escape NYU to clear her head, so she escapes to small New Jersey beach town. But once she arrives, she can’t stop having visions of places she’s never been and people she’s never met. Something is seriously wrong and Casey has to discover her connection to Avon, New York.

20. Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Set during two timelines in two separate locations, Lies You Never Told Me is a dark story that cautions teens to be careful of who they trust. Elyse is ecstatic to be cast as the lead in Romeo and Juliet at her Portland, Oregon high school. On the other hand, Gabe is struggling with breaking up with his popular girlified in Austin, Texas. Their stories collide in a surprising way, all because Elyse and Gabe fell for the wrong people.

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