It has been a long since I have posted anything regarding my goal to re-read vintage Young Adult books (mostly from the 80’s/90’s but there are some from the 70’s thrown in there too!). I thought it was about time that I did something about that and what better opportunity to discuss my favourite teen horror novels than the week leading up to Halloween?
Trick or Treat! Vintage YA Recommendations #1
I read a lot of horror as a youngster – plenty of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Peter Straub and the like – but I also had a particular weakness for YA horror. Given that I was reading these in the 1990’s there were plenty to choose from as the YA genre was pretty much dominated by either horror, romance, or books about sick teens (Lurlene McDaniel I’m looking at you)!
I read just about every Point Horror novel written and other series such as Nightmares and Terror Academy also found their way onto my shelves. The author I read the most would have to be Christopher Pike though. I positively devoured all of his books (multiple times). I was addicted – I just couldn’t get enough of his writing.
As I got older I gradually moved away from the horror genre but I still from time to time get a yearning for a really scary book and I find myself jumping back in for a while. I attest my fondness for horror back to all these scary books I read as a teenager. I though it might be interesting to share some of my favourites with you all.
I am not going to list them all in the one post (that would take forever!) but I plan to do a short series over the next week, focussing on a couple of books at a time. I warn you though, the list is pretty dominated by the Point Horror series!
Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Martha wants to be happy for her father. She likes his new wife—even if she’s a terrible cook—but she doesn’t understand why they had to leave Chicago and move to this horrible house in the country. It’s big, broken-down, and miles from anywhere, alone in the woods with nothing on the property but an overgrown cemetery. But at night it doesn’t feel empty. Conor—her new, weird stepbrother—chose Martha’s new room for her. It’s dark and drafty, and no matter how she tries to fix it up, she can’t sleep easily there. At night, whispers come from the closet, filling Martha with a sense that something terrible happened here. She’s right. Not long ago, the house was the site of a gruesome murder. When Conor and Martha’s parents leave town on their honeymoon, the two teens will find out why the dead don’t rest easy at the old Bedford house.
This was one of the very first Point Horror books I ever read. Richie Tankersley Cusick was definitely one of the best Point Horror writers. All of her books were amazing (to teenager me anyway!) and I devoured them like candy.
Reading Trick or Treat definitely encouraged me to seek out the other books in the PH series. I remember being enthralled by this book and although I haven’t read it in many years, the story still stuck with me. Plus, I bought a copy a few months ago so a re-read might be in order!
Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan
Laurie Stratton finally has everything a sixteen-year-old could ever want. But just as her perfect summer comes to a close, things start to unravel when her boyfriend insists he saw her out with another guy-when Laurie was really home sick! More mysterious sightings convince Laurie someone very real is out there, watching her. . . . The truth reveals a long-lost sister who has spent the years growing bitter and dangerous. She has learned how to haunt Laurie, but the visits soon become perilous. She wants something from Laurie – her life!
I loved to read Lois Duncan books as a teenager. There was something deliciously creepy about them but they also felt quite grown up at the same time. Even when I read them they were somewhat dated (most were written during the 60’s and 70’s with a few more in the 80’s) but that only added to their charm for me.
Stranger With My Face wasn’t the first book I had read of Duncan, but it was definitely the most memorable. I actually checked it out of my high school library. I can remember idly picking it up when we were designated a library period (this usually took place during English class) and getting really drawn into the story.
I still remember that long-ago day – it was cold, wet and miserable and the book perfectly reflected that dank, almost claustrophobic, atmosphere. I can remember starting to feel a little creeped out – although there were classmates dotted around, the school library was very big on no talking so would separate the students into little nooks and crannies. When the period was over I just had to check the book out to find out what happened next.
Horrorscope by Nicholas Adams
Aries: Avoid confrontations. A bad day for relationships. He waited, silent, in the shadow of a large elm. His eyes were fastened on a pool of light down the road. He twisted the woollen scarf nervously, around and around his palms. Soon she would come. It was written in the stars. Finally Jenny Warren left the protective light of the streetlamp behind. She walked fast, her shoes tapping on the sidewalk. In the shadow of the night, the watcher smiled. His hands tightened their grip on the scarf. “You should have paid attention, Jenny, ” he whispered to himself. “Didn’t you read your horoscope today?”
I spent years trying to remember the title of this book! It absolutely plagued me. I posted it book groups dedicated to tracking down books and nothing. Joined the Goodreads group that specialises in searching for forgotten books – nada. Then one day the title just popped back into my head and lo and behold – there it was. I promptly ordered a used copy from Ebay (it has been out of print for many years).
This was a particular favourite of mine. Although I could never remember the title or author (no bearing on the book at all as I have a lousy memory for these sort of things – my memory appears to be more visually orientated), the story stuck in my head and it was really frustrating not being able to recall the most simple, straightforward facts that would narrow down my search. I would heartily recommend this book as a spooky Halloween read. 🙂
Whelp, that’s it for now folks. Stay tuned for even more of my vintage YA recommendations to really get you into the spirit of Halloween. Here is a little sneak peek of the books to come:
Bye for now!