The Horror Writers Association, in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Library Journal/School Library Journal, has announced the recommended books for their second annual Summer Scares Reading Program.
Summer Scares is a reading program that provides an annual list of recommended horror titles for adult, young adult, and middle grade readers. It introduces readers and librarians to new authors and helps start conversations extending beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come.
In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson
Haunted by his past, Travis Stillwell spends his nights searching out women in West Texas honky-tonks. What he does with them doesn’t make him proud, just quiets the demons for a little while. But after Travis crosses paths one night with a mysterious pale-skinned girl, he wakes weak and bloodied in his cabover camper the next morning—with no sign of a girl, no memory of the night before.
Annabelle Gaskin spies the camper parked behind her motel and offers the cowboy a few odd jobs to pay his board. Travis takes her up on the offer, if only to buy time, to lay low and heal. By day, he mends the old motel, insinuating himself into the lives of Annabelle and her ten-year-old son. By night, in the cave of his camper, he fights an unspeakable hunger. Before long, Annabelle and her boy come to realize that this strange cowboy is not what he seems.
Half a state away, a grizzled Texas Ranger is hunting Travis for his past misdeeds, but what he finds will lead him to a revelation far more monstrous. A man of the law, he’ll have to decide how far into the darkness he’ll go for the sake of justice. When these lives converge on a dusty autumn night, an old evil will find new life—and new blood.
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The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Charles Thomas Tester hustles to put food on the table, keep the roof over his father’s head, from Harlem to Flushing Meadows to Red Hook. He knows what magic a suit can cast, the invisibility a guitar case can provide, and the curse written on his skin that attracts the eye of wealthy white folks and their cops. But when he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress in the heart of Queens, Tom opens a door to a deeper realm of magic, and earns the attention of things best left sleeping.
A storm that might swallow the world is building in Brooklyn. Will Black Tom live to see it break?
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She Said Destroy: Stories by Nadia Bulkin
A dictator craves love—and horrifying sacrifice—from his subjects; a mother raised in a decaying warren fights to reclaim her stolen daughter; a ghost haunts a luxury hotel in a bloodstained land; a new babysitter uncovers a family curse; a final girl confronts a broken-winged monster…
Dreamlike, poignant, and unabashedly socio-political, She Said Destroy includes three stories nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award, four included in Year’s Best anthologies, and one original tale.
Young Adult Selections
The Agony House by Cherie Priest and Tara O’Connor
Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left years ago after Hurricane Katrina and are back now, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, run-down house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.
When the unexplained noises start, that seems a little weird. Same too for the fact that nothing seems to work around the house…even when it should. But when floors start collapsing suddenly and deadly objects fall everywhere—and voices start speaking to Denise—she knows that something more sinister lies hidden.
Could the answers lie in an old comic book that Denise finds in the abandoned attic…the lost last work of a famous artist who apparently lived here? Denise isn’t going anywhere, so she must unravel the mystery, on the pages and off them, if she and her family are to survive…
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Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic.
At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she’s not sure she can trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.
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Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.
When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul.
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Middle Grade Selections
Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.
The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?
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Case Files 13: Zombie Kid by J. Scott Savage
Case File 13: Zombie Kid follows three monster-obsessed friends who must solve fiendishly funny mysteries in their creepy hometown. Nick, Carter, and Angelo are obsessed with all things monster. And every Halloween they get to show off their monster-knowledge with elaborate homemade costumes. But this year, a surprise trip to the house of an aunt who may have been a voodoo queen throws a major wrench into the boys’ Halloween plans and lands Nick with a cursed amulet that turns him into a real, live (well, undead) zombie.
To Nick and his friends, this is . . . awesome! At first. Then the whole zombie thing starts to get a little out of hand (literally), and the boys have to go on a chilling adventure to reverse the curse. One that involves a talking cat, a skeleton who likes candy corn, and even the dreaded Zombie King himself.
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Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.
Then a mysterious man called the Stranger comes to town, and Hoodoo starts dreaming of the dead rising from their graves. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo. The entire town is at risk from the Stranger’s black magic, and only Hoodoo can defeat him. He’ll just need to learn how to conjure first.
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