Horror books often tap into the thrilling and chilling aspects of adolescence, blending the complexities of growing up with supernatural or psychological terrors. Horror novels are a way to explore fears in a safe and controlled environment, making them ideal for young adults seeking both suspense and relatable characters. One iconic source of inspiration for YA horror is the iconic "Friday the 13th" film franchise. This series, known for its masked killer, Jason Voorhees, and gruesome campsite murders, has influenced a generation of writers to craft suspenseful tales of their own, exploring themes of survival, friendship, and the enduring allure of dark legends. So, if you are looking for a spine-tingling journey into the realm of fear and the unknown this 13th, enjoy some of the YA novels below.
You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron
Charity Curtis has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” at Camp Mirror Lake. Guests pay to be scared in this full-contact terror game as Charity and her summer crew recreate scenes from a classic slasher film, Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. The more realistic the fear, the better for business.
But on the last weekend of the season, Charity's co-workers begin disappearing. And when one ends up dead, Charity's role as the final girl suddenly becomes all too real. If Charity and her girlfriend Bezi hope to survive the night, they'll need to figure out what this killer is after. Is there more to the story of Mirror Lake and its dangerous past than Charity ever suspected?
Four Found Dead by Natalie D. Richards
Tonight, Tempest Theaters is closing forever, the last remaining business in a defunct shopping mall. The moviegoers have left, and Jo and her six coworkers have the final shift, cleaning up popcorn and mopping floors for the last time.
But after an unexpected altercation puts everyone on edge, the power goes out. Their manager disappears, along with the keys to the lobby doors and the theater safe, where the crew's phones are locked each shift. Then, the crew's tension turns to terror when Jo discovers the dead body of one of her co-workers.
Now, their only chance to escape the murderer in their midst is through the dark, shuttered mall. With its boarded-up exits and disabled fire alarms, the complex is filled with hiding places for both the pursuer and the pursued. In order to survive this night, Jo and her friends must trust one another, navigate the sprawling ruins of the mall, and outwit a killer before he kills again.
Where He Can't Find You by Darcy Coates
DON'T WALK ALONE, OR THE STITCHER WILL FIND YOU.
Abby Ward lives in a town haunted by disappearances. People vanish, and when they're found, their bodies have been dismembered and sewn back together in unnatural ways. But is it the work of a human killer…or something far darker?
DON'T STAY OUT LATE, OR THE STITCHER WILL TAKE YOU.
She and her younger sister live by a strict set of rules designed to keep them safe―which is why it's such a shock when Hope is taken. Desperate to get her back, Abby tells the police everything she knows, but they claim their hands are tied.
DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES, OR THE STITCHER WILL REMAKE YOU.
With every hour precious, Abby and her friends are caught in a desperate game of cat and mouse. They have to get Hope back. Quickly. Before too much of her is cut away. And before everything they care about is swallowed up by the darkness waiting in the tunnels beneath the home they thought they knew.
Beholder by Ryan La Sala
Athanasios “Athan” Bakirtzis hasn’t had an easy life. Orphaned by a fire at a young age, he’s had to rely on his charm, his under-the-table job as an art handler, and the generosity of family friends to care for his ailing Yiayia, his grandmother.
But Athan also has a secret: a hereditary power that allows him to rewind the reflection in any mirror, peering into its recent past. Superstitious Yiayia calls the family ability a curse, and has long warned him never to use it. For Athan, who’s survived this long by keeping to the realm of the real, this is a perfectly agreeable arrangement.
Until the night of the party. After being invited to a penthouse soiree for New York’s art elite, Athan breaks his grandmother’s rule during a trip to the bathroom, turning back his reflection for just a moment. Then he hears a slam against the bathroom door, followed by a scream. Athan peers outside, only to be pushed back in by a boy his age. The boy gravely tells him not to open the door, then closes Athan in.
Before Athan can process what’s happening, more screams follow, and the party descends into chaos. When he finally emerges, he discovers a massacre where the victims appear to have arranged themselves into a disturbingly elegant sculpture—and Athan's mysterious savior is nowhere to be found.
Something evil is compelling people to destructive acts, a presence that’s been hiding behind Athan’s reflection his whole life, watching and biding its time. Soon, he’s swept up in a supernatural conspiracy that spans New York, of occult high societies and deadly eldritch designs. If beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, what can it do to us once it’s inside?
Clown in A Cornfield by Adam Cesare
Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. She might not make it to morning.
Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.
Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.
The Island by Natasha Preston
They said goodbye to their friends and family for the weekend. They weren’t counting on forever.
Jagged Island: a private amusement park for the very rich—or the very influential. Liam, James, Will, Ava, Harper, and Paisley—social media influencers with millions of followers—have been invited for an exclusive weekend before the park opens. They’ll make posts and videos for their channels and report every second of their VIP treatment.
When the teens arrive, they're stunned: the resort is even better than they’d imagined. Their hotel rooms are unreal, the park’s themed rides are incredible, and the island is hauntingly beautiful. They’re given a jam-packed itinerary for the weekend.
But soon, they'll discover that something's missing from their schedule: getting off the island alive.