Fall is done lurking, and demons are ready to creep us out this spooky season. To be honest there is nothing more delightful than to curl up in your biggest, comfiest armchair, turn out all the lights save for one, and immerse yourself in a spine-tingling genre compendium of mystery, fantasy, romance and horror — that is, YA Gothic books.
It’s especially this bordering combination that makes the YA Gothic fascinating and engrossing. Adolescence is a complex, often rebellious, experience that every child experiences. The reflection of this liminal phase of youth when we are in the midst of the biggest physical, mental and emotional change is reflected in the YA Gothic novels.
In her literary criticism, Nina Auerbach explains that every generation embraces the vampire it needs and gets the vampire it deserves. What vampires are in any given generation, is a part of what I am and what my times have become.
15 Best YA Gothic Books to Read in 2022
To make the best of the fall season and get you into the festive spirit of Halloween, I have rounded up this brand new list of the best YA gothic books to read in 2022, with each holding a magical delight and dark atmosphere perfect for a spooky season.
From hauntingly mysterious novels to bewitching romance books, cursed Islands to isolated schools, historical horror to ancient alchemy — there is truly something for every taste and every interest in this diversely selected new YA Gothic titles for the best Halloween book recommendations.
1. GALLANT by V. E. Schwab
Bestselling novelist V. E. Schwab is back with a gothic vengeance — Gallant, an atmospheric YA gothic horror perfect for young fans of Shirley Jackson and Neil Gaiman.
It’s a story of Olivia, an orphan whose only clue to where she fits in the world is a journal left to her by her mother. She grew up in less than a stellar home for girls knowing nothing about her family. When one day a mysterious letter arrives beckoning her to Gallant, her real home, she goes knowing full well that it is the one place that her mother’s journal has warned her to avoid.Though the first half of Gallant by VE SCHWAB is a slow burn, it digs its claws in with full force and refuses to let you go.
The story has a strong notion about the shadows and what the shadows of this world look like. Beautifully written and hauntingly amazing, Gallant is a treat for horror lovers.
Originally published: March 10, 2022
2. Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
An unsettling mashup of historical fiction, forbidden romance, gripping mystery, with a dash of fantasy and horror.
Anatomy: A Love Story is a Gothic, feminist, and at times macabre Regency-era love story, between an ambitious young woman fighting against societal restrictions to become a surgeon and a man who survives by stealing dead bodies and selling them to the medical school. Schwartz takes the best elements from multiple genres and combines them to create a captivating and unique story.
Originally published: January 18, 2022
3. A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
A Far Wilder Magic YA Gothic Romance that completely absorbs you in its magical world and grey atmosphere. An aspiring alchemist, Weston Winters has failed out of all his apprenticeships so far. His last chance is Evelyn Welty, a famed alchemist who hasn’t taken any new students for a long time. When he arrives at Welty Manor, he finds her daughter Margaret instead, who immediately dislikes him.
That is until the ancient beast Hala is spotted. Marksmen and alchemists from far and wide team up to hunt this magical creature in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Wes and Maggie, the most unlikely pair, come to understand each other’s personal motives and rely on each other’s abilities to achieve their goals. A highly atmospheric and emotional story of two outcasts discriminated against for their religion, culture and backgrounds.
Originally published: March 8, 2022
4. Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
Mysteriously magical and hypnotically haunting, this entrancing and engulfing gothic tale of murder mystery infused with paranormal romance pulls you in closer and closer with every page you turn.
Nineteen-year-old Signa Farrow is untouchable by death. Orphaned as a baby, she is raised by a string of multiple greedy guardians, all of whom end up dying except her. She’s finally adopted by Hawthornes, her last remaining relative at Thorn Grove manor. There, Signa finds herself drawn to a spirit of death like a moth to a flame. Is the ghost guiding her or do they have a deeper connection? Signa is all in to find answers. With themes of desire, betrayal and of course Death, Belladonna leaves the readers begging for more.
Originally published: August, 2022
5. Mirror Girls by Kelly McWilliams
It’s an eye-opening YA historical horror novel with Southern Gothic elements and a reminder that segregation is not that far in the past.
Twin sisters, Magnolia and Charlie, are separated at birth in the South during Jim Crow laws. One is raised as Black in New York City and the other as white-passing in the Deep South. Soon they discover a secret everyone has kept from them. A fairly quick-to-read, Mirror Girls is reminiscent of Lovecraft Country meets The Vanishing Half in an unsettling southern Gothic thriller.
Originally published: February 8, 2022
6. Forestfall by Lyndall Clipstone
Most anticipated book of the year, a sequel to stunning and atmospheric Gothic debut Lakesedge, Forestfall by Lyndall Clipstone starts off strong with POV chapters from MC Rowan which we didn’t get in Lakesedge.
The curse that haunted Lakesedge Estate is broken now but at a great cost. Violeta makes a desperate bargain to escape death and now lives with Lord Under in the land of the dead. Although he claims to have given her all he promised, Leta knows that this world of souls and mist hides many secrets. When she discovers she is still bound to Rowan, Leta goes to drastic lengths to reforge their connection.
Originally published: September 27, 2022
7. Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
It’s a spooky season, so we’ve got a monster for you to squeeze onto your bookshelf. First in a planned trilogy, Only a Monster by Vanessa Len is an excitingly dark urban fantasy that develops into a fast-paced horror-tinged thriller.
Unaware of the inherited lineage of monsters and hidden powers from her late eccentric mother, sixteen-year-old Joan moves to London determined to enjoy her summer. She loves her new nerdy job at a Museum. When her longtime crush and colleague Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place until she touches an old man and blackouts, losing hours of her life. Her world flips upside down. Rival monsters are lurking around and then there is a legendary monster slayer threatening the entire existence of her family. Will she become a monster or hero?
Originally published: February 01, 2022
8. Wake The Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne
This southern gothic novel is a haunting ode to country magic, with darkness prevading each chapter and oozing at the corner of each scene.
The serne little tobacco farm, her only home that Laurel Early grew up on has become hostile with uncanny events. Her perfectly planned life after dropping out of college is disrupted. She goes toe to toe with a devil from her past and must learn to harness the magic that crackles inside her or the one she loves. Inspired by Appalachian folklore, Wake The Bones is a debut YA gothic novel dripping with dread and a bit of mystery and romance.
Originally published: July 12, 2022
9. The Depths by Nicole Lesperance
Creepy, mysterious and incredibly atmospheric, The Depths is a YA Gothic horror novel set on a tropical island full of secrets.
After a near death experience, seventeen-year-old Addie Spencer is forced to accompany her mother on her honeymoon for two-weeks on an intoxicatingly beautiful island. However, soon the island’s beauty is overshadowed by its dark secrets: wandering ghosts, bloodthirsty flowers, and a deep pool where no one feels pain. Worst of all, Addie realizes that the island may never let her go.
Originally published: September 13, 2022
10. The Book of Living Secrets by Madeleine Roux
It’s a time travel YA fantasy with elements of Lovecraftian cosmic horror.
The story of The Book of Living Secrets follows two best friends Adelle and Connie, who love this 18th-century little-known gothic romance novel called Moira. Opposed to Connie, Adelle is attracted to girls and believes in dark occult stuff. So when the girls come across a curio shop run by an old mysterious man who promises them to transport into the world of Moira, they take their shot to meet their heroes only to find that all is not as they imagined it to be.
The book gets a little confusing because of the different timelines involved. It’s very different from Madeleine Roux’s Asylum series, even from the vibes you get from the cover.
Originally published: March 8, 2022
11. Extasia by Claire Legrand
A bizarre and oddly satisfying story tinged with tender sapphic romance for the fans of horror/fantasy/magical realism set in puritanical societies.
Extasia revolves around a devout young girl Amity whose village is plagued by increasingly horrifying murders targeting men and boys. Amity is convinced that the devil is stalking her village and only she can save her people. But as she embarks upon this quest, she discovers devastating secrets that threaten to unravel everything she thought she knew about her home and her way of life. While Amity struggles with her newfound power Extasia, the bodies begin to pile up. She is faced with a decision to to make.
The book is pretty much dark with deeply unsettling horror fantasy dripping with religious cult and witchcraft.
Originally published: February 12, 2022
Few more YA Gothic books from 2021 that left me thrilled so much that I end up recommending these titles every time. So if you didn’t get the opportunity to grab these books in a previous fall season, now is your chance.
12. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
House of Hollow is an atmospheric YA Gothic horror manages to make you obsessed to the point where it HURTS to put this book down for work. It’s a lush, dark, twisty, and vividly captivating tale of Hollow sisters who mysteriously disappeared from the streets of London, ten years ago. A month later, Iris, Vivi and Grey returned but with altered identity features and half-moon scars on their neck.
Since then, their ethereal beauty, weirdness and uncanny abilities have been the subject of online sleuths. Grey Hollow is now an internationally famous model and fashion designer, and an anchor to hold on for her younger sisters. When she suddenly goes missing, Iris and Vivi with the help of Grey’s Korean boyfriend Tyler, set out to unravel the mystery of present and past that are entwined together. Insanely creepy yet magically enchanting at the same time.
Originally published: April 6, 2021
13. Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
One of the best Gothic romance books, Down Comes the Night manages to be both intriguing, creepy but ultimately heartwarming.
This book surrounds the Healer and the Reaper, two soldiers from opposing war-torn countries trapped together in a crumbling (possibly haunted) mansion desperate to solve a murder mystery. They work together to not only stop their two nations from entering yet another pointless war, but also to help one another confront their own demons. Atmospheric and lyrical, the book is laced with wintery Gothic terror and driven by a love story so tense as well as tender.
Originally published: March 2, 2021
14. A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
A dark, twisty thriller about a centuries-old eerie boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft. The atmospheric setting, morally grey characters and uncertainty makes A Lesson in Vengeance a perfect read for dark academia fans.
The story follows Felicity, a teen who returns to her eerie boarding school after the death of her best friend. Living with four other girls, including the mysterious yet charming Ellis, we follow a well structured story that explores friendship, mental health, murder and the school’s history with the occult.
With likeable characters, darkly witchy and Gothic vibes, and some precarious events, A Lesson in Vengeance is one of the most popular YA Gothic books of the year with dark academia vibes.
Originally published: August 03, 2021
15. The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke
Bursting with mysterious atmosphere, mythology and folklore, The Lighthouse Witches is a chilling female Gothic tale with witchy vibes. The gloomy atmosphere sets the pace for this dark story.
Based in Scotland, the narrative unfolds in dual timelines that span from the present day all the way back to the witch trials of 1662. A mother moves with her three daughters to a remote Scottish island to paint a mural on a 100 year old lighthouse. The islanders are facing some mysterious events and disappearances, all started with a witch hunt. One by one, the members of the family disappear, leaving behind the only survivor. As the story unfolds, we learn the mysterious past of the lighthouse and what happened to the family.
Enthralling, immersive and filled with Gothic menace, The Lighthouse Witches is the perfect read for the fans of horror. The author makes great use of places to help create an atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine.
Originally published: September 30, 2021
Similar Gothic Recommendations for Spooky Season:
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