From witches and zombies to magic and deadly secrets, these are 10 recently released young adult novels with a Halloween season flair that have crossed our desks recently.
In her first solo novel, "Unbreakable," Beautiful Creatures series co-author Kami Garcia puts a young adult spin on the ghost hunter genre, trading in witches and voodoo for malevolent spirits and demonic possessions.
When her mother dies, Kennedy Waters finds herself battling dangerous spirits and taking her mother's place in the Legion, an ancient secret society that protects the world from a demon, working with other new members to destroy him.
What sets "Unbreakable" apart from its peers is a genuine sense of spookiness. Comparisons to "Insidious" and "The Sixth Sense" are not far off, although the content is significantly toned down for younger readers.
Other than some brief passionate kissing and one or two instances of mild profanity, "Unbreakable" is about as tame as any horror-themed book can be.
— Jeff Peterson
"BLYTHEWOOD," by Carol Goodman, Viking, $17.99, 496 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)
Following a deadly attack, an innocent orphan boards a train to begin studying at a magical school set in a historic castle complete with mysterious teachers and a gentle groundskeeper. Avaline Hall quickly learns the world is full of magic and mystery as well as danger and evil.
Though the basic premise of this book sounds all too familiar, "Blythewood" magically stands on its own. Author Carol Goodman masterfully unveils a world of goblins, shape-shifting fairies, villains that exhale smoke and black-winged angels that punctually come to the rescue time and again that will hopefully be followed by a sequel.
"Blythewood" has clean language, and there is a little violence throughout the book but it is not gory.
— Alicia Cummingham
"FAR FAR AWAY," by Tom McNeal, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 384 pages (f) (ages 13 and up)
Jacob Grimm really didn't die but became a ghost and invisible or ignored by all, until he meets young Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can see, hear and speak to him.
"Far Far Away," a creepy version of the Hansel and Gretel tale, is narrated by Grimm as Jeremy attempts to impress Ginger Boultinghouse, make friends and save his father's home and bookstore from foreclosure. Jeremy must also battle the swift public opinion of a misunderstood trespassing charge when he and Ginger were spying on the town baker, who has mysterious secrets of his own, including what causes the occasional green smoke when he bakes.
Jeremy and Ginger find themselves wrapped up in a tale more sinister than Grimm ever penned.
It has mild language and some violence, including kidnapping.
— Christine Rappleye
"CONTAMINATED," by Em Garner, Egmont, $17.99, 330 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
In Em Garner's new novel "Contaminated," Velvet and her younger sister, Opal, are used to life alone. Their parents both drank the new diet supplement Thinpro, and the unintended outcome was becoming bloodthirsty, zombie-like creatures that have been neutralized by electric shock collars.
Then Velvet finds her mother and decides to bring her home, upsetting their world.
When the government quietly begins to reclaim the contaminated, Velvet must decide what family is worth and use all her courage to keep hers together.
Garner has created a delicious sci-fi tale worth devouring. Overall a compelling tale about family, "Contaminated" contains brief descriptions of violence. It also has some references to making out but has no swearing.
— Miranda Lotz
"BATTLE LINES: A Department 19 Novel," by Will Hill, Razorbill, $18.99, 591 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
"Battle Lines" by Will Hill is the third installment in the Department 19 series and is an enthralling book that will satisfy fans of the series.
The book begins with an explosive prologue that documents the escape of a patient in the hospital. This patient is vicious and attacks everything in his way.
This is the start of a global attack on prisons and hospitals that releases all of the inmates and turns them into vampires.
In the meantime, Jaime Carpenter has to stop the attack by training an elite new squad that operates under the name Department 19.
"Department 19" has scenes that include graphic violence and mild language.
— Shelby Scoffield
"THORNHILL: A Hemlock Novel," by Kathleen Peacock, Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99, 342 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
"Thornhill," this second book in Kathleen Peacock's Hemlock series, has many twists and turns that keep it riveting until the very end.
Mackenzie "Mac" Dobson leaves Hemlock to search for her werewolf friend Kyle with her best friend's ghost and boyfriend, Jason. They are reunited, but a raid leaves them trapped in Thornhill and they have to find a way out before hidden secrets threaten them.
Peacock creates characters that enthrall and are easy to root for.
The first page has a sexual allusion, but it by no means sets the tone for the rest of the book.
— Abigail Holt
"DEMONOSITY," by Amanda Ashby, Speak, $8.99, 341 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
"Demonosity" is a delightful novel of teenage angst, love and deception told through the eyes of 16-year-old high school student Cassidy Carter-Lewis.
Cassidy is tasked with protecting a force called the Black Rose from an onslaught of demons who wish to possess the power. Thomas de la Croix, a man who has sworn to protect the Rose, projects himself forward in time to help her. Simultaneously, she has to juggle a high school play and men. One man in particular, Travis, becomes entangled in the story and provides an intriguing twist.
There is a minimal amount of foul language scattered throughout the book, as well as violence and death.
— Tori Ackerman
"BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA," by April Genevieve Tucholke, Dial, $17.99, 360 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
April Genevieve Tucholke's debut young adult novel, "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea," is imaginative, lyrical and downright creepy.
Violet's parents have been in Europe for months, leaving her and her brother alone in the dilapidated White mansion, perched on the edge of a cliff above the sea. Having run out of money for food, Violet decides to rent out the guesthouse.
Enter River, a mysterious boy who shows up with wads of cash, pretty eyes and a talent for telling Violet exactly what she wants to hear. Soon, strange things start happening around town. She knows River has secrets, but she is falling in love.
The content of the book matches its dark tone, depicting many violent and disturbing scenes. There is occasional swearing and multiple references to sex.
"GHOST TIME," by Courtney Eldridge, Skyscape, $17.99, 418 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)
Courtney Eldridge's young adult debut, "Ghost Time," follows Thea Denny as she goes from hating school and home life to falling in love with the older, new guy at school, Cam. But when Cam disappears, her imperfect life falls even further into disarray, and she will need to figure out who he really was and what that means to her past, present and future.
"Ghost Time" is an original butterfly-effect type of thriller full of mystery and intrigue. While the format is confusing with its stream-of-consciousness narration and chapters alternating between the past and the future, the voice is strong and the characters are realistic. The ending leaves more than enough questions unanswered to lead the reader into the upcoming sequel.
It includes frequent profanity and some sexual content.
— Tara Creel
"INHUMAN," by Kat Falls, Scholastic, $17.99, 373 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)
"Inhuman" is the first book in a series detailing a post-apocalypse world where humans live in fear of a virus that turns them into wild animals.
The West has become a safe haven for humans to live free of the virus on the other side of a gigantic quarantine wall. But early on, 16-year-old Delaney learns she must venture into the East, or the "Feral Zone," in order to save her father.
Author Kat Falls' "Inhuman" is a fast-paced thriller, full of action and mysteries to be discovered. It's wildly entertaining and worth reading.
It contains depictions of bloody violence, mild language and mild sensuality.
— Nathan Sorensen