YA Horror: Not the Type of Books That You Would Read?

“Young Adult Horror” is the topic of discussion I would like to raise today. For example:

“After an orphan child endures his formative years being neglected by his foster parents and made to feel powerless, a mysterious stranger arrives with a revelation: the child was born with the blood of sorcerers in his veins.

“Taken to a hidden fortress under the cover of darkness, the child encounters disembodied spirits, nightmarish creatures, and enemies at every turn. Yet it is only when he discovers that his birth parents were murdered by the dark arts that his true path becomes clear.”

I wrote that three-sentence description for the express purpose of illustrating a point about YA Horror, but how many of readers would correctly identify this as the synopsis for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone?

In offering to allow reviewers the chance to sample my book series, The Spooky Chronicles, I have repeatedly seen replies such as “(these) aren’t the type of books that I would read” or “(YA horror is) not my thing.” My question, of course, is “Why didn’t you give the Harry Potter books a chance?” To be perfectly honest, I submit that the entire series run of all seven JK Rowling books in the Potter series are not only YA horror but become more horrific with each installment (and, frankly, I loved every bit of it).

My point is this: I’m attempting to be fair in the description of what my books are about. Horror is not the only thing that happens in these stories; there is a fair amount of fantasy as well as drama, humor, adventure, and more, but the main character IS a zombie kid. What is creating this reaction to YA horror? Look at children’s nursery rhymes and Grimm fairy tales; the very essence of these stories is unmistakably horror. Hansel and Gretel (and the witch)? Ring Around the Rosie? My guess is that someone at some time has written a truly horrible book where something unspeakable must happen to all the young adult characters; if you happen to know what that book is, please send me the title because I’d like to give it a shot.

In the meantime, what do YOU think? Is a wizard who learns the value of destroying your enemies with sorcery more palpable than a zombie boy who is genuinely fearful he might accidentally start the Apocalypse?

2 thoughts on “YA Horror: Not the Type of Books That You Would Read?

  1. Im currently rereading the book, imagining how it would be like to read to my kids one day, but the more i remember how the story flows, i realized how un-children friendly it is. It is pretty dark after all, but it was written in such a way that good over shadows bad so much that there’s always a cheery side to the books.

    I wouldnt call it horror. Just unsuitable for children.

    On the other hand, there is a book i recently picked up called the child thief. Its the dark version of peter pan, and boy, i would say, that is truly a YA horror, wait, its more of an adult horror.

  2. … but is it *really* unsuitable for children? Kids never get a fair shake from most adults because most adults can’t seem to remember how they were thinking back then. What was important? What scared you? What gave you comfort?

    The main character of The Spooky Chronicles is based on myself and my own experience growing up, but it wasn’t until I went back a re-read it the first time that I realized what I had done and the where the actual source material was coming from. No, I wasn’t a zombie or had to face actual monsters, but sometimes I *felt* that disconnected and the bullies seemed like real monsters. The best part is, of course, is the hero gets to win (well, not lose quite so often).

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