A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.
Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.
This is a tough one to review because there are so many different short stories, and some of them are very easily given away if you try to summarize them, so bear with me. Overall, I rated the book 4/5 on Goodreads, and I definitely recommend it to EVERYONE. (Unless you have a weak stomach or get scared easily.) It is by far one of the most creepy and psychotic books I’ve ever read, which is exactly what I was hoping for.
That being said, here is how I would rate each story individually:
Nova Ren Suma’s “The Birds of Azalea Street”– 4/5 – Perfect opener! It had just the right amount of twisty/creepiness, especially once the girls got into the neighbor’s house and saw the room with the cage (vague I know, but I don’t want to give anything away!). Not scary really at all.
Carrie Ryan’s “In the Forest Dark and Deep” – 5/5 – SCARY AND CREEPY AND WEIRD AS F***. I loved it though! It had a great twist and really good inspiration (Alice in Wonderland) and was overall really creepy. I tried to describe it to Lauren but I don’t think I did a very good job. I really wish this one was longer or had an actual full story to it, I want to know more!
Cat Winters’ “Emmeline” – 2/5 – I wasn’t a fan of this one and almost DNFd it. It wasn’t creepy, it wasn’t scary, and honestly, it felt like the author was trying too hard – although her world-building was very good!
Leigh Bardugo’s “Verse Chorus Verse” – 2/5 – Not scary. Not creepy. Just weird, and I didn’t like the mom at all so I was more annoyed than anything while reading it. I was very close to DNFing it as well.
Megan Shepherd’s “Hide and Seek” – 3.5/5 – A girl tries to cheat death by playing a game of hide and seek? Definitely a take I’ve never read before! It was interesting but not scary… creepy though, for sure and reminded me of the Final Destination movies a lot. Also, the girl (I don’t remember her name) was super witty and the way it ends was brilliant.
Danielle Paige’s “The Dark, Scary Parts and All” – 1/5 – Least favorite, partly because I barely even remember it and what I do remember reminds me too much of Twilight but with the devil instead of vampires.
April Genevieve Tucholke’s “The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh”– 2.5/5 – This was way too predictable and too similar to the stories it took inspiration from. While it did have a creepy factor, it just wasn’t done as well as I would have liked, especially compared to some of the others in this book.
Jonathan Maberry’s “Fat Girl with a Knife” – 3.5/5 – ZOMBIES! Love that there was a zombie story, love even more that the girl that everyone bullies ends up being the most badass of them all.
Jay Kristoff’s “Sleepless” – 4.5/5 – This one stuck out to me as the most realistic, as it could actually be happening. It was even creepier because of the way things unfolded and seeing it from a certain point of view. Definitely loved it and the ending was like icing on a cake, totally perfect.
Stefan Bachman’s “M” – 3.5/5 – How in the world did the kids know everything that was happening?! This one was creepy and twisty too, but I wish there had been more to it… it lacked something for me.
Marie Lu’s “The Girl Without a Face” – 4.5/5 – I can’t bring myself to give this 5/5 even though it was SO GOOD, so 4.5 it is. This was scary and creepy and twisty all rolled up into one insane story. At first, I was really skeptical, but the more I read… the more things made sense and I realized what was happening. Love Marie Lu!
McCormick Templeman’s “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow” – 2.5/5 – This one didn’t ‘mesh’ well with the rest of the stories and stuck out to me because of that – not for good reasons. The writing was really good, and the story was interesting but there wasn’t enough of it to suck me in. I do think it would make a really good book though!
A.G. Howard’s “Stitches” – 5/5 – hands down, 100%, my favorite of the entire bunch. This story has stuck with me since I finished the book and is the one I remember most vividly. Definitely the twistiest in my mind.
Kendare Blake “On the I-5” – 4/5 – CREEPY. It took me much longer than I’d like to admit to piece together what was actually happening and when I did? LOVE. Totally brilliant and new take on getting revenge. Another story that I was wanting more from and wished for it to be longer.
These weren’t all your typical Halloween ‘monster’ stories, there were actually quite a few that played on real-life situations like pedophiles, kidnapping, murder, etc. and that was really surprising but didn’t take away from the stories at all, if anything it made them scarier because they could actually happen.
I’m planning on looking up books by some of these authors so I can keep reading their work. It really is your perfect Halloween read, especially if you’re into scary, twisty stories.
Happy reading & have a great Halloween!