Guest Post: Kimberly G. Giarratano

Ghostly YA Reads To Keep You Up At Night

Happy Halloween mystery lovers! I thought in honor of Halloween, I’d offer up some of my favorite haunting and creepy young adult novels. Now, I’m the first to admit that I am a scaredy cat. I don’t read horror, but I love to be haunted. And I love suspense. The following are a list of books that I’ve read that have given me chills and heart palpitations. What more can you can’t ask for on October 31st?

The Diviners by Libba Bray
It’s 1926, and flapper girl Evie O’Neil has a special gift for divination. Sent to live with her her uncle who runs an occult museum in Manhattan, Evie becomes embroiled in several murder investigations surrounding the sinister dealings of a ghostly serial killer. Uber chilling and suspenseful, The Diviners was one of my most favorite reads of 2012 — just don’t read this book at night. Or when you’re home alone. If you love the Jazz Age and New York City with a hefty dose of the macabre, you’re in for a frightening good time.

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
A young teenage boy is walking alone on a stretch of highway when he meets a boy who died decades ago on that same stretch of road. Haunting and romantic, Vintage is memorable because it contains one of the scariest, creepiest scenes I have ever read in any novel. I won’t ruin it by telling you more.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Set in San Diego in 1918 during the deadly Spanish influenza epidemic, Mary Shelley Black, 16, is heartbroken when the boy she loves inexplicably dies shortly after returning from war. When he comes back to haunt her, Mary Shelley must uncover his murderer if he is to move on. The horrors of World War I coupled with the high death toll from the Spanish flu make for a haunting and atmospheric read. And the mystery will keep readers guessing until the end.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Okay, so this isn’t a ghost book, but a vampire one. And this isn’t just any vampire novel. Holly Black is one of the most recognizable names in YA literature and for good reason — she is simply a beautiful writer who explores the grittiness, bleakness and harsh realities of adolescence. I will read anything this woman writes and you will too.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson is best known for her well-written contemporary YA fiction, but in this novel she ups the sinister. An American teenager moves to London right when a Jack the Ripper copycat killer wreaks havoc near her school. I’m a sucker for anything Maureen Johnson writes, and this departure was no exception. It was creepy and chilling and fast-paced. My heart was racing toward the end.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Admittedly, I have not read this book. But I am dying to (no pun intended) because it’s on everyone’s must-read-creepy-YA list. So I must include it here. A ghost hunter enters a Victorian house in order to kill the murderous ghost who haunts the place only she spares the boy’s life. I just bought it for my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it …and then sleep with the lights on.

So while you’re snacking on your kids’ bite-size Snickers (cuz that’s what I’m doing), check out some of these spooky YA books and report back. Tweet me at @KGGiarratano or find me at I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Kimberly G. Giarratano lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. BeGrungeGodscoverfore staying home with her children, Kimberly was an ESL teacher and a YA librarian. One day Kimberly hopes to move to Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is her first novel.

Twitter: @KGGiarratano
Facebook: /KGGiarratanoAuthor


9 thoughts on “Guest Post: Kimberly G. Giarratano”

  1. I assume that as a Holly Black fan, you caught how a character in Vintage is reading Tithe…and a character in Tithe is reading Vintage? Fun little Easter egg there (Steve Berman and Holly Black are friends).

    My ghostly read this week was the graphic novel short story collection Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. I read it because I was intrigued by what Someday My Printz Will Come had to say about its reliance on visual literacy…and while it was definitely a book you have to look at as much as read, it was too horror for me, and not enough suspense (or possibly not enough folkloric horror? or metaphoric horror?). But diehard horror fans, esp of the Neil Gaiman variety, will like it a lot.


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