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Updated by Jen Blair on Dec 05, 2023
Headline for Winter Break 2022 - End of Year - Best Horror / Dystopia
Jen Blair Jen Blair
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Winter Break 2022 - End of Year - Best Horror / Dystopia

These titles are probably considered to be more scary stories than horror but I’m a big chicken. Can’t handle full-on horror. Here are some frightening stories with a smattering of dystopia. Because the future is scary.

Belladonna (Belladonna, #1) by Adalyn Grace

Belladonna - Adalyn Grace
I didn’t know what to expect from this book and never could have called where this story went and…I’m not mad at it. Ghosts, magic, romance...and the Grim Reaper.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Nineteen-year-old orphan Signa Farrow confronts Death--and her own deathly powers--when she investigates the mysterious murder of a relative at the Thorn Grove estate.

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones | Goodreads

The Drowned Woods - Emily Lloyd-Jones

Swoony fighters, cranky mentors, and one adorable corgi…just perfection.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
Mer, the last living water diviner in the isles of Wales, seeks revenge against the prince who used her powers for his own evil ends.

The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera | Goodreads

The First to Die at the End - Adam Silvera

The beginnings of Death-Cast. How it almost didn’t work. But in one 24 hour period so many lives are changed because of it. Some of it good. Some not so much… Get out your Kleenex.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Orion and Valentino cross paths in Times Square and immediately feel a deep connection. But when the first round of End Day calls goes out, their lives are changed forever--one of them receives a call, and the other doesn't. Though neither boy is certain how the day will end, they know they want to spend it together--even if that means their goodbye will be heartbreaking.

The Getaway by Lamar Giles

The Getaway - Lamar Giles

A post-apocalyptic setting where the workers of a Disneyland-like resort are forced to stay in the park to serve some very NOT NICE rich people.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
Jay discovers that mountain resort where he lives and works with his friends and family is also a doomsday oasis for the rich and powerful who expect top-notch customer service even as the world outside the resort's walls disintegrates.

Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Gleanings: Stories from the Arc of a Scythe - Neal Shusterman

A collection of stories from a variety of settings: space, Texas, Europe, and Russia. Some love stories, some redemption stories, some revenge stories…it’s all here.
You will see some familiar faces, and meet some new ones, but the stories are all new and completely engrossing.

From the publisher:
Grades 7 and up.
There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control. Discover secrets and histories of characters you've followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala

The Honeys - Ryan La Sala

Not enough words to express how much I love this kid confronting grief, prejudice, and injustice with grace, bravery, and humor. All. The. Love.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline's radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who'd grown tragically distant. Mars seeks out his sister's old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying--and Mars is certain they're connected to Caroline's death.

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Our Crooked Hearts - Melissa Albert

Quirky and funny and scary and REAL... about teenagers and witchcraft... a twisty-turny mystery that will leave you breathless.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Told in alternating voices, years after it began, seventeen-year-old Ivy and her mom Dana's shared story comes down to a reckoning among a daughter, a mother, and the dark forces they never should have messed with.

The Q by Amy Tintera

The Q - Amy Tintera

This is a post-pandemic novel. We are not yet post-pandemic. But it gives you hope that maybe someday there will be someone (young) in charge that might get us out on the other side with dignity and care. Hey. It could happen.

From the publisher:
Grades 8 and up.
When the president's son, Lennon, is kidnapped and pushed out of an airplane over the Q, a vast quarantine zone, Maisie gives him a seventy-two hour vaccine and together the two teenagers attempt to fight their way through the Q in order to survive.

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

The Weight of Blood - Tiffany D. Jackson

Maybe Maddy did do it. But I don’t blame her.

From the publisher:
Grades 9 and up.
Maddy has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington. After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life. But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret--one that will cost them all their lives.