“The Madman’s Daughter” by Megan Shepherd

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When Juliet Moreau learns that her father, a scientist who has been banished from London after charges of performing unethical experiments, is alive and carrying on his work on a remote island in the South Pacific, she sets off to join him. It is not, however, the happy reunion she would have liked. Her father’s work is still shrouded in mystery and the island is populated by many unusual inhabitants. After a series of violent attacks on the residents of the island, Juliet becomes deeply suspicious of the exact nature of her father’s experiments.

Inspired by H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter has an excellent gothic-horror atmosphere. In addition, Shepherd stays true to the feel of early works of science fiction such as Wells’ novels and even Frankenstein. Although the book takes place at the end of the 19th century and the experiments described are quite fantastical, the discussion of ethics versus scientific progress is still incredibly relevant.

It was interesting to try to piece together what is actually happening on the island, and there are several truly scary moments in the novel. The Madman’s Daughter does feature the typical YA love triangle; Juliet tries to choose between her lifelong friend Montgomery, and Edward, a castaway she encounters on the way to the island. This was not my favorite aspect of the story, but overall it did not detract too much from the true strength of the novel: Shepherd’s skill in constructing a suspenseful gothic mystery. The ending will definitely leave the reader eager to begin the sequels, Her Dark Curiosity, and Her Cold Legacy, which are just as compelling.

-Check out this book or put it on hold.

–Caitlin C.

“Alive” by Chandler Baker

Alive by Chandler

Seventeen year old Stella Cross was diagnosed with a failing heart when she was just fifteen years old. After two years of waiting, she finally receives a heart transplant from an anonymous donor. Luckily, Stella’s body accepts the new heart, but every day after the transplant she feels extreme pain. This would seem normal, except the pain only occurs at 5:08 p.m. on a daily basis. Stella returns to school after her transplant surgery and she experiences horrifying hallucinations that involve harm coming to her family, friends, and even Stella herself. Soon after Stella returns to school, a new boy named Levi Zin arrives at Stella’s Seattle prep school. When Stella is around Levi, the pain she feels in her heart instantly disappears, but Levi starts becoming obsessed with Stella. She tries to pull away from being with Levi, but the only result is that Levi’s infatuation with her becomes stronger. Stella sets off to discover why only being around Levi can calm the side effects of her transplant while also trying to figure out why Levi is unnaturally obsessed with her at the same time.

This book is recommended for teens who are interested in mystery or horror novels. Readers should expect mild descriptions of situations involving blood, drowning, and danger. Stella and her friend Henry are obsessed with the scary and the supernatural, and they figure out that her heart is acting up because it is from another person’s body. Stella’s hallucinations are also somewhat gory or violent, as they usually involve terrible things happening to her or her family and friends. This book is also very suspenseful and will keep readers guessing throughout the novel. The plot is very original and it also has little pieces of action and love thrown in, but it is done in a way that does not take away from the suspenseful and mysterious mood that is set by Baker. The fast-paced action-filled ending, although a little confusing to understand immediately, is satisfying and wraps up the novel nicely. This 2015 release by Baker is definitely a must read for teens who prefer scary and suspenseful novels over other genres.

-Check out this book or put it on hold.

-Caylee P.

“This Dark Endeavour” by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. Taking place when Victor Frankenstein was just a teenager, This Dark Endeavour charts Victor’s quest to find the elixir of life after his twin brother, Konrad, falls seriously ill. Accompanied by Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth, Viktor begins to study ancient alchemical texts after finding a secret library in his family’s chateau. Yet, once Konrad gets sick, Victor’s interest in alchemy becomes an obsession, often putting his and Elizabeth’s lives in danger as they try to gather the ingredients necessary for the elixir of life. The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, and I often could not put it down.

Fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of the gothic horror genre are sure to enjoy this gripping read. Oppel stays true to the feel of Shelley’s original work, while creating a whole new back story and bringing new life to the characters of Frankenstein in this prequel. He also expertly writes his characters, creating a plausible explanation for the adult Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with overcoming death. This Dark Endeavour is followed up by an excellent sequel, Such Wicked Intent, and I am eagerly awaiting Oppel announcing the third book in the series.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

“The Unquiet” by Jeannine Garsee

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Rinn Jacobs has bipolar disorder. Before she started taking medication to control her condition, her moods — and her life — swung wildly out of control. When her actions indirectly led to the death of her grandmother, she attempted suicide. Rinn and her mother left California to return to her mother’s hometown in Ohio. Now it’s Rinn’s job to get her disorder under control while her mother and stepfather are separated and dealing with the aftereffects of her step-grandmother’s death.

But it’s hard to be normal when you’re renting a house and sleeping in a room where a woman hanged herself. It’s hard to be normal when a creepy hallway and an abandoned swimming pool at school seem to be haunted by Annaliese, the ghost of the hanged woman’s granddaughter. And it’s especially hard to be normal when tragedy falls on everyone who experiences paranormal activity in the eerie corridor.

Rinn becomes convinced that Annaliese is haunting her and preying on her friends and her mother. But will people believe her, or just think it’s her bipolar disorder talking?Give this book to horror fans who are looking for a genuinely creepy, page-turning ghost story.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Imaginary Girls” by Nova Ren Suma

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Everything changed the night fourteen-year-old Chloe found London’s dead body floating in a boat in the reservoir. Until that night, Chloe’s universe orbited around the sun that was her magical older sister, Ruby. London’s death made Chloe worry about meeting a similar fate if she continued along her current path. So Chloe moved away to live a normal life with her father.

Two years later, Ruby comes to find her, to invite her back to their hometown and start over again. When Chloe comes back, Ruby is just as magnetic as ever. Chloe soon loses herself in the magical world Ruby creates where men make themselves her slaves, drowned ghosts lurk in the reservoir and London never died. Chloe struggles to understand how her sister performed this miracle but the deeper she digs, the more confused she becomes. Can Chloe and Ruby exist in this bizarre world forever — or will Ruby’s magical creation start coming apart at the seams?

This story has a strong literary voice, a haunting setting and a page-turning plot that will keep readers guessing until the last page. The relationship between the two sisters is unique and well-drawn. My favorite part of the book is its magical realism tone: it is neither paranormal nor realistic, skillfully walking a fine line between the two. This story would especially appeal to fans of psychological horror movies and video games, for its sustained creepy atmosphere and imagery.

Check out this book or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake

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Cas Lowood is not your typical high school student. He moves from place to place, hunting down murderous ghosts and banishing them with a magical knife left to him by his dead father. With quite a few kills under his belt, he feels almost ready to take on the ghost that murdered his father. He just wants to hone his skills with one more job: taking down Anna Dressed in Blood.

When he meets Anna, she’s as terrifying as everyone described her — wearing a dress dripping in blood, her eyes like black oil slicks, her hair writhing in the air like a living creature itself. But there’s something different about Anna. And even though Cas watches her murder someone in front of his eyes, he can’t help noticing that there are two Annas: the murderous beast and the lost girl trapped inside her.

With the help of new friends Carmel and Thomas, Cas seeks to unravel the mystery of Anna Dressed in Blood. The more time he spends with the ghost, the more he falls in love with her. Can he separate the girl he loves from the monster that consumes her?

There are so many things to love about this book. It’s a genuinely creepy ghost story full of humorous moments. It’s a love story. It’s a mystery. It has a strong emotional plot, compelling main characters and great side characters. Kendare Blake balances all these elements so well and creates a story that draws the reader in and keeps them hooked. If you’re looking for a scary read to recommend to your teens, keep this one in your Reader’s Advisory arsenal.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

– Amanda Coppedge Bosky

“The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan

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Mary and her friends have always lived in a small village, behind high wire fencing, to keep the Unconsecrated (read Zombies) out. She’s obligated to marry and produce children under the strict guidance of the Sisterhood and their enforcers, the Guardians, in order to keep their small remnant of humanity viable. But one day the unthinkable and terrifying happens–the Unconsecrated break through the barrier fence and Mary, her best friend Cass, and their betrothed boyfriends flee down an unused path into the world beyond … a world they’ve been told holds nothing but an unending forest of zombies who would tear them apart. But is that really all there is? Mary has always dreamed of other places spoken of by her mother, before her mother was bitten by and turned into one of the Unconsecrated.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

Also check out the sequels, “The Dead-Tossed Waves” and “The Dark and Hollow Places.”

-Mary Burns