Keep in mind, my list is limited. I've never read any Stephen King so that wipes out a whole bunch of possibilities. And I'm keeping this to YA, save for one notable exception.
5. POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
Although I don't do horror, Gretchen's a friend of mine, and POSSESS was her 2012 debut, so there was no way I wasn't going to wimp out on her. POSSESS is about a teenage exorcist, and it provides creeps galore, particularly one highly memorable scene that is set in an antique doll shop. Trust me, Madame Alexander dolls will never look the same again.
4. ANNA TO THE INFINITE POWER by Mildred Ames
ATTIP is a 1986 sci-fi YA novel in which a girl finds out she's a clone. The entire novel has this general sense of creepiness and doom, as Anna digs deeper into how many clones were created just like her, and why. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, which is really too bad because its message about genetic engineering - something that seemed so futuristic in the mid-80's - is very timely. Which makes it even creepier...
3. DOWN A DARK HALL by Lois Duncan
When I was a kid, I really wanted to go to boarding school. Reading this book will cure anyone of that desire. It's about a girl named Kit who finds herself at a boarding school with just four students and one creepy headmistress. The Gothic setting, the shadows around every corner, and the headmistress's nefarious intentions make this one spine-tingling read.
2. MY SWEET AUDRINA by V.C. Andrews
Ah, V.C. Andrews, Queen of Gothic Creepiness. No one's teenage years are complete without reading her masterpiece, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and its sequels and prequels. But MY SWEET AUDRINA trumps every other Andrews novel in read-it-with-the-light-on creepiness. It's about a girl who's always been raised in the shadow of her beautiful, talented, perfect - and dead - older sister. Then quite a ways into the novel there is a stunning twist that will leave your jaw glued to the floor. V.C. Andrews died many years ago, but her estate is still churning out novels under her name. Don't be fooled. The original books - the FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC series, most of the HEAVEN series, and this one - are the best.
1. IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote
I wrote an 50-page thesis paper on Truman Capote in high school, and no study would be complete without reading his masterpiece. Above any other book I've ever read, this book scared me the most. It's the only one to ever give me nightmares - and very specifically, IN COLD BLOOD-themed nightmares. I think that's because it is a true story. In fact, it is considered the first true-crime novel. It details the brutal murders of a Kansas farmer and his family, and the hunt for their killers. But beyond being chillingly creepy, it is truly a masterpiece of writing, and that's why it's number one on my list.
Happy Reading and Happy Halloween!
Nicole Maggi writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond. Her debut novel WINTER FALLS will be released in 2014 from Medallion Press. She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters). Yeah, she's a geek. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter!