By Andrew King
Monsters in fiction give shape to our fears, desires, and curiosities. They exist across genres and are not limited to only horror stories. Monsters help us conquer our demons or explore the unknown. With this in mind, we at Tor Teen have put together a list of YA books with monsters that are creepy, strange, classic, and cool.
Legendary shadow monsters and thought-provoking allegory meet in Five Midnights, a YA Latinx horror novel based on the folklore of el Cuco, a monster story used by parents to scare their unruly children. When Lupe Dávila visits her police chief uncle on the island of Puerto Rico, she inserts herself into an ongoing investigation involving grisly murders and living shadows. Outside of its thrilling horror premise, Five Midnights also addresses timely issues of gentrification, drug abuse, and wealth disparity concerning the island and its people today.
Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse
In the far-flung future, humanity escaped an uninhabitable earth on a spaceship. To pass the time, the sim was created, and the last of the human race lived happily and virtually. Until now. The sim is failing and those who are left inside will be lost. Lake knows this, and must dive inside to find lost minds and convince them to come home, and her job is dangerous. Black ooze gushes in from the edges of reality as the mind lost in the sim becomes confused about where it is and what is real. Waking up from the sim frees someone from one danger while forcing them to face another entirely.
In the depths of the waters outside the Celendor Empire, something huge moves. Swims. Coils and rises. This is Magnius: scion of the Sea Goddess Madoria, guardian to the sailing ship Quincense, and a gigantic sea serpent. He might allow you passage across the dangerous sea—if you are willing to state your name and pay his price. But if you’re under his protection, you might think of him as a friend. Granted, a friend of enormous size with enormously sized teeth, but this is a dangerous fantasy world. Better to face it with a monster friend than without!
In the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel
Something is in the woods. Something unexplainable. Something deadly. This is a monster story set in a small town in Oklahoma where townsfolk start disappearing. A tabloid cryptozoological journalist and his daughter arrive in town to investigate, they must find out the truth about whatever’s hiding in the woods…before they become targets themselves.