3 YA Novels Sure to Delight Paranormal Fans

A haunted house; magical, dangerous woods; and romance between a witch and vampire will draw in readers looking for paranormal tales.

A haunted house; magical, dangerous woods; and romance between a witch and vampire will draw in readers looking for paranormal tales. Zappia’s interconnected stories offer something for fans of every creature that goes bump in the night, and Sambury’s novel features a teen fighting off monsters—human and otherwise, while romance fans will enjoy Flores's queer "Rapunzel" retelling features ­enemies-to-lovers between a witch and vampire.

Flores, Francesca. The Witch and the Vampire. 368p. Wednesday Bks. Mar. 2023. Tr $20. ISBN 9781250220516.
Gr 7 Up–Readers who are fans of fairy-tale adaptations will enjoy this dark, queer retelling of “Rapunzel.” Ava is a young woman who was turned into a vampire during an attack two years ago. Her mother and ­stepfather keep her locked in a tower so they can feed off her power. Kaye is a Flame Witch who was best friends with Ava before the attack and vows to kill any vampires she comes across. When Ava escapes, Kaye convinces her to travel together through the cursed forest with the plan of eventually turning her in to be killed. However, old feelings are rekindled, and both girls begin to question everything. This is perfect for fans of vampire novels. While there are darker themes (such as parental death and abuse), the writing is suitable for mature middle schoolers. The romance between Kaye and Ava is fun to read, and the book has some interesting worldbuilding that will engage lovers of paranormal fantasies. ­VERDICT ­Readers of paranormal romance or fairy-tale retellings will likely enjoy this quick read.–Carleigh Obrochta

Sambury, Liselle. Delicious Monsters. 512p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry. Feb. 2023. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781665903493.
Gr 10 Up–Seventeen-year-old Daisy, with ancestors from Trinidad and Tobago, has always been able to see dead people, but when she moves from Toronto into an inherited mansion with her mom, the ghosts inside invade her life in a completely new way. Daisy is hoping the fresh start will be a chance to put her most recent toxic relationship with an older man behind her, but instead she is thrust into a haunted house with a monstrous will of its own. The house feels like an evil character from a Stephen King novel, though the true villains in this story are more likely to use their power to groom, rape, and gaslight their teenage victims. Readers wary of maggots and slaughtered animals should also be prepared for some of the vivid imagery present. Because the house leaves a dead Black girl in its wake, a decade later the creative team behind a popular haunted house web series decides they will investigate to shine a light on the lack of concern over “Forgotten Black Girls.” Even with the large cast of characters and dual narratives, Sambury carefully and clearly builds an intricate story that uses metaphors of gardening to spotlight the cyclical nature of sexual violence while providing a genuinely terrifying haunted house ghost story. VERDICT An excellent choice for fans of sophisticated horror that includes both paranormal and real-life terrors, such as Elana K. Arnold’s Red Hood.–Carrie Shaurette

Zappia, Francesca. Greymist Fair. 336p. Greenwillow. Mar. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063161696.
Gr 7 Up–Death is at the door of Greymist Fair, a town deep in the woods on a road most travelers never find. The witch in the woods keeps Death and its wargs at bay, but that doesn’t make the village safe, because sometimes the worst monsters are people. Zappia has crafted eight interconnected stories that take place in Greymist Fair, though at different points in time, painting a vivid picture of life in a town where magic is real, but mostly unwanted. Zappia’s stories call back to the lessons classic fairy tales were meant to teach young children, while finding ways to subvert expectations and keep readers glued to the pages, including Red Riding Hood knocking on Death’s door, a prince granting wishes, and the wolf living next door. Greymist Fair comes to life as an intricate knot of love and death, while touching on all the different ways people abuse power. Zappia’s writing is sharp and accessible, populating a town with a large, unique cast and braiding together different fairy tales to create a world that prioritizes acceptance and love. The book is great fodder for book club discussion, while the short stories break the novel into manageable bites for less proficient readers. VERDICT Unique yet recognizable, these tales are a solid addition to any collection.–Emmy Neal

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