Horror fans rejoice! In addition to plenty of thrills and chills, these four books for teens offer protagonists with complex motives and dark impulses.
Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein follows Mary Godwin Shelley’s life from her infatuation with Percy Bysshe Shelley through their scandalous elopement, penury, travels, the writing of Frankenstein, the births and deaths of their several children, and Percy’s drowning. There’s plenty of interesting material in Mary’s world: radical politics, philosophy, poetics, and, as a side issue, Lord Byron and his lovers. In first-person, present-tense verse, author Stephanie Hemphill creates an informative, impressionistic introduction to Mary Shelley’s life. (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 13–16 years)
Gris Grimly’s graphic novel adaptation of Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus abridges Mary Shelley’s tale while staying true to its spirit. Grimly’s inventive illustrations relocate Frankenstein and his creation to a Tim Burton–esque time-out-of-time mixing modern, nineteenth-century, and steampunk sensibilities. A muted palette of sepia, gray, and olive tones is punctuated by black, pinks, and purples, and, in more gruesome moments, bilious green. Grimly makes excellent use of his format with dynamic shapes, sizes, and pacing of panels. (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins,13–16 years)
The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg is set in Engelsfor, a sleepy Swedish working-class town on the brink of decay. When Elias Malmgren commits suicide, it’s dismissed as just another casualty of the town’s pervasive despair. But six of Elias’s classmates hear a disturbing prophecy: his death was an omen of ancient evil. The girls become supernatural heroines-in-training who must fight demonic forces; their dark motivations, conflicting desires, and many secrets make for six dynamic protagonists. (Overlook, 13–16 years)
At the start of Kate Karyus Quinn’s Another Little Piece, DNA proves that the girl who stumbles out of the woods is long-missing Annaliese, but the girl herself has no idea who she is. Flashbacks reveal that the girl, originally named Anna, murdered Annaliese and many girls before her, then possessed their bodies through a grotesque ritual. As the final puzzle pieces fall into place, Anna realizes she is doomed to kill again. The book takes readers on a gripping, frequently bloody ride that is, in Anna’s relationship with sweet neighbor Dex, also strangely romantic. (HarperTeen, 13–16 years)
From the October 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.