’90s nostalgia is in full swing and horror fans are loving it. Many people are revisiting movies they grew up with, while others are discovering those same titles for the first time. And it’s not only cinematic terror that has everyone talking.
Over the past couple of years, the interest in retro books has been on the rise. Combined with ’90s sentimentality, teen horror fiction from the decade has become a special niche for collectors, many of whom are part of Instagram’s enthusiastic community of “bookstagrammers.”
A large portion of the teen horror titles released during the ’90s are now available in e-book format, but the original editions with their colorful covers and witty taglines are the ones we look for while perusing the shelves of used bookstores.
Here at Daily Dead, during a series of seasonal posts, I’m going to be sharing books from my own collection, including where I bought them. This go-round, I’m focusing on autumn themed titles. So, here it is… ’90s Teen Horror Books: Fall Edition.
Halloween Night II by R.L. Stine (1994)
Never take candy from a stranger…
Nothing says spooky, fall-related horror more than a story centered around Halloween. During the ’90s, R.L. Stine released several holiday-themed books, ranging from The New Year’s Party to the popular Silent Night series. Halloween Night takes elements from Stine’s common dramatics and drops them dead center into the final night of October. The Halloween Night “series” is only two books long, but it would have been awesome for it to continue à la Stine’s The Babysitter series.
Help Wanted by Richie Tankersley Cusick (1993)
The job promised easy money—but delivered sudden death!
Help Wanted combines two of the most recognizable tropes from ’90s teen horror fiction—a twisted family history and a new job that turns out to be a living nightmare. Similar to several other books by Cusick, Help Wanted offers a big dose of gothic atmosphere with its central location—an old manor and the surrounding grounds. The setting of the book, in combination with it taking place during October, will give readers plenty to devour.
School for Terror by Peter Beere (1994)
Going to school can be murder…
School for Terror is part of a series from Scholastic called Point Crime. This book reminds horror fans that Halloween and October are not the only scary highlights of the fall season; it is also back-to-school time. But don’t read School for Terror now. Instead, wait until November, as the later chapters take place during the colder months.
The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice (1996)
Kathy’s new house hides old secrets that could frighten her to death.
The fall season is also noteworthy for chilling ghost stories. Rice’s name may not be as recognizable as Stine, Pike, and Cusick, but she has become somewhat of a fan favorite over the years. In The Listeners, Bebe Faas Rice has crafted a spooky tale of a family moving to a haunted house.
The Invitation by Diane Hoh (1991)
A party like no other…
The Invitation centers around antagonist Cass Rockham’s annual Fall Party. Hoh could’ve added a lot of seasonal atmosphere by making it be a Halloween bash, but instead, she chose to feature a more generic type of teen get-together. In reality, Cass’ event could be any party during any time of the year, but including the “Fall Party” moniker makes for an entertaining read on the dark nights leading up to All Hallows’ Eve.
Magic Fire by Christopher Pike (1998)
He loved to burn.
During the ’90s, Christopher Pike’s teen books usually dealt with slightly darker subject matter and themes than those of his fellow authors. Magic Fire is no exception. As the cover copy states, the story takes place during an unusually dry fall and centers around a teenage pyromaniac. It sounds simple and creepy enough, but Pike takes it a step further and weaves unexpected twists and turns into the narrative.
The Phantom by Barbara Steiner (1993)
He’s got the killer instinct.
Fall means back to school, and back to school means football. Barbara Steiner’s The Phantom pairs small-town football pride with a high school ghost/horror story. Featuring awesome cover art and an appropriately spooky, embossed font (one of the elements I love about these books), the result is a memorable, however silly, standout from the heyday of Point Horror.
There you have it—seven ’90s teen horror titles for the fall. What are some of your personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to share photos from your own collection via Instagram and Twitter, using #DailyDeadTeenRetro.
[Photo Credit: All photos by Bryce Gibson.]