Being scared is one of the oldest and most primal thrills that a person can experience. Think about it! From a very young age, a lot of people love to be spooked. Babies love to be tossed in the air and older kids love riding rollercoasters, telling ghost stories around the campfire, or reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There’s a certain joy in the adrenaline rush of fear, especially when you know that the “danger” is only temporary, or that it was fictional all along. However, not all fears are temporary or fictional. Even if they’re not the kind of intense, supernatural horror experience that characterizes most ghost stories, the fears that populate everyday life are no less real.
For many people, the transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the most horrifying things they ever experience. It’s difficult to maintain a concrete grasp on your sense of self as you grow into a teenager and a young adult, especially when everything around you is changing, from your body to your mind to your relationships with your friends and family. YA horror is fun because it combines the thrill of a scary story with the real, universal struggle of growing up and finding yourself. Although ghost stories and urban legends might not seem like they have a lot in common with the teenage experience, there’s actually a lot of overlap between the two. YA horror lives and thrives within that overlap, giving both authors and readers a space to connect the imaginary fears that thrill us with the everyday fears that we all have to learn to live with.