The 2021 Summer Scares Horror Winners Are Here

Whether you’re a huge fan of all things horror or are ready to dip your toes into the world of horror, the Summer Scares list is an excellent way to experience the incredible depths of these books. This year’s slate of 2021 Summer Scares winners is especially exciting, as it was open to international authors as well as U.S. authors, given the realities of the pandemic and virtual connectivity.

In celebration of National Library Lover’s Day, the Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Booklist, is delighted to announce the third annual Summer Scares Reading List, which includes titles selected by a panel of authors and librarians and is designed to promote horror as a great reading option for all ages, during any time of the year.

Each year, three titles will be chosen in the Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade categories, and for 2021 they are:


The Hunger by Alma Katsu [G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018]

The Cipher by Kathe Koja [originally published 1991 by Dell but reissued Meerkat Press, 2020]

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, Translator Jonathan Wright [Penguin Books, 2018] 

Young Adult

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline [Dancing Cat Books, 2017]

The Diviners by Libba Bray [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012]

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson [Razorbill, 2018]

Middle Grade

Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce [Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2015]

Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi [Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017]

Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods by Hal Johnson [Workman, 2015]

The goal of the Summer Scares program is to introduce horror titles to school and public library workers in order to help them start conversations with readers that will extend beyond the books from each list and promote reading for years to come. Along with the annual list of recommended titles for readers of all ages, the Summer Scares committee will also release themed lists of even more “read-alike” titles for libraries to use when suggesting books to readers this summer and all year long. And, in order to help libraries forge stronger connections between books and readers, the Summer Scares committee will be working with both the recommended list authors and horror authors from all over the country, to provide free programming to libraries. From author visits (both in person and virtual) to book discussions to horror themed events, Summer Scares is focused on connecting horror creators with libraries and readers all year long.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the 2021 Summer Scares programming will be virtual, and held in conjunction with the Horror Writers Association’s annual StokerCon event (May 20–23, 2021). Authors and committee members will be participating in live and pre-recorded sessions. Authors and committee members will also be available virtually throughout the year to libraries and schools to promote the Summer Scares program and discuss the use of horror fiction as a tool to increase readership and nurture a love of reading.

The Summer Scares program committee consists of bestselling author Silvia Morena-Garcia (Mexican Gothic, Gods of Jade and Shadow, Certain Dark Things, Untamed Shore), Becky Spratford (library consultant, author of The Readers Advisory Guide to Horror, 2nd Ed.), Konrad Stump (Local History Associate for the Springfield-Green County Library and creator of the library’s popular “Oh, the Horror!” series), Carolyn Ciesla (library director, academic dean, book reviewer), Julia Smith (senior editor at Booklist), Kelly Jensen (editor, Book Riot, author of [Don’t] Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health), and JG Faherty (HWA Library Program director, author of Sins of the Father, The Cure, and Ghosts of Coronado Bay).

“The Summer Scares Programming Guide is back and packed with ideas that library workers can use to engage their communities with these great titles, whether they’re planning book displays, hosting author events, or planning an entire Summer Scares program series,” states Konrad Stump, co-creator of the programming guide. “It also highlights the unique circumstances of programming during a pandemic.”

The HWA is a non-profit organization of writers and publishing professionals, and the oldest organization dedicated to the horror/dark fiction genre. One of the HWA’s missions is to foster an appreciation of reading through extensive programming and partnerships with libraries, schools, and literacy-based organizations.

For more information about the Summer Scares reading program, including how to obtain promotional materials and schedule events with the authors/committee members, visit the HWA’s Libraries web page (, Becky Spratford’s Reader’s Advisory Horror Blog RA for All: Horror, or the Book Riot, Booklist, or United for Libraries websites and social media sites.

You can also contact JG Faherty, HWA Library Program Director (libraries [at] horror [dot] org), Becky Spratford or HWA Secretary (bspratford [at] hotmail [dot] com) for more information, and Konrad Stump (konrads[at]thelibrary[dot]org for programming content and assistance.


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