If You Can't Get Enough Stranger Things, These Books Should Keep You Busy Until Season 3
Stranger Things is way too good to only have 17 episodes, and new episodes won't be out until 2019. What's a girl to do?
If you're anything like us, you've been seeking out TV shows like Stranger Things to fill the void, but recently we've noticed that books can do an even better job. If you're looking for scary, exciting books about kids finding their way in the world, we think you'll love every title on the list below.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
When weird things start happening to a young boy in the English countryside, he goes to his knowledgeable (and somewhat magical) 11-year-old neighbor, Lettie Hempstock, for help. She identifies an evil spirit, and brings him with her to a strange, mystical world to vanquish it. However, everything goes wrong when an evil worm from that world burrows into his foot and he brings it back home with him.
He tries to remove it, but only manages to get some of the worm out. With a piece of the worm still inside him, he becomes a portal between the real world and the other, frightening realm—and the removed chunk of worm transforms itself into a beautiful nanny on a quest to make his life a living nightmare. Only Lettie, and her witchy mom and grandmother, can help him before it's too late.
My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
It's 1988, and best friends Abby and Gretchen have just started the 11th grade. They've been inseparable for years, bonding over their shared love of pop culture. One night, Gretchen runs away into the woods. She's back within a few hours, but it's clear to Abby that she's changed.
As her behavior gets weirder and weirder, Abby becomes convinced that Gretchen is possessed by a demon. She becomes manipulative and unkind, betraying Abby and turning their closest friends against her as well. Unwilling to lose her bestie, Abby seeks help, befriending a priest to stop Gretchen before she gets hurt or causes some damage that can't be undone.
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Jack Sawyer's mom is dying. This would be tough for any kid, but Jack's mother's death could have consequences beyond his imagining. He learns that there's a parallel reality to his, and in that reality, his mom's counterpart "twinner" is queen. If Jack's mom dies, the queen in the other world will die shortly afterward, and evildoers will stop at nothing to take the throne. He must do something to stop it.
He just might have it in him, because he's special. His twinner died long before, but somehow he's still fine. His absence in the other world means he can travel between the two at will. That'll come in handy as he travels the country to find the Talisman that can save both mothers from certain doom.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Age of Miracles follows a girl named Julia who wakes up one day to find her world totally changed. The Earth's rotation has slowed, impacting gravity and resulting in nights that seem to drag on forever—and that only get longer with time. This subtle change has bigger effects than Julia could have ever anticipated as people fall to an illness called the syndrome as a result of the altered world.
Julia's best friend moves away in the wake of the event, and her parents' already-disintegrating marriage worsens further when her mom starts to suffer from the syndrome. Meanwhile, circumstances also allow her to become closer to her crush than ever. Despite everything, it's a coming-of-age story at its core.
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons
Summer of Night is set in Illinois in the summer of 1960. Five 12-year-old best friends, who call themselves the Bike Patrol, are about to start their summer vacation when the younger brother of one of their classmates goes mysteriously missing. Suspicious of their recently closed school, they team up to investigate it, only to discover teacher back from the dead–and that's just the beginning.
There's an ancient evil lurking in the school, triggered by events that took place 60 years before, and it's taken over most of the school staff. The supernatural will happen—and not all of the kids are going to make it out of it alive. If you like this one, also read its sequels A Winter Haunting and Children of the Night.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle wishes he could be a regular kid. Unfortunately for him, he's anything but. He's a Replacement, meaning 16 years ago, someone stole a human baby from a crib and put him there in its place. Usually these Replacement babies get sick and die young, or are ostracized for being so unlike everyone else, but not Mackie. He's a nice guy who was raised with love and care by his adoptive parents, and has mostly managed to blend in. But he wasn't made for the human world, and it's slowly but surely killing him.
When his crush's sister goes missing, Mackie knows his people are to blame. He must return to his own world beneath the ground, called Mayhem, to confront the dark beings and find out for himself where he truly belongs.
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein
The sci-fi world of Arclight is nothing like our own. Arclight is the name of a military base in a post-apocalyptic reality, where the inhabitants are protected from creatures called the Fade, who destroyed most of the world. Everyone lives within the brightly-lit walls of Arclight, and the Dark beyond is an evil place populated by the Fade. In between Arclight and the Dark is the Grey. That's where the mysterious Marina was found.
She has no memories of her past, and untrusted by the people of Arclight, she has few friends. But when the Fade breach the perimeter of Arclight, Marina is forced to examine her identity and find out who she really is, which could shake up things in Arclight forever.
Beware the Wild by Natalia C. Parker
Brother-sister duo Phin and Sterling are extremely close. They live in the south in a town bordered by a supposedly cursed swamp, which goes undisturbed until the two get in an argument and Phin runs off in a huff. Sterling is worried, but doesn't pursue him. Later in the day, when he comes home, he isn't him. Instead, a "sister" called Lenora May shows up in his place. Only Sterling remembers her lost brother and knows this sister is a fake—but her memories are being tampered with, too.
Sterling sets out to save her brother, Phin, believing that Lenora May must be returned to the swamp, but of course the replacement sister has no intention of doing so. It doesn't help that mystical swamp is also trying to stop her in her tracks.
The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donahue
Jack Peter has always been withdrawn, but when he was 7, he almost drowned in the ocean. Now he's 10, but he's barely left home for the last three years, terrified of the dangers lurking outside. To pass the time, he starts drawing monsters. The only trouble is that his visions start coming to life, making his family and best friend deal with terrifying creatures on a regular basis.
As this continues, only Jack Peter knows how and why this is happening, but he continues to draw these terrifying images. Only he knows why he must.
Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
Paper Girls is also set in the '80s, following a group of four 12-year-old girls who become friends because they share a paper route. When a couple of them are attacked and robbed by a group of men in costume on Halloween, they pursue them into a house under construction. There, they discover a time machine, and unmask the men to find out they're actually aliens—and that's just the end of the first volume.
Paper Girls is an ongoing comic book, and the 22nd volume released just this week, so if you love the episodic nature of TV, it's not too late to get caught up.
You're only here if you're Stranger Things-obsessed, so HERE for a definitive ranking of every Stranger Things episode, based on scariness.