Ten YA Thrillers/Mysteries

This week’s TTT is a Halloween freebie, and I thought it would be fun to talk about YA thrillers. The majority of the thrillers/mysteries that a read fall into the adult category, so I am selfishly posting this looking for recommendations! The first five books I am talking about today are ones I have read and loved, and the last five are ones of my TBR.

I think that there is this misconception that YA thrillers are more tame or shy away from being truly scary or dark, but I have found that to be far from the truth. Some of the books I am highlighting in this post are among the darkest, most gutwrenching books I have ever read.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

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Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late. 

The Hanging Girl was one of the first ARCs I ever received, and it is a book that I feel is very underrated. I rememeber her novel With Malice being popular, but no one talks about this one. There were so many twists that I didn’t see coming , and I remember this book like I read it yesterday. It is one that stays with you!

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand


Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now. 

Sawkill Girls is more horror than thriller, but it is absolutely fantastic. It is a book that I talk about all the time and find myself constantly recommending. It is dark, but the female friendships and bonds that form as the story progresses are what stand out in my mind as something special.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

The chances are that you have already read Sadie or it is already on your radar, but I couldn’t not mention it- this is a book that deserves all the hype! It is so dark and a tough read, but it is also beautifully handled and story is compelling. The audiobook is the way to go with this one!

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

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Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. 

The Female of the Species is the book that made me fall in love with everything that Mindy McGinnis writes. This book has a revenge plot and is a difficult read. I found myself conflicted about many of the main character’s actions, but I completely understood her motivation. I think about this book quite often!

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

No one writes a thriller/mystery quite like Tiffany D. Jackson. Since I read Let Me Hear a Rhyme in June, I have absolutely devoured everything she has written, with the exception of Monday’s Not Coming. Allegedly is the one that continues to haunt me and I have grown to appreciate the ending more and more as time has gone by. Be prepared, once you read one of Jackson’s books, you’ll want to read them all!

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

This series has been on my TBR for awhile now and it sounds like something I will love. I love mysteries that take place at a boarding school, and Truly Devious has been recommended to me many times. I have heard that the book ends on a cliffhanger, so I am happy that the first three books are already out and the fourth is being released in April 2021.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick


What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected–and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

Libro fm sent me an ALC of I Killed Zoe Spanos, and I am excited to get to it, especially since the audiobook is a full cast! I also just realized that there is a podcast element, which is something I love when it comes to thrillers.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

A Girl’s Guide to Murder has been receiving a lot of buzz lately, especially since the sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, just came out! I have seen only positive reviews for this series and apparently it is a page turner. I need to make this book a priority!

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
AndSimon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One of Us is Lying has been out for a few years now, and I remember there was a time when everyone was talking about it. I, like so many others, adore The Breakfast Club, so the fact that this has those same vibes really appeals to me. There is also a sequel, so I have that to look forward to if I love the first one.

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman


In Gold Coast, Long Island, everything from the expensive downtown shops to the manicured beaches, to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends, looks perfect. But as Jill found out three years ago, nothing is as it seems.

Freshman year Jill’s best friend, the brilliant, dazzling Shaila Arnold, was killed by her boyfriend. After that dark night on the beach, Graham confessed, the case was closed, and Jill tried to move on.

Now, it’s Jill’s senior year and she’s determined to make it her best yet. After all, she’s a senior and a Player–a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society. Senior Players have the best parties, highest grades and the admiration of the entire school. This is going to be Jill’s year. She’s sure of it.

But when Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence, her dreams of the perfect senior year start to crumble. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill is vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.

They Wish They Were Us has been getting mixed reviews, but that cover is calling my name! I get the impression that this is like Gossip Girl but with murder. Or was there murder in Gossip Girl? I never finished the series! Anyway, They Wish They Were Us seems like a quick read and a fun book to devour on a Sunday afternoon.


What is your favourite YA thriller? I would love some recommendations!

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40 thoughts on “Ten YA Thrillers/Mysteries

  1. I love this list and want to read them all, except A Good Girl’s Guide because I read that one already, and loved it! One of my next reads will definitely be the sequel! I have Sawkill Girls on my ereader and I’ll have to add all the others to my readlist now! Great post, I didn’t know there was so much great YA that is exactly my genre still to be read!

  2. Sadly, I have nothing to offer here! I had a nightmare after reading a tense middle grade book recently! 😱 Thanks for curating the list, though!

  3. Thank you for the list! I love Allegedly so much, it’s one of my best reads this year💕 I think I’ll read I Killed Zoe Spanos & They Wish They Were Us soon

  4. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed YA horror/thrillers more than adult ones lately haha I’ve only read one book on your list though! I really need to catch up. Happy reading 🙂

  5. Haven’t seen most of these books but I am really interested to read the hanging girl. I can also say that a many few have said that a good girls guide to murder is awesome, but I am not so sure I really want to put it iny TBR

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