The 2023 Summer Scares Winners Are Here!

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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 fifth 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 and during any time of the year.

This year Summer Scares welcomes New York Times Best-Selling author Daniel Kraus as their 2023 spokesperson. “My love of reading began at a public library — but I had to hunt for the horror,” said Kraus. “I would have been giddy to have a slate like our 2023 choices presented to me when I walked in. I am, in fact, giddy about it right now. It’s a tremendously far-reaching group of titles that epitomizes the breadth of creativity going on in the genre.”

The goal of Summer Scares 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. In addition to the annual list of recommended titles, the Summer Scares committee will release themed lists of even more “read-alike” titles libraries can suggest to readers. 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. 

Every year, three titles are selected in each of three categories: Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade. For 2023 those selected titles are:

collage of book covers of winning adult summer scares books.collage of book covers of winning adult summer scares books.

Adult Selections

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Young Adult Selections

  • In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (Amulet Books, 2013)
  • Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle (illustrator) (Greenwillow Books, 2021)
  • Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (illustrator) (Oni Press, 2019)

summer scares middle grade winning titles cover collagesummer scares middle grade winning titles cover collage

Middle Grade Selections

The Summer Scares Programming Guide, created each year by the Springfield-Greene County (Missouri) Library, and free for libraries anywhere to access, is back with the tools libraries need to connect with their communities. 

“The 2023 guide is packed with ideas that library workers can use to engage their communities with these great titles, whether they’re putting up book displays, hosting author events, or planning an entire Summer Scares program series,” states Konrad Stump, co-creator of the programming guide. The guide will be available beginning March 15, 2023, on the Summer Scares Resource page at

This year Summer Scares is excited to announce two new partnerships to join our existing partnerships with EBSCO’s NoveList database and the Horror Studies Collection of the University of Pittsburgh Library Systems. First, Summer Scares welcomes the Books in the Freezer podcast (, which will be featuring Summer Scares committee members and authors beginning in March 2023 and continuing throughout 2023. 

Second, Summer Scares is excited to join iRead, a summer reading program that has been adopted by nine states and across the globe by the Department of Defense for libraries on military bases. “While there is nothing scary about Summer Reading, there is no better time than summer to scare up some great books. iREAD is thrilled (and chilled!) to partner with Summer Scares to introduce Horror titles to school and public library workers in order to help them start conversations with readers that perfectly aligns with our mission to bridge the summer gap, while inspiring literacy and life-long learning,” shares incoming iREAD Content and Development Manager, Becca Boland. “We look forward to working with Summer Scares to help people find their voice – even if it is to scream!”

You can help kick off Summer Scares 2023 at the HWA’s Librarians’ Day, taking place in person on June 16, 2023, in Pittsburgh as part of StokerCon. Details at: Summer Scares content will also be available for free on the HWA’s YouTube page, including panels with all of this year’s selected authors.

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.

The 2023 Summer Scares program committee consists of author Daniel Kraus, HWA Library Committee Co-Chairs Becky Spratford and Konrad Stump, as well as Academic Librarian Carolyn Ciesla, Book Riot Editor and YA specialist Kelly Jensen, and Booklist Editor and Middle Grade specialist Julia Smith. 

For more information about the Summer Scares reading program, including committee member bios and how to obtain promotional materials and schedule events with the authors/committee members, please visit The Summer Scares Resource page: or email HWA Library Committee Co-Chairs Becky Spratford and Konrad Stump at

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