Summer Slashers: 13 Campy Horror Stories To Make You Scream

Feeling an itch for something scary? Check out these summery horror reads to get your scare on!

Horror Recommendations Young Adult
Two girls sitting around a campfire next to a tent in the woods.

Picture this: you’re at the lake with your friends, the sun is high and bright in the sky, and the scent of sunscreen is strong in the air. Everyone’s laughing, basking in the freedom of a gorgeous summer day – you may even be feeling untouchable. Yet, just behind you, mere yards from the sandy shore, the woods are thick and dark, swallowing even the brightest rays of the sun. That crooked figure just out of the corner of your eye – surely that’s just a tree, right?

Nothing more ominous could possibly be lurking amongst the brush. Right?

The scene I just painted for you is how many horror movies start. Lake houses, campsites, conveniently secluded cabins – all are picturesque summer settings that are the perfect backdrops for some bone-chilling horror stories. Many, including I, love autumn for the crisp weather and browning nature that gives Halloween its macabre flair, but summer has plenty of thrills for those who know where to look.

Dead Girl Walking by Sami Ellis

Cover for "Dead Girl Walking" by Sami Ellis.

Temple Baker, daughter of the notorious North Point Killer, knows her father has done horrible things, like murdering 20 people. But she never believed he was the one who killed her mom. Yet, when her father admits to the crime on death row, Temple goes back to his old home to see if there’s a body to support his claim. What she doesn’t expect is the grounds to now be a summer camp for queer true-crime girls. Posing as a camp counselor to snoop the grounds, Temple’s only goal is to find her mother’s body. Until the campers start turning up dead.

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

Cover for "You're Not Supposed To Die Tonight" by Kalynn Bayron.

This summer camp is a literal nightmare come to life. At Camp Mirror Lake, Charity, and the other staffers recreate scenes from the slasher movie The Curse of Camp Mirror Lake for guests who pay to be scared out of their minds. But things get a little too real when Charity’s co-workers go missing, only to turn up dead. Now Charity and her girlfriend Bezi need to unravel the bloody secret history of Camp Mirror Lake if they want to survive the end of summer.

The Last Girls Standing by Jennifer Dugan

Cover for "The Last Girls Standing" by Jennifer Dugan.

Cherry and Sloane are inseparable, bonded by being the sole survivors of the massacre that killed their fellow counselors at summer camp. Sloan thought that she and Cherry were the same – miraculous survivors of a gruesome murder spree. But new evidence suggests that Cherry may have actually been a part of it. Can Sloan trust her girlfriend to tell her the truth? Is Sloan just paranoid or is the truth about that awful night finally coming out?

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala

Cover for "The Honeys" by Ryan la Sala.

After his twin sister Caroline dies a horrific death, Mars is eager to learn everything he can about the twin he used to be so close with. Mars used to be content with his family hiding him away because he’s genderfluid, but he insists on taking her place at the Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy. Aspen is everything Mars isn’t – folksy, traditional, and rustic. But attending is a chance to seek out Caroline’s old friends, a group of girls called The Honeys after the beehives they keep behind their cabins. The girls fit right into this prestigious fairytale where Caroline spent so much of her time, but Mars is convinced the group is connected to his sister’s death. But Mars may be Aspen’s next victim if he can’t find answers soon.

In Nightfall by Suzanne Young

Cover for "In Nightfall" by Suzanne Young.

After siblings Theo and Marco throw an outrageous party and get caught, their punishment is to spend the summer in the tiny, perpetually rainy town of Nightfall, Oregon with their grandmother. Their grandmother has only one house rule: always be home before dark. Despite this, Theo and Marco are determined to get the most of their summer away from Arizona. They’re in luck when they meet Minnow and her friends, all of whom have an irresistible charm to them. But these beautiful girls are hiding something, something that may have to do with their grandmother’s rule and why it shouldn’t be broken.

The Lake House by Sarah Beth Durst

Cover for "The Lake House" by Sarah Beth Durst.

Clare’s grown up always anticipating the worst-case scenario, even if it never comes true. She can’t help but be grateful for this when she shows up at a reclusive summer camp to find everyone dead. Everyone but her and the two other late arrivals, Reyva and Mariana. When the trio discovers a dead body in the woods, they realize that nothing about the camp’s demise was accidental. Now they just have to survive whatever it is that’s hunting them down.

The Getaway by Lamar Giles

Cover for "The Getaway" by Lamar Giles.

Karloff Country, one of the most famous resorts in the world, has always been the perfect getaway for vacationers to escape their troubles. The resort is nothing short of a paradise, which is why Jay knows how lucky he is to work at the property’s main theme park. But as things in the real world get worse, trouble starts coming to Karloff: first Jay’s friend disappears and no one talks about it, and then elite families start showing up at the resort. And they won’t leave. Unknown to the employees, Karloff has advertised itself as an end-of-the-world oasis, offering top-notch service to the rich and powerful at the end of the world. Delivering that service means the employees are at their every whim, whether they like it or not. But Karloff didn’t count on Jay and his friends, all determined to find the truth of this former paradise

Heads Will Roll by Josh Winning*

Cover for "Heads Will Roll" by Josh Winning.

When sitcom star Willow pulls a cancel-worthy stunt, her agent ships her off to Camp Castaway. Hidden away in upstate New York, Camp Castaway is a summer camp for adult celebrities eager to leave their controversies behind. At first, camp doesn’t seem so bad; even Willow’s favorite actress is here! But the peaceful summer days are ruined when a camper vanishes and someone leaves a mutilated doll (stuffed with a threatening note) in Willow’s room. The camp quickly devolves into terror, some even losing their heads – literally. Will Willow losing her career lead to her losing her life?

*This title will be released on July 30th and is available for pre-order.

Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Cover for "Primal Animals" by Julia Lynn Rubin.

After a few years of lackluster grades, Arlee Gold’s mother sends her to Camp Rockaway, an elite college prep summer camp secluded in the North Carolina wilderness. Consumed by nerves, overwhelmed by the heat, and terrified of the relentless bugs that follow her, Arlee is relieved to find solace in her bunkmates. She is especially drawn to Winnie, who sleeps in the bunk above Arlee’s. But Arlee’s problems don’t disappear, only change. Why do people whisper behind her back? Why do the other campers flinch away from her? Just when it seems like Arlee is staring down a very lonely summer, a fellow rising junior slips her an invitation to a secret society. Joining this society is access to a sisterhood that will do anything for its members. But is the sisterhood’s unwavering loyalty really for the girls’ protection? Or is it hiding something bigger than they can imagine?

I Was a Teenage Slasher by Stephen Graham Jones*

Cover for "I Was A Teenage Slasher" by Stephen Graham Jones.

Acclaimed horror writer Stephen Graham Jones returns to the genre with a unique twist on 1980s slasher films. In 1989, Lamesa, Texas is a small town known for three things: oil, cotton, and its gossipy population. Tolly Driver, just seventeen years old, is a good kid if not a very accomplished one. Until he’s cursed to kill for revenge. Now Tolly has a story to tell, and he delivers it as an autobiography, turning a traditional teen slasher story into a personal narrative.

*This title will be released on July 16th and is available for pre-order.

Monstrous by Jessica Lewis

Cover for "Monstrous" by Jessica Lewis.

When Latavia arrives in Sanctum, Alabama to spend the summer with her aunt, her aunt gives her three rules: don’t go outside past dark; come straight home after church; and never, ever go into Red Wood. Despite these rules, Latavia doesn’t find Sanctum all that bad. The town is especially made better by the cute girl who works at the local ice cream shop. But the longer Latavia stays, the more she suspects Sanctum is hiding something that the locals are determined to keep from an outsider like her. Everyone acts like Sanctum is just another normal town, but it’s not – the locals are hiding what lurks in Red Wood. And if Latavia doesn’t stick to her aunt’s rules, she may never be able to leave Sanctum.

Come Out, Come Out, Whatever You Are by Kathryn Foxfield

Cover for "Come Out, Come Out, Whatever You Are" by Kathryn Foxfield.

Welcome to It’s Behind You!, the reality show promised to scare you to death. Five contestants compete to survive the night in the dangerous Umber Gorge caves. The winner will receive a cash prize, but it’s not just each other they have to look out for. The Puckered Maiden, a heart-eating ghost, is rumored to haunt the caves and could make any one of them her next victim. As the production crew pulls out all the stops for a truly frightful show, tensions rise and the contestants are on edge. All five of them have their own reasons for doing the show – could one be as deadly as murder?

Gorgeous Gruesome Faces by Linda Cheng

Cover for "Gorgeous Gruesome Faces" by Linda Cheng.

Two years ago, Sunny Lee had been one-third of the hottest up-and-coming teen pop groups alongside her best friends Mina and Candie. Stardom was just within reach until Mina died under mysterious, violent circumstances. Sunny always wondered if Candie was involved somehow, but could never prove it. Sunny, still seeking answers, follows Candie to a new K-pop workshop. The spark that used to erupt between Sunny and Candie is back and stronger than ever, but romance is the last thing on Sunny’s mind. Sunny’s suspicions are proved correct when the maimed bodies of competitors start showing up. Can Sunny figure out the dark secrets clouding Candie and the workshop in time to save her own life?

Once you’re done basking in the beautiful summer weather, curl up in bed with one of these spooky reads. And when you go to bed, maybe leave a light on – just in case.

Want more scares this summer? Check out terrifying horror movies here!

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