9 Books Like 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' To Read If You're Obsessed With Teenage Horror
There's something about the calendar turning from September to October that makes us inexplicably into getting really, really, really scared. Like, hide under the covers, sleep with the lights on, jump at the slightest floor creak scared. And we've all got our go-to movies, a list we return to year after year. But if you've watched your favorites, like the campy slasher films that defined the mid-1990s , just one too many times and you need some new scare tactics, check out these these nine books to read if you loved I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Loosely based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan, I Know What You Did Last Summer hit theaters mid-October in 1997, and quickly became a cultural touchstone for the era. Along with Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer (which we will refer to as IKWYDLS henceforth, because typing out the full name 50 times is exhausting) was the poster-child for the revitalized slasher genre.
On the fourth of July, on the way to the beach after a party, four friends accidentally hit a pedestrian and decide to dump his body in the water. The next summer, the now-scattered friend group is reunited when a mysterious figure begins stalking them. First with letters — "I know what you did last summer!" — then with a hook (if this sounds vaguely like the urban legend about the killer with a hook, that's intentional). Terror, murder, mystery and slightly campy language ensues. Many of the books on this list mirror what made IKWYDLS a box officer leader: a sense of mystery, the threat of death and that intoxicating, overwhelming time in our lives when high school and college converge, when we're truly young adults, trying to keep our heads above the water.
'We Have Always Lived In The Castle' by Shirley Jackson
Six years after four family members were killed in an arsenic "incident," the remaining Blackwoods — Merricat, her agoraphobic, older sister Constance, and their wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian — have built an isolated life in their family mansion, dictated by idiosyncratic rules and protective magic. Then, a cousin appears, and in increasingly desperate attempts to keep their way of life together, Merricat spurs a wave of crisis and tragedy.
'And Then There Were None' by Agatha Christie
Ten strangers appear at an isolated island mansion, all lured there by a mysterious letter. At dinner the first night, a recording plays, accusing them each of harboring a guilty secret. By morning, a guest is dead. And so the cycle begins. Will the killer be revealed before it's too late?
'Carrie' by Stephen King
Carrie White leads a life filled with bullying, both at school and at home. But she harbors a secret power: the ability to move things with her mind. And when an unexpected act of kindness coincides with classmate cruelty and humiliation, Carrie snaps. And her power takes on a life — and a vengeance — of its own.
'Dark Places' by Gillian Flynn
The sole survivor of "The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas," Libby Day has grown from a terrified seven-year-old, who testified that her older brother was responsible for the brutal murders of their two sisters and mother, to a bitter, isolated 20-something. Strapped for cash, Libby reluctantly agrees to meet with "the Kill Club," a true crime fan club. But the Kill Club's evidence that perhaps her brother wasn't to blame after all begins to haunt Libby... and she sets out to set the record straight.
'Girls on Fire' by Robin Wasserman
Halloween, 1991. A star athlete in Dex's small, conservative town goes missing. Three days later, he's found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand. The death sends waves of panic through the town, already on edge about threats of "satanic worship." Meanwhile, Dex is drawn into a deeply intoxicating friendship with local "bad girl" Lacey.
'Pretty Little Devils' by Nancy Holder
Like so many teens, Hazel just wants to be popular. And when the hottest clique in school invites her — a nobody, a C-lister — to sit at their table, she's swept up in the tide of newfound fame. But not everybody is happy for Hazel. And jealousy? It can become deadly serious.
'Chain Letter' by Christopher Pike
When The Caretaker sends Alison a chain letter, she thinks it's a joke. But as The Caretaker gets closer — and begins stalking Alison and her friend group, bound by an unspeakable crime committed months ago — the need to figure out who The Caretaker is, and how much they know, becomes increasingly a matter of life and death.
'The Merciless' by Danielle Vega
Sofia Flores never meant to end up a dank basement, flanked by popular girls Riley, Alexis and Grace, and facing their classmate Brooklyn, who sits gagged and bound and bloody. Riley, Alexis and Grace are performing an exorcism, though to Sofia, it looks more like torture. And to get out of the house, Sofia will have to confront whether in her, too, lies an evil, begging to get out.
'The Wicked Deep' by Shea Ernshaw
Two centuries ago, three beautiful, intoxicating sisters were drowned for witchcraft off the coast of Sparrow, Oregon. Each summer, their spirits return, inhabit the bodies of local girls and set about exacting their revenge: drowning local boys. 17-year-old Penny Talbot has lived her whole life in Sparrow and accepted its curse - until an outsider, Bo, comes to town on the eve of the sisters return. And Penny will have to make the agonizing choice of protecting Bo — or herself.