Exploring the Dark YA Fantasy Novels of Ralph Burton

For thrilling fantasies with elements of horror all wrapped up into relatable coming-of-age stories, look no further than the novels of Ralph Burton. Writing specifically with a young adult audience in mind, Burton excels at weaving compelling narratives with characters that readers will find themselves cheering for. Teens will want to collect each of these unique tales for the diverse settings that range from the hidden depths of the ocean to idyllic country villages, but where nothing is as simple as it appears.

Eldritch Nights

Daphne Browning may be an astronomy student, but she soon finds herself dealing with an entity from below rather than the skies above. After moving to the small coastal town of Treadwell, Daphne starts having nightmares about a menacing, powerful sea creature with sharp fangs and a desire to destroy everything in its path. The terrifying beast threatens to completely decimate the town of Treadwell (and everyone in it) if Daphne doesn’t meet its demands. She complies, but once the weekly sacrifices begin, Daphne fears that she’ll never be free of the beast’s deadly grasp…

First Howl

England in the late 1200s is a brutal, depressing place. Those who haven’t been killed by the Black Death have to deal with starvation, enemy invasions, and horrifying monsters that strike fear into the hearts of the bravest knights. In a small English village, a frail woman named Sylvia is simply trying not to starve when she’s brutally attacked by a wolf. To her terror, she’s overcome by excruciating physical transformations whenever the full moon rises. But slowly, surely, Sylvia becomes empowered by this mysterious ability, transforming herself from a feeble peasant into a powerful, intimidating wolf.

Torn Pages

David Flint and his tight-knit group of friends often criticize their little English town for being boring and sleepy, but now they’re desperate for a sense of normalcy. After a field trip goes horribly, inexplicably wrong, they flee for safety at an unfamiliar classmate’s strange house. Upstairs, a dark and foreboding attic offers the group an escape plan through a variety of mysterious books. The question is: which story will they find themselves in next?


Jenny and three of her friends are summoned from the creatures of the ocean into a lush, gorgeous civilization beneath the waves. Enamored by the beauty at first, the group slowly comes to realize that the underwater world is just as complicated and brutal as their lives on land. A civil war is brewing, and the girls have to choose a side to fight for: the sea monsters or the merpeople.

In Bloom

In Wolfe’s 19th century village, losing your virginity can be the difference between life or death. Nestled in an English hillside, the village of Blaume appears quaint and traditional; until the dragon emerges from the mountains above. Each year, the dragon demands that every virgin boy over the age of 16 must be delivered as a sacrifice. Wolfe and his small group of awkward friends have to find a way to lose their innocence soon… or else they’ll lose everything.


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