%% This list of examples has been alphabetized. Please add your example in the proper place. Thanks!

!!Books & Book Series
* ''A is for Adam'' is a kid's book aimed to teach about the Bible to young children. It features rhyming and teaches the alphabet. Unlike most Biblical works aimed at kids, it doesn't water down the Bible. It also features references to animal sacrifice (complete with a bloody dead lamb), BrotherSisterIncest, and SiblingMurder.
* The ''Literature/AlexRider'' series by Anthony Horowitz, which has a large amount of violence, horror, some swearing, and sexual dialogue.
* ''Literature/AlfiesHome'', an attack on homosexuals thinly disguised as a story about a boy who was molested by his uncle. Even for the early 1990s, it's... pretty bad. It includes the sentences "Some [kids] called me names like 'Sissy', 'Faggot', 'Queer' and 'Homo'" and "Now, I realize I'm not gay". And it's a picture book, so it was aimed ''at toddlers.'' But don't take our word for it: Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses [[http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/blogs/latest/entry/the-worst-childrens-book-ever-alfies-home will fill you in, along with the entire book's contents]].
* Much of ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' is a deconstruction of WakeUpGoToSchoolSaveTheWorld, and it's one of the clearest and most prevalent examples of WarIsHell in children's literature. By the start of the last book, ''The Beginning'', they've spent ''three years'' fighting a horrific war, just trying to HoldTheLine until the Andalites show up and bring enough of a fighting force to stop the [[PuppeteerParasite Yeerks]]. None of the main characters are in anything even close to a healthy mental or emotional state. One of them sent his cousin to kill his brother, knowing she'd die too. And she agrees with his decision because she doesn't think she'd be able to function in normal life without the war anymore. Another spearheaded a plot to kill his own mother because she was the host for one of the Yeerks' leaders. A third was trapped in a body--and a species--not his own in the first book. It's much darker than its market would suggest.
* Lemony Snicket's ''Literature/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents''. A story about a man who murders just about every character in the series trying to kill three orphans to get their inheritance. This includes characters being eaten alive, death by harpoon gun, and the untold unmentionables who didn't escape the hospital fire. Completely justified, since it comes with the SnicketWarningLabel.
* ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfPrydain'' contains death, zombies, human sacrifice and much more.
* ''Literature/DarkestPowers'' series is essentially the same as its dark, adult oriented ''Literature/TheOtherworld'' sister series but aimed at a younger audience. It's ''somewhat'' more toned down. Basically only the sex and profanity are taken out. Thus we have a series about teenagers trying to escape getting killed [[spoiler:and one of them doesn't]] with plenty of BodyHorror and NightmareFuel sprinkled about.
* ''Literature/TheDemonata'', also by the real Darren Shan, is another ultra-violent horror series involving demons. And just like the Saga, it's meant for kids. Among the not-so-kid-friendly elements:
** TheProtagonist advocating smoking.
** [[TheProtagonist The same protagonist]] later witnessing the graphic (and well-described) aftermath of a demon summoning gone wrong.
** [[TheProtagonist The twelve-year-old protagonist]] fantasizing about his uncle's sexy best friend.
** Said uncle's sexy best friend also, at one point "accidentally" spills milk all over her shirt, and calls the narrator in to help her out of it.
** And, by book five, it all starts to go downhill.
* ''Literature/{{Department 19}}'': With all the grisly violence and gore, you'd expect the novel was for adults.
* While Robin Jarvis' ''Literature/DeptfordMice'' books feature cute animals, their being targeted at children is very questionable because many of the characters are subjected to violent, absolutely horrific deaths such as being skinned alive, decapitated, or having their body slowly eaten away by a deadly poison.
* Most of the people getting up in arms over the blunt descriptions of puberty and other "naughty" things found in ''Theatre/TheDiaryOfAnneFrank'' are forgetting the fact that the book was written by, you know, a 13-year-old girl dealing with things every 13-year-old girl goes through (well, minus the whole Nazi thing). It was a personal diary after all. The controversy is especially funny when you realize that the people complaining about it are implying that Anne Frank was too young to describe her own puberty in her own words.
* The ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' kids' books.
** ''Discworld/TheAmazingMauriceAndHisEducatedRodents'' is deep (the rats are inventing their own morality as they go), terrifying (the rats face vicious terriers, powerful traps and a {{Mind Control}}ing villain), and {{squick}}y (the "inventing their own morality" includes the idea that maybe they shouldn't eat other rats, or at least not the wobbly green bit, but the eyes are fine).
** The Tiffany Aching novels have a preteen (to start with) witch facing various inhuman creatures, including the Queen of TheFairFolk (one of Pterry's nastier villains) and a being of pure hatred towards witches. The next-to-last book begins with [[spoiler:an abusive father beating his pregnant daughter into a miscarriage, and nearly being lynched by his disgusted neighbors.]] All the books also feature references to sex, which become steadily less coded as they go on. Interestingly, ''Discworld/{{Wintersmith}}'' and ''Discworld/IShallWearMidnight'' don't use the "smaller hardback" format of ''Maurice'' and the first two Tiffany books, although they're still listed as "for younger readers". Terry's view is that '''all''' ''Discworld'' novels are aimed at anyone who understands the jokes.
* The Creator/StephenKing book ''Literature/TheEyesOfTheDragon'' was written at the request of one of King's children, who wanted [[SoMyKidsCanWatch him to write a children's book]]. However, that didn't stop King from including, among other things, a SexScene. While for the most part it is tamer than King's other books, there's still a lot in there to scar a child for life.
%%* ''Literature/TheEdgeChronicles''
* The entire point of ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'' series ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear'' was to be a horror series for kids, [[FollowTheLeader a la]] Literature/{{Goosebumps}}. BodyHorror and {{Mind Screw}}s abounded to the point where the book that revolved around ghosts was the least scary of the twelve. Hell, they introduced a planet that [[QuicksandSucks eats people alive]] in the ''very first book''. Other lovely highlights include worms that suck the marrow out of your bones so that the empty space can be filled with a serum that makes you [[AndIMustScream an unwitting zombie]], a [[IKnowWhatYouFear machine that traps you in your own nightmares]], forcible conversion into a [[BrainInAJar B'omarr brain spider]], swarms of [[EatenAlive beetles that eat you from the inside out]], other humans [[ImAHumanitarian who also think your flesh is tasty]], and some of the sickest {{Mad Scientist}}s in the Star Wars universe. Good God, everywhere these kids go people die like flies! Special mention goes to the psychological trauma that goes with the question "If clones made of you have all your memories and think they are you, ''[[TomatoInTheMirror how do you know you yourself aren't a clone?]]''
** Special mention to the constant AdultFear of having lost your entire family but one, and having that one constantly in danger.
* The ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series by Creator/MichaelGrant was made with teenagers in mind, but the books contain such extreme violence that a warning is actually required. Features such characters as a sadist with a whip hand, evil talking coyotes who want to end all human life, a girl who can make people see all sorts of unholy terrors, and so on. The fourth book contains people coughing up their organs, and bugs eating people from the inside out. The less said about the last book, the better. It's easy to see why there aren't movies of these books...
* ''Literature/TheGirlOfInkAndStars'' has a premise that sounds innocent enough: the PluckyGirl protagonist must journey into the forbidden forest and use her skills with map-making to find her SpoiledSweet best friend. However, the story itself features said protagonist growing up in a town ruled with an iron fist by a cruel Governor (who whips people and does other horrible things) corrupt law enforcers, demon attacks, descriptions of the decaying environment, and, early on, the town being spooked by [[spoiler: the brutal murder of a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL.]] It's also rife with AdultFear, and features such [[SarcasmMode lovely]] scenes as the search party [[spoiler: ''finding a desolate village filled with bones and an 'X' made from dried blood and dog teeth.'']] The book also doesn't shy away with its descriptions of blood, wounds, scars, or how much Isabella's journey is wearing her down, physically AND mentally. It's not ''gory'' or anything, but it still gets quite dark at times.
* ''Literature/TheGrishaTrilogy'' has an in-universe example with the ''Istorii Sankt'ya'', a book of religious stories for children which contains extremely graphic illustrations of saints being martyred.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'' has one of the best examples of this {{trope}} in the ''Deathly Hallows'' [[Film/HarryPotter film]], which has a scene that caused major uproar (among MoralGuardians and parts of the fandom): [[spoiler: Naked [[TheHero Harry]] and [[TheSpock Hermione]] making out -- a vision which [[TheMcCoy Ron]] sees as the locket shows his worst nightmares]]. Another is Bellatrix writing on Hermione's arm with a knife. Sure, we all know that Cruciatus is worse, but it is perceived as unreal. When Umbridge forced Harry to carve words into the back of his hand, it was also done with a magic medium, and therefore less visceral.
** Less visceral is debatable, since the magic quill carves the letters in Harry's skin, and then magically heals his hand. This leaves no marks at first, but then is repeated [[BodyHorror untill no amount of magic healing can heal the scars from repeated cuts]], basically tattooing the words on his hand.
** Harry also grows into the world of moral ambiguity increasingly as the books progress and he ages, until a large part of the seventh reads more as a {{Deconstruction}} of the KidHero trope and associated character tropes than a straight fantasy climax. Especially the Dumbledore material.
** The very nature of the one book = one school year ratio forces this. Even if there were no magical elements at all, 18-year-old graduating high school seniors face very different issues than 11-year-old sixth graders.
** She's also had to point out to those that say the first book was much lighter than the others that it does open with a double homicide and the attempted murder of a defenseless infant, although quite frankly it opens with a boring man driving home from work, the attack in question having happened before the story began.
*** Her point still remains. The first book also contains: the strangulation of a child, head-bashing, gruesome injury and descriptions of blood, graphic descriptions of burning, and the death of a man, caused by an 11 year old boy who was just trying to defend himself from attack.
* 1997 children's adventure book ''Haunted Castle'' definitely fits this trope. Due in part to the amazing art of artist/writer Leo Hartas, complete [[SarcasmMode child-friendly scenes]] such as demented, crumbling paper-mache clones of the protagonists, a man being crushed feet-first by a garden roller while still alive and swimming through the guts of a gigantic fish are all brought to your children's nightmares!
* The ''Literature/HorribleHistories'' series, which is filled with BlackHumor, BlackComedy-style jokes, and generally focuses on the grisly parts of history.
* This is a large part of the reason why ''In the Night Kitchen'' by the late Creator/MauriceSendak was banned from various school libraries and children's book shops: The child protagonist Mickey loses his pajamas for some reason and ends up naked for a substantial chunk of the story, with his nudity uncensored.
* ''Literature/IWantMyHatBack'' sounds and looks like its aimed at a very young audience however [[spoiler:the rabbit being eaten by the bear in revenge]] is certainly not something you see in most picture books.
* Despite the violence and sexual content of ''Literature/KingdomOfLittleWounds'', it was published as a young adult novel. MoralGuardians were outraged.
* Lauren Myracle's ''Literature/TheTTYLSeries'' have cute covers with 8-bit emoji, and they're about three girls who are friends and are in school, and communicate fully through instant messaging. What could ''possibly'' go wrong?! Everything: lots of swearing, plus mentions of anything sexual you can think of (like masturbation, oral sex, erections, fondling, porn, ''anything''), and glorification of alcohol and drugs. Despite all this, they are marketed towards pre-teens, are sold near kids' books, and have ''no'' warnings on them whatsoever about the content inside. To make it even worse, Lauren Myracle has created books that are much less ambiguously for kids.
* [[Literature/{{Dragons}} The Last Dragon Chronicles]], with a side order of MoodWhiplash. The first book in the series plays out like a traditional kid's story, with squirrels and magic clay dragons, and would appear to leave no doubt as to who the target audience of the series is. The ''later'' books, however, ''run'' on GettingCrapPastTheRadar (specifically, GRatedSex), with violence up the wazoo (including one [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice horrifyingly dark]] DownerEnding), existential crises, and a great deal of speculation on the nature of the universe, which leads to some [[MindScrew very messed-up stuff]]. However, [[LighterAndSofter the spinoff wears its kiddie-colors proudly]].
* ''Mama Ga Obake Ni Natchatta'', a Japanese picture book from Nobumi (who is also a character designer for NHK's ''Miitsuketa'' and ''Series/OkaasanToIssho''), is about a child and the ghost of his mother. While the book is intended for ages three and up, some parents complained that it is too emotional and scary for children.
* ''Literature/OutOfTheDust'' is a popular children's book in America. It's told through poems from the eyes of a teenage girl living through the Great Depression, more specifically the dustbowl. ''Out of the Dust'' is nothing but a miserable story about a girl whose [[spoiler:pregnant mother suffers [[BodyHorror graphically described]] burns in a freak accident]] and [[spoiler:mother later dies of her injuries alongside her newborn son]]. The protagonist herself [[spoiler:suffers painful burns to her hands which almost [[CareerEndingInjury end her piano playing hobby]]]]. Her father ends up distant and depressed after all those events. That's not even related to the fact they live in a poor, rural area where dust storms are an everyday occurrence. There is an optimistic ending, but the book is mostly tragedy after tragedy. The author received complaints for how grim of a children's book and has noted that she believes children can handle harsher topics than adults give them credit.
* ''Literature/{{Phenomena}}'': While the main series is dark enough already it is with it's strangely 9+, [[AscendedExtra Azur's spin-offs]] are said to be for younger children. The first 4 books are filled with suspense, he's banned from his home and he's kidnapped and tortured, in [[FromBadToWorse the 5th book]] his brother is seen covered in the blood of innocent people, in the 6th he, himself, is seen covered in blood of innocents eating of an uncensored torn off leg complete with a SlasherSmile, on the cover! Worse still, the books are illustrated so you can see his suffering on every page.
** The [[AscendedExtra Jolsah's spin-offs]] meant for the same age group, aren't much better, it even features a mad man that wants to cut things of Jolsah while alive and an evil man wearing an elf's [[{{Squick}} scalp]] which the other guy cut off so if they do something bad the elves are blamed. It's not even an horror series!
** The 1st book might be a ClicheStorm to some, and then the [[http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/phenomena-2-parados-oeye_productimage2_949.jpg 2nd book]] comes. There the [[ChosenOne Chosen Ones]] are drawn down into the sand by some beings eating everything! When Azur protects them and they are "free" to go, are the other terraqus'es mad at him, so they eat their OWN elder instead. When they are accending to the surface are they passing by some terraqus'es eating something, it's mentioned that it looks familiar and quite fresh looking although almost eaten up, and it's heavily implied that it's one of the children's [[TeamPet ah]][[NightmareFuel mel]]...
* ''Literature/ThePowerOfFive'' books are fairly scary and deal with some fairly adult themes.
* ''Literature/{{Redwall}}''. Cute furry creatures killing each other with swords, bows and arrows, spears, poison, and whatever else comes to 'paw'. Multiple instances of murder and torture, not all of it off-screen. Slavery, cruelty, major battles, and almost anyone can die.
* ''Literature/TheSagaOfDarrenShan'' is a kid's book series, but the author himself says that he knows people both above and below the series' age demographics read them. And he [[GettingCrapPasttheRadar gets a LOT past the radar]]:
** Book two mentions marijuana (or some other herbal drug; it's not mentioned by name) and 'shrooms.
** Book eight has a character who, though appearing to be fifteen (and probably around the same stage of puberty as any ''real'' teen), is really about 27, first outright saying that he wants to date said real teens ("That's the thing I love about high school girls: I keep getting older, they stay the same age") and then trying to do... ''something'' to his much-older teacher (who is very likely younger than him.)
** Plus, the books are so violent and gory, it's not even funny.
* ''Literature/ScaryStoriesToTellInTheDark'' is best known for traumatizing a generation of children with its [[http://www.scaryforkids.com/pics/stories-to-tell.jpg less than child-friendly illustrations]]. Suffice to say, it spent the better part of two decades holding the top spot in ALA's list of most challenged books, and was only knocked out of the top ten after the publisher caved and re-released it with less disturbing images.
* ''Literature/SkulduggeryPleasant'' is marketed to preteens. It features the charming adventures of [[DemBones Skulduggery]] and his young apprentice Valkyrie who spend their time searching for clues and engaging in witty repartee and--OhCrap, did the Grotesquery just rip off someone's head? And, um...[[ApocalypseMaiden Darquesse]]? This is a kids book. You can't go playing football with people's brains.
* ''Literature/SomeoneElsesWar'' is about [[ChildSoldiers child soldiers]] trying to escape the Lord's Resistance Army, erstwhile enduring unspeakable horrors no child should have to read about, let alone endure. TruthInTelevision, though, as there [[TearJerker really are children going through this in certain parts of the world, even today.]]
* ''Der Literature/{{Struwwelpeter}}'' gets this reaction from just about everyone nowadays, given its frequent death, mutilation, and DisproportionateRetribution.
* ''Literature/SurvivorDogs'' is a series about dogs surviving on their own after their owners evacuate. It sounds like a nice little adventure, but the series can get rather grim and dark. The main villain of the first arc is a murderous religious zealot who [[spoiler:killed her own son]] and is on a mission to kill other dogs because she believes the Sky-Dogs wish so. ''Survivors'' has its fair share of mature themes, including religion and violence, though it doesn't reach the levels of violence as sister-series ''Literature/WarriorCats''
* The ''Literature/VarjakPaw'' books are marketed for kids, but are full of inhuman viewpoints, death, mutilation, starvation, general creepiness, and the implication that the BigBad is taking cats [[spoiler: and either turning them into walking, talking {{toys}}, or silent, deadly killing machines, somehow]]. Being illustrated by Creator/DaveMcKean (as is ''Literature/{{Coraline}}'', above) probably doesn't help much, either.
* ''Wagstaffe the Wind-up Boy'' is a textbook example of WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids? The amount of anger and nihilism that permeates this supposedly funny story is notable; nowadays you'd call it BlackComedy. ''Everyone'' is unsympathetic. This book was not written by happy humans. Furthermore, some of the scenes... well... [[spoiler:The main character is pancaked by getting run over by a truck. There's ''illustrations''. Amazingly he's still alive when two workmen try to scrape him into a bin bag. Later, after he's been rushed to hospital and the renegade doctor's team turns him into the wind-up boy, they discuss what to do with the left-over organs. "It'd be a shame to waste them on the dog - he's so young and tender." They eat his heart and pancreas. "And very nice it was too", she tells Wagstaffe]].
* ''Literature/WarriorCats''. It's a series about a bunch of cats living in a forest which is marketed to ages 9-12 and decorated with colourful covers. But as for what's under the covers? As the title implies, there is a lot of fighting in these books, accompanied by pseudo-realistic (and often very graphic) violence. Pretty much every fight ends with every character involved bleeding from at least one gash, and on a few occasions cats have had their [[SlashedThroat throats slit or torn open and bleed to death]]. And those are some of the average moments. The series goes on to feature cats having their [[EyeScream eyes clawed out]], getting run over by cars, being crippled, [[DeathByChildbirth bleeding to death while giving birth]], getting mauled by dogs, [[spoiler:being ripped open and left to [[HighPressureBlood bleed to death]] ''[[CatsHaveNineLives nine times]]'']], being slaughtered by an AxCrazy mountain lion, [[spoiler:impaling a mountain lion with a stalactite]], falling off cliffs and breaking their necks, getting crushed by trees, having their tails removed, [[spoiler:having a wooden stake driven into their throat]], drowning in a series of dark tunnels which they are [[FateWorseThanDeath forced to wander for all eternity]], bleeding heavily from gashes in their stomachs, being tortured by extremely bloody [[NightmareDreams nightmares]], slowly bleeding to death after [[spoiler:being severely wounded by a beaver's teeth]], hearing another cat screaming in agony as his stomach is ripped open offscreen, etc. [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar How these books being considered child-friendly has never been challenged by parents or bookstores for all these years is a mystery]]. Not to mention the fact that it covers themes like racism (although towards [[FantasticRacism fictional races]], which technically makes it okay), genocide, [[GrayAndGrayMorality moral ambiguity]], organized religion, insanity, and war. Also, see the series' entry for [[Radar/{{Literature}} Getting Crap Past The Radar]].
* ''Literature/WatershipDown''. Despite what one may think of the ''movie,'' author Adams wrote the original book as a ''bedtime story'' for his daughters, and has always maintained it was for children. In one edition's foreword, he even talked about how happy it made him to see kids enjoying it.
* The ''Literature/WingsOfFire'' series is normally a kid-friendly adventure series [[OurDragonsAreDifferent in a world of dragons]], with a few bits of intenser-than-usual violence. (Which is to be expected, as the author was also part of the team that worked on ''Literature/{{Warriors}}''.) However, some of the books feature surprisingly mature themes, ''especially'' the third and fifth books. The third book [[HiddenDepths explores]] the character of Glory, who is a victim of an [[TheUnfavorite especially]] abusive childhood and [[BoomerangBigot deeply ingrained bigotry against her own kind]], played very seriously. The fifth book, meanwhile, is all about Sunny, an [[SillyRabbitIdealismIsForKids often looked-down-upon]] [[TheCutie cutie]] who then proceeds to discover [[TheAntiNihilist Nietzchean nihilism]] [[BreakTheCutie after her worldview is shattered.]] Also, special mention to ''Darkstalker'', which features a character who has PTSD after watching his family be massacred and thinks about self-harm in one chapter, another character having some utterly horrifying visions of the future, another character whose parents are in a seriously dysfunctional relationship, and an ending that involves [[spoiler:one of the protagonist using a mind control spell to drag his own father out in public and make him cut his tongue out and then disembowel himself with his own claws.]]
** Then there’s the Graphic Novel for the first book. Have fun seeing things like [[spoiler:A dragon being horrifically burnt alive (it’s worse than it sounds) A dragon getting what’s essentially ''acid on them including the eye,'' and an uncensored ''impalement'']]. The only real thing that was censored was hilariously enough a line that mentions a “bar” and the prologue.

* Creator/RoaldDahl could be one of this trope's patron saints, with several of his children's novels serving as near-fixtures on challenged book lists for years. (His adult-aimed fiction falls under this trope's [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids inverted counterpart]], and sometimes under BleachedUnderpants too.) Particularly controversial works include:
** ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'': Perhaps kidlit's defining BlackComedy, as naughty children are subjected to a variety of dreadful consequences ranging from near-drowning to falling down a garbage chute that leads to an incinerator. While the novel has the kids survive, they're very much changed for their experiences, and adaptations have played with their fates -- they're ambiguous in the [[Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory 1971 film]], and the [[Theatre/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory 2013 stage musical]] goes with possible DeathByAdaptation (''if'' they're lucky, they'll get a DisneyDeath or rescue, but only offstage). Making matters worse, the factory proprietor has NoSympathy for them! This doesn't even get into adaptation-specific twists and references: the 1971 film has [[SurrealHorror the notorious boat ride]] and the line "I am now telling the computer ''[[AssShove exactly]]'' what it can do with a lifetime supply of chocolate!" The 2013 musical has multiple jokes about alcohol and/or drinking problems amongst the adult characters.
** ''Literature/TheWitches'': The very nature of the witches -- a race of child-hating hags who live only to rid the world of them by any means neccessary, the crueler the better -- is disturbing enough to put off sensitive adults.
* Creator/SuzanneCollins seems to be fond of this as well.
** ''Literature/TheUnderlandChronicles''. Yeah, is still a book series aimed at older children, even though it contains a massive amount of extreme violence such as decapitation and even disembowelment. Maybe the fact that it's written media and not shown as actual pictures keeps the MoralGuardians away.
** ''Literature/TheHungerGames'': The age recommendation for these books - 11, 12, 13 - is surprising to some parents, reviewers, and even older teen readers. Maybe it's the inclusion of decapitation, suicide, torture, mutilation, child prostitution; death by fire or venom, being buried alive, and other psychologically and emotionally disturbing content that raises their eyebrows, or maybe it's the fact that Katniss, the viewpoint character and protagonist, is sixteen and the book appears to focus on the fears and themes most relevant to that age group.
** Descriptions of the author's next book are interesting too: ''Year of the Jungle'' -- about her childhood during UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar -- is a picture book for four-year-olds.
* Creator/NeilGaiman does not believe in talking down to kids. He has also reached the conclusion that children often enjoy horrific stories more than adults, which dovetails with his observation that, unlike adults, many children know no mercy when it comes to what happens to villains (cf. the deaths of many of the villains in beloved fairy tales).
** ''Literature/{{Coraline}}'' is full of distinctly Freudian terror, but the true creepiness of the book isn't always apparent to kids, who might see it as just a book about scary monsters.
** The first page of ''Literature/TheGraveyardBook'' involves a family being murdered, and the killer then going after the baby that crawled away. Other loveliness includes TheProtagonist threatening to mentally torture school bullies, a man being hit by a police car, hangings, and a FateWorseThanDeath.
* Lots of works by Creator/AstridLindgren come off as really dark for being children's books, when you read them again as a grown-up.
** ''Mio, my Mio'' is very much like the first couple of books in the "Harry Potter" saga. That is, it opens with a realistic portrayal of child neglect/abuse, but the protagonist then is taken to a magical world, where everything seems to be lovely and fun, only to realize that he has to fight a really creepy villain, whose very name is enough to scare people, and his equally creepy henchmen.
** ''Sunnanäng'' was a collection of four short stories, which all push the boundaries for what parents will want to read to their children. In the first story, two little orphans are painfully neglected/abused. And in the second story, another orphan is forced to live in gruesome poverty among a bunch of elderly people (and she also has to [[spoiler: give her soul up to make a tree able to play music]]. And in the third story, we get a pretty graphic description of sheep being killed by a wolf, and a girl gets abducted by the fair folks. And in the fourth story, a feverish boy (who is very close to dying) dreams about him being a knight in Medieval times, who has to sacrifice his life to save his king's life.
** ''Emil i Lönneberga'' is mostly a light-hearted franchise, but the last book includes Emil saving a new-born piglet from being eaten by his mother, getting "drunk" when he eats fermented cherries and saving his best friend from dying from blood poisoning during a blizzard.
** ''Literature/TheBrothersLionheart'' might still be the worst offender though. The protagonist (a nine-year-old boy) is sick from tuberculosis, but his beloved brother dies before him when he saves him from a fire. And when it seems like the brothers can be happy together in a magical land after death, they have to start fighting an evil dictator and a creepy dragon. (To be fair though, this book has reportedly been a great comfort for terminally sick children.)
** ''Literature/{{Madicken}}'' can be rather dark too, especially in the second installment. The neighbor has to sell her body to science, so she can give her alcoholic husband money to pay off the mortgage. Then a girl is publically canned in front of her classmates in school (she ''had'' stolen the headmaster's wallet, but still). And a deranged man almost abducts both of Madicken's younger sisters, and we also have Madicken's crush almost dying from pneumonia.
* Despite being fairly new to the kid's book scene, Brandon Mull is pretty good at this.
** The ''Literature/{{Fablehaven}}'' series starts off very tame, like most other YA fiction, but when you get to, say, the ''extreme'' violence at the end of Book 2, the death-by-dissolving in Book 3, and [[spoiler:Naverog's]] eventual fate ([[spoiler:chomped in half, with his bleeding torso stump slumping to the ground]]), you start to wonder.
** ''Literature/TheCandyShopWar'' features the surprisingly vicious John Dart, who has no qualms about [[spoiler:[[BoundAndGagged binding and gagging]] ten-year-olds or shooting people's legs almost clean off]]. Not to mention both books running on twice their allotted helping of ParanoiaFuel.
** And as for ''Literature/TheBeyonders?'' Well, it ''begins'' with a mass SuicidePact and accidental mauling. From there, [[FromBadToWorse it's pretty much all downhill.]]
* Pretty much any book by Creator/GarthNix that's labeled as "young adult" (as in, the stuff usually found in the kid's section). For example, there's [[Literature/TheSeventhTower the series that has]] living (often unfriendly) shadows, MindRape as capital punishment (even for minors!), BodyHorror, and some rather intense war scenes. Then [[Literature/KeysToTheKingdom there's the one]] with MindScrew galore, BodyHorror monsters, mandatory brainwashing (more literally than the word is usually used) for children, and plenty of death. Oh, and the ending involves [[spoiler:the destruction of everything everywhere everywhen]]. For those of you asking how this can possibly be meant for children, go and read the ''Literature/OldKingdom'' books. You know, his ''teen'' series.
* Creator/JohnBellairs wrote gothic horror novels intended for children full of all sorts of [[NothingIsScarier subtle]] Nightmare Fuel.
* Anything written by Creator/RobertCormier would count here, especially ''Literature/TheChocolateWar'' and ''Literature/{{Fade}}'' (two books that frequently make it to "frequently banned books" lists) but not limited to those two books. His novels were specifically written for older children and preteens but are about anything from terminally ill children being used as live guinea pigs (''The Bumblebee Flies Anyway'') to a young boy with amnesia who's being marked for death as soon as he regains his memory (''Literature/IAmTheCheese'').
* Creator/ErinHunter is actually various writers using one name. They specialize in {{xenofiction}} works aimed at the 13 and under crowd. Their books are full of FamilyUnfriendlyViolence and FamilyUnfriendlyDeath. This even extends to books by the authors under either their own names or different names, such as ''Literature/WingsOfFire''.