There are certain traditions which take place each season that I look forward to. Planting a garden in the spring, going camping in the summer, baking holiday treats in the winter and reading scary books once the summer fades to autumn. With autumn officially beginning this week, it only seems right to release a list of my favorite scary stories! These books have remained with me long after I have finished reading them. Their chills seeping in and staying with me for years to come.
I have quite a few literary crushes, but Edgar Allan Poe was my very first. I read Annabelle Lee by accident when I was in the 4th grade. It struck a nerve and haunted me like no other poem or book had up to that point. It is hard to select just one of his works to choose, as he is the definition of gothic, but the creepiest in my opinion is, The Tell-Tale Heart. The heavy darkness of murder and guilt all wrapped up with an untrustworthy narrator. It is the perfect short story for dark and stormy nights.
The one book that is consistently mentioned whenever horror nerds discuss their favorite haunted house novel? Yep, it’s this one. Which is completely understandable as it sets the standard in this specific niche! Four guests with supernatural experience are invited to the infamous Hill House to investigate paranormal activity. What could possibly go wrong? With utterly creepy encounters and what can only be called psychological warfare, this book chills on a deep level. If you are like me, you will be checking under the bed and in the closet each night before bed for a long while!
When I think of Halloween, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow always comes to mind. Maybe because this is the first ghost story I remember learning at a young age. This classic has everything that an American scary story should include. A haunted town, a superstitious school teacher, a love triangle, a headless horseman, a mysterious disappearance and of course, a smashed pumpkin. What more could you ask for? Is it just me or can you still hear the gradually increasing gallop of horse hooves behind you in the dark if you listen closely…
We all know women can be manipulative and cruel. Mean girls are a real thing. This book shows the psychological effects of just how cruel women can be to each other and those around them. But, it is so much more than this. It’s about a new love, the fears of an insecure woman, a mysterious death and a haunting from the grave. This spine chilling tale is the perfect companion on a rainy day by a crackling fire.
It’s Stephen King. That should say everything you need to know about why this book is on the list. Pick any one of his early novels and you will understand why he is the reigning king of horror. It should be noted that he is an incredibly talented author who should not be boxed into one genre, since he seamlessly weaves multiple genres together in his books. However, this is the creepy book list, and this book is super creepy. Spoiler alert, it’s a vampire book before vampires sparkled in the sunshine. These vampires don’t sparkle. They kill. And they take on the form of kids. So, there’s that. I recommend getting curtains for your windows before reading this book. Just do it, you can thank me later. Long live the King!
Yes, this book series has popped up on my list before and guess what, it probably will again. They are just that good! Doctor Hannibal Lecter is genuinely the scariest villain I have ever read, seen or imagined. He is the perfect portrayal of a wolf in sheep’s clothing; calm, collected and calculating. It is hard to not be sucked in by his eerie, charismatic charm, all while chasing the actual villain of this story, Buffalo Bill. Do yourself a favor and read the book, even if you have already watched the movie.
A chilling story about selling your soul for beauty, and the crimes committed to successfully carry out the deed. Oscar Wilde’s novel resonates with humanity, as we have all at one time or another wished to possess something we could not or should not have, in the name of vanity or pride. This is about a man who is able to do just that, to stay young and beautiful for a price. However, in remaining in his youthful state, he discovers just how complex, trying and ultimately tragic this can be. This novel is powerful and shocking on multiple levels, with its message staying with you long after learning the fate of Dorian Gray.
On November 15, 1959, four members of the Cutter family were murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. In this book, that is considered the first of the true crime genre, Truman Capote investigates the story. I have genuinely been convinced that true crime is stranger and more upsetting than fiction. Although there are times that this book is a bit slow, I think it is the slow burn that makes the read so worthwhile. We learn intimate details about the victims and their day to day lives, which helps the violent acts against them feel that much more raw and unbearable. We also learn about the convicted killers and the lack of motive and evidence in this crime. As a whole, this book is incredibly chilling and a must read for psychological mystery lovers and devout true crime readers alike.
We all know the premise of this short story. So much so that many of us use it in our regular vernacular when describing good versus evil. This tale discusses the individual and internal struggle of good and evil within humanity. That in itself scares the bejeezus out of me. Add to it mystery, murder and plot twists of epic proportions and bam! The perfect scary and easily possible true story!
This book is freaky. Genuinely scary. I don’t recommend you reading it while pregnant, as I did. Such a rookie mistake on my part! A couple move into a creepy apartment in New York City. The husband, a struggling actor becomes close to his elderly neighbors. The wife becomes pregnant, a vulnerable position for any woman, but especially for one who believes her new neighbors might just be Satan worshipers. Be advised, this book is not for the faint of heart.
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Frankenstein must be on this list. What kind of list would it be without this classic? A compulsive scientist obsessed with bringing inanimate objects to life, creates a creature from stolen dead body parts. Not only life, but love and rage are present in the creature. How can you not love this book? Part gothic love story, sci-fi and horror it’s the perfect creepy, crawly read for dark nights…with the light on!
What book would you add to the list?! I am always on a good book hunt! Happy haunting my friends!