For lovers of Fantasy and Horror stories, Halloween is one of the best times of the year. If you’re after something terrifying to read this Halloween, explore this reading list of fifteen truly scary books to read for Halloween. Perfect for aficionados of the weird and macabre, this list of Halloween fiction is full of classic tales of witches, blood-sucking vampires, ghostly hauntings, and even monsters from alternate universes, written by some of the greatest horror authors of the past.
Jonathan Harker is a newly-qualified solicitor from England who travels to the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania, Bukovina, and Moldavia to oversee the sale of a castle. The current owner of the property is one Count Dracula, whom Harker initially perceives as gracious and welcoming, but whom he soon realises has diabolical plans of a preternatural nature.
“With a mocking smile, he placed one hand upon my shoulder and, holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he did so: “First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions.”– Quote by Bram Stoker, Dracula
A fantastic example of witchy-fiction, this novel is set during the Thirty Years War. The plot revolves around the story of a pastor, whose only daughter, Maria, has been accused of practising witchcraft by a rejected suitor. What follows is a tale of heartbreak, jealousy and innocence.
“He was there or was not there: not there if I didn’t see him.”Quote by Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
The narrator tells the story of how the young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the tragic deaths of their parents. Set in a remote estate this critically acclaimed novella tells the tale of a governess who, looking after two children, becomes convinced that the grounds are haunted.
Around two hundred years ago the famous writer Lord Byron rented the mansion known as the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. Accompanying Byron, among others, was the 23-year-old poet Percy Shelley, his mistress, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and Byron’s physician John William Polidori. The summer would be forever known as the ‘Lost Summer of 1816’. For three days they were shut up in the Villa due to cold and stormy weather, which would serve as the backdrop to the telling and writing of horror and ghost stories—the most notable of which was Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.
This book contains a collection of Lovecraft’s best and most chilling horror short stories, including the seminal The Call of Cthulhu. Contents include: “Dagon”, “The Outsider”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “The Colour out of Space”, “The Lurking Fear”, “At The Mountain of Madness”, “The Shadow out of Time”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, and more. The perfect collection for horror lovers and fans of Lovecraft’s terrifying fiction.
“I have looked upon all the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me.”Quote by H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
“Bewitched” is a short story by Edith Warton, first published in 1926 in the collection “Here and Beyond”. Revolving around a heartbreaking separation between a man and his love, he begins meeting her in the world of the dead. His health begins to suffer and he slowly starts wasting away, is this a result of the meetings?
First published in 1897, The Blood of the Vampire is a vampire novel by prolific writer Florence Marryat. The story revolves around one Miss Harriet Brandt, the daughter of a mad scientist and a voodoo priestess who leaves her home in Jamaica for the first time to travel to Europe. However, Harriet is not a normal young woman, as everybody who gets close to her becomes ill or even dies.
This vintage book contains a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s 1843 short stories, including The Tell-Tale Heart. An anonymous narrator recounts a murder that he has committed, detailing how he carefully dismembered the body and concealed it underneath the floorboards. His endeavours, however, are threatened when his guilt and insanity take on the form of a hallucination that the victim’s heart is still beating from beneath the floor.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.Quote by Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart
The Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens is a collection of thirteen of Charles Dickens’s best ghost stories, including his famous “The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain”. A fantastic teller of macabre tales, Dickens presents his full gothic talents in this chilling collection. The stories include: “The Gift Diffused”, “The Gift Reversed”, “A Child’s Dream of a Star”, “Christmas Ghosts”, “To be Read at Dusk”, “The Ghost Chamber”, “Mr Testator’s Visitation”, and more.
Violet Paget (1856–1935), also known under the pseudonym Vernon Lee, was a French-born British writer famous for her supernatural fiction. Lee’s most famous work, “Hauntings” (1890) is a fantastic collection of chilling ghost and supernatural stories, including “Amour Dure”, “Dionea”, “Oke of Okehurst”, and “A Wicked Voice”. Classic macabre tales not to be missed by fans of frightening fiction.
Mary Shelley’s 1818 gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel about a young scientist called Victor Frankenstein who creates a monstrous but conscious creature in a secret scientific experiment. The result of a competition to see who out of Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron could write the best horror story, Shelley’s famous tale is a must-have for fans of horror fiction.
“There is love in me the likes of which you’ve never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied int he one, I will indulge the other.”Quote by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Originally published in 1820 as part of the collection, “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon”, it tells the story of Ichabod Crane who visits the town of Sleepy Hollow, which is plagued by the ghost of a headless horseman. Acknowledged as one of the most iconic and gripping horror tales in American literature, it contributed to Irving’s reputation for dramatic flair and wit.
Edith Nesbit (1858 – 1924) is possibly most well known as a celebrated children’s author, but she also wrote fantastic ghost and horror short stories, here we have collected five of these scary and bone-chilling tales. Some of the stories included in this collection are, ‘The Three Drugs’, ‘Man-Size in Marble’ and ‘A Course in Magic’.
Throughout his life, Machen espoused the existence of the mystical and supernatural, a belief reinforced by numerous inexplicable and, he would argue, a preternatural experience that he himself was witness to. The stories of this collection include: “The Novel Of The Black Seal”, “The Novel Of The White Powder”, “The Great God Pan”, “The White People”, “The Inmost Light”, “The Shining Pyramid”, “The Happy Children”, “The Bright Boy”, “Out Of The Earth”, “Children Of The Pool”, and “The Terror”
If you’re after more scary books to read for Halloween, explore our full collection of Fantasy and Horror Classics here.
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