Halloween is an amazing time of year. Pumpkin Spice lattes are back, there are tons of wonderful costumes to choose from for parties of all types, and, perhaps best of all, everyone is in the mood for a scary story.
Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark is a collection of unbelievably haunting and unnerving supernatural tales, and served as a gateway anthology for many between the "safe" world of children's literature and the considerably less safe world of horror. Three collections were penned by Alvin Schwartz between 1981 and 1991 and contained stories based off of popular urban legends. These stories were complimented by the incredibly unsettling illustrations by Stephen Gammell. The Scary Stories books were the most frequently challenged books of the 1990s, according to the American Library Association.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson has a knack for writing unsettling stories that stay with a reader long after the cover is closed. This work is about four people who spend a summer in a house that is reportedly haunted, and is told from the perspective of a young, socially withdrawn woman, Eleanor. The unsettling events, paired with Eleanor's own unreliable narration, make for an intense read.
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Opinions on Lovecraft are mixed; some are huge fans of the rich descriptive language used, and others find the wall of text to be alienating and overwrought. There is no denying the universal influence Lovecraft has had on the genre, and this work explains why. It's dark and involving and completely creepy. There is a slow burn of terror that builds throughout the work, eventually leaving the reader horrified.
Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe
No list of terrifying tales would be complete without including at least one by Edgar Allen Poe, and selecting just one Poe story is nearly impossible. Poe was a wordsmith and a master of the macabre. The Raven is his most well-known story, but The Pit and the Pendulum might be his most terrifying. The story relies almost entirely on non-visual senses, such as sound, to convey the sense of terror felt by the story's main character.
30 Days of Night by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith
This comic book series was eventually turned into a feature film, but the story is even more unsettling on paper. This is a vampire horror collection, but with a twist. It's set in Barrow, Alaska, during a time where there is 30 days of continuous night in the winter. While most of the town vacates, some residents stay behind and become victims of horrifying, vicious, vampires.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This story was first published in 1892, and is told through a collection of diary entries. The narrator is a woman who has been confined to an upstairs nursery for a summer while she recovers from a "temporary nervous depression." Her husband, a physician, believes it best for her to stop working. Instead of improving, her mental health deteriorates from the under-stimulation, until she believes there is someone else in the room with her.