Horr-or-ble Seasonal Reading

| October 20, 2010

As a Halloween treat this season, I thought I’d post a combination of two things I love: thrillers and “best of” lists. All are in the short story format (taking into consideration something I don’t love, midterms!)  I hope you find some time to scare yourself, at least once, this Halloween season.
Mua ah ah!!
Full disclosure: I’ve read the majority of what is on this list but I had help from Amazon and Anthony J. Fonseca and June Michele Pulliam, the true fiends of fright and my “go to” for all terrible things.

Short Stories (stand alone)

“Afterwards” by Edith Wharton
The story of a man who won’t leave his haunted home…find out why. Available for free at Manybooks.

“Carmilla” by Sheridan Le Fanu from In A Glass Darkly, a collection of 5 Victorian ghost stories.
This classic vampire story greatly influenced Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Read for free here.

“The Beckoning Fair One” by Oliver Onions
“Kirk” from Amazon writes: “It is the tale of a writer who becomes obsessed with the female ghost haunting the house he rents. He gradually loses contact with the world outside, including a woman who is his friend. The horror is subtle, slowly getting under your skin and building to a shocking climax.” Read it on Google.

Compilations/Anthologies (in no specific order)

Thirty Two Stories, by Edgar Allen Poe
Some of my favorites from the master of macabre. Animal activists and cat lovers may want to avoid “The Black Cat.” Read it on Google.

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
Includes “The Mist”, “The Monkey” and “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”, perhaps the perfect introduction to King.
Borrow it from NYPL.

“The Rats in the Walls,” by H.P. Lovecraft in The Best of H. P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. Borrow the sound recording through NYPL.

Robert Aickman’s “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal,” a short story from the collection Cold Hand in Mine which won the World Fantasy Award in 1975. Borrow it from NYPL.
Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves”
from the Bloody Chamber. Link to the ebook through NYPL.


The Best of Cemetery Dance, edited by Richard Chizmar
An award winning anthology of horror short stories from the first 25 issues of that zine. Link to more info and a review.



Queer Fear
I and II edited by Michael Rowe
. On Amazon.

Bending the Landscape: Horror – Original Gay and Lesbian Writing, by Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel. Borrow if from NYPL.

Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. You may know already know Clive from his contributions to the horror movie canon Candyman and Hellraiser. Borrow if from NYPL or watch the movie.

My Favorite Horror Story, a compilation edited by Mike Baker and Martin H. Greenberg
“Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Joyce Carol Oates, and Steven King are some of the writers asked to select their favorite horror stories for this diverse and unusual collection. Represented are the science fiction horror of Richard Matheson and Philip K. Dick; the subtle horror of M. R. James, Robert Aickman, and Ramsey Campbell; the classic horror of Robert Bloch, Ambrose Bierce, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe; and the weird horror of H. P. Lovecraft. This is a good collection for anyone interested in sampling some works truly representative of the breadth of the genre.”   -Anthony J. Fonseca & June Michele Pulliam, Hooked on Horror. Link to the ebook through NYPL.

The Haunted Doll’s House and Other Ghost Stories (The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James, Vol. 2) Classic, Victorian ghost stories. Borrow if from NYPL.


Houses Without Doors, by Peter Straub
Publishers Weekly calls this Straub “at his spellbinding best.” Contains gems like “The Buffalo Hunter” which “fastidiously chronicles the fixations of a 35-year-old who numbs his fear of women by sucking his coffee and cognac from baby bottles” and “Mrs. God”, in which a fatuous professor is lured to a creepy English mansion crammed with grisly secrets to research the papers of his poet ancestress; dead babies provide a subtheme.” Borrow if from NYPL.

Alone with the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction of Ramsey Campbell 1961-1991

“The stories within are as scary as horror fiction can get. Amongst my favorites are “In the Bag”, and perhaps best of all “The Companion”. You know how with some novels (King on occasions is an example) after reading through hundreds of pages you get to the end and think – is that it? I.e. the ending never quite leaves you satisfied despite the brilliance of the story telling before (again King). Well you won’t get this with Campbell’s short stories, his end with a punch, metaphorically a knock-out one to your head…”

-SJ Buck, on Amazon.

Love in Vein and Love in Vein II
Vampire erotica… c’mon you only live once. Bookcovers possibly required for subway reading so here’s the link to Google.

Southern Blood: Vampire Stories from the American South (American Vampire Series)
On Amazon.

13 Stories,  by Ed Cain
Gutsy, gory…not for the faint of heart. On Amazon.

or perhaps, something lighter, for the faint…

13 Stories of Suspense and Horror (with an introduction by R.L. Stine)
Borrow if from NYPL.