Want to get in the Halloween spirit but don’t have time to read an entire book in the next 7 days? Why not read a spooky short story? Here are some recommendations sure to make you afraid to sleep at night (so you can be an insomniac like me!)
For the Classics Lover
Do birds scare you? (They scare me. Thanks a lot Hitchcock!) Want to be spooked by a rapping at a chamber door? Then, try “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. And while you’re at it you can also read about a man who goes crazy from guilt and hears a heart beating in his floorboards in “The Tell-Tale Heart“. Poe has a lot of short stories to give you shivers.
Or try “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs, a great story about being careful what you wish for. (Added bonus: authors who just use their initials as first names are always the best.<<wink>>)
For a more psychological scare, check out “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about a woman who takes serious issue with the interior design choices in her house.
For a Master of the Horror Genre
Thanks to my Halloween-themed blogs, I’ve written a lot about Stephen King. Today will be no exception. Many are familiar with his horror books. However, he has also written a plethora of short stories and novellas, many of which have been made into movies (The Running Man, “The Body” became the classic movie Stand By Me). He has several complications of short stories, including Night Shift and Nightmares and Dreamscapes. If you want to be really spooked out, try the story “The Monkey” about a toy that comes to life, “Graveyard Shift” about rats or “Children of the Corn” about super creepy kids.
For the Kids
Roald Dahl manages to create strange, creepy stories digestible for young readers – The Witches, James and the Giant Peach. (Yes, I’m sorry. I think a story about a kid roaming around in a giant peach with human sized creatures like a grasshopper, centipede, and spider falls into the realm of creepy.) With his short story “Royal Jelly” Dahl spins another strange tale about a beekeeper who feeds his infant daughter royal jelly, the food bees feed their future queens, and then starts to eat it himself. Strange things ensure in very Dahlian style.
For the Young Adult
Once upon a time, I worked in public relations and actually helped with the publicity for the audio recording of Neil Gaiman’s short story called “Snow, Glass, Apples,” a spooky retelling of Snow White from the Evil Queen’s perspective. Bebe Neuwirth (famous actress, often known for her role as Lilith on Cheers) voiced the story as the evil queen. It was posted on an early version of the SyFy network’s website back when it was still scifi.com. (For the record I think syfy is stupid. Like the network name, I hate the further dumbing down of our culture.) The recording was part of a series aimed at recreating the essence of the early radio days, but for the internet. This result was amazing. You can still listen to this incredible spooky story read as only Bebe Neuwirth can (just not on syfy.com, click the link above) or, if you prefer, read it as part of Gaiman’s short story collection Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions.
For the Social Media Lover
Want a good short story – ever think of looking on Twitter? No? Maybe you should. Apparently, literature is possible in 140 characters or less, sort of. But, only if you’re genius creepy story expert and Goosebumps author R. L. Stine. Check out his twitter story “What’s in My Sandwich?” It will definitely be the most unique short story you’ve ever read. Don’t try this at home though, people. Leave it to the expert.
For the “Realist”
Want to read real scary stories, or at least stories people claim are real? There is no shortage of options on the internet. Try some of these sites.
For Something New
If you’re looking for a new, fresh take on the scary short story, try “The Grownup” by Gillian Flynn. Yep, you’ve heard of her before. She’s the author of Gone Girl fame. In this story again she employs the tactic of an unreliable narrator. This time, however, the scares come not just from psychological horrors, but also from haunted houses and a demon child.
For Those Who Need to Find Something on Their Own
And, of course, if you want more spooky short stories to choose from, Goodreads always provides a wealth of options.
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