Musings

My Favorite “Spooky” Stories

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween!

I love Halloween. Really, I love all holidays, but I think Halloween is SO fun. I don’t always get dressed up or go crazy decorating, but there’s just something about it that I truly enjoy.

What I don’t enjoy, though, is being scared. No joke, I once almost hit a person working at a haunted house in the face because they jumped out at me – and yes, I know that’s the point of haunted houses. But I was scared! I get scared really easy – there are certain episodes of Pretty Little Liars that I LITERALLY cannot watch by myself/at night. I’m a baby, I know. It’s just not my thing. But for whatever reason, while I literally avoid scary movies like the plague, I don’t always avoid scary/spooky/creepy books. Maybe it’s because I never read in the dark (I don’t use an e-reader) and I can always close the book for a little while? Who knows.

Either way, it’s Halloween, and that means it’s time to celebrate some spooky…

(So, also, I’d like to point out that I know the word “spooky” is a little ambiguous. It’s got an obvious connotation and what not. Ultimately, this list is the books I think are the best stories that embrace the “Halloween” feeling. Which, clearly, I’d describe as “spooky.”)

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
    -THE ORIGINAL (in my mind). Let’s just start with WHERE/WHEN this book was written: stormy night in a random house. I mean, can we please. It screams Halloween. It’s also led to one of the most popular Halloween costumes in history (regardless of the costume’s inaccuracy). This book takes everything that is spooky about Halloween and puts it front and center: the possibility that death is not permanent and the terror that comes with it.
  2. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman
    -So this story isn’t about Halloween, it takes place in daylight, and there are no costumes. But puh-lease if you try to tell me it’s not scary as shit. Is there anything more terrifying that falling into insanity? The way this story ends is so creepy, gah! It’s the perfect story for Halloween, really, because it’s truly about becoming someone else – your own insane doppleganger.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    -Again, while this book isn’t meant as a “scary” Halloween story, it literally kept me up at night because I was freaked out. I actually had to stop reading it at least an hour before I went to bed. But it was amazing! That scene where Nick opens the woodshed? I was panicked the whole time. The concept of what was happening totally spooked me, and therefore it’s on this list.
  4. Lullaby by Chuck Pallahnuik
    -Chuck is THE KING of creepy. I was lucky enough to see him live two years ago at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, and he read a new short story of his. It was insane. So real, yet so unreal all at once. It was in the Nov 2013 edition of Playboy if you want to find it (it’s worth it!). But anyway, Lullaby is insane. Its premise? A lullaby that kills the person who has it read to them. UH WHAT. Also included: a spell that can translate your soul to another being. UH WHAT, AGAIN? This short novel is so spooky, so creepy, it’s perfect for Halloween.
  5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
    -The other ORIGINAL (in my mind). Like Frankenstein, Stoker’s Dracula created one of the most popular Halloween costumes to ever exist. But beyond that, he created one of the most creepy characters to ever exist. Have any of you read this novel? I’ve read it…twice? Possibly only one and a half. But one of those times was in college, in my Gothic Lit class – so amazing, but i digress – and just being able to go in depth on this book was absurd. Dracula is a monster. Just a straight monster. He’s vicious. And honestly, whenever I think of this book, I think of the scene where Jonathan first sees Dracula leaving the castle in his [Jonathan’s] clothing: and he’s climbing down the wall. It reminded me of a spider which was terrifying and his spookiness was set in stone.
  6. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
    -Okay, so this is one of two Poe stories on this list, and if we’re being honest, I could have put about 8 or 9 stories of his. But I didn’t because that would’ve been overkill. If Shelley and Stoker are the originals, Poe is the true master. The Fall of the House of Usher is perfectly creepy in both setting and plot. Honestly, I quick jumped on Wikipedia to make sure I remembered something the right way and even the DESCRIPTION of the plot gave me goosebumps. It’s an amazingly spooky short story. From start to finish this story has the perfect eerie feeling for Halloween.
  7.  The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe
    -So, for my last spooky story, I’m going with one of the first Poe stories I remember reading. I began with his poetry, and in high school read this story for the first time. It totally captured me. The idea of this party for the elite, where peasant are literally dying outside the fortress walls from a plague, that’s just downright terrifying to think of. But to see the way the fear of the outside comes creeping slowly through each room to the last, well, that’s just great writing. It’s a perfectly spooky story that also puts life into real perspective.

So those are some of my favorite spooky stories, and as the month of Halloween comes to a close, I’m starting to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I’ve also got another book recommended by my other half on the list, called Meateater. It’s not Halloween related, but it’s got a great title for it!

What are your favorite spooky stories?

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