Ten Scary Stories
In one of my publishing groups, someone asked for ideas for scary ghost stories we’d read and that teens would like. That got me thinking about scary stories or novellas I’ve read—not just ghost stories proper. Here’s a little list of some I’ve enjoyed and that you might, too. These are in collections or stand alone works. I haven’t put links up, but you can find all of them at Amazon, I’d think. Some are online to read free as well. As you can see, this list is light on some of the greats. I haven’t read enough Ambrose Bierce, M.R. James, or Lovecraft (I know!), or some of the other authors with reputations in this genre to have found one by these that I love yet. Perhaps some of you might suggest your favorites. What are your favorite scary stories and why?
1. Riding the Bullet by Stephen King–I loved this novella. It has a great creepy graveyard scene and is also touching in sections. I also like how the title was derived. King has a way of taking the ordinary and banal and making it extraordinary.
2. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates–This creepy coming of age story remains one of my top ten favorites of all time. If you can get through it without your skin crawling, you’re braver than me. I also love the movie starring Laura Dern.
3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James–This classic is worth reading. I got the shivers many times before it was over, and it’s a great study of perception and reality.
4. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving–I’m an English/British lit. person for the most part, but this remains one of my favorite American ghost stories and stories in general. It’s funny and spooky.
5. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe– Madness, incest, and more.
6. “The Premature Burial” by Edgar Allen Poe– The thought of this one makes my skin crawl, and reading it does the same thing for me.
7. “The Sound of the River” by Jean Rhys–I read this in a collection of ghost stories by women a few years ago, and I still think of it as one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read. What if ordinary things have a life you don’t know about?
8. “Berenice” by Edgar Allen Poe–a bit gruesome, with twist. One of his that stands out for me among so many good stories.
9. “Ligeia” by Edgar Allen Poe–The writing is so beautifully haunting that I can’t leave this story off the list.
10. “Mr. Jones” by Edith Wharton–This story is one I read recently, and I’ll be seeking out Wharton’s collected ghost/horror works. I don’t care for her other novels, but wow. This one packs an atmospheric, Gothic punch.