Happy Halloween!!! ❤ Allow me to celebrate this special day by sharing with you ten of my favorite horror/dark fantasy short stories. My tastes range from quiet horror to splatter. Well, they don’t call me the Eclectic Eccentric for nothing. 😉 It’s just a random list, really, and I can list down at least 90 more. I initially wanted to do a Top 100. Unfortunately, I’ve been super busy with this whole moving in thing. How are you planning on celebrating Halloween? Tonight, I’ll probably be at a family reunion, eating finger foods and feeling generally uncomfortable. The venue? The family’s mausoleum, of course. Not kidding. Anyway, here’s my “recommended reading” list. Enjoy! 🙂
“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)
read from the Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe
Prince Prospero shuts himself in his abbey to avoid a fatal plague. In his masquerade ball, he receives an unwelcome guest. Read it online here
“The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers
read from The King in Yellow (1895)
In this story, the protagonist grows more and more disturbed by the presence of a churchyard watchman who resembles a worm. Read it online here
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
This is a first-person tale about a woman’s descent to madness and her unsettling obsession with the yellow wallpaper. Read it online here
“The Vampyre” by John William Polidori (1819)
A young Englishman discovers the true nature of his friend.
Despite the fact that there are limitless variations of “the vampire”, not to mention a proliferation of modern bloodsucker stories out there, I really don’t read a lot of vampire tales. I think this kind of old-fashioned romantic yet remorseless portrayal of the bloodsucking fiend is the best.
“Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” by M.R. James
read from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904)
The protagonist finds a whistle in a Templar ruin. He is later haunted by a strange figure coming towards him in the distance. Read it online here
“The Jar” by Ray Bradbury
read from The October Country (1955)
A poor farmer purchases a jar with something icky floating in it. The townsfolk come together to speculate about the nature of the thing inside the jar.
“The Midnight Meat Train” by Clive Barker
read from Books of Blood Volume One (1984)
The protagonist falls asleep on a New York City Subway train and discovers what’s at the end of the line.
“The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down” by Joe R. Lansdale
read from Steampunk edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer (2008)
The Traveler from H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine turns into a bloodthirsty monster.
Sure it’s classified as steampunk but you’ll encounter a great deal of horrors (and gore and dark humor) in this tale. Not for the easily offended/ grossed out.
“And Love shall Have no Dominion” by Livia Llewellyn. A demon falls on love with a human. Haunting, beautiful, heartbreaking… Reading this gave me chills and fever dreams. 😳 I read it in an anthology called Demons edited by John Skipp.*
“The Shadow Over Innsmouth” by H.P. Lovecraft
Classic Lovecraftian… slow, creeping horror, the exquisite torture done to a human’s fragile mind, and that agonizing
descent ascent to madness…
Liked it so much that I wrote a gross and gritty, somewhat comedic horror tale inspired by it when I was invited to write for an erotic Lovecraftian anthology. Read Lovecraft’s novella here
“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison (1967)
A super-computer designed for war kills off everyone except for four men and a woman.
This is actually a post-apocalyptic sci-fi short but I find it to be more terrifying than some horror stories out there.
Your turn! What are your favorite horror/dark fantasy short stories?
OMG…. I’ve been trying to remember that Ray Bradbury story for so long!!! Thank you, KZ!!!! And I’ll definitely have to check out that Harlan Ellison story. A couple of mine: Dagon by HP Lovecraft, Gramma by Stephen King, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, Other People by Neil Gaiman
you definitely should. it’s a must-read. happy halloween!