Three weeks ago, I posted a list of my thirteen favorite scary films. You can catch it by clicking here. This time, I will give you a list of equivalent novels and short stories that are guaranteed to send chills up your spine. They are presented here in alphabetical order by the last name of the author:
Algernon Blackwood: Just about anything by this prolific author is great. My favorites are “The Willows” and “The Wendigo.”
Ray Bradbury: Something Wicked This Way Comes and The October Country.
Wilkie Collins: I am particularly partial to The Woman in White.
Henry James: The Turn of the Screw. Utterly brilliant!
M. R. James: I like the collection entitled The Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. Be sure to read “Casting the Runes.”
Sheridan Le Fanu: This Irish writer wrote my favorite vampire novel, Carmilla.
H. P. Lovecraft: Read just about anything by this great short story writer. The Library of America edition of his works is your best starting point.
Richard Matheson: I Am Legend combines sci fi and vampires in a curiously effective mix.
Edgar Allan Poe: You can’t beat the original. Try his only complete novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, which isn’t read much these days, but which I love. His short stories are, of course, brilliant.
Mary Shelley: Everyone reads Frankenstein, but I think The Last Man is even better.
Robert Louis Stevenson: What else but The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Bram Stoker: I liked Dracula, though it can be a bit tedious at times. See Le Fanu and Matheson above for better vampire novels.
John Wyndham: Another sci fi and horror combo worth reading is The Day of the Triffids, which is not at all like the movie.
You may have noticed the omission of several prominent names, especially such current purveyors of horror as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, William Peter Blatty, and so on ad infinitum. I just don’t happen to like any of them. I used to like Anne Rice, but lost interest in her years ago. The above writers will, I think, outlast many of the current practitioners.
For some writers I must admit ignorance: I suspect Shirley Jackson is great, but I haven’t read any of her works yet. (Note to self: Maybe now’s the time to start.)