Ah, Halloween, the holiday where we celebrate our fears, indulge in the scary, and become one with the gruesome. While I won’t get into the psychology of what attracts us to the macabre, I will say that our fascination extends further than October’s sinister holiday of dressing up, eating treats, and savoring screams.
Films, for example, give us gory eye-candy and specific images to haunt our nightmares but books provide fodder that gives our imagination more control over our spooking. The following is a list of 10 tales sure to get your blood boiling and heart pumping (and giggles gurgling, if you’re into that). This list is in no particular order:
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Along with tackling themes of humanity, nature, and science, this classic monster thriller forces the reader to lament on what it means to be a monster (and better yet, who the monster really is in Shelley’s tale).
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
A dashingly handsome young man sells his soul to the devil; debauchery abounds. A great read for those interested in the moral disintegration of a shallow individual.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A phenomenal dystopian tale following in the footsteps of 1984 and A Brave New World, Atwood’s Offred narrates a story too realistic to dismiss as impossible, making it all the more horrific.
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Some may be familiar with the movie adaptation’s terror, but it pales in comparison to a novel many say they can never read twice.
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Rice’s modern twist on the vampire story, erotic and addicting, is sure to give any reader chills.
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
What happens when Satan and his posse wreck havoc in Moscow? Humor, psychotic breaks, and chaos, all displayed breathlessly by Russia’s great Bulgakov.
- All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir
So you’re immortal: what good is it when, century after century, everything ultimately remains the same? Beauvoir does a great job here of characterizing an existentialist horror.
- The Shining by Stephen King
Wherever evil lives, expect Stephen King to be on the scene to capture it. For anyone murderously eager to relive the childhood fears.
- “The Fall of the House of Usher” (or anything, really) by Edgar Allan Poe
I mean, do I really need to explain why Edgar Allan Poe is on this list?
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Another book filled to the brim with childhood terrors, expect more than ordinary standards to collapse when a group of boys find themselves trapped on a deserted island.
- Bonus: Hagridden (of course!) by Samuel Snoek-Brown
Women compelled to murder for survival? Check. Psychotic men hellbent on revenge? Check. A bit of the supernatural in the form of the rougarou? Check. Able to set anyone on depression’s path, this story leaves many glad that the most horrific part of their day is whether or not to skip morning’s coffee.