Halloween reading

10 Great Short Reads for Halloween

-Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

We have now passed into fall. While it’s still pretty hot where I live, the color and chill evenings and mornings will be here anytime. If you’re like me, it is time to break out the horror and goth books and films (more than we usually do). I relax in my recliner with my black cat curled up on my lap and read the night away. If you’re looking for some good stuff to read this Halloween that you can get through in an evening, here are some of my favorites–some more well-known than others. I’ll try not to give too much away:

  • The Hound, by H.P. Lovecraft. This might be my all-time favorite Halloween read. Very atmospheric and creepy, with plenty of Halloween tropes present. Two grave-robbing friends keep a ghoulish museum of various bodies, skulls, and other gruesome artifacts in their basement. In true Lovecraftian fashion, they go too far when they open a grave and steal an amulet that unleashes a curse.
  • The Small Assassin, by Ray Bradbury. Kindly, nice guy Ray Bradbury offers a startling tale of a killer baby.
  • The Summer People, by Shirley Jackson. A city couple decide to stay at their summer house past Labor Day. This is a bad idea. I don’t know why. Indeed, I can’t even offer a spoiler because I don’t know what is happening or threatening to happen. My favorite Jackson story. Pure suspense. Enjoy a master storyteller at peak power.
  • The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allan Poe. This one may be too obvious, but it’s one of the best for a creative, spooky atmosphere. Prince Prospero and his wealthy guests lock themselves inside his castle for a masked ball. One reason I read this several times yearly is that I can never picture the layout of the colored rooms. By now, I wonder if I’m not meant to.
  • The Shunned House, by H.P. Lovecraft. It is a unique take on vampirism that explores possible scientific explanations/investigations of the phenomena in the moody, spooky manner you’d expect from Lovecraft.
  • Bite-Me-Not or, Fleur de Fur, by Tanith Lee. It is a lush, gorgeous tale of forbidden lovers during a vampire siege. Highly original and unpredictable.
  • Mrs. Amworth, by E.F. Benson. A vampire haunts a small English village. This is a reasonably scary story with some frightening visuals that, I’m guessing, influenced vampire films that came later.
  • The Room In the Tower, by E.F. Benson. Another vampire tale from Benson, this time centering on a young man who lives in a room that gives him bad dreams. You could read a book of Benson’s ghost stories and be entertained for hours.
  • Born of Man and Woman, by Richard Matheson. This story is told from the perspective of that which was born. You know right away that something is off when it describes its environment and relationship with its parents. A short, chilling tale by one of the best.
  • The Horla, by Guy de Maupassant. An unseen supernatural entity torments a single man. The man questions his sanity and tries to reason his way to release.

You should get a few evenings’ worth of good reading from that list. I might do a few others throughout the month. If this isn’t enough for you, you can check out my three volumes of weird tales, the “October Nights” series. You can read them in any order. Click the image below, and you’ll find them on my book page:

James Christensen