In honor of Halloween, I offer recommendations of creepy, scary, horrifying fiction.
The Bloody Chamber, a collection of short stories by Angela Carter, all explicitly based on fairy tales. Warning: these stories are not for the squeamish! Really, they’re not. At all. But they’re powerfully written and well worth rereading and pondering.
Cherie Priest is a contemporary author often placed in the Southern Gothic subgenre. Her first novel is Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Here’s an interesting review of it from a Bulgarian blogger at Temple Library Reviews. “Perhaps the biggest strength here at play is the writing itself, since the author possesses this quality about her prose that entrances the reader and erases all perception of time.”
The Haunting of Hill House or We Have Always Lived in the Castle are classics of New England Gothic by Shirley Jackson. Did you ever have to read her creepy short story The Lottery (direct link to story) in this collection in school? That story creeps me out to this day, and has kept me awake at night, thinking. I’ve often wondered if it would be good for a compare and contrast with Ursula LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. (Link leads to a PDF of the story.)
Children of the Night by Dan Simmons is one of the most interesting vampire novels I’ve ever read. The setting is roughly contemporary, with a science fictional approach to vampirism. It’s not scary, exactly…or rather, the scary feels more like real-world scary. It reads like a mainstream book that happens to have vampires.
A book I loved as a kid is Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – the movie made from it introduced me to actor Jonathan Pryce for the first time, in the role of Mr. Dark. I love Bradbury’s style.