There are so many great authors and books who write great scary stories that there are way more than five books for those who love a good, creepy yarn. Some scary stories I’ve read are more campfire-ish while others are page-turning, heart-thumping, can’t-sleep-at-night stories. Stephen King falls into the latter for me and while I try to steer clear from his more macabre tales, I loved his short story The Boogyman, part of his collection of stories in The Night Shift. So while none of his novels make it to my five must-read list, he has always been the quintessential master of the scary story.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I love Gaiman’s novels, but this YA novel is probably my favorite. After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family. A perfect scary story for young and old.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
While people might not think of Shirley Jackson as a master of the scary story, her stories always leave me deliciously chilled to the bone.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson – Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville’s blood. Even if you’ve seen this movie, read the book it has a delightful twist you’ll never see coming.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, Stephen Gammell (Illustrator) – I remember reading these books as a kid and getting totally creeped out by them. Not to mention the horrific illustrations done in sparse ink that drips down the page and stained with red. I thought maybe it was because I was a kid, but I reread some of them recently and they still gave me the willies!
Hope your Halloween is a fun and spooky one!