Classic Horror Books I’ve Never Read

For someone who’s into books and did an undergraduate degree where there was an entire module on gothic literature (I was a terrible student) I’ve read a frighteningly low (hah) number of classics when it comes to horror. Here’s a list of spooky stories I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t picked up.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

I’m actually embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Frankenstein. Goth queen Mary Shelley, feminist icon, creator of science-fiction.

I think I actually OWN a copy of this book somewhere and I’ve never read it. I am mortified.

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

Aside from having the coolest name for a novel that I can think of, this contains one of my major creepy-no-nos: freaky little children. I can’t wait to read this and spend the whole thing whispering “absolutely not, you creepy little bastards”.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

Pretty much THE seminal “haunted house” story, and nothing simultaneously thrills me and makes me rack up a huge electricity bill from turning lights on like a haunted house story.

The Fall Of The House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

Okay, I actually read a bit of this in uni – enough for me to know it’s really cool and spooky – but I’ve never gone back to it even though I know I enjoyed the bit I read. Bumping up my TBR in an attempt to rectify this.

Literally anything by HP Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft is a horrible racist, but before I discovered he was a horrible racist I bought an enormous shiny hardback collection of his work (pictured) purely because I liked the front cover. (It is a really nice cover, in fairness.) I have never opened it.

And yes, I KNOW what his cat’s called. I DIDN’T WHEN I BOUGHT THE BOOK.

The Monkey’s Paw – W.W. Jacobs

I keep seeing memes about the monkey’s paw curling a single finger and every time it reminds me that I haven’t read this book yet. Honestly I think I might just to fully appreciate them.


Have you read these? Are they good? Which should I read first? Are you as mortified for me as I am for myself? Chuck me a comment and let me know/berate me.

My Spoopy Halloween TBR

I’ve never been daft on Halloween. It seems to have rocketed in popularity since I was little – I don’t remember there ever being the swathes of decorations and costumes and events when I was little. You went ducking for apples in a leotard and some whiskers drawn on with eyeliner.

Nevertheless, it seems to be a Big Thing now, especially in book circles, so I thought I’d get involved. I’ve read a disappointing amount of horror for someone whose uncle is a literal horror author, so I’ve decided for the month of October to try and vibe with it and read only creepy horror things.

Sight Unseen – Sandra Ireland

My current read!

Sandra’s really good at creating atmosphere and weaving history into a story until the setting and figures from the past become just as important as the main characters. It’s a thriller rather than a straight up horror, but it’s got enough witchcraft and eerie atmosphere to chill you as we head into Halloween season.

Sefira and Other Betrayals – John Langan

I didn’t appreciate how cool it was having an uncle who wrote books until I was coming into my early teens, probably because he doesn’t write the kind of stories you’d take out of the library for your kids.

We got a copy of Sefira as a wedding present (my uncle signs and dates and doodles in the books he gives us, which is cool) but it was around that time I fell out of reading because I was pregnant and ill. Definitely going to break into it one night when my daughter has me awake at 4am…

Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

I’ve read Heart Shaped Box before, but OH BOY is it a cracker. One of two books that has actually properly chilled me before. I picked it up because it’s got the same title as a Nirvana song (yes, it really is that easy to get me to buy your book) and then basically inhaled it. There’s one scene in particular that actually scared me so much I felt sick, which doesn’t happen often when I’m reading.

It was a bit of a revelation when I discovered that Joe Hill is actually Stephen King’s son, which makes sense when you consider that the only other book to seriously freak me out is…

The Shining – Stephen King

If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of The Shining but not read the book, I would thoroughly recommend you do so. It’s a completely different beast. Stephen King can be very hit and miss for me, but The Shining is brilliant, atmospheric and even though you know what’s coming (because it’s such a famous story) it still grips you.

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror – ed. by Christopher Golden

Another gift from my uncle that I’ve only really dipped in and out of (he’s got a cracking story in it as well! but it’s wall to wall bangers – a short story anthology with the common theme of vampires. I can read one a day as the sun go down!

Also it’s got a cool as fuck title. “Vampiric Terror”? OKAY.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Another one that isn’t technically a horror, but it’s a bloody good book anyway. It might not have literal ghosts in it but the atmosphere is so thick and ominous you could carve it like a pumpkin, and there’s a no small amount of haunting in a sense.

Also Mrs. Danvers gives me the fear. So it’s a scary book.


Those more versed in horror than I am – what else should I be reading? What’s likely to leave me a quivering mess? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!