7 Best Halloween Stories

If you’re looking for a more literary way to celebrate Halloween than with tons and tons of Halloween movies, the short story is a fantastic way to get into the spooky spirit.

Best part?

There are tons of scary Halloween stories online.

One of the best parts of being a literature major in college was that I got to delve in to one of my favorite genres– Gothic literature. Not to be confused with, ya know, goths:

Gif courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

A direct descendent of Romanticism, Gothic literature is lush and focuses on pleasure, but in this sense, a pleasing terror. It almost always includes some sort of supernatural element, which makes it proto- science fiction, too. Oh, and some of the best examples of Gothic writers? Ladies. (See: Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe.)

The other upside of gothic lit? It’s all basically public domain. So you can find tons of free scary stories online, for all of your Halloween frights delights.

Not all the stories below are gothic, per se, but they all manage to have a certain entertaining darkness at their core.

courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

The Nose and The Overcoat

Gogol is an awesome place to start because his work is vivid, ridiculous, and delightful. In the first story, a Major’s nose gets a life of his own and goes on the lam; in the second, a man’s obsession with his overcoat drives him to madness beyond the grave.

The best part about Gogol is that the stories aren’t so much about monsters and hauntings, so they’re safe to read for early teens and tweens. Just be prepared to answer a lot of questions about translated-from-Russian vocabulary words.

gif courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

Washington Irving

The Devil and Tom Walker 

Decidedly less flamboyant than The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and significantly less abused for the sake of pop-culture, The Devil and Tom Walker was published in 1823 and is a nice spooky little morality tale, as was the tendency for writers in the Northeast who were still pretty beholden to their Puritan roots at the time. A story of greed and stupidity, I think there are some very clear ties to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol which was published 20 years later. Also, the Devil in this story is actually fairly gentlemanly and polite, so the spook factor is low.

GIF courtesy ReactionGifs.com

GIF courtesy ReactionGifs.com

Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask of Amontillado

Are we going to act like being buried alive isn’t the scariest thing in the entire world? Nope. Nope we’re not.

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Haunted Mind

Hawthorne’s the master of American gothic, in my opinion. The House of Seven Gables is perfection, but his short stories– The Haunted Mind or even The Minister’s Black Veil— are true creepy, malcontented masterpieces.

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

Daphne Du Maurier

The Birds

Yup, THAT version of The Birds.

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

GIF courtesy Giphy.com

Amelia B. Edwards

The Phantom Coach

1,000 points to Griffindor if you get the GIF. I also wanted to find a story written by a woman that wasn’t The Yellow Wallpaper for this list, and this is a phantasic (heh) option.

What are your favorite scary stories?

best halloween stories

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