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Top Ten Horrific Short Stories

This week on Broke and the Bookish it’s all about Halloween! Pumpkin carving, costumes, candy, spooky movies and décor… what’s not to love? Even though I rarely dress up for Halloween anymore, it’s still one of my favorite holidays, and this year is no exception. I’ve already read most of my Spooktober TBR, leaving me plenty room to fit in my favorite short stories! Everyone knows the classics of course: Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe… the list goes on and on.  All less than 200 pages, you’ll have no excuse to get a little spooked this Halloween season.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Most everyone is familiar with Jackson’s more notable work, The Lottery, but the author’s also known for one of the best literary ghost stories published in the 20th century. Dr. Montague has invited several strangers to take part in an extraordinary study of Hill House, known for mysterious disappearances and terrifying poltergeists. Together, they seclude themselves within the home, desperate to prove the sightings true, but unbeknownst to them the house is gathering it’s strength and soon it will choose on of them for its own. Read Here

The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

A heeding tale of technology, the Hadley family live a life of extraordinary luxury in a state of the art automated home known as “The Happylife Home.” From dishes to cooking to even getting dressed and brushing their teeth, everything is done for them. The two children, Peter and Wendy, are especially thrilled by the nursery, a virtual reality room that telepathically connects the children to produce any place they imagine, used in secret by the parents to check the psychological well-being of the children. But the children are selfish and spoiled, perplexingly obsessed with an African safari – complete with lions in the distance, feasting on an unseen carcass and surrounded by strangely familiar screams… Read Here

The Signal Man by Charles Dickens

A classic, gloomy paranormal tale from the master story teller himself, Charles Dickens. In the quick of the night, a lonely railway signal-man finds himself haunted, plagued by a mysterious presence who wishes for trouble. Three times the specter appears, and three times tragedy befalls the signal-man. Read Here

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Walking the fringes of fraud as a palm reader and psychic, a canny young woman and keen observer of human behavior, eagerly takes advantage of Susan Burke from the minute she steps into her shop. A beautiful, rich, and unhappy woman, Susan is the perfect client, complete with a haunted Victorian mansion in need of cleansing and a secret ready to be dispelled.

Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl

A chilling tale of desperation and the throes of human nature. After patiently waiting years and years to conceive, a couple finds their treasured bundle in danger. Their precious child won’t feed, and even worse the doctors find nothing wrong with it besides the fact the baby is losing weight, and quickly at that. Desperate to save their child, the couple hits on a disturbing solution… Read Here

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

A Gothic novella published in 1872, Carmilla is highly noted as one of the influencing works for Bram Stoker’s infamous Dracula. Narrated by a young woman preyed upon by a female vampire named Carmilla, she’ll soon discover her long lost “family friend” is none other than the mysterious (and deadly) Countess Karnstein. Read Here

The Hanging Stranger by Philip K. Dick

An early work of Philip K. Dick, The Hanging Stranger tells the story of TV repairman Ed Loyce. Having spent the day working on the family home, he sets out in the late afternoon to check on the repair shop, but instead finds a chilling scene: a mysterious stranger hanging, dead, in the park, but even worse, no one seems to find it strange… Read Here

The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Inspiration to Hitchcock’s acclaimed film, The Birds, the story follows the disturbing assault on a community by countless flocks of birds. A kamikaze attack few will survive. Read Here

The Feather Pillow by Horacio Quiroga

A fantastic short story I read in college, The Feather Pillow describes the horrific events surrounding a newlywed couple. Soon after their marriage, the woman falls ill, first feeling a stab of weakness followed by hallucinations, but no cause can be found for her mysterious ailment… until her death in five days’ time. An unforgettable study on human relationships and the boundaries set by gender roles. Read Here

The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards

James Murray has made a grave mistake, out in the dead of winter hunting with a snow storm on the horizon. All too quickly the countryside grows dark and the snow falls harder, but just as he’s decidedly lost without hope, James meets a mysterious stranger who directs him to the midnight mail coach. A classic Victorian ghost story you won’t want to miss. Read Here

How are you celebrating Halloween?

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12 thoughts on “Top Ten Horrific Short Stories

  1. What a great idea for a post. Several of these are new to me too, but the ones I’ve read from your list are fantastic so I’m definitely going to check out the rest since I normally don’t branch out much beyond Edgar Allen Poe when it comes to creepy short stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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