Happy Halloween! And to celebrate this spooky holiday, we’ve been sharing a few Books That Will Scare the $#%! Out of You, but there are some really great classic pieces of literature worth checking out this time of year. Here are some of our favorites that you can curl up with before (or instead of) trick-or-treating time:
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Poe is pretty much the master of all things creepy. His short stories and poems are excellently chilling, and are perfect to read this time of year. We especially love his classic poem The Raven and the horrific short story The Masque of the Red Death. We talk more about Poe’s works in relation to the recent YA novel Nevermore by Kelly Creagh, but you can also read all of Poe’s work FOR FREE online. His stories & poems are all open to the public domain. So check ’em out.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
This is one of my all-time favorite short stories, especially for Halloween-time. Part of what makes this story such a great spooky read is the combination of elements it employs: the setting (isolated Hudson River Valley town), a romantic triangle, and of course the creepy legend of a headless horseman out for revenge. The imagery of smashed pumpkins is just a bonus.
There have been plenty of on-screen adaptations of this story, too — which, despite taking many liberties with the plot, are thoroughly enjoyable. My personal favorites are Disney’s version from The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad (with Bing Crosby singing the story!) and Tim Burton’s twisted take Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Before Edward Cullen, Bill Compton and Stefan Salvatore — there was Dracula. The first pop culture vampire icon. Written by Bram Stoker in the 1890s, Dracula still resonates with audiences today. The creepiness definitely builds as the book progresses — told through letters and journal entries. There have been various movie adaptations over the years, though none have accurately portrayed the story. (Though I enjoy the movie versions — they are a far cry from the source material.)
For a modern, slightly more graphic twist on this story, check out Fangland by John Marks.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Here’s another classic — and much like Dracula, Frankenstein has seen multiple movie incarnations, though none are very true to the source material. The thing about the book is that it’s not really a horror story — so much as it is social commentary. Still, it offers an interesting look at social values from that time period — and provides a unique contrast to the pop culture concept we have of Frankenstein today. Plus, Mary Shelley started writing this book when she was only 18!
More Classic Spooky Reads:
- The Hand by Guy de Maupassant
- The Inferno by Dante Alighieri
- Macbeth by William Shakespeare
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare
- Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
For the comments: What other classic Halloween reads do you love? Did we forget any from our list?