8 Scary Classics to Read This Halloween

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This classic manages to be both hilariously witty and creepy. The 1890 novel’s written in a stunningly beautiful prose, and while the clever dialogues and the drama will keep you entertained, you’re also invited to ponder big themes, such as good and evil. While this novel isn’t particularly scary in the 21st century, it’s eery and unsettling. The novel can be interpreted in many ways, but it’s often seen as an important queer narrative from the Victorian era. There're definitely dramatic emotions and tension between the male characters, and when interpreted from this perspective, you can see the novel representing the struggles of homosexual men in the harsh 19th-century society. Basically, it’s a creepy classic with LGBT+ themes; in other words, a must-read!

2. "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe

Don’t have time to read a whole book this Halloween? Worry not! The Tell-Tale Heart’s arguably one of the creepiest tales ever written and it’s also delightfully short. It has murder, drama and psychological suspense. The language's as beautiful as the story's gruesome. I’ve read this story many times, and each read's equally frightening. That’s not something you can say about a lot of horror stories! This 1843 published story's at its best when read aloud in a dark room with flickering candlelight. If you’ve already read this terrifying story, I recommend checking out the rest of Poe’s short stories.

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

A 19th-century gothic horror classic written by a female author? I say YES to that! This is a very thought-provoking read. It deals with interesting themes such as the advancement of science, good and evil, death and more, and the 1818 Frankenstein’s one of the early definitive works of science fiction. This beautiful novel contains its fair share of death and heartbreak but also descriptions of beautiful mountain scenery. The story’s moving and terrifying and tragic, and definitely worthy of its classic status. Plus, it’s only 280 pages long! If you haven’t read this classic yet, I recommend picking it up immediately. Who’s the real monster, Mr. Frankenstein or his creation? This question still remains, and perhaps, we’ll never truly know.

4. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

What’s the book that comes to mind when somebody utters the word vampire? Twilight? Right… I was going for Dracula by Bram Stoker. And while it’s admittedly the most famous book about vampires ever, I recommend the modern 1976 Interview with the Vampire instead. Why? Because Dracula's literally the most boring book I’ve ever read. It’s a classic that divides opinions, though, so by all means, go read it; maybe you’ll like it more than I did! And if you don’t… well, it’s still a classic that has had a huge impact on modern literature, so in that sense, it’s definitely worth reading. If you want something unputdownable, though, I very much recommend Anne Rice’s novel. It’s creepy and beautifully written and difficult not to love. It tells the story of a vampire called Louise du Pointe du Lac, and I promise you, this modern classic’s certainly not boring! Interview with the Vampire’s the first in The Vampire Chronicles, so if you get hooked, there're plenty more novels to read. In addition to this, there’s a pretty rad movie adaptation featuring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas!

5. "The Vampyre" by John Polidori

Already read Dracula and Interview with the Vampire and everything else there’s to read about vampires? Well, did you know that Dracula isn’t the first vampire story? I didn’t! Anyway, if you want to go back to the beginning, check out John Polidori’s "The Vampyre". It’s one of the first literary works about a vampire written in English, published in 1819.

6. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Another short Halloween read! This 1886 novella’s often interpreted as representing the struggle between the good and the evil in the human mind. In the novel, strange and horrible things're happening in London. Mr Utterson finds out that these deeds are linked to a certain Mr Hyde… But what on earth can be the connection between the terrible Mr Hyde and the respectable Dr Jekyll? Read this classic and you’ll find out! This is a short, entertaining and creepy read, though the description of Mr Hyde can be at places read as ableist.

7. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

If you’re planning to watch the new hyped series at Halloween… Read the book first! This 1959 novel tells a story about a researcher who wants to study the supernatural phenomena in a haunted house. Needless to say, some seriously creepy things're about to happen! I’ve actually just started reading this modern classic but if the Goodreads and #bookstagram reviews're anything to go by, this book should be terrifying. So maybe don’t listen to the audiobook when it’s dark and you’re walking alone… like I did yesterday.

8. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Read it for the feminist themes and the creepy feels! This 1892 short story tells the story of a woman whose husband thinks that she suffers from hysteria. I’m not going to tell you much more… just that the ending will definitely take you by surprise! It’s up to the reader to make their own interpretations. In any case, this short story’s thought-provoking, feminist and absolutely terrifying!

Photos taken by the author