Short Stories to Get You Ready for Spooky Season

When you clicked on this article, I’m sure you thought, “Why is there an article about spooky Halloween? It’s only September.” To answer your question, I think it is never too early to celebrate Spooky Season. The way I look at it, it is 100% acceptable to start getting ready for Halloween once school starts. Spooky Season lasts until November 1st, which is the Christmas season. 

Now that I’ve gotten my crazy holiday schedule out of the way, we can get to the point: it’s time to get ready for Spooky Season. I’m sure you already know plenty of scary movies to watch and ways to celebrate fall (carving pumpkins, apple picking, etc.), but I have another way to celebrate the season: reading. Don’t worry; I’m not going to tell you to read Stephen King’s It, which is 1,138 pages long. I know that you have a busy schedule full of school and work. Instead, I suggest reading spooky stories. I’m going to give you a list of spooky short stories that you can easily finish in one sitting. If you are scared of everything, don’t worry - I am scared of everything and was still able to read these stories. Rather than tell you about modern popular scary stories, I’m giving you a list of classics (the oldest short story on this list was first published in 1820 and the newest in 1953) that you may have heard of but probably never read. Since all of these stories are so old, they are in the public domain, and I have provided the links below where you can read them for free.  

  1. 1. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

    Author: Washington Irving

    When it was first published: 1820

    Summary: I am sure you’ve heard of this story, and if you haven’t heard of the story itself, you have definitely heard of its villain: the Headless Horseman. The story is about Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who lives in Sleepy Hollow, a town known for its hauntings and ghosts. Walking home from a party, Ichabod runs into the Headless Horseman. Readers follow Ichabod as he tries to escape the violent ghost.

    Read it Here  

  2. 2. "The Tell-Tale Heart"

    dark LED red heart

    Author: Edgar Allan Poe

    When it was first published: 1843

    Summary: This is one I’m sure you have heard of. Other than “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart” is Poe’s most popular work. As is the case in most of Poe’s works, this story is about a man slowly going mad. In it, the narrator kills his houseguest, storing his body beneath the floorboards. We see the narrator slowly go mad as he is haunted by his actions, swearing he can hear the dead man’s heartbeat from beneath the floorboards.

    Read it Here!  

  3. 3. "The Lottery"

    Author: Shirley Jackson

    When it was first published: 1948

    Summary: This one you may have read, for it is frequently taught in high school English classes. Even if you have read it, it is worth re-reading. In the story, a town gathers for names drawn in a lottery. What soon becomes apparent is that the “winner” of the lottery does not win any money. Instead, the winner is stoned to death as a form of sacrifice. This idea of a lottery you definitely would not want to win may sound familiar to you because it is also the basis of “The Hunger Games.”

    Read it Here!  

  4. 4. "The Monkey's Paw"

    Orangutan Mother and Baby

    Author: W. W. Jacobs

    When it was first published: 1902

    Summary: This is a classic “be careful what you wish for” story. It is about an old man who is given a shriveled up monkey’s paw. He is told that the first three people who have the paw can each make three wishes with it. When the second wish maker gives the paw to the old man, he advises that he destroy it. Rather than listen to the advice, the man makes his wishes, and things go wrong.

    Read it Here!  

  5. 5. "Lamb to the Slaughter"

    Author: Roald Dahl

    When it was first published: 1953

    Summary: When I first read this story, I had trouble believing it was written by the same man who wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.” “Lamb to the Slaughter” is definitely darker than Dahl’s children’s books. In the story, a devoted housewife is shocked when her husband asks for a divorce. Still in a state of shock, the housewife hits her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb, killing him. The rest of the story follows her as she tries to hide her crime and pretend she found her husband dead. What makes this story truly frightening is how calm and convincing the housewife seems as she lies about her husband’s death.

    Read it Here!  

  6. 6. “The Cask of Amontillado” 

    Winecork

    Author: Edgar Allan Poe

    When it was first published: 1846

    Summary: This is a classic story of revenge. In it, the narrator lures a man named Fortunato into his wine cellar with the promise of a rare wine called Amontillado. The narrator does not plan to share wine with Fortunato. Instead, he plans to trap Fortunato in the wine cellar as an act of revenge. This story has no surprise ending; you know from the start that the narrator is tricking Fortunato, but it is still scary to see how he lures Fortunato into following him. It makes you question those you look at as friends, especially since the narrator never specifies what Fortunato did that deserved this revenge.

    Read it Here!

  7. 7. "The Yellow Wallpaper"

    Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

    When it was first published: 1892

    Summary: Though it seems inconspicuous at first, many people call this the scariest story they have ever read. The story is told through the journals of a woman as she goes mad. In the story, a woman is made to stay in a room as “treatment” for depression. The room is covered by a wallpaper that is a strange shade of yellow with a disturbing pattern. As time passes, the woman becomes obsessed with the wallpaper, eventually becoming convinced that there is a woman trapped in it. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was considered very important by feminists in its time for revealing the dangerous way women were treated for common mental illnesses such as depression.

    Read it Here!  

  8. 8. "A Rose for Emily"

    pink rose in vase

    Author: William Faulkner

    When it was first published: 1930

    Summary: This is another story that watches a person, Emily Grierson, as she slowly goes mad. The story starts after her funeral as the narrator tells the story of Emily’s life and how she became increasingly separated from the town in which she lived. The narrator tells how Emily Grierson was once happy; she was engaged to a man named Homer Barron, but he disappeared suddenly. The town does not find out the truth of what happened to Homer until forty years after his disappearance - they do not find out what happened until Emily is dead.

    Read it Here!

  9. 9. "The Middle Toe of the Right Foot"

    Author: Ambrose Bierce

    When it was first published: 1890

    Summary: In a small town, a house stays abandoned; it is known that a man named Manton killed his children and wife in that house. Some people in the town think he killed his wife because he was disgusted that she was missing the middle toe of her right foot. Ten years after the murder takes place, Manton goes back to the town in disguise. Recognizing him, a group of men trick him into going back to the house where the ghost of his dead wife can get her revenge.

    Read it Here!  

  10. 10. "The Body Snatcher"

    A skull and bones sits in a forest, grey scale

    Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

    When it was first published: 1884

    Summary: This story follows two men who are in charge of providing dead bodies for a medical school to practice on. Seeking more money for the bodies, the men dig up graves and even murder. I don’t want to give too much away, but it has a surprise ending where the men get what they deserve. It teaches a simple lesson: graverobbing and murder are bad.

    Read it Here!  

I hope that from these ten short stories, you find at least one you want to read. I tried to include stories from different authors so that you can figure out who you like (Edgar Allan Poe is the exception to this because he is the king of spooky season and deserves two stories.) These may even lead you to find more stories and books that you want to read by these authors.

Enjoy the start of Spooky Season!!!!

HCXO, Riley