Horror Story Recommendations

Calling all horror story fans! Scary movies can send a chill down your spine, but nothing is creepier than reading a classing horror short story. Here are a few of my recommendations for some of the best horror short stories, both modern and not. 

Photo courtesy of Taylor Thomas

  1. 1. “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe

    This is a classic haunted house story from one of America’s fathers of horror. The breakdown of the story is that a man gets a letter from a childhood friend, Usher, asking him to visit. Once the narrator visits, he witnesses the downward spiral of Usher and the end result is chilling. This is worth the read and a great way to begin a horror short story journey. 

  2. 2. “The Damned Thing” by Ambrose Bierce

    Have you ever wondered if invisible creatures pose the same (or worse) dangers as the ones you can see? Well, Bierce explores a violent, invisible being that demonstrates exactly why that’s not an irrational fear. 

  3. 3. “Luella Miller” by Mary Wilkins Freeman

    Here’s a non-traditional vampire story for all of you vampire fans. This focuses on Luella Miller, who is described as a parasitic person who manipulates the good-hearted people around her, leading to death after death in the community. Will one woman be able to rid of the world of Luella Miller once and for all? Read and find out for yourself!

  4. 4. “Afterward” by Edith Wharton

    This is another haunted house story, but it takes a chilling turn. A couple moves to a house with an ominous message, and, when one half of the couple begins to behave strangely, it leads to something grave and warped. Is the house or the secrets between a marriage the real horror?

  5. 5. “The Thing on the Doorstep” by H.P. Lovecraft

    Wizards, reincarnation, zombies, cults, and mood swings. The narrator notices strange behavior from his best friend after he gets married to a woman involved in occult practices. You’re encouraged to take the subtle clues as they’re given to you to ultimately figure out what exactly the thing on the doorstep is. 

  6. 6. “The Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft

    This story takes “don’t drink the water” to the next level. The narrator lives next door to a family that is slowly led down the path of madness as their farm begins to glow a color that is out of this world. As the madness worsens, so does the situation, all at the hands of a being from outer space

  7. 7. “Black Country” Charles Beaumont

    Can music be infectious? Well, kind of. This story follows the life of a music man whose music is his downfall. It doesn’t stop with him, though – other people begin to feel the effects, too. This one gets to you in a different way, and I highly recommend it. 

  8. 8. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison

    Warning: this one gets disturbing. This fits more into the sci-fi side of things, too, and talks about the horrors of artificial intelligence. Will humans prevail or will the robot revolution be the end of the human race? I won’t say that this helps answer the question, but it definitely makes you think. 

  9. 9. “The Last Feast of Harlequin” by Thomas Ligotti

    A clown story is finally on the list! This one plays into the fear that clowns are humans that aren’t quite right. There’s a winter festival, a ton of green, and a direct reference to Edgar Allan Poe for all of you Poe lovers out there. (Note: there’s a reference to Poe’s “Ligeia,” which didn’t make the list, but is definitely worth a read) If you don’t like clowns, I don’t recommend, but if they just vaguely give you the creeps, it’ll elevate that to full-on fear, which means it’s a good horror story!

  10. 10. “Stone Animals” by Kelly Link

    This is another haunted house story, but it’s more of a mixture of a couple of horror tropes, including the invasion by a world that we are unaware of. The formula begins the same way: a family moves to the country in a new house and things start to get creepy. Slowly, everything gets “haunted” and the end is unexpected. Basically, this is a wild ride from start to finish.

Photo courtesy of Taylor Thomas