As you read this, I’m making way more sweets and cookies than anyone really needs in their house. It’s that time of year, though.
We’re a week away from Christmas Eve. Seems like a good time to talk about scary stories, right? I think so. I mean, my favorite Christmas story is a ‘Ghostly little book’. I didn’t include A Christmas Carol on this list, but it almost belongs here.
Last week I gave you a list of my favorite science fiction books of all time. If you missed it, here’s a link. Today, I’m returning to my first love, horror.
Horror stories will always have a place in my heart. The dark and gruesome little tales we tell each other by dark entertain me like no other. Science Fiction makes me feel excited. Fantasy makes me dream. Horror makes me reach for the popcorn for a damn good story. So here are my favorite horror stories, in order from my least to most favorite. I don’t say that these are the best horror stories ever. They are simply my favorite.
Goosebumps, by RL Stein
These might not be the scariest stories of all time, but you can’t deny that they’re popular. I loved these books as a kid. In fact, they’re what set off my lifelong love of reading. They’re the first books I got as soon as they came out. And while there are some, we’ll call them questionable installments, the good ones are still good.
Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
This book was a classic before I was born. Hell, the movie came out in 1968. But it’s still a chilling read. Imagine finding yourself pregnant, and being unsure of what exactly it is you’re carrying. Imagine being surrounded by people who say they just want to help, but all the time are plotting your personal destruction.
Bag of Bones
Strap in, you’re going to be hearing a lot about Stephen King on this list. Bag of Bones is probably one of the better novels that still suffered from what we’ll call the Panter Ending Problem. The ending of this is dumb, but the story up to that is terrific.
I might be a little sentimental about this book, though. A second-hand copy of Bag of Bones was the first thing I ever bought with money I made from writing.
Dr. Jekyell and Mr. Hyde
I didn’t just add this in because I felt like I’d better add a few classics. It’s a legitimately dark tale that speaks to some deep truths most of us don’t want to admit. There’s darkness in all of us, and it wants to get out. Mr. Hyde is that little voice that whispers, “Drop that fancy wallet in your purse.” Or when you lose your temper at the cashier and make them feel like shit. It’s the part that we try to control, but sometimes his ugly face comes out.
This was the first real classic I read as a child. It’s still one of my favorite stories. Once again, we’re looking at the horrors that man creates for himself. No one made Dr. Frankenstein build his monster. He made it without any provocation and in fact with great effort. That’s not so far removed from some of the own disasters in our own lives.
Obviously, I love this, it’s about a writer being held captive by a crazed fan. While this has never happened to me, I secretly wish someone would be obsessed enough with my books to stalk me just a little. Misery is about a lonely, sad old woman who stumbles upon her favorite author after a horrific car accident. She saves his life and then imprisons him so that he writes another book in her favorite series.
Hearts in Atlantis
If you’ve read this book, which is honestly more like four novellas put together in one story, you might find it hard to call it a horror story. But it is. In a roundabout way, it’s about the biggest horror of the previous generation. It’s about the Vietnam war. And about, in a large part, how King responded to it. I’m not going to put him on the therapist’s couch. But I will say that this story couldn’t have been written by someone who didn’t live through that horror.
From a Buick Eight
I love this book. Like, love love it. It’s about an abandoned car found at a gas station, and how it affected a Western PA police barracks. Of course, I live in Western PA. I’m pretty sure the story even mentions Butler, my hometown. Yay! But aside from that, it’s a great story. It’s a moving story about a young man who loses his father and finds a part of him through his family on the force. It’s also about a car that sometimes vomited a monster from its boot.
Everyone already knew I was a feminist, right? This story, if you haven’t read it, is about a woman who moves to a new town in which the women are perfect. They’re beautiful, tireless, perfect cooks, perfect homemakers. They always have time for a little rustle in the sheets with their husbands. And they don’t have any ambitions of their own, past pleasing their husbands. As the main character gets farther and farther into the conspiracy, she realizes that her husband is planning to make her one of these Stepford dolls too. Don’t see the movie, by the way. The movie is terrible.
The House Next Door
This is probably my favorite horror story of all time. And I think I’ve gushed about it enough in the past. But just in case I haven’t, here’s some more gushing.
Most haunted houses pretty much tell you they’re haunted. They’re old, creaky dirty places where death has occurred and quite clearly will occur again. If not from the ghastly spirits that fester in the dark walls, then from the numerous housing code violations and safety concerns.
But the house next door is beautiful. Brand new construction in a bright lovely neighborhood. No one’s died here. Not yet.
Honorable mention, Dance Macabre by Stephen King
This is only an honorable mention because it’s not really a horror book. It’s a non-fiction book about the horror genre that made me rethink and appreciate it even more. King goes over books, movies and even to shows from artists that have been scaring the shit out of us for generations.
So now, I want to hear from you. What’s your favorite scary book? Do you think some of them should be on my list? Let me know in the comments below, I’m making out my reading list for 2019.
There’s a murderer on the station of First Contact. Detective Sennett and Godfrey, a chef from Earth, have to hunt down the killer when Godfrey’s wife is falsly accused. Get it free now, and enter the world of Station 86.