Top Five Favourite Scary Short Stories


Top Ten Tuesday is a feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is Halloween related freebie. I love a scary tale. Here are five of my favourite scary short stories. They’re all very different from

1. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson begins in summer, in a small village, “in the square, between the post office and the bank” and ends in much the same place and time. Everything is changed, though, especially the reader. When it was initially published in the issue of June 26, 1948 of The New Yorker, readers cancelled their subscriptions in droves. They were confused or angry. They wrote letters. Here [link contains spoilers] is a very interesting article about those letters, written by Ruth Franklin, who recently wrote a Shirley Jackson biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. Listen to A.M. Homes discuss and read “The Lottery” for The New Yorker fiction podcast or listen to a full cast dramatization from Ecoustic Alchemy.

2. “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” by Neil Gaiman is a very scary story about the appeal of stories that are “just a little bit scary.” Read it here or watch Neil Gaiman read it at the New York Public Library.

bloody-chamber-angela-carter3. In “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter a young woman marries a much older man, a widower thrice over. This is based on a fairy tale, so you can probably tell where it’s going. It’s the journey that makes this brilliant. Carter’s writing is lush, peppered with sharp insights that can cut you if you’re not careful. It’s terrible, terrifying, and beautiful.

4. “‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad'” by M.R. James is quiet and atmospheric, like all of M.R. James’ short stories. Parkins, the Professor of Ontography—”young, neat, and precise in speech”—is preparing to go on vacation. Obviously, his vacation does not go as planned. The beginning section is just academics sniping and it’s pure fun. Read M.R. James’ short stories here on Project Gutenberg or listen here on LibriVox.through-the-woods-emily-carroll And there’s A Podcast to the Curious—an entire podcast dedicated to M.R. James.

5. “Out of Skin” by Emily Caroll is a haunting online comic about a little old lady who lives in the woods and makes a terrible discovery. I said these stories are all very different, but Emily Caroll’s comics are actually reminiscent of Angela Carter’s writing—lush fairy tales that’ll haunt your dreams. Check out Through the Woods, her comic collection.

Do you like scary stories? What are your favourites?


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