Classic Horror Must Reads!

I love horror. I love thrillers. I love suspense.

Pretty much me,
including the huge smile.
I always have. Since I was a kid. My mom thought there was something wrong with me, but turns out I was just a creepy kid who liked to hide in the dark and watch age inappropriate horror movies.

While I have read (and loved) my share of contemporary horror, I owe it all to the authors from days gone by who wrote the classics that got me totally addicted. To the thrills and chills of reading horror, the not wanting to look out the window because I might see something not quite natural at night when I was reading, the very real fear every child has of not letting limbs hang off the bed because there IS something there, magnified by some story I was reading at that moment. I have loved each and every blood curling scream, every bone chilling revelation, every hair raising moment.

God. I miss every second of getting to know the masters of horror.  A child's imagination is like fertilizer for the dark, macabre, creepy thoughts those books put in your mind.

So, let me share a few books this Halloween that got me hooked on all that is scary, dark, morbid, and more than a little insane at times.

Dracula: Long before I discovered Lovecraft, I read Dracula. This was my very first scary book outside the YA genre (even though I was 11 at the time). It was, to say the least, completely different from anything I had ever read, an epistolary novel that did not read like any of my other books. From Jonathan Harker's eerie journey through the woods in the carriage driven by the mysterious driver, to his terrifying captivity at the castle, I was so hooked. To this day, I remember the pages coming to life in my mind like a movie. The Count lying there in his coffin like a gluttonous leech, Jonathan watching the Count climb the walls of the castle with a squirming bag that sounded suspiciously like a child... it's like I was there, for everything. And it was exhilarating.

Frankenstein: Soon after Dracula, I HAD to have another classic horror book IMMEDIATELY. Of course, it had to be Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For all that Frankenstein's monster has been made into a caricature of himself in modern pop culture, the book was extremely sad and creepy. From when the poor creature opens his decayed yellow eyes in the lab, to his inevitable journey to self hatred seeing the repulsion in others eyes. Even as a child... I felt that the creature was completely justified to want his maker dead for making him grotesque and unlovable and then abandoning him.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Not a very long story, but honestly, one of the few things in my childhood that actually scared the crap out of me. I don't know what it was. But Mr.Hyde has always given me nightmares. This story was also my first lesson in denial. You read the book, and even though all the signs are there, you just keep saying "nope.. I have no idea what's up." And in the end, being faced with the unimaginable horror of the evil lurking inside one's self coming to life, and the even more unthinkable chance that you might actually enjoy, for a while, it's actions and thoughts.

The Island of Dr. Moreau: An island full of humanoid creatures. Do I really need to say more? Although, I have to say, ALL of H.G.Wells books have creepy elements. The aliens in War of the Worlds are pretty fucking scary. And the Morlocks keeping the Eloi as cattle in Time Machine freaked me out big time. But, The Island of Dr. Moreau is the one that truly read like horror to me. The terrifying vivisections in the laboratory, the creepiness of the island and the woods, the guttural sounds of animals trying to speak like humans. Creepy. I still think twice before reading this at bedtime.

Poe: Pretty much anything by Edgar Allan Poe. My first EAP story was the Tell Tale Heart, which I really didn't find scary (except, sadly, the poor man's eye.. I was a little asshole apparently) but then I read The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Cask of Amontillado. The sheer grotesqueness of the murders in the Rue Morgue were terrifying, and the evil that human beings are capable of in the Cask of Amontillado was more horrifying than ANY supernatural occurrence. Honestly though, pick up any story by Poe. He's a Halloween must read.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray: By far my favorite Oscar Wilde novel. Not exactly what one would call horror nowadays. But creepy nonetheless. The beginning of the story is so benign. Basil painting Dorian's portrait and talking to the hedonistic Lord Henry about his uncharacteristic possessiveness of this particular muse. A beautiful young man's wish to stay that way forever while his lifelike portrait aged instead. Who would have thought things would end for Gray the way they did. I don't know about you, but Dorian's descent into debauchery and vice, and his final face off with his painting were pretty hair raising.

And Then There Were None: I know this is a mystery novel, but Agatha Christie had a way with making things more than a little creepy. I love each and every one of her books (especially the Hercule Poirot mysteries) but this was the one where I could have sworn I could hear footsteps in the dark when I was alone at home. A deserted island where people keep ending up dead until there's no one left. If that isn't a Halloween read, I don't know what is!

Honorable mentions: Daphne De Maurier's Rebecca. Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. W.W. Jacobs The Monkey's Paw. Henry James' The Turn of the Screw. Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto.

What are your Halloween Recommendations to us, Saucy readers?


  1. Love your post Zee, I don't like horror stories, nor horror movies, but I read all the above books, The Picture of Dorian Grey is my favorite. On the other side of this scale there is Oscar Wilde very funny story about a ghost in a hunted house: Canterville Ghost.


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