Ah, October. Leaves turn different shades of death and fall to the earth. A sudden chill takes flight with the wind and cools down a scorched land. Families take out warm blankets and put away their shorts and tank tops. The night comes sooner, the morning later. All to set the mood for some spectacularly creepy fiction. Please allow me to recommend some of my favorites. Let me know your favorites in the comments, and if you picked up any of these recommendations!
Nightmare Magazine: Horror & Dark Fantasy.
Editor John Joseph Adams sure knows how to pick the stand-out short stories and non-fiction pieces for this magazine, not to mention the spectacular and vivid art. It’s worth subscribing to this periodical, but you can also read it online for free: http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/.
The Dark Magazine.
A relatively newer magazine of two years old, The Dark focuses on dark, surreal, and speculative fiction instead of straight horror. I look forward to my copy every quarter. Again, a subscription is worth every penny, but you can also read parts of each issue on their website for free: http://thedarkmagazine.com/
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.
Before there was Young Adult dystopian, there was this masterpiece by Shirley Jackson. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, read it’s great grandmother: “The Lottery.”
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
This classic will leave you uneasy, that’s for sure. You can find this short story in O’Connor’s popular short story collection The Complete Stories. All of them are worth your time, especially this one.
Creepy Presents: Bernie Wrightson
This is a fantastic compilation of short comics/short stories illustrated by the incomparable artist Bernie Wrightson. Read it for the art, stay for the creepy stories. Perfect for Halloween.
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Carnies. Need I say more? Okay, I will. This near-perfect novel by Katherine Dunn explores a world where being a freak is commonplace. Sibling rivalry and the question of what is beautiful are just a few themes rolled into the mix.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.
C’mon. What’s a list about creepy books without Stephen King? While it’s helpful to read The Shining prior to reading this book, it’s not absolutely necessary. But you should read The Shining anyway, because it’s fantastic. Doctor Sleep focuses on Dan Torrance as an adult, and while he escaped the Overlook Hotel all those years ago, demons of all sorts still haunt him.
And for kids, the Goosebumps series. One of my favorite memories is reading those together at bedtime and I’d get to the end of a chapter and say, “That’s all for tonight.” And you would be so darn cute in your protestations: “No, please, dad, just one more chapter. Please, please.” I can’t remember how many “one more chapters” I ended up reading.