Lovecraft. Stoker. Shelley. Jackson. King. These masters of horror gave us monsters and ghosts that still haunt us to this day. Each of the stories on this list is not only a classic of the genre, they have, each in their own way, defined it.
At The Mountains of Madness
An expedition to Antarctica goes horribly wrong as a group of explorers stumbles upon some mysterious ancient ruins, with devastating consequences. At the Mountains of Madness ranks among Lovecraft’s most terrifying novellas, and is a firm favorite among fans of classic horror.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle home in Styria, Austria, Laura and her father agree to take in its injured passenger, a young woman named Carmilla. Delighted to have some company of her own age, Laura is instantly drawn to Carmilla. But as their friendship grows, Carmilla’s countenance changes and she becomes increasingly secretive and volatile. As Carmilla’s moods shift and change, Laura starts to become ill, experiencing fiendish nightmares, her health deteriorating night after night. It is not until she and her father, increasingly concerned for Laura’s well-being, set out on a trip to discover more about the mysterious Carmilla that the terrifying truth reveals itself.
Union Square & Co.
Written in an epistolary format, Dracula recalls the experiences of a young lawyer called Jonathan Harker, who pays a visit to Count Dracula on the border of Transylvania to deal with the purchase of some property. After Harker leaves Dracula’s castle, having nearly been the victim of vampires, a Russian ship runs aground off Whitby and the captain’s log details the gradual disappearance of the crew. Meanwhile, Lucy Westenra, who lives in Whitby, begins to sleepwalk and suffer bouts of dementia. Despite attempts to save her, Lucy is found dead. Evidence points to Dracula and the race is on to defeat him before he gains control over more victims.
Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus
At the age of eighteen, Mary Shelley, while staying in the Swiss Alps with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others, conceived the tale of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life. The resulting book, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a dark parable warning against the risks of scientific and creative endeavor, the corrupting influence of technology and progress, and the dangers of knowledge without understanding. Frankenstein was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818 and has long been regarded as a masterpiece of suspense, a classic of nineteenth-century Romanticism and Gothic horror, and the prototype of the science fiction novel. Though it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations, it remains the most powerful story of its kind.
The Haunting of Hill House
The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real. They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Simon & Schuster
For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin. Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. Two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes…and the stuff of nightmares.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson
A London lawyer is drawn into a series of strange occurrences concerning his old friend Henry Jekyll and the despicable stranger Edward Hyde, a man who seems to epitomise the very meaning of evil. What is Hyde’s mysterious hold over Jekyll, and what is the reason behind Jekyll’s increasingly odd behaviour? The investigations will lead into the dark heart of Victorian London, and of human nature itself, as the shocking truth about Hyde’s true identity is finally revealed.
The Turning of the Screw
A nameless young governess is sent to a country house to take charge of two orphans, Miles and Flora. Unsettled by a dark foreboding of menace within the house, she soon comes to believe that something malevolent is stalking the children in her care. But is the threat to her young charges really a malign and ghostly presence or something else entirely?