The 5 Scariest Ghosts in Literature That Will Haunt Your Dreams

The paranormal is fascinating as hell. Face it, there’s a lot of things that happen in this world that we just can’t explain. Many things go bump in the night, and some do even worse. Of all the terrifying creatures that exist to haunt us in our nightmares, perhaps one of the most, if not THE most, recognized phenomena is the existence of spirits from the dead. Ghosts are widely believed to exist all across the world. So, in the spirit of Halloween, here are five of the scariest ghosts from literature!




1. The Ghost of Christmas Future

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens




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In almost every adaptation of Dickens’ famous holiday story, the ghost of Christmas Future seems to portray the Grim Reaper. And, in fact, this imagery scared many of us as children. Yet, even after re-watching or reading the classic that is A Christmas Carol, this ghost is a constant reminder of how we should all be kind to each other, lest we end up in a hole in the ground, alone, and with no one to even mourn us. Yep, it gets much darker from here on out.




2. The Ghosts of The Overlook Hotel

The Shining by Stephen King




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There’s plenty of reasons to fear these malevolent entities. For one, they can literally drive a person crazy enough to want to murder his own family. For another, they also try to murder people just cause, you know, that’s just their job. Plus King gives us imagery of each apparition forming completely in front of all of the characters. That alone hammers on the scare factor even harder with the added fact that they can’t even leave this god-forsaken place. DO NOT book a vacation stay here!




3. The Headless Horseman

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving




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In the original depiction by Washington Irving, the Headless Horseman was merely a practical joke meant to scare out Ichabod Crane from the town of Sleepy Hollow. But, in other stories and more recent references, there are many more menacing versions of this truly legendary spirit. Supposedly, the story is that this is the spirit of a Hessian soldier who lost his head from a cannonball. He roams the battlefield and surrounding towns, looking desperately for his head. But, I’m guessing he’ll never find it.




4. All of the Spirits in Dante’s Inferno

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri




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Hey, it’s hell, what’d you expect? Almost all of the spirits Dante sees during Inferno are suffering in just the worst ways possible. Some are thrown around violently in a storm only nightmares could fathom. Others lay hanging in trees with pointy branches that stab at damned souls until they lose what truly made them themselves. This makes them become just another tree among the suicide fields. This classic is a truly haunting representation of what the afterlife could be like. Pray that it isn’t!




5. The Entire Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson




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First off, this is an instant horror classic in general, so expect some pretty scary shit to begin with. The Haunting of Hill House will not only leave you wondering about the existence of ghosts, but also wondering if you can trust what the characters are seeing is real or the symptoms of some serious mental illness issues. The book offers two main interpretations as to what this ghostly phenomena might be if they aren’t real real; hallucinations being one possibility and psychic abilities being another. This one will mess with your trust, and will most likely make you want to sleep with the light on!




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