On this day, 177 years ago, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published, and his ghostly Christmas story quickly gained popularity and acclaim. Today, this yuletide tale is a holiday classic and one of the staples of the season. In honor of this publishing date anniversary, as well as this upcoming holiday, we’ve gathered a list of similar ghostly Christmas tales (both novels and short story collections) to balance your cheerful season with some creepy vibes!
Here are the seven ghostly books of Christmas past:
Scary stories during the Christmas season may, at first, sound out of place… but did you know that during the Victorian era, it was commonplace for publishers and magazines to print ghost stories for reading by the fire at Christmas time? What an interesting little known fact! And, for the first time, thirteen of these very tales have been combined for the modern day Christmas readers and spooky tale enthusiasts. Some authors you may recognize by name, and others you may not know, but all stories are guaranteed to scare your stockings off.
A Christmas Carol is quite possibly the most iconic victorian Christmas classic, but there are also some wonderful works of this era by Elizabeth Gaskell, Rudyard Kipling, M.R. James, J.S. Le Fanu and Algernon Blackwood. Explore the eerie writings of some of the greatest authors of the nineteenth and early twentieth century!
Mark Onspaugh’s collection of over a dozen original hair raising holiday ghost stories will “entertain with supernatural flights of fancy, mysterious creatures and four interwoven fairy tales from the shadowy Black Forest. ” These writings of Onspaugh, ranging from subtle and bittersweet to seriously scary, have been compared to some of his favorite horror/ thriller authors, including Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.
Very much akin to the children’s adaptations of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the children’s book, A Ghost Tale For Christmas Time, from the Magic Tree House collection; but this story takes the classic a step further as Jack and Annie must assist the famous author, Charles Dickens! The siblings are taken back in time to London, England during the Victorian era, and they find that Dickens is trapped in jail. Working together with three ghosts and some Christmas magic, Jack and Annie are determines to save the prolific author from jail and from himself.
Another captivating collection of spooky Christmas tales resides in this volume. Amazon’s evocative description reads: “Festive cheer turns to maddening fear in this new collection of seasonal hauntings, presenting the best Christmas ghost stories from the 1850s to the 1960s. The traditional trappings of the holiday are turned upside down as restless spirits disrupt the merry games of the living, Christmas trees teem with spiteful pagan presences, and the Devil himself treads the boards at the village pantomime. As the cold night of winter closes in and the glow of the hearth begins to flicker and fade, the uninvited visitors gather in the dark in this distinctive assortment of haunting tales.”
Fans of A Christmas Carol and zombie retellings of literary classics will absolutely adore this new, twisted take on Dicken’s popular holiday tale, telling the story of a miserable Scrooge not only hiding behind his stacks of gold coins in his office, but hiding from hoards of undead. A cheerful Christmas it certainly is not. Bah humbug! Amazon’s creative description reads: “Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards, and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town? Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde? Was Tiny Tim’s illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past, and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?”
It’s often forgotten that the Christmas season, also know as Yuletide, was historically regarded as a designated time for spooky tales; it is just as much about ghosts and goblins as it is about cheer and goodwill. Get in touch with the darker holiday stories and traditions of old in The Old Magic of Christmas; a book “rife with the more frightful characters from folklore and the season’s most petulant ghosts, this book takes you on a spooky sleigh ride from the silvered firs of a winter forest to the mirrored halls of the Snow Queen.”