Choose your favorite Halloween Costumes from the options below and we'll recommend a scary short story that you should totally check out if you want to get into the Spooky Season Spirit!
Though we might not readily associate ghost stories with Christmas Eve and winter celebrations, it was actually a very common practice to tell scary tales during the 19th century and even earlier on than that. For a number of reasons, some of which can be cited back to Puritan ancestry, this story telling tradition fell out of practice in America.
I, however, am a horror story buff, and I will look for any excuse to spin a scary yarn with friends and family.
Here are five ghost stories to read on Christmas Eve.
1. A Christmas Carol
image via Amazon
This is most definitely the longest ghost story on the list, but it definitely fits with the season. Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is a culturally significant tale that has countless adaptations credited to it. This narrative follows Ebenezer Scrooge, an embittered old man who doesn’t just hate Christmas, but he just hates people in general. Yet out of everyone, he despises individuals who would dare to ask him for his time or, even worse, his money. He intends to spend Christmas Eve alone, as he does every year, but his plans are uprooted when the ghost of his former business partner comes to him and says that three more phantoms will be visiting him that night. Scrooge is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, and he is urged to change his ways. If he doesn’t, his actions won’t only result in ruining his life, it will also harm those directly impacted by his decisions.
2. The Turn of The screw
image via goodreads
Henry James‘s novella, The Turn of The Screw is an eerie tale that spans roughly seventy pages. The story begins with the narrator and his friends telling each other ghost stories one Christmas Eve, and the narrator claims that he is in possession of a one hundred percent real account of a haunting. What follows is the story of a governess who is hired to teach and care for two children. While her employment begins without incident, the governess soon begins to see strange, ghostly figures from a distance. She soon learns that these phantoms have sinister plans for the children, and she must do everything in her power to protect her two pupils.
3. The Kit Bag
image via literawiki
Written by Algernon Blackwood, The Kit Bag is a short story that follows Johnson, a lawyer’s secretary. Johnson is set to go on Christmas vacation after his boss wrapped up a case where he defended a man convicted of murder. He borrows a kit bag from his boss, but there is something very, very wrong with it. Johnson begins seeing images and hearing voices near the bag. This story is suspenseful and frightening, and it is definitely an excellent ghost story to read this winter.
4. The Canterville ghost
image via Alma books
This one is most definitely a breath of fresh air after the last two stories on this list. Oscar Wilde‘s The Canterville Ghost is a comedic story that plays with the tropes found in English ghost stories. This narrative follows an American family who moves to England and takes up residence in a haunted house. Try as the ghost may to frighten these new tenets, his efforts are in vain—the family just isn’t scared of rattling chains and random bloodstains. Unlike the previous two entries on this list, this story also has a happy ending. *Spoiler Alert*: This story begins as a playful ribbing of English ghost stories and ends with redemption for the ghost.
5. Oh, whistle, and i’ll come to you, my lad
image via pinterest
So many of the images for M.R. James‘s short story Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, are terrifying. This one is pretty tame by comparison to a few that I found. Professor Parkins, the story’s main character, goes on a golfing vacation. While on vacation, he comes across some old ruins and, and in these ruins, he finds a small whistle. Almost immediately after finding this item, Parkins begins to see a figure, have visions, and experience an oppressive energy. This all culminates in the final chilling encounter, where the figure that Parkins has been seeing in the distance appears in his bedroom.
Featured Image Via Den of Geek
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Its often said that Stephen King can make anything scary. Clowns. Dogs. Your next door neighbor. The master of horror can twist and weave his way into your psychosis with but a few words on the page. And seeing how its Halloween, let’s revisit King’s novels and take a look at his library to get spooked once again. Here are a few of King’s scariest works, best read after dark.
Image via Amazon
Misery doesn’t have goblins, ghosts, or ghouls, but its horror is more frightening because its horror is based in reality. A chilling look at fandom gone wrong, this book tells the tale of what happens when a work of fiction becomes too much of an obsession. Writer Paul Sheldon suffers an accident during a snowstorm and is rescued by Annie Wilkes. Although seemingly sweet at first, Annie reveals she’s quite insane and is not happy with Paul for the ending of his last book, where her favorite character got killed off. So Annie takes Paul hostage and forces him to rewrite the book. A disturbing portrait of the more psychological variety, this one is also a disturbingly accurate showcasing of an obsessed fan that goes too far that rings even more true today.
4. ‘Night Shift’
Image via Den of Geek
Night Shift is an anthology of short stories that contain some of King’s best and scariest works. Included in this collection are Graveyard Shift, where a group of men investigate the abandoned basement of a steel mill and find it infested with giant rats. Quitters Inc. showcases a hapless smoker who will do anything to stop his addiction. The Mangler is all about an industrial laundry machine that gets possessed by a demon and how it violently kills those who come into contact with it. What are the rest? You’ll have to crack it open and see for yourself, if you dare.
3. ‘Salem’s Lot’
image via tor.com
Salem’s Lot is a chilling novel about vampires invading a small, sleepy little town with a lot of dark secrets. Full of genuinely horrifying imagery, lots of gore, violence, and very frightening vampires, this novel is not for the faint of heart but is sure to please any fans of the children of the night.
2. ‘Durma Key’
image via amazon
Durma Key is a lesser known Stephen King work but its just as gripping and scary as any mainstream novel. A scary, psychological story, we aren’t going to spoil anything of this one but its scary the same way Misery is. Its about the perils of creativity, the mysteries of one’s past, and with a touch of supernatural to add some spice, this one is one that should be read by more people.
1. ‘Pet Sematary’
imge via amazon
This is it. Pet Sematary is probably King’s scariest work. King himself almost didn’t finish it because of how upset it made him. Drawing inspiration from a relief life incident where King saved his young son from being struck by a truck, King spun this tale out of his own fears and it certainly shows. When a father’s son is hit by a truck, he buries him in a cursed burial ground that brings the dead back. Having already done this with his cat, the cat comes back meaner and seemingly undead. And when his son comes back, things take a turn for the absolute worst. Riveting, utterly terrifying, and full of frightening imagery, this book will linger with you in ways a book often doesn’t.
Featured Image Via Den of Geek
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a horrifying and hilarious masterpiece, and as with it’s author, every single thing about it is iconic. Sure, it might have been heavily redacted and then also banned, but there’s still a lot to unpack, and how better to explore gothic literature than through memes? You already know.
Image via Meme
This is when I admit that I never watched iCarly as a kid. Goodness only knows why, but I can see now that I really missed out. Still, the hilarity of trying to play off an ostrich needs no context, and recast as Dorian and his posse it’s a whole other level. Nothing’s up! Just being super normal over here, not selling my soul even a little. Anyone want a smoothie?
Show Your True Self
Image via Pinterest
I feel like this is a pretty modern take, actually. We’re the generation that can see a lizard just doing its thing and be like… “same, bro”. If someone had a horrifying portrait of themselves in their living room we’d think it was ironic or avant garde, or at least a big mood. What an eccentric he is! Plus, he might’ve shown a little more self control if he was looking at the consequences, even if he wasn’t wearing them.
Guess How He Looks Now
Image via Sizzle
I love how this trope started as clickbait and turned into a meme. Who cares about how child actors look now? Not me, and clearly not a lot of people, because it’s been eons since I saw a version of this that wasn’t a joke. Of course, this is a little funnier than the average fare, though. It actually manages to make me feel old, because I’m laughing at a Dorian Gray meme. No judgement. I’m just saying.
No Good Deed
Image via Gramha
You think you know someone. You paint them, you have all this sexual tension, you grant them eternal life, and what do you get as thanks? Nothing good, I’ll tell you that. It’s just like the saying. I don’t really have an excuse for using a meme this out of vogue, except to say that I still think it’s funny. We may all be used to airpods now, but I still accidentally talk to people wearing them. Not usually to warn them of their impending murder, though.
Art is so Powerful
Image via Tumblr
Basil really does get the treatment usually reserved for women burned as witches. Sure, he can do something supernatural, maybe, but on it’s face, it’s only helping Dorian. Like, no one made him act like a careless lech or drink all that. If I had a portrait that granted me eternal life, I don’t know what I’d do, but not what Dorian did for sure. Basil was just trying to be, you know, a bro.
Featured image via Dorian Gray Suggests
The possibilities for horror are endless…even when you only have two sentences to terrify your readers. Lucky for you, here’s five more creepy and disturbing horror stories that only take a few sentences to read.
Image via the impact news
1. My wife woke me up last night to tell me there was an intruder in our house. She was murdered by an intruder two years ago. — The_D_String
2. The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door. — Scry67
3. After working a hard day I came home to see my girlfriend cradling our child. I didn’t know which was more frightening, seeing my dead girlfriend and stillborn child, or knowing that someone broke into my apartment to place them there. — cobaltcollapse
4. You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs you hear a whisper from the closet saying “Don’t go down there honey, I heard it too.” — comparativelysane
5. I never go to sleep. But I keep waking up. — genetically_witless
Featured Image via Thrillist