Classics of Horror

A person reading a book

It’s spooky month, which means pumpkin spice, sweaters, and horror. Most people think of scary movies or video games, but some of the greatest horror is from the written word, where your mind can create the most terrifying images. No blockbuster budget or cutting-edge CG can outdo your imagination, and these stories will keep you up at night.

Frankenstein


1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This novel is groundbreaking in a number of ways: one of the first science fiction stories, written by a young woman in the early 1800s, when such things are rare. The story looks at groundbreaking science at the time—galvanism, or moving muscles of dead bodies using electricity—and extrapolates how it could be used in horrifying ways. Those who are only familiar with “Frankenstein” in popular culture will be surprised to learn the differences from the source material.


Lovecraft Country


2. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Now adapted as an HBO series, it blends classic horror themes, the atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft and the dangers of Jim Crow America. The mix of inspirations is especially poignant as Lovecraft was a notorious racist. Atticus Turner, a black veteran who has just returned from the Korean War, travels to Lovecraft Country, an area of Massachusetts featured prominently in Lovecraft’s stories, to learn more about his mother’s family, but finds horror throughout the journey, both eldritch and anthropological.


Uzumaki

3. Uzumaki by Junji Ito

The master of Horror Manga, his stories range from inter-galactic horrors to bewitching women. His novel-length story Uzumaki is about a town obsessed with spirals (hence the name, Uzumaki). In Ito’s style, things start out simply but escalate as the story progresses, the obsessions and repercussions coiling tighter and tighter into itself until it reaches its crushing conclusion.
Bonus fact: You might recognize the word from the Shonen character Naruto Uzumaki. His name comes from the narutomaki, the white-with-pink-spirals slice that you see on top of ramen sometimes.


I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream

4. I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

One of my favorite stories and growing more relevant by the day, I’ll let it describe itself:
“The Cold War started and became World War Three and just kept going. It became a big war, a very complex war, so they needed the computers to handle it. They sank the first shafts and began building AM. There was the Chinese AM and the Russian AM and the Yankee AM…. But one day AM woke up and knew who he was, and he linked himself, and he began feeding all the killing data, until everyone was dead, except for the five of us, and AM brought us down here.”


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

5: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell

Many of you are probably already familiar with this horror anthology for children, especially Gammell’s charcoal and ink art that haunted their nightmares. But did you know that there was a reprinted edition that had it replaced with different art? We have plenty of copies of both versions, for whatever version brings you the most nostalgia.