The Ten Creepiest Short Stories I’ve Read

To celebrate Halloween, The Artsy Reader Girl is listing this week’s TTT topic as a Halloween/Creepy freebie. I don’t usually read horror fiction (somewhat ironic, since this blog name is derived from Stephen King’s quote), but there’s something about macabre short stories that draws me in like a moth to a flame. So, for this Halloween freebie, I’m choosing to go with the creepiest short stories I’ve read.

If you haven’t read these stories before, I’d recommend reading them in bed (by the light of a candle and when there’s a storm raging outside your window, just to complete the whole gothic feel). I’d also recommend having a cup of hot chocolate or tea near by to warm yourself when you’re done! I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do. 

1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper cover

This is one of my favourite short stories of all time, not only because it’s such a powerful criticism of the medical profession in the 19th century. The writing itself is captivating, if slightly disturbing; it is hard to pinpoint a specific quote but suffice it to say that reading this made me slightly terrified of yellow wallpaper for some time.

2. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man is Hard to Find cover

Only Flannery O’ Connor could pull off writing a story that’s disturbing but somewhat comical. It’s twisted.

“She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Flannery O’ Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

3. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

There are so many haunting things about this story that I don’t know where to start. Is it the fiendish Arnold Friend? Is it that the world in Where Are You Going is grey, that we don’t know where fantasy ends and reality begins? Is it the hopelessly bleak ending? Or is it that Connie is just like any one of us and that we can empathise with her? 

4. A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner

A Rose for Emily cover

This is creepy not in the conventional skin-crawling goosebump-raising sense. I can’t give away too much because it will ruin the mystery, but do read until the end. Even if the imagery/storyline/writing isn’t that of your average horror fiction. 

5. The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart cover

No surprises here. 

6. The Landlady by Roald Dahl

The Landlady audio book cover

I love Roald Dahl’s macabre short stories as much as his children’s fiction, and The Landlady is the best of them all. It gives me the chills every time I read it. 

7. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe

The Cask of Amontillado cover

This was one of the first short stories I read as a kid and wish I hadn’t. I couldn’t quite appreciate the gothic genre at that time, but the illustrations on some of the pages made me steer clear of Poe’s fiction until I was much older.

8. The Rocking-Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence

The Rocking Horse Winner audiobook cover

Like Where Are You Going, there are many disquieting elements in The Rocking-Horse Winner, but the one that disturbs me most is the Oedipal relationship between the boy and the rocking horse. 

9. Patriotism by Yukio Mishima

The Art of the Short Story cover

There are graphic descriptions in this story, but for me, the scariest part is the thought of death which looms over the two characters for the whole story. I read the translation from The Art of the Short Story (pictured above); that compilation includes a number of the stories above as well. 

10. Skin by Roald Dahl

Skin cover

Another Roald Dahl story on this list because he’s that good. But the scene-setting for this one isn’t nearly as scary as The Landlady

Have you read these before? What are some of the creepiest short stories you have come across? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!

Comments

  1. oh my gosh the yellow wallpaper was definitely creepy for sure!

    1. Cindy Wu says:

      I think it was so memorable for me because it was creepy 😂 It’s definitely one of my favourite stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman!

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