Halloween is right around the corner, and here at eNotes we are huge fans of the spookiest time of year! We’ve been reading some of the most haunting stories in the public domain in preparation for this month, so we’d like to share our favorites with you. Let’s take a look at part three of this ongoing series. Here are five more of our favorite spooky stories to get ready for the Halloween season!
1. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
Many readers and scholars consider Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” one of the most chilling pieces of Gothic literature. Full of psychological horror and unforgettable imagery, the tale of Roderick and Madeline Usher delves into the bowels of fear itself.
We recommend experiencing this story as Poe intended. Silence your phone, find a dark room, and read it uninterrupted from start to finish. Get ready for chills.
Our spookiness rating: 9.5/10
2. Afterward by Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton’s haunting tale of greed and ghosts tells the story of the nouveau-riche Boynes, a married pair of American expatriates who have recently purchased a formidable mansion in the English countryside. The couple specifically chooses the location for its spookiness, as they are determined to live in a place that fulfills their fantasies of a haunted Gothic mansion.
While the tale is not too terrifying, Wharton writes an eerieghost story that provides social commentary on the morals and expectations of upper-class aristocratic society.
Our spookiness rating: 5/10
3. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Washington Irving’s spooky and comedic story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” has greatly influenced popular culture since it was first published in 1820. While the character Ichabod Crane has grown more sympathetic in later versions, Irving’s original tale depicts an erudite schoolteacher obsessed with earthly power and pleasure, ignorant of local lore and customs.
The schoolteacher is eventually run out of town by the ghost from a local legend who comes to life. The ending is so scary that the story’s humor is largely forgotten. Read this one to your friends around the fireplace and feel the power of a terrifying tale during the Halloween season.
Our spookiness rating: 8/10
4. The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell
Charles Dickens was such a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell that he asked her to write a spooky story. The result was “The Old Nurse’s Story,” now a classic tale about a caregiver trying to protect her charge from a ghostly terror. This story has all of the elements of classic horror: a secluded mansion, a terrible secret, a ghostly apparition, a young orphaned girl.
Read Gaskell’s spooky short this Halloween if you’re looking for a legend with a legacy.
Our spookiness rating: 6/10
5. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In “Young Goodman Brown,” the titular character goes to the forest looking for a little sin and temptation. What he finds turns his whole world upside down, destroying his faith in humanity. Nathaniel Hawthorne did not hold back with this short story, shining unholy light on the perils of blind faith and the hypocrisy of Puritanism.
If you need a spiritual crisis to go along with the witches and devils this Halloween, then look no further.
Our spookiness rating: 7/10
If you haven’t already, check out Part I and Part II of our ongoing spooky series. Have you read any of these texts? Which is your favorite? Stay tuned for next week’s spooky story suggestions, and leave your own recommendations in the comments!