Popular spooky stories that’ll scare you to stay inside during a pandemic this Halloween

Written By Chandni Shah, Co-Copy Desk Chief

During the Halloween season it is essential to read about hearts beating under floorboards, headless horsemen and gruesome murders. As young readers, we were given books from the “Goosebumps” series and read a fair share of Poe for our English teachers. When I was a kid, I was terrified of the monsters in R.L Stine’s “One Day at HorrorLand,” and was scared to death that someone would try to give me a monkey’s paw. 

From there, despite my fears, I grew fond of horror stories and continue to read them today. Here is a selection of my favorite haunted stories for you to cozy up with during this Halloween, since going out isn’t much of an option due to COVID-19. 

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson: Doctor John Montague, a parapsychologist, invites characters Theodora and Eleanor, both known for having “ghost” sensitivities to the extremely haunted manor of Hill House to conduct research in parapsychology. Joined by Luke Sanderson, heir to the manor , the four of them experience dreadfully haunting phenomena that will make any reader shiver with terror. 

“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James: James’ book opens with a group of partygoers who get together to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve . . . One of the characters reads the account of a governess taking care of children at a haunted estate. A great ghost story that will put anyone on edge. 

“Bloodchild” by Octavia E. Butler: My short story professor gave the class an excerpt from this novel, and it will forever creep me out. It’s about bug creatures who use humans as hosts for their offspring. It is very graphic . . . only read this if you can handle vivid detail. 

“Beloved” by Toni Morrison: Former slave Sethe and her daughter Denver live in house 124 in Ohio that is haunted by a ghost child. One day while coming home, they are greeted by a woman who goes by the name Beloved who says she knows nothing of her past. Morrison offers a shocking but beautiful haunted story that you will never forget. 

“You” by Caroline Kepnes: It is unfortunate for me to admit this . . . I watched the adaptation before I read the book. But luckily, the book was just as good and even a little bit better. Main character Joe Goldberg is obsessed with a girl, Beck. Joe will do anything for Beck . . . when I say anything I mean anything. This stalker-murderer love story has you hooked from the first lines. 

“In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote: In this novel, Truman Capote tries to render the true story of the Clutter family. Four family members, husband and wife Herbert and Bonnie, and their two kids Nancy and Kenyon were shot in their home in Kansas in November of 1959. This sinister robbery turned homicide is sure to scare, especially with the knowledge that it’s based on real life.  

“The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe: If you are already familiar with the story, reread it. If you have yet to read this short story, please do. This classic work of gothic fiction has you on high alert as you read about a man who is so distraught by a man’s “vulture” looking eye that he murders him. 

“Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales” by Brothers Grimm: Some of the fairy tales we are all too familiar with like “Rapunzel,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Rumpelstiltskin” are more sinister than they appear in the original versions written by the Grimm brothers. These are truly scary, especially if you are unaware of the first renditions. 

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving: Ichabod Crane moves to the strange town of Sleepy Hollow known for its supernatural phenomena where he tries to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel. One night after leaving a party, Ichabod believes he is being followed by the notorious ghost of the Headless Horseman and tries to escape. This is a classic spooky story and is fairly short for those who don’t want to read something long. 

Honorable mentions: “Goosebumps” Series by R. L. Stine and the works of Stephen King. Both of these authors made a dent in horror fiction and have well-deserved fame in the world of spooky books.