There’s nothing I love more than classics and autumn, and one way to easily combine the two is to read deliciously creepy old(ish) tales of horror. Sharing is caring, so I’ve compiled a list of my favourite classics from various eras that sent shivers down my spine when I read them. If you want to read something a little scary but don’t really know where to look for, I hope this article will help you.
Matthew G. Lewis, The Monk
How can I mention spooky books without talking about the most Gothic of all Gothic novels? Ambrosio is a monk who will go one step too far to experience carnal pleasure with a woman, and this will lead him into a dark spiral of sins and frankly shocking actions. As any good gothic novel, you also have the ghost of a bleeding nun and two lovers who try to escape this oddly corrupted Catholic society. It’s an awful story, that is still very much shocking today I think, but it’s very entertaining and Lewis intertwines narratives in a masterful way.
Edgar Allan Poe, Collected Works
The master of the horrific tale himself, obviously. There is something about Poe’s short stories that just doesn’t get old. You can read them times and times again and you’ll still get that anxious and uncomfortable feeling. My favourites are ‘The Black Cat’ and ‘William Wilson’.
Prosper Mérimée, ‘La Vénus d’Ille’
This short story is about a beautiful statue that comes to life with murderous tendencies. I don’t know if it has been translated, but I think it should as it’s a great story and the author is an important historical figure, when it comes to the preservation of architecture.
Vernon Lee, Hauntings and Other Fantastic Tales
If you like ghosts but are not necessarily into not sleeping at night, I think this is the one for you. This collection of short stories is all about ghosts, but in a more poetic and literary way. The idea is not necessarily to be scared, but to reflect on art and its impressions on the body in the most beautiful way. My favourite from this collection is ‘Wicked Voice’ because it features the ghost of a voice, rather than that of an actual being. It’s mostly an occasion for Lee to think about music, and it’s very interesting
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
To me, this is the scariest book on this list and I still don’t know what to think about it. What I know for sure is that I couldn’t fall asleep after reading this because, like a true horror story, the boundary between the imaginary and the rational would blur. I haven’t seen the Netflix adaptation because I’m afraid it might be as scary as the book!
What is your favourite spooky classic work of fiction? I would love to get some recommendations. Happy reading!