Horror, Top Ten

Kayla’s Top Ten Tuesday: Top Classic Horror Stories

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a “Halloween freebie,” so I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favorite classic horror novels.

10. Frankenstein

Why is this so low on the list? Honestly, because I don’t consider it scary in the traditional sense. Sure, Victor’s obsessive behavior and desire to play God is super unsettling, but parallel that with the creature’s innocence and love of humanity and you have a truly complex read. It’s less a horror novel and more a philosophical study of what it means to be human.

9. Dracula

You probably already know that I’m not a huge Dracula fan. It breaks my whole “no random cowboys” rule, but I have to admit that Dracula is a character who has withstood the test of time. Also, Mina is an awesome female lead written in a time when female leads were not typically allowed to be awesome.

8. Carmilla

So, here’s to the original vampire queen. If you haven’t read this one, it’s really short, appropriately creepy, and perfect for a Halloween fright.

7. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Okay, so this is not really a “horror” novel. It’s actually the first detective story, but it does have some spooky elements. Also, Audible has released a version narrated by Richard Armitage, and it is amazing. It’s a great listen if you have some free time this Halloween season.

6. The Phantom of the Opera

This one is not terribly similar to the musical, which I love, but read on it’s on, it has some pretty spooky elements. Like many books on this list, it’s short, so you can finish it in time to hit some high notes for Halloween.

5. Interview with the Vampire

This is the book that started the new vampire craze for a reason. It’s not really scary, but it is disturbing. Claudia is such a tragic character.

4. Northanger Abbey

I know what you’re thinking: “What is Jane Austen doing on a list of horror novels?” You’ve every right to question my decision, but it’s my list and Austen’s satire of popular gothic novels of the time is my absolute favorite of her works. She does create an atmosphere of suspense from the start, but she also delivers the laughs in this one.

If you want to get into the spirit of the season but don’t like being scared, this is the book for you!

3. The Turn of the Screw

Do you realize that there have been TWO absolutely amazing film adaptations of this novel just this year? That’s right one is that movie with the kid from Stranger Things and the other is the fabulous Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Okay, I’ve obviously only seen one of the adaptations, but I’ve heard the other is good, too. If you don’t have time for the full series, the novel is short and creepy–and you can convince yourself that the ghosts are all in the protagonist’s head.

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?

Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.

Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?

Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!

That quote is really all you need to know to understand how creepy this novel is, and the twist is absolutely phenomenal. I had to really war with myself over my number one choice here, and I’m still not sure that We Have Always Lived in the Castle does not belong in first place.

1. The Haunting of Hill House

This is it! This is the winner. It’s a brilliant combination of gothic horror and absolute supernatural terror. If you haven’t read it, pick it up. You won’t be able to put it down until it’s over.

What do you think of my list? Any other books you’d like to recommend?


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