7 Classic Horror Books

by | Oct 27, 2022

With the spooky season upon us, it’s time to reference some of the class horror books. Whether the author dreamed up their story in the 1800s or recently, a good spooky story takes time and commitment to write.

From Frankenstein in 1818 to Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked Comes This Way over a century later, horror books share a commonality—they put you on the edge of your seat in anticipation and cause you to glance over your shoulder as you turn the page.

In this article, we discuss some of the classic horror books, and while this list is by no way exhaustive, it will likely put you in the mood for a hot cup of cider, a warm fire, and a chilling story. Which of the following titles put you on the edge of your seat?

Let’s start with Dracula, a classic not soon to be forgotten.

Dracula, Bram Stoker, 1897

Bram Stoker is credited with creating one of the masterpieces of the genre, going all the way to vampires and vampire hunters. Imagine yourself as the protagonist, Jonathan Harker, journeying to Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a house in London.

Sounds like an easy beginning, however, when Jonathan discovers he’s not working with a normal client, his life takes a massive turn. Take your imagination to England an experience the following events through the pages of this story:

A shipwreck off the coast of Whitby
A young woman with strange puncture marks on her neck
An inmate going on the Master and his soon arrival

Since its original publication in 1897, Dracula has grabbed readers and kept them turning pages.

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, 1818

Author Mary Shelley held many positions:

English novelist
Short story writer
Dramatist and essayist,
Biographer and travel writer

However, she also edited the works of Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was her husband. In addition, her father was a political philosopher and mother was a writer, philosopher, and feminist.

With this background in mind, enter Frankenstein, the story of a creative scientist whose ingenuity actually created a monster.

The Shining, Stephen King

Leave it to Stephen King to bring in the fall season with a shiver. In his classic horror, The Shining, his protagonist, Jack Torrance, takes a new job at the Overlook Hotel. He sees his job as a great chance at a new beginning, however, things take a sinister turn.

Jack wants to reconnect with his family, write, and simply work his job as the hotel’s off-season caretaker. The winter season comes, locking Jack into his job and his environment, as well as into proximity with Danny Torrance, the very uniquely gifted five-year-old.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

If you’re a schoolteacher eager for the Christmas holidays, you may realize your day-to-day is less stressful than you think after reading Irving’s classic horror story. Ichabod Crane is Washington Irving’s protagonist of choice, a simple Yankee teacher living in Sleepy Hollow on the Hudson River.

However, Ichabod is not just a teacher, but he is a sponge who soaked up the ghost stories and tales he learns about. When he discovers the tale of the headless horseman, he never dreams he’ll meet a ghosty, headless horseman on his way home one night.

Unfortunately for Ichabod, the headless horseman pursues him, throws something at his head, and the Yankee teacher…well you’ll have to read it yourself if you don’t know the ending. Just be glad you don’t teach in Sleepy Hollow, on the Hudson, with a headless horseman prowling around.

The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

It’s the 1880s, in Paris, France. You enter the Palais Garnier Opera House, knowing it is believed to be haunted. However, on this one, the Opera’s lead soprano is sick, and a young woman steps up to take her place. Her name is Christine, and her life is about to change.

Successfully filling in for the lead singer, another audience member happens to recognize her. His name is Vicomte Raoul, and Christine and Vicomte used to share a childhood together. Vicomte was also Christine’s childhood love.

This seems like a happy ending, but it happens that the Phantom is also part of the Palais Garnier Opera House, and he and Vicomte enter into a battle for her heart.

Something Wicked Comes This Way, Ray Bradbury

If you want a timeless American classic, Ray Bradbury’s well-known and popular novel can be one of your top choices. Not only is it loved by readers, but it has influenced both culture and genre over the years.

Halloween comes a week too soon, courtesy of a carnival who enters sometime after midnight, at dark. Follow the experience of two young friends who encounter all the spooky adventures:

Promises of dreams
Mazes and mirrors
What some wishes cost
Nightmares come alive

Noted as an unparalleled literary masterpiece, Ray Bradbury wrote a timeless classic that readers will go to year after year.

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

Vampires might be fun in books and movies, but what happens when they enter real life?

Richard Matheson’s New York Times bestseller is the story of the last person alive on earth. His name is Robert Neville, and as the last man living, you’d think he’d be lonely. Unfortunately, he is not on Earth alone.

In fact, the humans left have turned into vampires. Whether a man, woman, or even a child, these humans-turned-vampires are after Neville.

When the sun rises, he enters the abandoned city hunting vampires. When the sun sets, he hides alone, hoping he’ll live to see another sunrise.

With the world in ruins, humans vampires, and on his own, Richard must learn to survive with the vampires. If he doesn’t he will enter a living death and become one of them.

What’s Your Go-To Horror Story?

Do you prefer reading classic horror books or writing the horror story you want to read? Sometimes it’s preferable to simply choose a novel that has been read and studied for years, and enjoy someone else’s scary story.

Other times, it might be more fun to write your own. If you want to write a horror story or short story, draw inspiration from the examples above and the articles linked below.

Many of the stories started with an ordinary person but transition into extraordinary events. Singing at an event is a standard experience for some, but having your heart fought over by a Phantom is not.

Teaching school is a job many people work every day, hours a day, as they equip the next generation and prepare them to lead our world. Being followed by a headless horseman is not normal, to say the least.

As you consider writing your own horror story, try pairing the normal with the abnormal, the every day with the unique, and the ordinary with the extraordinary. Just as the above stories show, this simple matching exercise can create classics that stand the test of time.

You never know what you might dream up, or how it may impact your future readers. Who knows, you may even write the next bestseller!

To get started on your own horror book, check out this resource from our friends at Self-Publishing School.

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