Short Horror

Looking for a scary story? Try the short version. Less words; more potential scares per sentence.
Those of us drawn to Horror as a genre tend to revel in its usually dark atmospheric setting, visceral tone, otherwordly characters, and its prevailing thrill of the Unknown.
Some would say that our culture's increasing predilection for fantasy, and specifically its craving for Horror, is a way to sublimate our ever-present real world anxiety. In other words, fearing the Unknown in stories is safer than truly admitting our perpetual fear of the actual unknown all around us.

Boo.


Compiled by:
Brandon R.
Alone with the horrors : the great short fiction of Ramsey Campbell, 1961-1991

Ramsey Campbell
Adult Fiction - Ca

This anthology collects over thirty years of short writing by this multi-award winning fantasy author, as well as some of his thoughts about the stories in retrospect. Includes his British Fantasy Award winner "In the Bag" and the World Fantasy Award winning "The Chimney" and "Mackintosh Willy".


Best of Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale
Adult Fiction - Lansdal

This ridiculously prolific Texas author blends the genres of the horror, western, mystery, crime, horror, and ironic comedy. Most of his nine Bram Stoker Award winning stories are in here. You may have seen the movie versions of his Bubba Ho-Tep or the more recent dark crime drama Cold in July.


Collected ghost stories

M. R. James
Adult Fiction - James

Montague Rhodes James is an early 20th century British author who redefined the ghost story of his time to bring more realism to its traditional gothic elements. These "antiquarian" ghost stories are probably thought of as old and dusty by some now, but they paved the way for many imitators. "Casting the Runes", "The Tractate Middoth", and "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" have been adapted to film, television, and radio multiple times.


The complete tales & poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
Adult Non-Fiction 813.3 Poe

This tomb (pun intended) has everything by this famous author. If you have not read any of his short stories, try "The Tell-Tale Heart". Or "The Pit and the Pendulum". Or just pick one at random. My personal favorite is "The Cask of Amontillado".


Dracula's guest : a connoisseur's collection of Victorian vampire stories
Adult Fiction - Dracula

Get your old timey vampire stories right here. No sparkly teenagers or automobile driving blood suckers here. Apparently Victorian England was even more into vampires than we are today. The book includes stories like LeFanu's Carmilla (possibly the first female vampire story), Poe's "The Oval Portrait", and even a chapter left out of Bram Stoker's Dracula.


Great tales of terror and the supernatural
Adult Fiction - Great

If you are looking for more of an international, classical literary focus on the horror story, this Modern Library collection covers a great gamut of 52 stories. First published in 1944 and it's still in print. This is a great place to start if you've never read anything in the genre before.


Haunted : a novel of stories

Chuck Palahniuk
Adult Fiction - Palahni

I am kind of cheating with this one, since it is intended as a cohesive work (hence the subtitle). Yet, this "novel", from the author of Fight Club, consists of 23 interconnected stories by characters who are all heading to a writer's retreat they've seen in a newspaper ad. And bad. stuff. happens.


Haunted Indiana

Mark Marrmen
Indiana Room - 398.208 Mar

If you're looking for something spooky that's a little more close to home, this series of books found in our Indiana Room tells tales specific to our own state.


The living dead

John Joseph Adams
Adult Fiction - Living

Zombies. All the stories are about zombies. Hold onto your brains.


The lottery

Shirley Jackson
Adult Fiction - Jackson

If you didn't have to read this horrific story of mob mentality in school and think "Why would they allow us to read this?", check it out now. Also includes other unusual (but not necessaily horror) stories by the author.


My work is not yet done : three tales of corporate horror

Thomas Ligotti
Adult Fiction - Li

This author has an interesting take on the horror story that veers into a kind of black surrealism that deftly subtitutes any expected gore or violence with a stifling atmosphere of existential, Kafkaesque office dread. Includes three long-ish short stories including the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild Award winning "My Work Is Not Yet Done".


Peaceable Kingdom

Jack Ketchum
Adult Fiction - Ketchum

Author Dallas Mayr (Ketchum is his horror pseudonym) was formerly a literary agent to Henry Miller and a student of author Robert Bloch (author of Psycho). His stories are often lumped into a peer group of writers labeled as "splatterpunk" (Poppy Z. Brite and early Clive Barker among them), which basically just means that the stories tend to be comparatively MUCH more graphic, gruesome, or gorey than others. Includes a couple of his Bram Stoker Award winners ("Gone" and "The Box").


Scary stories to tell in the dark

Alvin Schwartz
Juvenile Non-Fiction - J 398.208

This classic collection is written for younger readers, but that doesn't mean the stories are any less scary. If you were in grade school after 1980, it was more than likely stolen, hidden, or banned in your school library. See also the second and third collections.


Searchers after horror : new tales of the weird and fantastic
Adult Fiction - Searche

S.T. Joshi (who grew up in Muncie) is an H.P. Lovecraft scholar, critic, and long-time editor of countless weird tale compilations like this one. This one, released in 2014, is filled with new authors whose stories are all set around the idea of "the weird place".


Skeleton Crew

Stephen King
Adult Fiction - King

My first question when I started this was: 'Which Stephen King book do I put on this list?' Night Shift was his first short collection and is probably the one I should have chosen, but this one has "The Mist" (which happens to be my favorite short/novella of his). Though, Nightmares & Dreamscapes is pretty good too, as well as the several collections of four novellas (Different Seasons; Four Past Midnight; Full Dark, No Stars; Just After Sunset, etc.) I'm probably forgetting something, but check that out too. BECAUSE IT'S STEPHEN KING, DUH.


Tales

H. P. Lovecraft
Adult Fiction - Lovecra

Edgar Allan Poe (see below) may have been the 'master of the macabre', but Lovecraft was its prince (a personal favorite author growing up). You can find the most complete collection of his stories in this Library of America edition, but we have a variety of collections like these. "The Shadow over Innsmouth" might be my favorite, but "The Call of Cthulhu" and "Pickman's Model" come close too.


Where the summer ends : The best horror stories of Karl Edward Wagner

Karl Edward Wagner
Adult Fiction - Wagner

This editor of The Year's Best Horror Stories anthologies, better known for his Kane stories set in Robert E. Howard's Conan universe, also wrote horror short stories during his lifetime. This collects many of Wagner's stories from the 1970s and 80s that are mainly set in the rural South. The author gave up on his chosen career as a psychologist to write, which often comes across in his bitter view of the medical profession in stories like "The Fourth Seal".


The White People and other weird stories

Arthur Machen
Adult Fiction - Machen

The title story is considered a classic of supernatural literature and the author is sometimes referred to as the "Father of weird fiction", influencing everyone from H.P. Lovecraft to Laird Barron to Guillermo Del Toro (the last of which provides a written forward to this collection).