When the thirteenth day of the month happens to fall on a Friday (as it will on June 13th, 2014; the only occurrence this year), it’s considered to be an unlucky day. In fact, Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management and Phobia Center, estimates that fear of Friday the 13th costs businesses upwards of $800 million dollars.
- Interview With The Vampire was Anne Rice’s debut novel. Published in 1976, it tells the story of sensitive vampire Louis and his bad-boy counterpart, Lestat. (If you really want to be scared, know that the 1994 movie starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise premiered 20 years ago.)
- Shirley Jackson (who also wrote the famous story “The Lottery”) penned the quintessential haunted house story in 1959 with The Haunting of Hill House.
- Though it’s difficult to pick just one of his fifty (fifty!) books, Stephen King’s The Shining is a classic tale of madness and addiction that’s just as scary today as it was in 1977. King recently published a sequel entitled Doctor Sleep.
- Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, written when she was just 18, was inspired by a dream and written as part of a horror story contest between herself, her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the rakish poet Lord Byron. It’s fair to say she won.
- Neil Gaiman is better known as a fantasy author, but his story “A Study in Emerald” is a wonderfully creepy Lovecraftian twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes tale. Best of all, you can read it free on his website!
- John Dies at the End was originally published as a web serial by David Wong (who would later become the managing editor of humor site Cracked.com). It’s a funny, weird, scary book—and not necessarily in that order.
- Although not as well known as some of the other writers on this list, Kelly Link has been making a name for herself with her finely crafted stories that walk the line between fantasy, horror, and just plain weird. Her story “The Specialist’s Hat” is available to read on her website.
- Henry James’ short novel The Turn of the Screw is a classic of Victorian horror. Although it has been imitated and adapted many times, it’s one of the greatest tales of terror, madness, and spooky little kids ever.
- No list of scary stories would be complete without Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It wasn’t the first vampire story (and it certainly wasn’t the last), but the supernatural lore in Stoker’s 1897 classic has become horror canon.
- Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is perhaps more sad and sinister than scary, but there are certainly elements of horror in his coming-of-age tale.
- Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez collaborated to bring the horror graphic novel Locke & Key into the light of day. Incidentally, Hill has horror in his blood; he’s the son of Stephen King and a well-respected writer in his own right.
- Edgar Allen Poe was perhaps the greatest master of the macabre. His work is steeped in horror, and “The Masque of the Red Death” is one of his best.
- HP Lovecraft is enjoying something of a career renaissance—more than 75 years after his untimely death. “The Call of Cthulhu” is one of his most famous (and readable) stories.
- Sometimes the scariest monsters are people. Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lector has inspired multiple novels, films, and a hit TV series. Check out The Silence of the Lambs for the best of the bunch.
What’s your favorite scary story? Share it below in the comments!