Dracula by Bram Stoker
No more Twilight. Stoker’s novel defined the classic vampire, epitomizing Gothic horror and solidifying the character as one of the most iconic horror icons for years to come. The novel is written in epistolary format as a series of letters and diary entrees among other things, and follows Dracula’s move from Transylvania to England and his confrontations with Professor Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker. You’ve seen Nosferatu, but Stoker’s vision kicked it all off.
The Doll by J.C. Martin
Dolls are creepy, plain and simple, and 30 pages of them is more than adequate. Martin writes about a young girl’s encounter with a cursed doll on trip to Mexico, one that later concerns her mother after she begins developing a peculiar set of worrisome mannerisms tied to the doll’s dark history. Though it falters grammatically at times, it’s well-paced and eerily captivating.
The Basement by Chad P. Brown
The Basement may only be a mere 13 pages long, but its short length does little to hinder one of Brown’s first forays into writing. It opens with young girl named Heather who enters a supposed haunted house on a dare, only to find the ghost of her deceased mother haunting her on the inside. It’s fairly well-written and straightforward, though predictable, with suspense that plays upon common fears we all know in loathe. However, don’t expect any character development.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Shelley wrote and published Frankenstein by the time she turned 21. That’s a remarkable feat by any standard, especially given the lasting impression the novel had on the world of sci-fi, horror and countless other genres. It’s centered around scientist Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates in his laboratory, along with the repercussions of abandoning the grotesque life he created.
The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
Although only the first four tales in Chamber’s classic novel fall under the “horror,” they do so with macabre zest. The King in Yellow refers to a forbidden play that’s interwoven within the short stories from which madness and corruption befall upon its readers. Two of the stories take place in 1920’s America, two in Paris, but all four focus on self-indulgent artists with their own shortcomings. Chambers’ seminal work and vague, evocative prose likely spurred H.P. Lovecraft and others.
The Survivors: Book One (Life After War) by Angela White
White knows post-apocalyptic dystopia is rarely anything other than dark and bleak. Her novel follows a cast of characters struggling to survive a world burdened by nuclear fallout and awash with sickness and mutative disease. Additional supernatural and fantasy elements trickle in, but they only serve second to the core survival story. It’s also graphic, potentially racist, and filled with characters short on morals.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Mad scientists were one of the catapults of the horror genre, so it’s not surprising Stevenson’s tale about a deranged doctor with split personalities, one good and one evil, made our list. It’s a psychological fantasy of sorts, culled from the modern theories of evolution and class at the time, and burgeoning with examinations of the duality of human nature and insights regarding Victorian-era culture. Still, many argue and provide merit that Dr. Jekyll is more multifaceted than most make him out to be and to say he has a dual personality is overly simplistic. Oy vey.
The Monk: A Romance by M.G. Lewis
“Scandalous” and “obscene” were two words commonly spurred by Lewis’ lurid story of a villainous priest succumbing to sexual temptations and overly-violent impulses. Like numerous Gothic works of the time, it deals with how even the most moral of characters can be corrupted — in this case a priest who has sex with a young girl disguised as a boy and further delves into other sensational acts of sorcery, incest, torture, murder, and deceit. It’s erotic, but not in a 50 Shades of Grey kind of way.
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