Reading list

6 collections of ghost stories that will haunt you

There’s nothing like a good ghost story. So, for those of you on the lookout for a truly haunting read, we've rounded up a few of our favourites...

 

Classic Ghost Stories

A Vintage Classics anthology

Do you believe in ghosts? Not monsters, not floating objects or unexplained coincidences, but an actual presence – a flicker in the corner of the eye, a shadow in a darkened hallway, a hand pressed against the window, or a figure at the end of the bed? The great writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, from Elizabeth Gaskell to Rudyard Kipling, seemed to, as they also produced some of the most influential ghost stories ever written. Collected here are some of the most iconic of these Victorian ghost stories, from Charles Dickens's 'The Signalman' to M.R. James's 'A Warning to the Curious', alongside more unexpected contributions from masters of the form such as J.S. Le Fanu and H.G. Wells.

 

Ghost Stories

E. F. Benson, selected and introduced by Mark Gatiss

When it comes to this book, Gatiss says it all in his introduction: 'I love these stories, not only for their grace and easy style, but because they show the incredible range of Benson’s taste; by turns sly, hilarious, horrifying and strange. It’s easy to imagine Benson in the garden of Lamb House, Rye, smiling to himself in the summer sunshine, his nib scratching away as he took his imagination spiralling down ever murkier avenues. ‘The Room in the Tower’ is properly creepy and ‘The Bus-Conductor’ has assumed almost the status of an urban legend thanks to its inclusion in the legendary Ealing portmanteau film Dead of Night.'

 

Ghostly

Audrey Niffenegger

This beautiful book contains stories selected, introduced and illustrated by Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife. There are haunted houses, spectral chills, and of course, the odd cat… Scare yourself silly with old favourites by Edgar Allan Poe and M. R. James. Entertain the unnerving with tales from Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and Audrey Niffenegger herself. And as bedtime nears, allay your fears with funny new writing from Amy Giacalone and the classic wit of Saki.

 

The Turn of the Screw and Other Stories

Henry James

Henry James's novella is unmatched in its eeriness. Based on a story he was once told by Edward White Benson, the Archbishop of Canterbury, it tells the tale of a governess who takes up a post looking after brother and sister, Miles and Flora, in a country house. The governess narrates the story and describes how the ghosts of two previous employees who worked at the house seem to haunt the children, and to want something from them. Only after the First World War did readers start to question the reliability of the governess...

 

The Mist in the Mirror

Susan Hill

Orphaned at the age of five and sent away from England to Africa, Sir James Monmouth has spent most of his life travelling, following the footsteps of his childhood hero, the explorer Conrad Vane. He returns to England one dark and rainy night with the intention of discovering more, not just about himself, but the early life of the explorer. Warned against travelling this path, Sir James becomes yet more determined to unravel the mysteries of the past – but who is the mysterious little boy who haunts his every step? And why can only he hear chilling screams and desperate sobbing?

 

Ghost Stories

M. R. James

M. R. James wrote his ghost stories to entertain friends on Christmas Eve, and they went on to both transform and modernise a genre. James harnesses the power of suggestion to move from a recognisable world to one that is at first indefinably strange, and then unforgettably terrifying. Sheets, pictures, carvings, a dolls house, a lonely beach, a branch tapping on a window - ordinary things take on more than a hint of dread in the hands of the original master of suspense.

 

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