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8 classic tales to read this Halloween

Tales of the uncanny, the sublime and the supernatural. From Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson, here are 8 unnerving classic reads to enjoy this Halloween


 

The Trial

Franz Kafka

A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life - including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door - becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.

Melmoth the Wanderer

Charles Maturin

'My hour is come ... the clock of eternity is about to strike, but its knell must be unheard by mortal ears!'

This violent, profound, baroque and blackly humorous novel is the story of Melmoth, who has sold his soul in exchange for immortality in a satanic bargain, and now preys on the helpless in their darkest moments, offering to ease their suffering if they will take his place and release him from his centuries of tortured wanderings. Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) blended Gothic fiction and psychological realism to create a work of hallucinatory power.

 

Dark Tales

Shirley Jackson

There's something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the crumbling country pile, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods...

 

Seven Gothic Tales

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

Proclaimed a masterpiece on its publication in 1934, this collection is shot through with themes of love and desire - from the maiden lady who now believes herself to have been the grand courtesan of her time, to the Count whose wife is so jealous that she cannot bear him to admire her jewels, and Lincoln Forsner, an Englishman whose search for a woman he met in a brothel leads him into many strange adventures.

The Woman in White

Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White combines Gothic horror with psychological realism.

 

The Call of Cthulu

H. P. Lovecraft

Between these pages you will find things that lurk, things that scurry in the walls, things that move unseen, things that have learnt to walk that ought to crawl, unfathomable blackness, unconquerable evil, inhuman impulses, abnormal bodies, ancient rites, nameless lands best left undiscovered, thoughts best left unspoken, doors best left closed, names best forgotten. You have been warned.

 

The Murders in the Rue Morgue and Other Tales

Edgar Allan Poe

'... an agility astounding, a strength superhuman, a ferocity brutal, a butchery without motive, a grotesquerie in horror absolutely alien from humanity...'

Horror, madness, violence and the dark forces hidden in humanity abound in this collection of Poe's brilliant tales, including - among others - the bloody, brutal and baffling murder of a mother and daughter in Paris in 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue', the creeping insanity of 'The Tell-Tale Heart', the Gothic nightmare of 'The Masque of the Red Death', and the terrible doom of 'The Fall of the House of Usher'.

 

The Turn of the Screw

Henry James

The Turn of the Screw tells the story of a young governess, who arrives at Bly, a country home in Essex, England, to care for Miles and Flora, two precocious and pure children. But as ghostly visions take shape, the obsessively protective governess soon fears for the safety of her wards—only to wonder if these hauntings are a conjuring of her own imagination.

 

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