Paper, Print & Pixels

Books and Publishing in the Digital Age

3 Scary Short Stories to Read Before Halloween

Halloween is less than two weeks away, and it’s the perfect time to delve into haunting and exhilarating short stories. A good scary story begins with a sense of ease that is quickly threatened by an ominous and looming force. Whether that presence is mystical, supernatural, or far too real, the effect it has on the reader should satisfy that urge to be spooked just enough to consider sleeping with the lights on.

Here are three classic short stories that excel at building suspense and delivering chills all the way through to the last sentence. Be warned: these tales will stay with you long after you read them.

“The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

“The Monkey’s Paw” focuses on a family who receives a magical monkey’s paw that is capable of granting three wishes. This supernatural thriller explores the dangerous misfortunes that accompany fulfilled wishes. Published in 1902, this chilling tale continues to spawn numerous adaptations and variations where the plots are centered around wishes that go horribly wrong. One of my favorite parodies of this tale appears in The Simpsons “Treehouse of Terror II” third season episode.

Click here to read “The Monkey’s Paw.”

“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

In this story, Joyce Carol Oates introduces readers to a pretty teenage girl who spends her summer day dreaming about boys and arguing over little matters with her mother. Her world is interrupted when she attracts the attentions an older, charismatic stranger. It’s a story that illustrates how a stranger can be more terrifying than any supernatural being or gory monster. The fact that this story was inspired by true events makes it one of the most frightening short stories I have ever read.

Click here to read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

“The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe

This Edgar Allan Poe tale focuses on Prince Prospero’s masquerade ball thrown in his private estate while the country experiences the Red Death plague. A cloaked and mysterious figure appears at the party and disrupts the festivities. The idea that a threat which looms outside has forced its way into the safety of one’s home is a fearful concept.

Click here to read “The Masque of the Red Death.”

Sources: “The Monkey’s Paw” cover via “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” cover via and “The Masque of the Red Death” cover via 


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This entry was posted on October 22, 2014 by in Books, Short Stories and tagged , , , .


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