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Classics are classics for a reason. Some people say they are classics because they are meant to stand the test of time. While some say that they are classics because they were the firsts of many that were written and marked the beginning of this tradition that is still carried out but has changed over time.

Then some say that classics are classics because they are meant to be more than a source of entertainment and add a meaningful aspect to our lives through storytelling. In that case, how do all these definitions fit together for the classic horror genre? 

Classic Spooky Novels

Does horror also leave an impact just as any other literary fiction? Are spooky ghost stories still written in the same way and with the same intention as they were back in the day? How exactly did these horror stories start the tradition of scary Halloween-themed books written nowadays? Do these questions haunt you too?


1. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft 
Published in 1963
Average Rating - 4.31

Best of H.P. Lovecraft

This anthology is a collection of classic horror stories, one of the most notable works written by H.P. Lovecraft, known for weird fiction and mythopoeia. These collections include some of the most terrifying tales that will give you goosebumps, including the “Call of Cthulu,” where a creature is set loose in the stars who desires to bring menace to all humankind. 

H.P Lovecraft pioneered and thus wrote a lot about cosmic horror, which invariably explores how human beings are insignificant at a cosmic level. He believed in an uncaring, unpredictable universe that no human could control or understand. This is very evident from this collection of spooky stories with added elements of supernatural creatures and science. This can be a perfect Halloween classic read if you like to take your love for horror to a cosmically terrifying level. You can find the book here.

2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier 
Published in August 1938
Average Rating- 4.23

Rebecca

This novel is a women’s horror revenge fiction. The story is about a woman who falls in love with a widower Maxim de Winter and happily marries him, but her happiness is short-lived when they reach his castle. Little does our female protagonist know that the late Mrs. Maxim does not care about being stuck inside the earth in a grave and can make everyone’s life with all her intent. This novel features a woman’s quest for identity and independence of thought. If you like feminist horror fiction with creepy backstories and murders, you would really enjoy this book. You can find the book here.

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Published in 1890
Average Rating - 4.10

The Picture of Dorian Gray

In this beautiful and highly impactful horror novel, a handsomely fashionable man sells his soul to his portrait in return for eternal youth and beauty because he is distraught with the thought that his beauty will fade one day and this useless painting will remain beautiful forever. However, each time he commits something grotesque action or something wicked, his picture turns ugly and uglier than before. It’s a masterpiece that is more of a definition of where natural beauty resides, and it talks invariably about the moral degradation of a human being in cynicism. Nothing scarier than a morally horrifying character, right? You can find the book here.

4. The Willows by Algernon Blackwood 
Published in 1907
Average Rating - 4.10

The Willows

Granting the fact that you must have seen old cartoon movies where the branches of the trees move with their own will and not because of the wind, and now if you imagine it in a more threatening spooky way, this would exactly sum up The Willows.

H.P Lovecraft called this book the best weird tale of all time, and you would bet that it is. It recreates the ideology of human significance and unpredictability that horrifies most people. You can find the book here.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker 
Published in 1897
Average Rating - 4.0

Dracula

The infamous Dracula by Bram Stoker is for the lovers who live for vampires and Victorian horror. It is a story of a vampire who wants to create more of his species within Victorian England, but in the end, he is somehow failed to do so. However, looking beyond the plot, it is so much more than just this story. 

It also explores the fears and fancies of people living in the Victorian world and the disbelief caused by scientific reasoning and blindly having faith in God. It suggests a struggle between modernity and the conflict with science and religion, also making an example of the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest. This story unravels the fearfulness towards a bloodsucking creature and the superstitious belief of people in the wake of scientific development and their horrors. You can find the book here

6. Pet Sematary by Stephen King 
Published in 1983
Average Rating - 4.02

Pet Sematary

This horror story is about a boy named Louis Creed who moves to a different place in the town of Ludlow along with his family. At this new place, to the back of their house, a pathway leads to a pet ‘semetary’ that is somehow close to another Indian graveyard where some wicked things keep happening, and the next we know, Creed’s own cat dies. This book has a hideous story that invariably talks about dark themes, rituals, grief, and guilt. 
You can find the book here.

7. Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley 
Published in 1818
Average Rating - 3.83

Frankenstein

We’re not talking about classic horror stories if we don’t discuss Frankenstein or, more specifically, Frankenstein’s monster. If you haven’t heard of this book yet, it follows a scientist called Victor who wants to create life but not in a conventional way like most people do. So, he digs up graveyards, finds pieces of dead bodies, and puts them all together head to toe in the form of a modern Prometheus, and the dead come alive. 

More than its thrilling premise, what excites most horror lovers is the inspiration that brought this book to life. Mary herself had a bad experience with creating life as she gave birth to still babies; recent scientific developments back in the day inspired her to think of a way to bring her dead children to life. Another interpretation of this book is that it talks about the horrors of scientific development and how someone who dared to do something passionately ruined so many lives and his own mental state. This book is not just an inspiration to any horror story but also reflects human fears during the Victorian age just the same. No wonder it is a classic! You can find the book here.

8. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 
Published in 1886
Average Rating - 3.83

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Another most fantastic classic horror story of all time. This story is about the conflict between good and evil within the persona of a man that leaves him often into inner turmoil between what he wants to do and what he should do. It is about a lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who notices strange things between his friend Dr. Jekyll and the evil Hyde. It describes the Freudian theory much before it was published about the psychoanalytical behaviors of people and their instincts. It’s a classic horror story that will keep you at the edge of your seat at all times. 
You can find the book here.

9. The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill 
Published in 1983
Average Rating - 3.73

The Woman in Black

Arthur Kripps is an up-and-coming solicitor who is told to visit a remote village in the English Moore and attend a funeral to settle the problems faced by a client. In his stay, he experiences many creepy things, and a woman in black in particular. It’s a perfect combination of a spooky atmosphere with blood-chilling narration and scenes. It takes a feministic approach of ensuing terror and fear in the reader's hearts, seeking revenge and angered by the ways of the society. 
You can find the book here.

10. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Published in 1764
Average Rating - 3.19

The Castle of Otranto

Here’s to the book that made haunted houses a thing. Prince of Ontranto is looking forward to marrying off his son, Conrad because the family name must continue, but then a spirit appears and tells them that the family name would not continue. So naturally, strange things occur, and because of the desire for the undoing of fate, the end usually happens with the victory of the prophecy over the defeat of the humans. If you like witchcraft with a twist of yearning prevalent in the romantic period, this would be a perfect classic Halloween fit for you! 
You can find the book here.

Conclusion -
As a classic literature lover, I feel that horror escalates to an extra level of fear, paranoia, grief, and passion when we talk about classics, adding contexts behind the horrifying texts we read and shake beneath. Nevertheless, the above-listed books are spine-chilling, best scary classic books widely and deeply loved by many, not just ghost story lovers.


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