14 Spooky Halloween Reads on Shmoop

‘Tis the season of the ultimate heart-thumping adrenaline rush. Ghost stories, haunted houses, Children of the Corn. We’ve got the literary epinephrine that will make this a most memorable Halloween.

Shmoop Biography

Edgar Allan Poe
This Halloween, take the time to meet the madness behind the method: the drugs, the alcohol, the womanizing, and the mental instability behind one of the greatest scary-story tellers of all time. On a much creepier note, Poe also had Jerry Lee Lewis beat by about a century when he married his 13-year old cousin, Virgina, at the age of 27.

Shmoop Literature

The classic tale of Count Dracula is so tattooed on our culture (see: Sesame Street) that we sometimes forget to, you know, actually read the thing. We even forget that the tale draws on folklore about a wealthy count whose greed symbolically sucked the life force out of the peasant class. Horror story and social commentary all in one? Delicious.

You know that pale green, square-headed, blood-drooling, zombie-like monster you always see at Halloween? Well, his name isn’t Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein is actually the brilliant Swiss scientist who creates the creepy creature. But when you read the book, ask yourself: who is the real monster?

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The classic tale of a well-respected man who, upon drinking a strange brew in the evening, turns into a different person and goes crazy all night.

The Turn of the Screw
If you’re a fan of The Shining, The Omen, Children of the Corn, The Sixth Sense, or The Others, you’ll be glad to know that this story gave rise to the Creepy Children genre. Published in 1898, it tells about a nanny who may be the victim of a haunting. Or, she might be a deranged murderer. OR, the kids might just be two royal pains in the ass. You decide.

The Tell-Tale Heart
Edgar Allan Poe could spin a scary story like nobody’s business. This tale is a psychological masterpiece about the meticulous process of killing an old man.

The Red Room
The Gothic counterpart to Cream’s “The White Room,” only with more ghosts and fewer lava lamps.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
If you think the photo albums tucked away in your attic are incriminating, get a load of this guy. Dorian Gray sells his soul to Satan so that over time, his portrait ages while he remains young and beautiful and oh-so very wicked. In a very Voldemort-ey turn of events, however, he discovers that if you put your life force into an object, you might want to keep an eye on it.

Shmoop Poetry

“The Raven”
The classic tale of a lonely man whose imagination runs wild when a raven flies into his house. (Quoth the reader: Shut the door!!)

“Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
Speaking of birds that will scare the crap out of you, the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a complicated poem about a sailor that endures the wrath of the sea by shooting his ship’s good-luck albatross. Time to re-think that B.B. gun.

“My Last Duchess”
Buckle up for a wild ride as this unnamed Duke shows you the portrait of his former Duchess, who got the axe – probably literally – for “smiling” too much. And you thought modern art was scary.

“Porphyria’s Lover”
Here’s another one for the ladies. This poem is about a man who strangles his lover with her own hair and then spends the night admiring her corpse. The fact that it is written in the first person gives it that extra something, so be sure to read it to your friends.

Shmoop Bestsellers

The first in the hit series of about high school, first love, and… vampirism? Upon arriving at a new school, Bella Swan meets the mysterious Edward Cullen, who’s gorgeous, freakishly strong, and happens to be a vampire. A forbidden (and logistically-problematic) relationship ensues. Think Romeo and Juliet, except one of them’s already dead and drinks blood.

New Moon
In Book Two of the Twilight series, Edward mysteriously dumps Bella, leaving us to agonize over the will-he’s and won’t-she’s of what could be called teen love (if it weren’t for the fact that Edward is a century old).

What’s on your list? Add your suggestions below in the comments.

8 thoughts on “14 Spooky Halloween Reads on Shmoop

  1. Babette says:

    Ah, come on, you can do better than Twilight! The Historian by Kostova will not let you go after the first five pages–and you’ll read parts with lights on as well as learn some good history/folklore about the real Vlad and vampires. It’s outstanding.

    Want a lighter vamp book? Try Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. It actually has plot, character development, and a female protagonist that can say and do something besides comment on how gorgeous the vampire is.

    Last of my strong opinions, The Black Cat by Poe is one of the most overlooked scary stories around.

    BabetteR, The Passionate Librarian

  2. Zella says:

    This is a pretty neat list. (I would also recommend Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and her extra-creepy short story “The Lottery,” but you made my day when I saw Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde., and “The Raven”. Well, mentioning Poe in general made me happy.)

    I am a huge fan of classic literature, and I love this website. In fact, I have a blog dedicated to the joys of reading, and I would love to attach a link to this website on one of my blog posts for Halloween. Would that be OK? If not, I understand.

    P.S. I saw where you guys are looking for writers. In several years, after I finish school, I will definitely be sending Shmoop a resume. 🙂

  3. What about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?

    As for best sellers, you can’t go wrong with Stephen King. IT has got to be responsible for a whole lot of peoples’ fear of clowns.

  4. Gloria says:

    A very short tale that can be read aloud is “One Summer Night” by Ambrose Bierce. Even better choices are “The Boarded Window” or “The Man and the Snake” from his In the Midst of Life collection of short stories.

  5. KELLI2L says:

    I have linked SHMOOP to my Facebook wall so others can experience it. I really enjoy these comment areas and the Shmoop responses; thanks. . . .

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