Inspired by a list of the “Top 10 Horror Stories” by Stephen Jones, editor of a new anthology of horror tales A Book of Horrors (which popped up today in my Twitter feed), I decided to whip up my own batch of terror, the “Frightening Five for Friday.” Today, my five favorite terrifying tales, some for kids, some not. Either way, danger lies ahead.
(#5) “Godfather Death” by the Brothers Grimm: When I was about 10 years old, one of my aunts sent me a book that claimed to compile “the best of children’s literature” (quite grandiose, no?). One of the stories in this book was “Godfather Death,” the lone illustration a snuffed candle. I won’t give too much away about this story, but I will tell you that Godfather Death is none other than the good old Grim Reaper through the eyes of the Grimms – and he is terrifying.
(#4) “Summer of ’77” by Stuart O’Nan: This very brief tale is one of the creepiest, most cringe-worthy stories I have ever read in my entire life. The story is scarring, one of those tales that digs its claws into you … Why would that guy do that? Can you imagine? Oh, please don’t do that… (The summer of ’77, incidentally, is the summer I was born; I hear it was a hot one).
(#3) “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter: If I say too much about this story, I will give it all away. Let’s put it this way: Imagine your husband has a really scary skeleton in his closet. I mean, literally.
|Purchase The Bloody Chamber here. I adore every page in this entire book, of which “The Bloody Chamber” is only a part.|
(#2) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: The opening lines of this novel speak for themselves. I need say no more. Other than that Stephen King couldn’t exist without Jackson as an ancestress (well, Jackson and Lovecraft had him as a love child).
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill house, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for 80 years and might for 80 more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
(#1) The Shining by Stephen King: Not Kubrick’s film, an aesthetic masterpiece in its own right. The book. A monster of a book. A book with teeth. A book that bites. A book that settles over you like the ghostly residue that settled over the Overlook. If you read this novel, you will never forget it.
That’s my quintet. How lovely they are. Until next time, au revoir. Alice