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I completely forgot about that Joyce Carol Oates story - creepy, icky and chilling. Have you read Elizabeth Taylor's 'Poor Girl'? It is a dark, Victorian story about a governess that reminds me a bit of Sarah Waters. It is one of my favorite ghost stories.
Thanks for this list - I'm going to hunt some of these down to read next month.

Lori, the eclectic book gatherer

Number One for me is M.R. James, the master of the classic English ghost story. I love his stories so much, and part of that is because they often revolve around professors or antiquaries and old places, and for me a ghost story works best in that sort of atmosphere. Only rarely can I get the proper feeling for that sort of story if it's set in modern times, but that's just me.


I wouldn't have called the Joyce Carol Oates story a ghost story but it is creepy and she's written a lot of ghost stories, it does make sense to include it.
I've read quite a few of your list and some like Straub and Sarah Waters are on my piles. I'm already looking forward to reading them.
My favourites of your list so far are Dark Matter and The Woman in Black but the du maurier stories and Joyce carol Oates are amazing too.


Definitely will be adding the Oates to my list! Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle is chilling and Dan Simmons' The Terror is figuratively and literally chilling. Edith Wharton has some pretty decent ghost stories too but I think James did her better, still they aren't bad.


I completely agree with The Turn of the Screw and The Woman in Black. I do like some of Dicken's short stories too and ofcourse the there is really creepy one about a chair by Edgar Poe ( can't remember it though!)


And also the "The Yellow Wallpaper"


My favorite ghost story is Elizabeth Bowen's, which is set during the period of the Blitz in London. The "woman of the London house," who is residing primarily outside of London for the duration, returns to her London house for a check-up. The heavy atmosphere permeates all the action and is positively "dripping" or gripping. The super-ghostly part at the end of the story seems over the top for me--I don't think Bowen needed that to pack a wallop, but still, I love it. Now, scratch my head, what is the title? It's one of her most famous short stories, so perhaps you know it. I devoted an entire blog post to it several years ago. If I can, I will return with the title!


Icky is actually a very good word for the JCO story! I have not read the Taylor and I bet I have it in some collection--now I must go search it out to read sometime before Halloween I think! I love ghost stories or just stories of creepy suspense and always look forward to this time of year! I hope you get to read one or two--I've enjoyed all of these!


The Victorians really did ghost stories well, didn't they? Setting is definitely a major factor for me as well when it comes to whether a ghost story works or not. I've only read a smattering of stories by M.R. James but hope to work my way through the two volume set I own of his stories--I think the Gorey collection has one James story--which will be a reread for me, but I don't mind--it's one I've enjoyed previously and read it a number of years ago--some time for a revisit I think.


This list is definitely a loose one when it comes to ghost stories--mostly they are good seasonal stories that are spooky, creepy or just very atmospheric! The JCO is very creepy, but not scary in the same sense as a ghost story--you're right! I thought you had read the Sarah Waters already--I think The Little Stranger is almost my favorite though it is hard to surpass Fingersmith! Dark Matter was great and The Woman in Black is a favorite--now I am wondering which novel to pick up next as I am reading only a Wilkie Collins novella and need to get going on something a little longer if I have a chance of squeezing in all the books I want to this season! :)


I loved that Shirley Jackson, too, and should have added it to the list as well. I have meant to read Dan Simmons' book--I think I even have it in hardcover! (But it is a chunkster to carrying around!). I have a book of Edith Wharton's ghost stories but have only read one or two--I know there is one Wharton story I read and wrote about that I never did quite figure out....


Oh, how could I have forgotten Edgar Allen Poe--he is classic--the Tell Tale Heart! I think my favorite Poe story is The Cask of Amontillado--not a ghost story per se, but a wonderful tale of revenge with a perfect ending!


And another excellent one to add to the list--I read that a number of years ago--definitely one to revisit!


I wonder which one it is--I have read a few of her ghost stories, but I know she wrote a fair few--and a fair few stories set in London and/or during WWII! I will have to dig around in my story collections now. I wonder if it is The Mysterious Kor, which I read ages ago and now don't quite remember details. She is very good in any case, isn't she? If the title comes back to you, do let me know. I should look up a ghost story by her to read now!

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

I find it all too easy to give in to the atmosphere of spooky books, and tend to scare myself witless (especially if the cats come in and do that 'stare at things you can't see' thing). I definitely try not to read them alone by myself! That's a great list -- I haven't read very many at all, so there's so great ideas there for me (I'll have to get a reading companion for some, I fear!).


Wuthering Heights has some chilling moments. Particularly when Lockwood is haunted by the ghost of a young boy. Love the genre.


Oh I want to read all of these! Well, some are favorite scary reads of mine too. The Woman in Black is fantastic. I am working on my R.I.P. list so this thank you for this list - perfect timing for me :)


Under the right circumstances and if I let my imagination run away, I can spook myself pretty well, too! The worst is if I have to get laundry or something from the basement (and worse too if I alone!)--which is creepy and unfinished! If I am reading or watching something scary I tend to avoid going down there! Some of these stories are really very scary, or at least very creepy!


I had forgotten about Wuthering Heights, but yes, there is a ghost in it as well-it is such an atmospheric story--I really do need to read it again! I love the genre, too. Gothic lit is great!


Isn't it fun choosing? I love reading ghost stories at this time of year. I hope to find a few new favorites as I go through the collection I am reading from.

Liz F

There are some very enticing spooky reads in your post and comments. I have Elizabeth Taylor's short story collection so I will definitely look out the one mentioned.
I found an interesting book at the library called This House is Haunted by John Boyne (who wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas)and hoped to read it nearer Halloween but it has been requested so I will have to read it in the next few days - probably in the office as I am such a coward about where I read spooky stories!

It sounds as though it might bear a resemblence to The Turn of the Screw (a young woman goes to a house to be a governess only to discover that it is empty apart from the two children she has been employed to look after) but I will let you know what it is like.


I need to go through my books, too, to find that Elizabeth Taylor story--I have that big Virago collection that came out in the last year or two, so I hope it is there. I am in line for the Boyne book but it is not released here until November if I recall correctly so it will have to be an end of the year (Christmas-time) ghost story read for me, I'm afraid. I liked Turn of the Screw, though I can't say that I knew what actually happened. Do let me know about it--I am still working on a Wilkie Collins novella.

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