Recommended Reading

Or, a Too Brief and Doubtlessly Overly Idiosyncratic List of Works in the Genre Under Discussion

This is a list of stories that I would recommend to someone just getting started with short supernatural fiction. Please keep in mind that this is meant to be a crash course, and like all such, it has lots of omissions.  There’s much more to learn as you go along, which is part of the fun.

Short story and novelette titles are in quotes; long essay and anthology titles are in italics.  I’ve provided links to free editions where possible.


Robert Aickman —  “The Cicerones,” “The Hospice,” “Larger Than Oneself,” “Pages from a Young Girl’s Journal,” “Ringing the Changes,” Cold Hand in Mine: Eight Strange Stories

H. F. Arnold — “The Night Wire

E. F. Benson — “Caterpillars,” “The Dust-Cloud,” “How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery,” “Mrs Amworth,” “Negotium Perambulans…,” The Room in the Tower and Other Stories

Ambrose Bierce — “The Damned Thing,” “The Death of Halpin Frayser,” “An Inhabitant of Carcosa,” “The Middle Toe of the Right Foot,”  “The Moonlit Road

Algernon Blackwood — “Ancient Sorceries,” “The Wendigo,” “The Willows

Robert Bloch — “The Cheaters,” “That Hell-Bound Train,” “Yours Truly,  Jack the Ripper”

Jorge Luis Borges — “The Aleph,” “The Circular Ruins,” “The Immortal,” “The Secret Miracle,” “There Are More Things,” Ficciones,  Labyrinths

Marjorie Bowen — “The Avenging of Ann Leete,” “The Bishop of Hell,” “Kecksies

Ray Bradbury — “The Crowd,” “The Playground,” “The Scythe,” “The Wind,” The October Country

Joseph Payne Brennan — “The Calamander Chest,” “Canavan’s Back Yard,” “Levitation,” Nine Horrors and a Dream

Rhoda Broughton — The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth,” “Behold, it was a Dream!,” “Poor Pretty Bobby,” Collected Stories

Robert W. Chambers – “The Mask,” “The Yellow Sign,” The King in Yellow

Julio Cortazar — “Axolotl,” “The Distances,” “House Taken Over,” “The Night Face Up,” Blow-Up and Other Stories

Mary Elizabeth Counselman (see also here) — “The Monkey Spoons,” “Seventh Sister,” “The Shot Tower Ghost,” “The Three Marked Pennies”

Frederick Cowles — “The Cadaver of Bishop Louis,” “The Horror of Abbot’s Grange,” “The Vampire of Kaldenstein,” The Night Wind Howls

Ralph Adams Cram — “No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince,” “The Dead Valley,” “Sister Maddelena,” Black Spirits and White

F. Marion Crawford — “The Dead Smile,” “For the Blood Is the Life,” “The Screaming Skull,” “The Upper Berth,Wandering Ghosts

Walter de la Mare — “Out of the Deep,” “Seaton’s Aunt”  (both PDFs)

August Derleth — “Nellie Foster,” “Pacific 421,” “The Return of Andrew Bentley” (co-authored with Mark Schorer), “The Sheraton Mirror,”

Charles Dickens — “No. 1 Branch Line: The Signalman

Arthur Conan Doyle — “The Captain of the ‘Pole-Star’,” “John Barrington Cowles

Erckmann-Chatrian (Émile Erckmann and Alexandre Chatrian) — “The Invisible Eye,” “The Murderer’s Violin,” “The Three Souls,” “The White and the Black”

Elizabeth Gaskell — “Curious If True,” “The Old Nurse’s Story

Charlotte Perkins Gilman — “The Yellow Wallpaper

Nikolai Gogol — “The Vij

Stefan Grabiński — “The Motion Demon,” “On the Hill of Roses”

W. F. Harvey — “August Heat,” “The Beast With Five Fingers

Lafcadio Hearn — “Mujina,” “The Story of Mimi-nashi-Hoichi,” “Yuki-Onna,” Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things

William Hope Hodgson — “The Hog,” “The Horse of the Invisible,” “The Voice in the Night,” “The Whistling Room

Robert E. Howard — “Black Canaan,” “The Black Stone,” “Pigeons From Hell,” “Red Shadows

Margaret Irwin — “The Book,” “The Earlier Service,” “Monsieur Seeks a Wife,” Bloodstock and Other Stories

Shirley Jackson — “The Bus” (PDF), “The Daemon Lover,” “The Visit,” Come Along with Me

Carl Jacobi — “The Face in the Wind,” “Revelations in Black

Henry James — “The Jolly Corner,” “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” “The Turn of the Screw

M. R. James — “The Ash-Tree,” “Canon Alberic’s Scrap-book,” “Casting the Runes,” “An Episode Of Cathedral History,” “The Mezzotint,” “Number 13,” “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

Rudyard Kipling — “My Own True Ghost Story,” “The Phantom ‘Rickshaw,” “The Recrudescence of Imray” (a.k.a “The Return of Imray”)

Russell Kirk — “Behind the Stumps,” “Sorworth Place,” “The Surly Sullen Bell,” “There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding,” “Uncle Isaiah,” Ancestral Shadows: An Anthology of Ghostly Tales

Greye La Spina (see also here) — “The Antimacassar,” “The Dead-Wagon,” “Old Mr. Wiley,” “The Sinister Painting,” “The Tortoise Shell-Cat,” “The Wolf of the Steppes”

J. Sheridan LeFanu — “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street,” “Carmilla,” “The Familiar,” “Green Tea,” “Mr Justice Harbottle,” “Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter,” Best Ghost Stories of J. S. LeFanu (E. F. Bleiler, ed.)

Fritz Leiber — “Belsen Express,” “A Bit of the Dark World,” “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes,” “Smoke Ghost,” “The Pale Brown Thing”

H. P. Lovecraft — “The Call of Cthulhu,” “Cool Air,” “The Dreams in the Witch House,” “The Dunwich Horror,”  “Herbert West – Reanimator,” “The Music of Erich Zann,” “The Outsider,” “Pickman’s Model,” “The Rats in the Walls,” H. P. Lovecraft: Tales (Library of America; Peter Straub, editor), Supernatural Horror in Literature (long essay)

Arthur MachenThe Terror

Richard Matheson — “Blood Son” (AKA “Drink My Red Blood”), “Button, Button,” “Death Ship,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “Prey”

Guy de Maupassant — “The Horla

C. L. Moore — “Black God’s Kiss,” “Black God’s Shadow,” Jirel of Joiry

E. (Edith) Nesbit — “John Charrington’s Wedding,” “Man-size in Marble,” Grim Tales

Joyce Carol Oates — “In Shock,” “Night-Side”

Oliver Onions — “The Beckoning Fair One,” “Rooum,” Widdershins

Edgar Allan Poe — “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “Ligeia,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” “Metzengerstein,” “Morella,” “William Wilson,” Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Alexander Pushkin — “Queen of Spades

Seabury QuinnRoads

L. T. C. Rolt — “Bosworth Summit Pound,” “The Mine,” Sleep No More

Isaac Bashevis Singer — “The Dead Fiddler,” “The Destruction of Kreshev,” “The Reencounter”

Clark Ashton Smith — “Genius Loci,” “A Rendezvous in Averoigne,” “The Return of the Sorcerer,” Genius Loci and Other Tales

Robert Louis Stevenson — “The Bottle Imp,” “Markheim,” “Olalla

Bram Stoker — “Dracula’s Guest,” “The Judge’s House,” Dracula’s Guest And Other Weird Stories

H. Russell Wakefield  — “Blind Man’s Buff,” “‘He Cometh and He Passeth By!’,” “‘Look Up There!’,” “The Red Lodge,” “The Thirteenth Hole at Duncaster”

Manly Wade Wellman — “O Ugly Bird!,” “The Valley Was Still,” Who Fears the Devil?

H. G. Wells — “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” “Pollock and the Porroh Man,” “The Plattner Story