Recommend some writers like Shirley Jackson and Poe?
July 12, 2017 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Greetings. I am trying to find some novelists, short story writers, and poets that write speculative fiction, horror, thriller, and Gothic genre? Like the film The Innocents (1961) or Night of The Hunter (1955) but in writing. Maybe even Victorian-esque works too. I am a devoted Hitchcock fan as well -- but I am keen on trying to find some page-turner speculative fiction with short stories, novels, and poetry. Thank-you.
posted by RearWindow to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Henry James wrote a number of ghost stories, the most famous probably being The Turn of the Screw, of which The Innocents is an adaptation, actually.
posted by praemunire at 3:28 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I find a lot of his later books a bit meh, but Stephen King's short stories are generally pretty terrific.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters may fit the bill as it has Gothic/ Horror elements.

Another good one in roughly horror/speculative fiction category is House Of Leaves.

It sounds like you are looking for "literary authors" working in what's considered genre settings?
posted by Pantalaimon at 3:42 PM on July 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Margaret Millar's suspense books are a bit like Shirley Jackson's.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:45 PM on July 12, 2017

Arthur Machen.
posted by celestine at 3:52 PM on July 12, 2017

Oooh, how fun! I love eerie stories.

Try M.R. James - Lost Hearts is here.

And Edith Wharton's ghost stories - somewhat Jamesian but a lighter read.

And EF Benson - his strongest eerie story is the famous The Room In The Tower, but he wrote a lot of others. (He has that whole early 20th century misogynist-aside thing going on intermittently, but I cut him some slack because he was a closeted gay man.)

I've only read some Robert Aickman but he's plenty eerie.

Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature is actually mostly IMO eerie stories.

Now, these are old YA (before YA was a thing) but they are eerie and wonderful: The Stolen Lake and its related books Dido and Pa and Is Underground

Also - and these are YA from the eighties but they're quick, well-written and very atmospheric and scary - The House With The Clock In Its Walls and about the first twelve books by John Bellairs. I am a big, big fan of The Curse of the Blue Figurine. I reread them all to take my mind off the election.

You can't go wrong with The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories. I particularly like "Smee", "Hand In Glove", "Fullcircle" and this, which I find almost unbearably frightening - "The Clock", by WH Harvey. (scroll down a little and it's there).

I also really like a lot of
Arthur Machen. Many of his stories are online if you google around.

This is a weird recommendation, but it is hands-down one of the scariest sets of stories I've read as an adult - a cross-genre set of fanfics called Tatters. You do not have to be especially into fanfic to read these, and I was actually totally unfamiliar with all but one of the referenced television series, and even that one I'd never actually seen. They do have a couple of romance subplots, but holy fuck are the stories atmospheric and terrifying. They're all "Lovecraftian horror from beyond space and time".

Also, have you read much early vampire fiction? For The Blood Is The Life looks like a revised edition of an anthology that I grew up with.

A lot of Angela Carter's short stories are gothic in tone, especially her fairy tales.
posted by Frowner at 3:55 PM on July 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

You want John Harwood. Note that this guy is an Australian novelist, but there is also an American journalist of the same name.
posted by scratch at 4:00 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Michael Koryta--The Cypress House
...Fortunately, the haunting premonitions that plagued him in the war aren’t common back home. They aren’t, at least, until a hot Florida night in a train car bound for the Keys, when Arlen awakens to find the telltale smoke showing in every man’s eyes…
Gothic noir.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:01 PM on July 12, 2017

Kipling has some ghost stories - here's a blog post about them, and in looking for one of them ("At the End of the Passage") I found a site with links to several Victorian ghost stories.

Also, Barbara Michaels, perhaps especially The Dark on the Other Side (1970) - short review on Kirkus, mixed reviews on Goodreads. She does have other Gothic / ghost stories but I think this is the one where that tone is strongest.
posted by paduasoy at 4:09 PM on July 12, 2017

Since you mention Hitchcock, Daphne DuMaurier and to a lesser extent, (non-Ripley) Patricia Highsmith.
posted by methroach at 4:16 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Flannery O'Connor.
posted by amro at 4:24 PM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh, Charles Williams, the least well-known of the Inklings, wrote a series of what I can only call Catholic horror novels. They're not like Left Behind or anything--they're actually competent books, and can be read without deep knowledge of the underlying theology, although the Catholics always end up winning. War in Heaven so effectively conjured an atmosphere of spiritual depravity that I (atheist) didn't want it in my house afterwards.
posted by praemunire at 4:41 PM on July 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

You might like The Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:09 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

"The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen. I taught it in a women's lit class, and my students were blown away by its creepiness.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:37 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Faulkner's A Rose for Emily is the first thing that came to mind. It's a short, southern gothic story that I read and loved in high school.

Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts will probably be right up your alley. It's a book of short stories, and well worth procuring.
He is one of my favorite writers, and I highly reccomend reading his longer novels if you like his style.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:00 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Roald Dahl (yes, the guy who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) has written a fair amount of dark fiction for adults. There are several books with collections.
posted by ananci at 10:25 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding Mark Z. Danielewski, Joe Hill, Daphne duMaurier, Stephen King shorts, and M.R. James. I'll throw Richard Matheson, Robert Aickman (hard to find, but worth it), and Algernon Blackwood into the mix.
posted by xyzzy at 11:21 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Joyce Carol Oates!
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 3:55 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have actually heard it argued that there is no Gothic lit like Irish Gothic lit. Old homes, haunted by literal or figurative ghosts, a long history of struggle, etc. Sheridan Le Fanu is a really good writer for this type of tale.

I've been big on weird fiction lately for the same reason I like Gothic horror, so maybe some H.P. Lovecraft, Robert W. Chambers, William Hope Hodgson, and Lord Dunsany? I think a lot of stuff is even available in the public domain if you don't mind eBooks. If you want newer weirder fiction. I read the short story collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron last year, and there was some great stuff in there. Very weird fiction a la Pacific Northwest.

Also, I've heard all of his books are thematically different from one another (although still mostly speculative in nature), but I just finished Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff and it was EXCELLENT.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:05 AM on July 13, 2017

Dan Chaon
posted by veery at 7:29 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Joyce Carol Oates wrote in various genres, my favourite retro-gothic novel of hers is 'The Accursed'.

Speaking of old school classic American Gothic genre, there's also the short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 'The Celestial Railroad' is a good example.
posted by ovvl at 1:06 PM on July 13, 2017

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has a lot of creepy short stories, many of which have been anthologized often.
posted by MovableBookLady at 2:08 PM on July 13, 2017

Try Bird Box, Josh Malerman's horror novel. It's masterfully suspenseful and leaves nearly everything to the imagination. He has a number of short stories that I haven't read but would love to, and a couple of forthcoming novels.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2017

The Woman in Black

The Victorian Chaise Longue

Also, though it's more atmosphere than horror, Alison Uttley's "A Traveller in Time"
posted by zadcat at 8:06 PM on July 13, 2017

I was on a bit of a Folk Horror (previously) kick recently and one of the contemporary novels I came across that might fit the bill was The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley. Nthing Robert W. Chambers, Charles Williams, M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen and also William Hope Hodgson.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:18 PM on July 14, 2017

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