Seeking Short Horror Story Compliations
August 27, 2021 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I recently rediscovered a copy of "Scary Stories for Sleepovers" I had as a child; the stories themselves turned out to be bland and awful, but it led to a craving for more short horror stories that might actually be good.

I used to be a fan of the general kid-horror genre, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Spooksville, Goosebumps, etc, and I think I'm trying to capture some of that vibe without literally rereading children's books, which seem to be underwhelming to revisit. As for what the part of the vibe I'd like to recapture is--I guess it's the sensationalism, menace, and propensity for twist endings that stories aimed at children tend to have. Definitely looking for supernatural horror, not just murder or true crime.

I know Stephen King and Neil Gaiman have short horror story compilations, but I've already read them and would like to expand beyond those authors if possible.

Podcast recs aren't quite what I'm looking for but are still welcome; I enjoyed The Magnus Archives, especially when the stories were more self-contained.
posted by space snail to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've been enjoying Tiny Nightmares - some are better than others, but they're all short (flash fiction).
posted by Paper rabies at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ellen Datlow is the editor of horror short story anthologies. As well as many, many themed anthologies, she also edits the Best Horror of the Year collections; they might be a good place to start?
posted by cardinalandcrow at 11:41 AM on August 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It is a podcast rec but I promise it's worth it: Spooked! is a scary-story offshoot of Snap Judgement, and in both cases the producers work with real people with real stories to improve their storytelling and narrative skills, so what you get in Spooked! is people telling true first-person scary stories, more or less campfire style, except really really well. It's only produced for about 2 months every year, first eps should drop any minute now, leading up to Halloween. I think most stories run about 20-40 minutes.

We listen to it outside in the hot tub in the dark and have to keep short comedy podcasts on hand for palate-cleansers because sometimes it's too scary to get out and run into the house (right at bedtime, usually) afterwards.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I read The Vanishing Hitchhiker in a folklore class in college and it might fit the bill. If I remember correctly, it has a lot of similar stories to the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books that I read as a kid.
posted by jabes at 12:12 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nathan Ballingrud's collections are excellent stuff.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2021

Best answer: Dark Delicacies (a horror book & novelty store in Burbank) has assembled their own horror anthologies. They have three, the first of which won a Bram Stoker award for best anthology. The third, Haunted, is supernatural horror but the other two will have some mixed in as well. You can buy them online.
posted by meemzi at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2021

I really enjoyed Penguin's recent compilation of some of Lafcadio Hearn's writing: Japanese Ghost Stories.
posted by RGD at 2:03 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Clive Barker's Books of Blood
posted by rhizome at 2:14 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

M.R. James's ghost stories, which tend to feature antiquarians at the turn of the century dealing with artifacts whose true natures they aren't prepared for, are very good and all free on Project Gutenberg. Major influence on a lot of what came after them.
posted by Polycarp at 2:39 PM on August 27, 2021

The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories is part of a series which includes '...English Ghost Stories'; '...Twentieth Century Ghost Stories'; '...Australian Ghost Stories'; etc, which I haven't read all of but might look out for, now that you mention it...

Black Water (and sequel BW2) was my favourite compilation of literary uncanny stories, regret it's out of print and often overpriced used, sorry.

High Spirits by Robertson Davies (known for his uncanny novels) is a fun romp through his tradition of reciting seasonal Christmas ghostly yarns...
posted by ovvl at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison is a dandy collection.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:09 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, some very promising recommendations here! Excited to start working my way through these and get thoroughly enspookened!
posted by space snail at 6:14 PM on August 27, 2021

I've been reading a lot of horror stories over the last year, and I nth Ellen Datlow anthologies - The Best Horror of the year books are great and I've also found authors to follow up from in those. Two that stand out with recent short story collections are Gemma Files, N.K. Jemisin and Kelly Robson. I've also read all of Stephen King's short stories, and recommend Joe Hill too. And Lisa Tuttle's new compilation - Nest of Nightmares.

Podcast - if you want something that (lovingly) 'dissects the best and worst of teen horror' - try Teenage Scream. A fun listen, especially if you remember some of the books! They are on season 8 now, so plenty to catch up with.

Also see my previous question - highly relevant and lots of good recommendations.
posted by sedimentary_deer at 12:43 AM on August 28, 2021

By Clive Barker- Books of Blood
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:59 AM on August 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Uncommon Assasins I am not really a fan of gore, but I loved this anthology of murders. I've recommended this book many times.
posted by annieb at 4:47 PM on August 30, 2021

« Older Help me tell Google Photos who's boss   |   another find this song question: cover of Thot Ish Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments