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The Compulsive Reader: Creepy Short Stories to Get You in the Halloween Mood

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Creepy Short Stories to Get You in the Halloween Mood

I've spoken before of my love for all things spooky and creepy and decidedly eerie in fiction--but I cannot do horror movies. No, no, no. Horror movies put me in a weird, crazy headspace where I become convinced that someone is coming through my window in the middle of the night or that knives are going to fall from the ceiling and impale me, and I can't enjoy the story unfolding (the only exception being The Cabin the the Woods because Joss Whedon FTW.)

But stories and novels are completely different! I can go at my own pace and read and re-read creepy parts and I'm oftentimes creeped out even more by the written word than by axe murderers jumping on screen and crazy gore, but I can also appreciate the story. I've covered some thrillers perfect for Halloween on the blog before, and there are a ton of lists of YA horror out there, but here are two short stories that are perfect for some creepy before-bed reading, between class entertainment, or your next coffee break:

"The Game of Boys and Monsters" by Rachel Wilson
(Available as a digital download from the Apple store, Kobo via your indie bookstore, Google, BN, or that other place that sells e-books for $0.99.)

Lesley and Evy are best friends. They entertain each other by playing a game with every boy they meet--they must decide what sort of monster he is. When the Marsh brothers come to town, Evy begins to pull away from Lesley and their game, once harmless, is suddenly dangerous.

Wilson’s story is effortlessly eerie without any direct mentions of violence or danger. Instead, she uses the disintegration of the girls’ friendship to build mystery and suspense, to the point where the reader is unsure if anything weird is going on, or if Leslie is simply unsettled by the loss of her friend. The final scene is deliciously creepy and memorable--this story is more than worth it's price.

Want to play the game with some familiar faces? Check out this blog post.

"Resurrection Bay" by Neal Shusterman
(Available as a digital download from the Apple store, Kobo via your indie bookstore, Google, BN, or that other place that sells e-books for $0.99.)

Anika likes in a tiny Alaskan town, not far from a looming glacier. One day that glacier begins to advance towards the town, claiming roads and buildings before swallowing the local graveyard.

Anika is direct and reasonable, and her reluctance to believe that the ancient spirit of the glacier is up to no good helps build suspense, and also sets up the tragic climax that forces Anika to confront the glacier’s powers. Shusterman’s prose is very tight and efficient; world-building details reveal character, and also serve as crucial props in the climax. This is a fascinating short story that combines the ruthlessness of nature with a very popular trope in a unique way.

Let me know what you think of these stories! Do you have any short story recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments!

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