5 Chilling Horror Collections Perfect for Halloween Night

By: Graeme, October 26th, 2023 1:10 pm.

On Halloween night, I have two traditions.

I’m the parent that stays home alone. My son attends a Halloween party with his friends, while my daughter and wife go out trick or treating with other friends.

So, I’m the one who stays home and has a battle with my willpower over how many Kit Kats and Aeros I will actually eat.

It is of course a losing battle, and I wake up the next morning a couple of pounds heavier, filled with mini chocolate bars and shame.

However, Halloween is still a night I look forward to due to the two traditions.

The first tradition is that every year, I dress up as a bottle of Fireball whisky and I hand out fireball jello shots to the adults as shown below:

(Why yes, my house IS the most popular on the block. How did you ever guess!)

The second tradition is that every year, I read a short story collection in the horror genre.

With the doorbell going every few minutes, it makes it a lot more difficult to invest myself in a full book, or a TV show or video game. A few years ago, I was reading a short story collection at the same time as Halloween, and I found it worked out perfectly when it came to handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Sometimes the planets would align and the doorbell would ring just as I was in-between stories. If not, the stories are so short that I didn’t mind the interruption.

Here are five short story collections you too can read or listen to as you hand out the candy on October 31st.

Walking Alone by Bentley Little (2002)

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Stephen King describes Bentley Little as “the horror poet laureate” and that is a very fitting description for this incredible short story collection by Bentley Little.

There are over 25 stories in this collection and each one will have you scared to open the door every time the doorbell rings. Almost every story in this collection was a hit for me.

The Maid was one standout, where a couple have a horrific time at a resort due to a very creepy maid. The Silence of Trees was another classic about a secret within a forest. Last Rodeo on the Circuit is just a surreal experience and one that will stay with you long after you have read it.

Bentley has quite a few collections available, but this is the one I would recommend reading first.

Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti (1997)

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Thomas Ligotti is the master of short story collections, and this collection might be his best. It’s the fifth collection Ligotti has written, with over 10 different stories throughout it.

I read someone recently say that to define Ligotti as just a “horror” writer is insulting and I completely get it. It doesn’t come close to defining him and his stories. He is very disturbed, and his short stories really can affect you to your core.

The title story, Teatro Grottesco, may be the best of the stories contained within this masterpiece. It takes place in a town in the USA full of artists who are always awaiting the appearance of Teatro Grottesco, which is an urban legend theater troupe that you don’t actually want to see.

If you have never read Ligotti, this is a great introduction to him.

North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud (2013)

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This is the first collection written by Nathan Ballingrud and it is a phenomenal read.

If you enjoy adaptations, then after reading this great collection you can watch Monsterland. This was based on the collection and is an anthology horror TV show with eight episodes.

This collection was nominated for various awards such as the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection, and the Best Collection at the World Fantasy Awards.

A trope I really appreciated within this collection is that the true monster in each story is mankind. I’m not big into the supernatural, but Sunbleached is one vampire story that gave me nightmares.

The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies by John Langan (2013)

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The second collection that John Langan has written. What I really liked about this collection is just how different each story was. Not just in the topic, but in regards to how it was narrated. This collection is scary, and just plain weird.

Each story in this collection is excellent in its own way. I’m not big into zombie fiction, but I was sad when How The Day Runs Down was over with Langan’s take on it. Not only was it horror, but it was also emotional and just downright amusing.

The title story bounces from the present to the past, and is a very grim Gulf War story. City of the Dog is a great story about canine monsters.

A wonderful short story collection.

The Monster Inside and Other Tales by JG Faherty (2010)

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This is one of those collections that feels like a true Halloween themed collection to read. The first collection by JG Faherty, who also has a Christmas themed horror collection called 12 Scares for Christmas that you may wish to read in about six weeks’ time.

Faherty is a Bram Stoker award-winning author, and many of his works have been nominated for various Bram Stoker awards. This collection is a great introduction to him if you have never read Faherty before.

Each story is great but there are a few that really stand out and you can’t separate them such as Crisis of Faith and The Longmarsh Witch.

All the typical horror archetypes are written about in this collection. Zombies, demons, vampires, aliens, and more.

A great collection to read between visits from trick-or-treaters!

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Faye Heath
Faye Heath
7 months ago

I will certainly be checking some of these out! Next year try The Complete John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood. Check out my review that I pulled across from Goodreads.

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