Now on the other side of the autumnal equinox, I started pulling some Halloween-ish books from my stacks and I realized I have a small selection from a Penguin Classics series. I definitely recommend these for anyone who wants a creepy, seasonal read.


The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters

From the publisher:

Since ancient times, accounts of supernatural activity have mystified us. Ghost stories as we know them did not develop until the late nineteenth century, but the restless dead haunted the premodern imagination in many forms, as recorded in historical narratives, theological texts, and personal letters. The Penguin Book of the Undead teems with roving hordes of dead warriors, corpses trailed by packs of barking dogs, moaning phantoms haunting deserted ruins, evil spirits emerging from burning carcasses in the form of crows, and zombies with pestilential breath. Spanning from the Hebrew scriptures to the Roman Empire, the Scandinavian sagas to medieval Europe, the Protestant Reformation to the Renaissance, this beguiling array of accounts charts our relationship with spirits and apparitions, wraiths and demons over fifteen hundred years, showing the evolution in our thinking about the ability of dead souls to return to the realm of the living—and to warn us about what awaits us in the afterlife.


Haunted Castles

From the publisher:

Haunted Castles is the definitive, complete collection of Ray Russell’s masterful Gothic horror stories, including the famously terrifying novella trio of “Sardonicus,” “Sanguinarius,” and “Sagittarius.” The characters that sprawl through Haunted Castles are frightful to the core: the heartless monster holding two lovers in limbo; the beautiful dame journeying down a damned road toward depravity (with the help of an evil gypsy); the man who must wear his fatal crimes on his face in the form of an awful smile. Engrossing, grotesque, and completely entrancing, Russell’s Gothic tales are the best kind of dreadful.


The Penguin Book of Witches

From the publisher:

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.


Gothic Tales

From the publisher:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. ‘Disappearances’, inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; ‘Lois the Witch’, a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in ‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as ‘The Poor Clare’, where an evil doppelgänger is formed by a woman’s bitter curse, or mischievous like ‘Curious, if True’, a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the stories in this volume form a stark contrast to the social realism of Gaskell’s novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing.


What classic scary tales are you reading?

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