Five Short Story Collections to Keep You Up This October
October has arrived! This is the month when we love to curl up in a blanket and scare ourselves with something from horror (imo, anytime in the year is great for horror). One of these ways we like to scare ourselves is through the written word. Are you looking for a read that’ll keep you up at night this Halloween? Want to get into short horror fiction but not sure where to start? Look no further than the five short story collections below, which I believe are great places to start.
Night Shift – Stephen King
This is just one of King’s many short story collections. Within these pages, you’ll find some of King’s earliest works of the macabre and terror, which will make you leave the light on at night. Stories like ‘Graveyard Shift’ will chill your bones while others like ‘The Mangler’ will make you gasp in abject horror. You’ll even find the stories that inspired the films Children of the Corn, The Lawnmower Man, and Maximum Overdrive in here. This is a great short story collection introduction to the “King” of contemporary horror.
Nightmare At 20,000 Feet – Richard Matheson
This is a must-have for any fan of horror fiction. In this collection, you’ll be given many different stories, each one more frightening than the other. Matheson will scare the shit out of you and leave you clawing for more. The best stories in this collection include ‘Blood Son’, ‘Through Channels’, and ‘Likeness of Julie’. The most famous story in this collection though is the titular one, which inspired the Twilight Zone episode that starred William Shatner. I can’t recommend this collection enough; it’s fantastic, terrifying horror which will haunt you long after you finish reading it.
Everything is a Graveyard – Jason Fischer
Fischer, an Adelaide author, has crafted some magnificent tales of terror and oddness with a hint of humour with this collection. You’ll find tales of killer kangaroos, zombies, and jesusmen, most if not all with an Australian setting in here, a majority of them fantastic examples of Oz Spec fic. The best stories to find in this collection are: ‘Hunting Rufus’, ‘Goggy’, and ‘Everything is a Graveyard’. Pick this up if you want some tales which will scare the pants off you and bring horror to the strange, alien world known as Australia.
The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
This is more of a sci-fi collection than horror, but don’t let that fool you. Some of the tales in here are of pure nail-biting horror, which is why it’s on this list. Some of those horror tales include the Poe-esque ‘Usher II’ and the insanity of endless rains on Venus in ‘The Long Rain’. Even the sci-fi tales come with a nightmare feeling, especially the terror of floating out of control in space in ‘Kaleidoscope’. This is a great collection for you to get a great blend of sci-fi and horror, and for those unfamiliar with Bradbury.
Short Ghost Stories: The Man with the Axe in His Back – Queenie Chan
Unlike the others on this list, this collection of four short stories are comics-prose (a combination of comics and prose fiction). Each of these four tales from Chan is gut-wrenchingly terrifying, only made even better with the addition of the visual storytelling. The manga art styling of the comics is gorgeous and is well mixed in with Twilight Zone-like storytelling. My own personal favourite is ‘The Hollow Tree’, which is set in WW2 era Singapore with a boy hiding in a tree. Get this collection if you want to read some truly unique, terrifying stories which are unlike anything you’ve read before. You can get a prose only copy too if you’re not keen on comics, but I heavily recommend the comics-prose version.