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Here are 10 Classic Scary Stories to Read for Free!


While a lot of the older community members have read most if not all of these stories, a great deal of the younger generations haven’t had the chance to take in this influential beauties for the game changing works that they are.

Since we’re giving you a very user friendly lineup here, we’re hoping you’ll give some of these masterpieces a chance.

1984 By George Orwell

1984

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Verdict: Paranoia and genius engage in a stunning Tango that readers will not easily shake from their minds.

Synopsis: Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

A Christmas Carol By Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

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Verdict: Deeply disconcerting and at times downright cruel. One of the most frightening non-horror books in existence.

Synopsis: A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens. It was first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation resulting from a supernatural visit by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions together with the introduction of new customs, such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mt Hyde

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Verdict: Ranks among my top 3 classics. Does that tell you enough?

Synopsis: Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novella paints a dark and complex tale about the duality of man’s nature. The story explores this contrast of human character through the strange case of Dr. Jekyll. A kind scientist by day, Jekyll discovers a way to transform into the form of Mr. Hyde by night. With a personality who carries all the hidden evil traits Jekyll disdains, Mr. Hyde becomes more difficult to control just as he perpetrates darker and more vicious deeds.

Anticipating modern psychology, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a brilliant original study of man’s dual nature—as well as an immortal tale of suspense and terror. The book was an immediate success and remains one of Stevenson’s best-selling works.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula

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Verdict: A timeless classic that moves slowly through the first 50 pages only to burst to terrifying life throughout the remainder of the story.

Synopsis: During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein

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Verdict: Emotionally charged and unsettling in more than a single moment, Frankenstein is one of the best stories ever written. The story’s longevity speaks volumes to the quality of Shelley’s tale.

Synopsis: Few creatures of horror have seized readers’ imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein’s terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel’s enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron’s.

“We will each write a story,” Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron’s proposal.

The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”

Grimms Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm

Grimms Fairy Tales

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Verdict: Arguably the most diverse and inspiration collection of stories in history. Need more truly be said?

Synopsis: They are the stories we’ve known since we were children. Rapunzel. Hansel and Gretel. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty. But the works originally collected by the Brothers Grimm in the early 1800s are not necessarily the versions we heard before bedtime. They’re darker and often don’t end very happily—but they’re often far more interesting.

This elegant edition of Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales includes all our cherished favorites—Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Cap, and many more—in their original versions. With specially designed end papers, a genuine leather cover, and other enhancements, it’s the perfect gift for anyone looking to build a complete home library.

Many of these tales begin with the familiar refrain of “once upon a time”—but they end with something unexpected and fascinating!

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hounds of the Baskerville

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Verdict: An earlier approach to the lycanthrope, this one is all about atmosphere. It chills, deep down.

Synopsis: At Baskerville Hall on the grim moors of Devonshire, a legendary curse has apparently claimed one more victim. Sir Charles Baskerville has been found dead. There are no signs of violence, but his face is hideously distorted with terror. Years earlier, a hound-like beast with blazing eyes and dripping jaws was reported to have torn out the throat of Hugo Baskerville. Has the spectral destroyer struck again? More important, is Sir Henry Baskerville, younger heir to the estate, now in danger?

Enter Sherlock Holmes, summoned to protect Sir Henry from the fate that has threatened the Baskerville family. As Holmes and Watson begin to investigate, a blood-chilling howl from the fog-shrouded edges of the great Grimpen Mire signals that the legendary hound of the Baskervilles is poised for yet another murderous attack.

The Hound of the Baskerville first appeared as a serial in The Strand Magazine in 1901. By the time of its publication in book form eight months later, this brilliantly plotted, richly atmospheric detective story had already achieved the status of a classic. It has often been called he best detective story ever written. It remains a thrilling tale of suspense, must reading for every lover of detective fiction.

The Island of Doctor Moreau By H. G. Wells

The Island of Dr. Moreau

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The Verdict: Disgusting and beautiful, one of the more imaginative tales in existence today.

Synopsis: H. G. Wells called it “an exercise in youthful blasphemy”. “The Island of Doctor Moreau” is the account of a Mr. Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man who washed up on the mysterious island home of Doctor Moreau, a mercurial figure who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection. Prendick, as an observer and a guest, goes through an induced madness and an existential crisis in his analysis of his host and the bizarre work he’s done in this timeless science fiction classic.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow By Washington Irving

Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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Verdict: A truly terrifying and amazing story. There’s a reason this story still has a comfortable home in the realm of pop culture.

Synopsis: The quiet town of Sleepy Hollow slumbers in serene harmony with wonderful characters like Katrina van Tassel, the town’s biggest brat and the daughter of the wealthiest man in town and Katrina’s boyfriend, Brom Bones, the biggest brute in town! Then…..along comes Ichabod Crane! This greedy teacher with a beautiful voice tries to win the heart of Katrina to get his hands on her sizeable fortune! Little does Ichabod know that he must contend with the town hostess, Mrs. Treacher, the wife of the town’s preacher, who doubles as the town gossip! Ichabod’s every move to impress this wealthy family falls under Mrs. Treacher’s critical eye and becomes subject to her busily wagging tongue! But never the less, Ichabod copes with the situation in very creative ways, staying focused on winning Katrina’s fortune. Of course wooing Katrina is no easy matter, but the boasting by her wealthy family just makes Ichabod’s mouth water even more! As Ichabod tries to impress Mr. And Mrs. Van Tassel, Freudian slips abound! Brom Bones also contributes to Ichabod’s insecurities. Why, they even challenge each other to a game of “Go Fish” to prove who the better man between the two of them is! Finally, after much effort, Ichabod’s flattery and beguiling wit wins him an invitation to the Van Tassel’s barn party. Mrs. Treacher, who has been helping Ichabod by telling him Brom’s weaknesses, vows to crash the party to keep Ichabod on track and give him moral support. As the party winds down, Ichabod whispers in Katrina’s ear that he cares for her. Screams can be heard throughout the barn rafters as Katrina runs to her parents panicking at the thought! Ichabod leaves the party, broken-hearted and hurt. He tries to convince himself that if he can only make it home, all will be well by sunrise. Suddenly, haunting noises echo all around as he nears the spooky bridge that lies between him and safety. Then, much like the tales he had told the children in his classroom, he hears snorting, hoof-like sounds-sees shadows in the woods- hears a horse whinnying and rearing up— a glowing pumpkin head hurling toward him —a flash of lightning–his heart begins to thump…silence. Although there seems to be no sight of Ichabod in the town of Sleepy Hollow these days, they say one can walk down the road on a certain kind of night, with the full moon shining a certain way through the trees, and you will certainly hear Ichabod Crane singing his songs of woe. The mystery, the magic, and the legend live on.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Verdict: They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Wildly creative with one of the finest finales offered by classic genre fare.

Synopsis: In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine

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Verdict: Possibly the first amazing action/horror hybrid. Wells was a genius and this was one of his finest.

Synopsis: The Time Traveller, a dreamer obsessed with traveling through time, builds himself a time machine and, much to his surprise, travels over 800,000 years into the future. He lands in the year 802701: the world has been transformed by a society living in apparent harmony and bliss, but as the Traveler stays in the future he discovers a hidden barbaric and depraved subterranean class. Wells’s transparent commentary on the capitalist society was an instant bestseller and launched the time-travel genre.

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About Matt Molgaard (1639 Articles)
Author of the novella Say No to Drugs, writer for Dread Central, Horror Novel Reviews and Addicted to Horror Movies.

3 Comments on Here are 10 Classic Scary Stories to Read for Free!

  1. Indeed this member of the older generation has read almost every one of these,

    Like

  2. william guy // April 13, 2016 at 7:04 pm // Reply

    Dont forget “Who Goes There?”(The Thing)by John Campbell , War of the Worlds”by H.G.Wells,I am Legend by Richard Matheson, The Midwich Cookoos(Village of the Dammned) and Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham,

    Like

  3. Good list. I’ve been looking for a copy of the original Grimms tales so that should be a good read. I think another good one that would fit on this list would be “A shadow over Innsmouth” by H.P. Lovecraft. His works are public domain and also available for free.

    Like

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