The truth is, many stories feature ghosts. Evil spirits and benevolent ones coexist in the afterlife. A Christmas Carol has a slew of them, including Hamlet’s father, Nearly Headless Nick. Even if they aren’t included here, these works concerning the supernatural are excellent.
I enjoy reading terrifying stories. I am not easily frightened. Intriguing tales of the supernatural are some of my favorites. The kitten ghosts from Her Fearful Symmetry and the sister’s ghost from Beloved are two of my all-time favorite ghosts. Also, I’ve included a list of some of my favorite books that also happen to be about ghosts.
Many more works would make my list if I could reveal their spectral presence without giving anything away. I recommend Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale as a chilling early example of the horror genre. As far as can be determined, this is the first gothic fiction written in the United States. I will not, however, reveal whether or not there is a ghost in the building.
There are ghosts in these books! Here are eight of them.
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THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
BY SHIRLEY JACKSON
Considered by many to be the best ghost story ever written. Jackson was a master of creepiness and the unnerving in general. The tale follows a group of strangers as they spend time in the creepy Hill House for different reasons. GULP. I am interested in seeing the Netflix show based on the book. The film adaptation starring Owen Wilson and Catherine Zeta-Jones from 1999 is excellent, and I, a garbage person that I am, highly suggest it.
BY KOJI SUZUKI
TRANSLATED BY GLYNNE WALLEY
Even though the books in this series are hugely popular in Japan, many Western audiences are unaware that the scary movies featuring the girl who appears from nowhere are based on a novel. How about those? If someone views the video, they will die unless they commit a terrible act first. Remember VHS tapes?
I REMEMBER YOU: A GHOST STORY
BY YRSA SIGURDARDÓTTIR
TRANSLATED BY PHILIP ROUGHTON
This is a terrifying and messed-up read. That’s right, there are two tales to tell: The main characters in one tale are three buddies who buy a rundown home on an island. The couple want to turn the building into a bed and breakfast. It’s not scary at all, right? In the second case, a doctor’s son goes missing and hasn’t been seen for quite some time. The police then contact him to tell him that they have discovered the body of an old woman who leaves a message in which he is mentioned. Also, that’s not scary, right? The two narratives will eventually intersect, creating a more terrifying whole. This is one that should be adapted, in my opinion. In my opinion, they performed admirably.
BY JOE HILL
An old rock star orders a haunted outfit online. He deserves every bit of punishment he receives, but it’s still amusing to see him suffer for his actions. He will be haunted by the spirit until he finds a way to lay it to rest, no matter where he goes in the United States. When I was reading this book late at night, my cat leaped up on the bed and frightened the daylights out of me. Hahaha, funny, Mira, real funny.
THE GOOD HOUSE
BY TANANARIVE DUE
Angela, the protagonist, moves into her grandmother’s house, which is aptly named The Good House, at the beginning of this tale. It’s not good by any means. It was revealed that her grandmother was a healer who, seven decades prior, had banished spirits from a cursed lady. The ghosts were quite upset that she took away their toy and have been plotting their vengeance ever since. Of course they do; they’re Angela’s teenage son. After two years have passed, she goes back to the house to exact her revenge.
You can check out my review of this book here: Book Review: The Good House
BY RICHARD MATHESON
Having one of the finest vampire books and one of the best ghost novels by the same author is a cruel joke, but here we are. A rich newspaper and magazine owner challenges a physicist and two mediums to prove the existence of life after death for a total prize of $300,000. Therefore, they decide to visit a haunted mansion in Maine. (Many scary stories are set in Maine because its residents are definitely out of the ordinary.) They are going to discover why the residence has earned the moniker “Hell House.” (Spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with the fact that it is a warm and fuzzy haven.)
THE LITTLE STRANGER
BY SARAH WATERS
Holy cow, I really like this. It’s enormous, ominous, and Gothic. It also has a shocking conclusion that demands instant discussion. A rural physician is summoned to a formerly grand estate by a sick servant. In the process of befriending them, he finds out that the family has just experienced a series of terrifying events. In a way that would make even the most miserable of ghosts proud. My thoughts exactly! A passage from this book, “What a painful business it is, merely being alive,” is tattooed on my arm. Absolutely correct; you’ve hit the nail on the head, Ruth. I haven’t watched it yet, but I intend to very soon.
THE GHOST BRIDE
BY YANGSZE CHOO
It follows a Chinese woman in the nineteenth century. She has no dowry and no other options for marriage, so she accepts a family’s offer to marry her off to their deceased son. However, if you go looking for ghosts, you will find them. She meets and falls in love with two men—one living and one deceased—and gains insight into the Chinese afterlife in the process.
Whether you love to be scared or not, I think we can all agree that ghosts are fascinating. And while they may not be real, the stories surrounding them sure are. Have you read any of these? Which ones? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!