Top Ten Tuesday: Ghost Stories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My favourite genre is science fiction and fantasy. Since that’s an impossibly broad answer to this week’s prompt, Books From My Favorite Genre, I decided to narrow it down to something specific: ghost stories.

I adore ghost stories, especially the ones that rely on psychological horror instead of jump scares or anything gory! They’re one of the micro-genres under the speculative fiction umbrella that will always grab my attention.

The interesting thing about this list is how many classics it contains. I hadn’t realized that so many top-notch authors have written about ghosts, but they have.

1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

This is one of my all-time favourite ghost stories because the spirit had a completely valid reason for haunting and hating the living. I won’t give it away to those of you who haven’t read it. Just know that you might end up sympathizing with the ghost more than you do with her victims. I sure did.

2. A Sincere Warning About the Entity In Your Home by Jason Arnopp

Since this is a short story, I can’t tell you much about the plot other than it was written in the form of a letter from a former tenant to the current tenant of a very dangerous home. It’s delightfully scary and quite well done, though.

3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

We need to talk about the fact that season two of the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House is going to be based on this story. I’m sure they’ll make as many changes to the plot as they did with Shirley Jackon’s novel, but I’m super excited to see how the screenwriters interpret something that wasn’t as blatantly paranormal as The Haunting of Hill House.

My best guess is that they’re going to amp up the hauntings by a thousand to make it work for the small screen.

4. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Someday I need to write full reviews of the other Sarah Waters’ novels that have enough speculative fiction content to fit into my Science Fiction & Fantasy tag on this site. Here is my review of the amazing film version of The Little Stranger, so all I’ll say about it in this post is that it’s about a crumbling mansion that may be haunted by the angry spirit of a child who once lived there. Both the book and the film were deliciously spooky, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

No, this has no connection to the first book on this list, although it would be quite interesting to see what the Woman in White would think of the Woman in Black. One of them is a ghost, and the identity and corporealness of the other one can’t be shared here without giving away spoilers. (If corporealness wasn’t an official word before, it is now!)

6. Beloved by Toni Morrison

My mom was so freaked out by the film version of this book that she almost walked out of the theatre. I wasn’t with her for that viewing, but I loved seeing this tale about an ex-slave named Sethe who was haunted by what might have been the spirit of her dead child twenty years after she purposefully killed that child to prevent her from being taken back into slavery.

The best ghost stories in my opinion are the ones that explore parts of a culture that many people try to forget or downplay. The multi-generational horrors of slavery were laid bare in this tale, and that made it one of the most genuinely frightening things I’ve ever read.

7. The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

This is a library book I’m currently reading, so I won’t say much about it other than the fact that it’s about a ghost hunter who ended up being targeted by one of the spirits she was supposed to be vanquishing.

How spooky is that? It’s definitely not the kind of attention I’d ever want.

8. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

I wish Edgar Allen Poe’s work was talked about more than it currently is. (Maybe I should start reviewing it?) He wrote some incredibly frightening poems and stories that are as relevant now as they were in the 1800s when he first came up with them. I especially love “The Raven” because of how many different ways it can be interpreted. Was the speaker really being haunted, or was he imagining the interference of the raven and other strange occurrences as a way to deal with his guilt over murdering someone?

9. The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill

While I don’t normally mention the same author twice in the same Top Ten Tuesday post, Susan Hill deserves a second mention. She really has the haunted house formula perfected. All of her books that I’ve read are perfectly frightening without being gory. The Mist in the Mirror is an especially good one to pick up after The Woman in Black because of how gothic it was.

There’s something about the gothic style of ghost story, crumbling mansion and all, that I find quite appealing.

10. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

All of the other options on this list are serious and frightening, so I thought I’d top it off with a classic parody of this genre.

Oscar Wilde is one of those famous authors that I’ve always been sorry I couldn’t meet. He had a wonderful sense of humour that somehow feels just as fresh in 2019 as it did in the 1880s and 1890s.

His take on ghosts and haunted houses really should be read by anyone who enjoys these topics. I believe in finding the humorous side of whatever genre(s) you enjoy. There is definitely something to be said for being able to poke fun at what you like, and this is a fabulous example of how to do exactly that.

Also, it’s satirical! I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who or what Mr. Wilde was talking about here, but I found his insights to be pretty darn accurate.

How many of these books have all of you read? Who else in the Top Ten Tuesday community loves ghost stories? I’ll happily accept your recommendations of similar tales if anyone has any!

130 Responses to Top Ten Tuesday: Ghost Stories

  1. I’m torn. On the one hand, I LOVE that you went for such a niche topic, but on the other hand I will likely never, ever read a single book on this list because I’m too much of a fraidy cat! I do not have the constitution for supernatural horror. I couldn’t sleep for a week after I watched The Grudge!

  2. Great list! I was obsessed with ghost stories when I was little (despite being a complete scaredy-cat!) but I haven’t actually read many ghost stories, so I need to get on that. I love The Woman in Black – the play is AMAZING. I went to see it while I was at school and I had to sleep with my lamp on for about two weeks afterwards. I love The Little Stranger! It’s one of my favourite novels and it’s so well done.

    • SO WAS I! Oh, this is too funny. Did your parents ever ban you from reading scary stuff? Mine did at one point after I had a few terrible nightmares. (It was a short-lived ban).

      I didn’t know there was a play version of The Woman in Black. It sound amazing, though.

      Have you seen the film version of The Little Stranger? I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  3. Great post.
    I’ve been on a ghost story kick lately, watching ghost adventures and such like. I keep trying to find some decent ghost books but couldn’t really find any. This list helps me a lot. I’ll let you know if I get any and what I think 💗

  4. Great List. My husband took me to see The Woman in Black in the West End when we were dating and it scared the heck out of me! Fabulous!
    I’ve only ever seen Beloved as the film upset me so much with the reveal, so sad.

    • Yes, the film version of The Woman in Black was terrifying!

      The book version of Beloved was even sadder. Great read, but very dark as well.

  5. I have to admit, I’m not really one for ghost stories, per se, but I do enjoy a well-written gothic that is more about mystery and psychological tension. And I’m familiar with The Raven. Even more chilling when you hear it narrated well!

  6. I love Ghost stories and I see some classics here. I’ve read The Woman in Black, Beloved and The Raven. I love it when ghost tales have such a Gothic feeling to them. Thanks for sharing your faves!

  7. That’s a lot of ghost stories! I’ll have to check a few of these out. I haven’t heard of most of them, but they sound interesting!

  8. Ooh I hadn’t heard about season 2 of the Haunting of Hill House being based on The Turn of the Screw! I’m really curious to see what they do with it. The Woman in Black is one of my all-time favorite books, and I loved The Canterville Ghost and The Raven, too. I still need to read the rest from your list, but they’re all on my TBR. One of my favorite ghost story books was The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. I usually prefer older ghost stories (like M.R. James’s work), but that one (and the sequel) really stuck with me.

    • Yeah, it’s supposed to be released in 2020. That’s all I’ve heard about it so far, but I’m hoping it will be amazing.

      The Girl from the Well sounds great. Thank you for the recommendation.

    • Thank you, and yay! If you hear of any other ghost stories, do let me know. It’s always fun to share recommendations for this kind of stuff.

  9. I read the Woman in Black and Beloved a couple of years ago for a Gothic fiction module during my degree. I remember them being very good, though I haven’t read many ghost stories since.

  10. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and linking me to yours! I can’t do any scary movies or books at all, but your list makes me want to try to be brave! I remember reading Beloved back in high school and it freaked me out a little bit, but I did enjoy discussing it with my classmates. Thanks so much for your awesome recommendations!

    • I mean, there are other interpretations of what is going on in that plot, but I tend to err on the side of the paranormal. I highly recommend checking it out for yourself so you can form your own opinions if you’re interested in learning more, though!

  11. I’ve never read any of the classic ghost stories by James or Collins, but did see “The Turn of the Screw” film adaptation (the more recent one with Michelle Dockery) a while back. It was interesting but not something I’ll likely re-watch. Someone I’ll likely watch “The Woman in White,” too. All in all, you’re a braver reader than I. I don’t think I’m a fan of ghost or horror-type stories. Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland, Lydia!! 🙂

  12. I listened to The Canterville Ghost last month and enjoyed it a lot. And who wouldn’t love The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe??

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment on my TTT post this week. Happy reading!

  13. Ghost Stories really aren’t my style but I do love to read classics and I see some authors that fit that description, maybe I’ll checkout The Canterville Ghost. Nice list.

  14. I’ve only read “The Raven” and seen the movie of “The Woman in Black”. I had no idea “Beloved” was a part of this genre! Makes me want to read it (even more than I already did just for its being a classic).

  15. I am quite the opposite; I’m afraid I’m the biggest scared-y cat you have ever seen, and I am terrified of scary stories. I do have Woman in White on audio, and I will try to give it a listen one of these days.

    Lovely list!

  16. I have not read a good ghost story in a while. I will definitely be adding Beloved to my TBR. I *think* I already added The Woman in White, but I haven’t read it yet.

  17. Beloved has been on my TBR for years, and I have never heard it referred to as a ghost story, or perhaps I didn’t have a good grasp of its subject. This makes me super intrigued to read it now! Great list and great take on the topic!

  18. What a great list! The Woman in Black is terrific. Funny, somehow I didn’t remember that Beloved was a ghost story until I saw your list — it’s been so many years since i read it. The power of the story has stayed with me, but not the plot details!

  19. Such a great list! I’ve heard about many of these books but I have to admit that ghost stories are really not my jam. If I read any of these you’re likely to find me in my house with all the lights on, the doors locked, my feet tucked securely under the covers, and my body surrounded by a fort of pillows! I really can’t handle the scary/horror 😂

  20. I love ghost stories, the spookier the better, but for some reason I haven’t read any of these. I like the sound of The Woman in Black and and The Little Stranger so definitely will be checking those ones out!

  21. I’ve only read Beloved, The Woman in White, and The Raven on this list, but I loved them all! I’ll have to check out the other ghost stories you recommend. There’s just something about a good ghost story that’s so enthralling! Great list 🙂

  22. I’m not one for scary ghost stories. There are two that I’ve enjoyed. Harlan Ellison has a short story: Mom. It’s about a man whose mother dies and comes back to (he uses the Yiddish word, nudge) him until he finds an acceptable woman to marry.
    The other is A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle. Author of the Last Unicorn.
    This novel is about a couple of newly dead having a romance while dealing with facing eternity.

  23. So many good picks Lydia! I typically don’t read horror because I get too scared, lol. But for some reason I love to watch horror films. I’ll have to add some of these to my TBR!

  24. I love that you narrowed down your picks! I don’t think I have ever read a scary ghost story before (besides ones that my Elementary school librarian told us), I am not sure what my thoughts are on them. But you have a great selection here. I may just have to give one a try!!

  25. I have an odd relationship with ghost stories. I love reading them because I find ghosts fascinating, but I also hate reading them because I fully believe in ghosts and I like being able to sleep at night. I haven’t read very many of these, but I find it interesting that season two of The Haunting of Hill House is going to be based on Turn of the Screw because I read both for the same class (Rhetoric of the Uncanny). I still need to watch the Netflix show.

    • Ooh, I can see how believing in ghosts would make it tricky to read about them!

      I can’t recommend The Haunting of Hill House enough if you think it won’t disturb your sleep too much. It was so well done.

  26. Excited to read your endorsement of The Turn of the Screw. I have enjoyed James’ work but that one gets mixed reviews. I shall have to read it before the Netflix series, I’m sure you are right in that the adaptation could be unrecognizable.
    Call me intrigued by several of your titles, although The Woman in White was a letdown, I bet The Woman in Black is a worthy read, the movie was haunting. Reading your list has caused a realization–I’ve read plenty of horror, but next to no ghost stories. Gonna rectify that, using your list as jumping off point:)

    • Cool!

      I haven’t read The Woman in White in a very long time, so I can’t go into much detail about why I liked it. Sorry to hear it wasn’t your cup of tea, but the Woman in Black is great!

  27. A very interesting top ten Lydia. I am not a big ghost story reader, but with some of the big names writing these, I should try a couple just for that reason. I have wanted to read Beloved for some time, never would have thought of it as a ghost story though, but it is.

  28. I’m so glad to see The Raven on your list! I’ve never been good with novels about ghosts or anything remotely scary, but it’s impossible not to love Poe!

    Also, thank you again for visiting my TTT! ^^

  29. I normally don’t read ghost stories so I decided to peruse through your top ten just to see if there was a title I might be open to reading. Most of them just spooked me from trying them, but I may just try The Raven since it seems more psychological than it is paranormal. Plus I should get around to reading some Poe.

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