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13 Scary Bedtime Stories to read on Halloween

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Our Halloween treat for you this year is a selection of thirteen blood-curdling stories all thrown into a cauldron and brewed over the years. This intoxicating potion of immortal beauties, petrifying demons, vengeful ghosts and powerful witches will keep you up all night with the most ghastly, yet exquisite nightmares.

The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell

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When “a clean-talking sweet little girl” suddenly displays violent behaviour with aversion to vulgarity, it becomes obvious to Bishop Crimmings that he is dealing with demonic possession. In his attempts to vanquish the darkness that torments Susan’s soul, Bishop, accompanied by a younger priest, sets off on a perilous journey replete with hair-raising revelations. Praised by Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro, this classic horror novel, inspired the new wave of exorcism both on screen and in real life.

The Poor Clare by Elizabeth Gaskell

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Elizabeth Gaskell’s chilling Gothic tale captures the different shades of paranormal world. Told in flashbacks by a witness to the events, the story is centred around a witch, who unwittingly puts a decades-old curse on her estranged family conjuring an evil Doppelgänger, wreaking the havoc. Realising the terrible consequences of her bitter actions, the mother seeks help from a mysterious sect.

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague Rhodes James

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From ‘Lost Hearts’ to “Count Magnus’, these scary tales were written to be read aloud on a dark night to create an atmosphere of menace. Subversively witty, every story slowly builds suspense, intensifying the horror through insinuation and implication.The frightful stories of ghosts who linger among the living are guaranteed to leave an indelible impression on you!

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

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Something sinister lurks behind the idyllic countryside, infesting it with fever, nightmares and death. When the shocking truth about Carmilla is revealed to Laura, the friendship between two young women is put to a powerful test.

Ambiguous and enigmatic, Le Fanu's novella seductively introduces the allure of the blood-thirsty immortals, exploring the taboo status of homosexuality in Victorian society. Through their beauty and sensual nature, young vampires become protagonists of this tale of mystery.

The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins

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Set in the 19th century Cornwall, The Dead Secret tells a story of a wealthy woman, who dictates her deathbed confession to her servant. Despite the last wish of a dying woman, the secret is not revealed to her husband. Illegitimate children, secret marriages and disputes over inheritance and other social issues of the time enrich the plot. Compulsive storyteller, Collins creates an air of suspense keeping the reader guessing to the very end.

The Duchess at Prayer (Crucial Instances) by Edith Wharton

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The devout catholic Duchess Violante, spends a long winter praying in solitude. When her prodigal husband pays her a sudden visit, The Duchess is horrified to learn about the plans to block an entrance to the crypt with a statue of her by Bernini. Unable to dissuade the Duke, she dies after a dreadful night. The spine-chilling account of events in the chapel witnessed by the maid adds a horrifying new dimension to the story.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

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When two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, it becomes clear that something terrifying resides in an ideally New England town where well-hidden secrets are dragged out into light. From stakes and crosses to vampiric hypnotism and coffins, this exquisite vampire tale has all conventions of Dracula and Hammer Horror.

Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Anyone who is familiar with Conan-Doyle’s detective stories, but looking to explore new territory, will enjoy this delightful collection of horror stories. Exploiting the reader’s feelings of panic growing when closed in tight, dark places, the author builds an atmosphere of terror through the power of suggestion, unnerving the reader.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

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Renowned for its ghosts, the secluded glen Sleepy Hollow is allegedly bewitched during the early days of the Dutch Settlement. The dark forces of evil terrorise the settling, haunting imaginations of its inhabitants and visitors alike. But the most infamous spectre in the Hollow is the Headless Horseman- the ghost of a Hessian trooper whose head was shot off during American Revolutionary War, and who ‘rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head’. Whimsical and unique in tis own right, the novel inspired a myriad of film adaptations.

Hell House by Richard Matheson

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Hired by a dying millionaire to look into the possibility of life after death, four researchers with a strong interest in parapsychology venture into unchartered territory. The investigation brings them to an infamous house in Maine. The story builds up a real sense of apprehension and foreboding - something very bad is going to happen in the Hell’s House. The sinister supernatural presence exploits the mediums’ personal weaknesses, unhinging their minds and corrupting their souls.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Allan Edgar Poe

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The Murders in the Rue Morgue is considered the first detective fiction story. The master of the macabre, Poe, lays the groundwork for many motifs which would be used in future fictional detectives including Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. An eccentric, but brilliant detective solves the mystery of how a murder was committed in a closed room by analysing the facts, laying "red herrings" for the reader to follow is just one of his original tropes, which are now so familiar that they are almost cliches.

The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan

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This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U.S. history when a spirit actually caused a man's death. Known throughout Tennessee as "Old Kate," the Bell Witch took up residence with John Bell's family in 1818. The local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, witnessed the strange events and recorded them for his daughter. His astonishing manuscript fell into the hands of novelist Brent Monahan, who has prepared the book for publication. Members of the Bell family have previously provided information on this fascinating case, but this book recounts the tale with novelistic vigor and verve.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

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Determined to reveal the secrets of her extraordinary life before her death, the reclusive author Vida Winter, calls on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of gothic strangeness — featuring a bleak house, a ghost, a devastating fire, murder, madness and sexual obsession. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the shadows of their past have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

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