Yes, it's true: not only is
a documentary about Alvin Schwartz's macabre classic coming out, but Guillermo del Toro is making a film based on the original books, and an anthology of New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is coming in 2019. It's a good time to be a terrified child of the '90s. But let's say that you've already read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and In a Dark, Dark Room, and all the other volumes of Schwartz's nightmare-fuel. What now? How are you going to frighten yourself in the meantime? Fear not, because here are several other bone-chilling books and short story collections to shatter your psyche while you wait for the new Scary Stories.
One of the most delightful things about growing up is looking back fondly on all the things that scared the bejeezus out of you as a child. I mean,
now I think that the Stephen Gammell illustrations are masterful pieces of horror art, but as a kid? I hated them. They were too scary. In fact, the whole book was too scary. And yet here I am, reminiscing about the days when I'd hide under my covers in petrified fear, waiting to be murdered by a living scarecrow. So if you're looking for some horrific nostalgia, or for some slightly more grown up stories to shock and disturb, here are a few creepy reads to try: 'Her Body and Other Parties' by Carmen Maria Machado
All of the stories in
Her Body and Other Parties are a strange mix of delightful and disturbing, but perhaps most disturbing of all is The Husband Stitch. Without spoiling anything, Machado takes a few of the most well-loved folktales from Schwartz's books and re-mixes them into a harrowing look at one woman's marriage. Click here to buy. 'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman Coraline may not be a short story collection, but it does hit the sweet spot of "a modern classic of children's literature" and "so freaking terrifying that you'll develop a lifelong phobia of buttons." Besides, Gaiman and Schwartz both drew inspiration from the Lucy Clifford short story about a The New Mother, very creepy maternal figure. Click here to buy. 'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Schwartz retells folktales and urban legends, mostly from American oral tradition. In The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter retells Grimm fairy tales and European folklore with a dark, feminist twist. She doesn't sugar coat or simplify. So if you're over the Disney version of princesses and beasts, you're going to want to give Carter a try. Click here to buy. 'Let’s Play White' by Chesya Burke
Looking for some brutal, gut-wrenching horror stories that also explore the inherent bigotry of American culture? Look no further.
Let's Play White is another collection of quintessentially American horror, spanning historical fiction and zombie fiction and every macabre subject in between. Click here to buy. 'Night Shift' by Stephen King
If you want a heady mix of childhood nostalgia and scarecrow-based horror, then you need to drop everything and read Stephen King's
Night Shift. King is a horror author who needs no introduction, and Night Shift is the anthology that brings us classically chilling stories like "The Lawnmower Man," "Children of the Corn," and "Graveyard Shift." Click here to buy. 'Slasher Girls & Monster Boys' edited by April Genevieve Tucholke Slasher Girls and Monster Boys draws from a whole host of classic tales (some already scary, some not) and a whole gaggle of talented YA authors to create one of the most inventive, chilling horror anthologies out there. There's body horror and supernatural horror and a-little-too-close-to-home horror, so you're sure to find something that'll match your preferred brand of absolute terror. Click here to buy. 'The Lottery and Other Stories' by Shirley Jackson
If you've somehow made it this far in life without reading Shirley Jackson's
The Lottery... I'm rather impressed. But you should still read The Lottery. In fact, all adult fans of horrific short fiction should read just about all of Jackson's short stories, since she is the reigning queen of all things horror and a frighteningly talented writer to boot. Click here to buy. 'Ghost Summer: Stories' by Tananarive Due Ghost Summer may sound like a summer camp slasher movie from the 80's, but it is in fact a brilliantly nuanced book of short stories about ghosts and monsters, both literal and figurative. Tananarive Due expertly weaves together tales of the paranormal with tales of family drama and small town living to create this book of all-too-relatable hauntings. Click here to buy. 'Through the Woods' by Emily Carroll
With all due respect to Mr. Schwartz, the most terrifying part of
Scary Stories was almost certainly those Gammell illustrations. Emily Carroll may have a distinctly different style, but her illustrated stories are every bit as disturbing, drawing from fairy tales and folklore to create a wildly macabre collection of original horror in Through the Woods. No one draws melting flesh like Emily Carroll. Click here to buy. 'More Bones' by Arielle North Olson and Howard Schwartz More Bones is a very similar idea to Scary Stories, only these stories hail from all around the world. There are corpse spouses and trapped school children and sea monsters capable of taking down an entire ship. The stories are aimed at kids, yes, but adults will still get a kick (and maybe a few shivers) out of these ghostly tales from Iceland, Egypt, Japan, Spain, China, and more. Click here to buy. 'Beware!: R.L. Stine Picks His Favorite Scary Stories' edited by R.L. Stine
Of course, you can't talk about '90s children's horror without talking about R.L. Stine.
Beware! is a horror anthology curated by Stine, with two of his own stories thrown in there for extra nostalgia. In classic Stine fashion, these stories run the gamut from genuinely creepy to grotesquely silly, with some freaky horror classics from Bram Stoker, Ray Bradbury, Shel Silverstein, and more. Click here to buy.