This Halloween, we’re recommending the creepiest tales of terror to keep you up at night…


There’s plenty to do in Derry-Londonderry during Halloween week, but if staying indoors out of the cold is more your speed, why not curl up with a scary story to read in the dark?  


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a story many of us know well, but did you know many historians credit the novel with the invention of the science fiction genre? Shelley came up with the idea for her monster in a contest between herself, the poet Lord Byron, and her future husband the poet Percy Shelley to see who could come up with the best horror story. Though we don’t know for sure who the trio decided was the winner of the contest, we do know that Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus has become one of the most influential horror stories ever written, inspiring hundreds of adaptations, derivations, and parodies. Shelley herself had something of a spooky life; after her husband Percy died she carried his calcified heart with her for 30 years. Frankenstein remains a Halloween staple. I guess you could say Shelley created a monster!


If you’re after something short enough to read in one evening in front of a fireplace and the looming portrait of a lost love, pick up Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, a short story in which the narrator confesses to a murder and describes their guilt-induced descent into madness. This story’s tone of paranoia makes it feel truly claustrophobic as the story traps you in a room with a confessed murderer and draws you into their downward spiral. Poe’s other short stories have a similar gothic feel, and you may also enjoy his long poem ‘The Raven’, in which the protagonist is driven mad by grief and the persistent screeching of a raven who appears to keep saying ‘Nevermore’.


For something more contemporary, get into Kirsty Logan’s short stories. Kirsty is an award winning Scottish writer with an eye for the beautiful and macabre; her newest collection Things We Say in the Dark is not for the faint of heart. From houses haunted by the ghosts of the past to gory body horror and sci-fi, this collection is sure to make the hairs on your neck stand up. If you prefer something a little gentler, her novel The Gloaming is similarly surreal but with more of a fairy-tale feel. Look out for her podcast co-presented with fellow writer Heather Parry, ‘Teenage Scream’ – and particularly look out for a forthcoming episode recorded in Verbal’s own haunted library!


Check out our Sbooky events at Verbal and in the Foyleside centre this week.