Five Spooky Short Stories for October

Spice up your Halloween season with some spooky short fiction!

1. “Nemecia” by Kirstin Valdez Quade

“Nemecia” is about a young girl and her creepy cousin Nemecia, who carries a dark secret. There are no overtly supernatural elements in this story, but it’s eerie as hell and flawlessly written. Don’t just take my word for it: This story won first place in Narrative Magazine’s Spring 2012 Story Contest and received the Narrative Prize in 2013. You can read the story online in Narrative Magazine or in Kirstin Valdez Quade’s 2015 short story collection “Night at the Fiestas,” which is one of my favorite books of all time.

2. “The Lady of the House of Love” by Angela Carter

In this brilliant and beautiful story, Nosferatu’s daughter is reimagined as a Sleeping Beauty figure. Angela Carter’s style is stunning and distinctive; though some might consider her prose unnecessarily ornate, her luscious descriptions and turns of phrase are perfectly suited to the Gothic atmosphere of her stories. You can read the best version of “The Lady of the House of Love” in Angela Carter’s collection “The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories,” but if you’re anxious to read the story right now, you can find an earlier version online in The Iowa Review. You can also head to YouTube to listen to “Vampirella,” the radio play that Angela Carter wrote and later adapted into “The Lady of the House of Love.”


3. “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter

If you’re going to read “The Lady of the House of Love,” you may as well buy “The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories” so that you can also read the title story. “The Bloody Chamber” is a reimagining of the Bluebeard folktale, and it’s just as beautifully written as “The Lady of the House of Love.”

4. “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado

I listened to everyone and their mother hype up Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection “Her Body and Other Parties” before I finally sat down and read it, and I’m not going to lie: I was disappointed. There’s just a bit too much heavy-handed metafictional cleverness for my taste, and I really feel like stories written in list form (i.e., “Inventory” and “Especially Heinous”) are annoying to read and really just a way to avoid the usual work of storytelling. That being said, no list of spooky short stories would be complete without “The Husband Stitch,” the first and best story in Machado’s collection. A feminist retelling of “The Green Ribbon” (that story everyone reads as a kid about the girl whose green choker is the only thing keeping her head attached to her body), “The Husband Stitch” has about as much subtlety as a sledgehammer to the testicles. Personally, I was able to enjoy this story only after I was reminded of how terrible men can be, as the whole story is basically about the insidious ways all men, even — and perhaps especially — the ones you love, can cause you great pain.

5. “The Next World and the Next” by Alice Sola Kim

This story is wacky. It’s about the nightmares of the cryogenically frozen… I think? Read it now on the Lenny Letter website and please tell me what you think is going on. No matter how you feel about science fiction (or Lena Dunham), you really have to hand it to Alice Sola Kim for creating such richly imagined worlds.

Happy reading!

—Staff writer Angela F. Hui can be reached at


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