Top 18+ Gripping Short Horror Stories and Collections In Order (2016–2023)

Joelbooks
7 min readOct 12, 2023

A good horror story should make you feel like you’re being slowly consumed by something inescapable and unstoppable. Something that is both dark and light, something that is both beautiful and grotesque.

Let me tell you a personal story.

For several nights, years ago, as I was trying to drift off to sleep, I was unsettled by soft, melodic whispers seemingly emanating from beneath my bed. No matter how hard I tried to locate the source, the ethereal voices persisted, always just out of reach.

Then, a few days later, I received the heart-wrenching news that my beloved grandpa had passed away, he was 90. That night, as I lay in bed, the room was enveloped in a profound silence. The whispers had ceased. In the depth of my grief, I couldn’t help but feel that those mysterious voices were somehow connected to my grandpa’s departure.

Even though he was no longer with us, his presence felt closer than ever, and the quiet nights became a testament to our unbreakable bond. This was my closest encounter with the supernatural.

Now let’s see the best short horror stories and collections available on Amazon, ordered in reverse chronological order. If you are interested in my favorite horror quotes and my personal favorite micro story, check out the next section.

What Are The Most Gripping Short Horror Stories and Collections?

Water to Water, by S. A. Rowland (2023)

In this evocative anthology, water, often seen as the cradle of life, is masterfully reimagined as a conduit for the darkest corners of human nature and the supernatural.

The reader is immediately pulled beneath the surface into a realm where morality treads a precarious line, as evidenced in tales like the one where a casual conversation about ethics unfolds between a woman and a murderer. This collection artfully blends horror with elements of romance, with even a demon finding itself ensnared by the complexities of love. There’s also an undertone of mystery, where a detective’s search for a missing woman adds layers of suspense, and post-apocalyptic undertones are evident in the poignant depiction of a young girl navigating the ruins of civilization.

Perhaps most compelling is the portrayal of two fathers, whose anticipation of a fresh start becomes a poignant reflection on hope and renewal. Like the ebb and flow of tides, the narratives sweep readers on a journey, sometimes placid, at other times tempestuous, but consistently immersive. The stories serve as a stark reminder that the waters of the human soul are deep, unpredictable, and often teeming with secrets.

Twisted Library (Savage Fear Anthologies Book 1) by Bryce Nealham (2023)

The Twisted Library marks a captivating addition to the horror anthology genre, tailored for an audience spanning adults to older teens. This first installment introduces ten meticulously crafted tales that probe the shadowy recesses of the human psyche.

The Real Mr. Sandman, a haunting tale of a demon infiltrating a young girl’s dreams, particularly resonated with me. I think it’s a standout amidst an already stellar collection. From tales of vigilant felines to ominous heirlooms, the narratives seamlessly blend themes of love, loss, choice, and vengeance. I think this anthology masterfully blurs the boundary between the familiar and the frightful, urging readers to reconsider the nature of their own realities.

The Mammoth Book of Nightmare Stories, by Stephen Jones (2022)

This collection won the British Fantasy Awards in anthology category.

The book is a selection of sixteen horror stories to kill your nerves from favorite authors like Neil Gaiman, Tanish Lee, Harlan Ellison and many other great authors. This fantastic comprehensive selection contains stories that aren’t so well known. There are numerous stories with frightening endings, well written and darkly conceived. My personal favorite chapter was Joe R. Lansdale’s Tight Little Stitches In A Dead Man’s Back.

The diversity of voices and unique storytelling approaches in this collection make it a standout in the realm of horror anthologies.

Cackle, by Rachel Harrison (2021)

This is a well-written and darkly funny take on how one woman deals with a supernatural invasion in her new home in the country. The story starts with her unexpected breakup and then moves on to the new job and apartment. It’s a very well-paced novel that keeps you guessing and turning the pages.

Annie isn’t the only one to notice how strange things are getting in the town of Woodbury. The local coffee shop seems to be a hotbed of supernatural activity, but not all is what it seems. As Annie gets closer to uncovering the truth behind the mystery, she must decide if she’s going to stand up for herself and her new home, or succumb to fear and paranoia.

The Other: Encounters With The Cthulhu Mythos Trilogy, by Troy Young (2020, 2021)

This book is a collection of short stories based on the Cthulhu Mythos. Each story builds on the previous one and leads up to the final story where the characters (who started out as strangers) join forces to defeat Cthulhu. The stories are well written and the characters are complex.

Dr. Adele Kramer is a psychologist who has been researching the Black Pharaoh for years. She attempts to help her patients by plumb the mysteries of their minds, until she finds an entity more powerful than Nyarlathotep himself.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes short horror stories like Lovecraft.

Touch, by Steven Jenkins (2021)

When Adam Beal is exposed to a mysterious virus, he’s not sure what it will do. Maybe nothing. Or maybe everyone who catches it dies. And though infected himself, he may be the only one left able to save them. But first he’ll have to survive.

I’ve read many zombie books in the past, but this one was different. I liked how it wasn’t in the typical stylle, and was more about survival and cringe moments in this case, the way the story was told, and the characters were well done.

This book is great for the fans of short zombie horror stories.

The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft: At the Mountains of Madness, The Call of Cthulhu, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H. P. Lovecraft (2021)

Maybe you have seen the name H. P. Lovecraft mentioned in a lot of articles about his unusual or weird fiction, but you had never read anything of his writings? Hence this isn’t a complete collection of author’s stories, it is a great start who are not familiar with Lovecraft’s life work.

H.P. Lovecraft is the most verbose writer in horror genre, his sentences run on for half a page at times, but the imigiary world he created is unique and scary as hell.

Wearing Skin: 12 Devilishly Dark Horror Short Stories, by Simon Paul Woodward (2020)

This new well-edited horror book consists of 12 short stories including “The Angel of Loughborough Junctions”, “The Galilean Manoeuvre” and “American Sexual Lobster”.

The core story “Wearing Skin” is about a tale of body swapping touching the mythic question of immortality and sex. The author presents the scenes in their raw form, that shocks the readers and keep them in fear.

Hence most of the stories are standalone, patterns like sexuality and bizarreness surrounds these dark tales. The book is an excellent read if you are fan of Joe Hill.

Dark Halloween: A Flash Fiction Anthology, by Eleanor Merry and Cassandra Angler (2020)

What could be a better read for Halloween than a skeleton and ghosts stuffed story? The authors of these short stories want to pull us from the real world to a terrifying place. These stories are filled with twists and terror, so let them scare you!

Dark Halloween is a collection of chilling tales to get your heart racing and keep you up at night. Featuring stories from some of the brightest names in horror, such as Bentley Little, H.P Lovecraft, Jack Ketchum, Ed Gorman and many more.

Continue reading this article on Joelbooks

Originally published at https://joelbooks.com on October 12, 2023.

This article contains affiliate links.

--

--