The written word, for all its faults and flaws, is fully capable of giving a reader the shivers… it plays on our senses by combining the familiar and unfamiliar in uncanny moments that, in many instances, originated the horror genre. Here are some of the creepiest moments in literature.
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison
Denver felt her heart race. It wasn’t that she was looking at that face for the first time with no trace of sleep in it, or that the eyes were big and black. Nor was it that the whites of them were much too white — blue-white. It was that deep down in those big black eyes there was no expression at all.
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
Presently she took my veil from its place; she held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong glass.
“And how were they?”
“Fearful and ghastly to me—oh, sir, I never saw a face like it!
“Dracula” by Bram Stoker
The searchlight followed her, and a shudder ran through all who saw her, for lashed to the helm was a corpse, with drooping head, which swung horribly to and fro at each motion of the ship. No other form could be seen on deck at all. A great awe came on all as they realised that the ship, as if by a miracle, had found the harbour, unsteered save by the hand of a dead man!
“Rebecca” by Daphne DuMaurier
“Why don’t you go?” she said. “We none of us want you. He doesn’t want you, he never did. He can’t forget her. He wants to be alone in the house again, with her. It’s you that ought to be lying there in the church crypt, not her. It’s you who ought to be dead, not Mrs. de Winter.”
She pushed me towards the open window. I could see the terrace below me gray and indistinct in the white wall of fog. “Look down there,” she said. “It’s easy, isn’t it? Why don’t you jump? It wouldn’t hurt, not to break your neck. It’s a quick, kind way. It’s not like drowning. Why don’t you try it? Why don’t you go?”
“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
The table’s full.
Here is a place reserved, sir.
Here, my good lord. What is’t that moves your highness?
Which of you have done this?
What, my good lord?
Thou canst not say I did it: never shake
Thy gory locks at me.
Gentlemen, rise: his highness is not well.
Sit, worthy friends: my lord is often thus,
And hath been from his youth: pray you, keep seat;
The fit is momentary; upon a thought
He will again be well: if much you note him,
You shall offend him and extend his passion:
Feed, and regard him not. Are you a man?
Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that
Which might appal the devil.