The best spooky stories to curl up with at Christmas

Forget Halloween, Christmas is the real time for ghost stories. There’s something strangely cosy about spine-chilling tales by the Christmas tree. Settling down in the warm with a hot drink and a spooky book is a festive pleasure for many of us. If you’re one of those who likes to scare yourself silly over Christmas, here are our recommendations for the best and spookiest Christmas stories:

  • The Turn of the Screw, Henry James. A classic, atmospheric tale involving creepy Victorian children, a remote estate with a dark past, and a governess who finds herself catching strange apparitions out of the corner of her eye… For that delicious ghostly chill, this one can’t be beaten.


  • NOS4A2, Joe Hill. Pronounce this strange combination of letters and numbers as a word, and you’ll get an inkling of what this book is about. It’s written by the son of horror supremo Stephen King, so you know it’s got to be good. The plot centres around Victoria McQueen, a woman with a supernatural gift for finding lost things, and her battles against the predatory Charles Manx, proprietor of the terrifying ‘Christmasland’…


  • Ghost Story, Peter Straub. Ghost Story does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does it beautifully. Following the death of their friend Edward, the distinguished members of the Chowder Society begin meeting to swap ghost stories. But they soon discover that the most sinister tales don’t end when the teller has finished telling them. What could be behind the strange and haunting coincidences experienced by the Chowder Society? And what really happened to Edward?


  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Sit yourself down by a nice, warm fire, and read about the trials and terrors of Victor Frankenstein and his much-maligned ‘monster’. With plenty of howling storms and icy landscapes, Frankenstein is not just a beautifully written gothic tale, it’s also the perfect wintry read.


  • The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James, MR James. MR James is pretty much the King of Christmas ghost stories in the UK. So much so that the BBC used to dramatise his tales to be shown on Christmas day. These ghost stories are pitch-perfect, spine-chilling, and ideal for dipping in and out of if you haven’t the time (or the bravery!) for a full novel.


  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens. Everybody knows the story. Many of you can probably even quote bits of it off by heart. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of inclusion in this list. This classic Christmas ghost story can still work its magic today, bringing out that Christmassy feeling while still managing to be nice and spooky. Give it a read!


  • Mistletoe, Alison Littlewood. An eerie and enchanting ghost story, Mistletoe will make you think twice about kissing under the sprig in your hallway. Following a terrible tragedy, Leah Hamilton moves to a remote Yorkshire farm, settling in just as the snow begins to blanket the countryside for miles around. But it’s not long before both her own tragic past and the decidedly sinister past of the farm begin to make themselves felt.


  • Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow, Ray Cluley. Set in Greenland, this cold, bleak and beautiful book will make you glad of your warm armchair and cosy blanket. A professional dogsled team travel the coast of Greenland, through a winter that is bitter even by Greenland’s standards. But there are strange forces lurking in the woods, and not everyone is quite what they seem.

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