Storyville: My Favorite Horror Stories Available to Read Online Right Now

Today, in the spirit of horror and Halloween, I thought I’d give you a list of some of my favorite horror stories that you can read online RIGHT NOW. Here you go.


""Harvest Song, Gathering Song"" by A.C. Wise

This is one of the most unsettling, original “arctic” horror stories I’ve ever seen. The threads that Alison weaves here pairing the cosmic horror with the military angle and then the expansive danger of it all is so powerful. This is the kind of story that pushes me to do better with my own writing. The body horror, the bees, the honey, the supernatural—it’s pretty intense. 

""Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers"" by Alyssa Wong

This is the kind of creeping, innovative, body horror that really grabs my attention and doesn’t let go. As a maximalist, the sensory detail in here is mesmerizing, and there is also this very satisfying sense that justice is being served here, as things spiral out of control. It’s dark of course, but with so much heart. As somebody who loves food (I’m a bit of a foodie I guess) that’s another layer that really appeals to me here. A very original story, that casts quite a spell. 

""Painless"" by Rich Larson

There is so much in this story to love. One thing Rich does so well here is use languages other than English, in a way that is more inclusive than just about any story I’ve ever seen. Through context clues, action, and conflict we are able to grasp what he is saying even without speaking the language. Not an easy thing to do. The story though, the body horror, the ending—wow. It packs quite a punch. More excellent body horror here that is also quite original in how it all plays out. Another great dark story with emotion, too, the ending a real a gut punch. So good. 

""A Human Stain"" by Kelly Robson

This is a longer story, but man does it fly by. The slowly building realizations, the horror, the setting, the isolation, not to mention the weirdness—it’s rather hypnotic. There are a few stunning moments of brutality in here that really make the body horror resonate. It’s all earned, since we care about these characters, and it’s not without a bit of humor now and then to break up the bleak, unsettling atmosphere. Another favorite. I interviewed Kelly about this, so head over to MY WEBSITE to read that, if you’re interested. 

""Dead Lovers on Each Blade, Hung"" by Usman T. Malik

This story is quite a journey, posted up at Nightmare in two parts. Usman always does a great job tapping into parts of the world and cultures that don’t always get that much attention. And this story is no exception. The mythology, the addiction, the framework of the story, the reveals—wow. More body horror here as well (I guess I’m sensing a theme with this list) paired with a beautiful, haunting story about love, friendship, and desire. Might be my favorite story of Usman’s.  

""Harvey’s Dream"" by Stephen King

I mean, what’s a list of horror stories without something by Stephen King? While his last couple of novels haven’t exactly blown me away, I’ve probably read more work by King than any other author. This story, it’s a slow burn, with a turn and reveal that is shocking, and quite impactful. That’s what King does well—tell a story, slowly dole out clues, and lead up to an ending that really knocks you for a loop. (Hello, The Mist, anyone?) I could have picked a dozen stories, but this is one that really got to me the first time I read it, with great tension, and that sweaty, flushed feeling of knowing what’s coming at the very end, but hoping it doesn’t arrive. 

""The Night Cyclist"" by Stephen Graham Jones

On many lists as the NEXT Stephen King, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include SGJ here as well. One of the most powerful authors in horror today, Stephen is a huge influence on my writing, a good friend, and an innovative author. Stephen always manages to work his personal life into his work—whether it’s his Native American roots, his love of basketball, or his cycling adventures. This story definitely gets under your skin, tapping into that unsettling feeling of being out in in wide open spaces, alone, whether it’s under the glaring hot sun of the daytime, or the dark, creepy isolation of the night. He takes us for quite a ride here. 

""Allochthon"" by Livia Llewellyn

If you don’t have Livia’s collection, Furnace, pick that up right away. This story leans into cosmic horror through the use of sound—which for me, was quite an original approach. I’ve always been afraid of spells, rituals, things we say that trigger a response, dark powers that listen as we pray. So this story really taps into those fears and it’s hard to look away, to turn away, to drown out the sound, to NOT hear the clarion call here. An unsettling story that is rather innovative. Enjoy the Pseudopod audio here. 

""Fabulous Beasts"" by Priya Sharma

One of the ways that this story succeeds is in paring the dysfunctional family life with the supernatural. You’ve certainly seen that kind of expanding, tainted bloodline before in everything from vampire stories to Game of Thrones to Hereditary. This story comes at abuse, desire, and the many ways that horror changes shape and form in some very original ways. It’s a story that has so much heart, buried deep within the darkness, the violence and history of this family surrounding a core of longing, and hope. Might be my favorite story of Priya’s as well. 

""From Within"" by Richard Thomas

Yeah, so, why not toss one of my own stories on this list as well, right? LOL. Forgive me. This story was long-listed for The Best Horror of the Year, originally published in the anthology, Slave Stories: Stories from the Slave State. For some reason this story always reminded me a bit of “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. Set in a dystopian world with alien overlords, this is a tale about a father and a son, and what they do to survive this miserable life. For me, it has that creeping horror and panic of waiting for the knock at the door, for the government, the soldiers to come in, trying to protect your child, and yet, knowing it’s impossible. I hope you enjoy it. 


So this is my list. It’s always growing, and changing, but I hope these ten stories will at least give you a little entertainment this Halloween season. And if you find a new favorite author or voice here as well? Well that would be just dandy. These are some of my favorite authors writing today, all of them doing amazing work. Enjoy!

Richard Thomas

Column by Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Penguin Random House Alibi), as well as Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); and one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 140 stories published, his credits include The Best Horror of the Year (Volume Eleven), Cemetery Dance (twice), Behold!: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders (Bram Stoker winner), PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad (numbers 2-4), and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, has received five Pushcart Prize nominations, and has been long-listed for Best Horror of the Year six times. He was also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. In his spare time he is a columnist at Lit Reactor and Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

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