9 Best Horror Short Stories (8 Free to Read)

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Whenever any reader plans of reading a horror short fiction his journey end with some of the great names of horror writing like Edgar Ellan Poe, Shirley Jackson, H.P Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

These masters of horror fiction gave the literary world some of the best horror short stories which are still loved by readers of horror fiction.

The list of famous horror short stories follows the works of these great writers of horror short fiction.

Best Horror & Scary Short Stories list:

Our first three listings of best & famous horror short stories contain the eerie tales of Edgar Ellan Poe. Also regarded as the master of horror short stories and one of those brilliant minds in short horror fiction writing, Poe’s quick and short horror tales are the best picks for your horror craving.

1. The Tell-Tale Heart

cover of famous horror story book the tell tale heart by edgar allan poe

The Tell Tale Heart was first published in 1843 but is still loved and read by fans of horror fiction.

Would you ever kill somebody just because you didn’t like the eyes of that person, but the main character, the servant of an old man killed his master just because he cannot bear looking into his master’s eye which he described as the “vulture-like eyes

As the narrator of the story says;

I did not hate the old man; I even loved him. He had never hurt me. I did not want his money. I think it was his eye. His eyes was like the eyes of a vulture.

  • Read the whole story of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, Here

2. The Black Cat

cover of famous horror short story book the black cat by edgar allan poe

The Black Cat by Poe was published in the same year as The Tell-Tale Heart in 1843 and is also quite similar to the story of The Tell-Tale Heart.

The Black Cat narrates the story of a man, his beloved, and their black cat, Pluto. As written by Poe the man character, is an animal lover and had always loved his cat a lot but one day he was completely drunk, tried to approach the cat, but the cat bite the man and in fury, he gouges out his own cat eyes and later killed it.

Later the man regrets his doings, but again the monster inside him emerged when again he was completely intoxicated and killed his wife and his new cat which he had brought in the memory of his loving cat Pluto.

As the narrator of the story says;

In sudden anger, I took a knife and struck wildly at the cat.
Quickly my wife put out her hand and stopped my arm. This only
increased my anger and, without thinking, I turned and put the knife’s
point deep into her heart! She fell to the floor and died without a


Read the whole story of “The Black Cat”, Here

3. The Fall of the House of Usher

cover of famous horror short story the fall of the house of usher

The Fall of the House of Usher is a short gothic fiction by Edgar Ellan Poe, first published in 1839. The story presents the horrific events which the narrator of the story suffers when he was called by his best friend to visit him as he tells him of his illness, but soon the narrator finds himself in great trouble and somehow managed to save his life.

The story is presenting some horrific events like the narrator helping his friend in placing his sister’s dead body into a vault where his friend later exclaims that her twin sister was alive while putting her in the tomb.

The narrator’s story starts with these intense lines saying;

It was a Dark soundless day near the end of the year, and clouds were hanging low in the heavens

The Fall of the House of Usher

Read the whole story of ”The Fall Of The House Of Usher”, Here

4. The Monkeys Paw

cover of the famous horror short story book the monkeys paw

Written by W.W Jacobs, another big name in horror writing and mostly recognized with this short horror fiction ” The Monkey’s Paw”, a classical supernatural short tale based on the ”three wishes” theme. It was first published in 1902 and with its popularity later adapted into TV series, films, comics, plays, and operas. 

The story begins with a white family who comes in a possession of a mummified monkey’s paw that magically can grant three wishes to its owner, but here comes the twist as every wish invites some horrific consequence which every time puts the whole white family into great trouble.

The theme of the story is;

Be careful what you wish for

When Mr. White made his first wish, it was just for money, but now he found his all money worthless and says;

I wish my son alive again


Read this amazing and horrifying short story of ”The Monkeys Paw” Here

5. The Dunwich Horror

book cover of h.p lovecraft's famous horror short story the dunwich horror

The DunWich Horror was written by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, a great horror fiction American writer and the creator of Cthulhu Mythos, a fictional universe used in the works of Lovecraft.

The Dunwich Horror was first published in 1929. The story takes the readers to Dunwich, a fictional and isolated town in Massachusetts where lived a weird family of Whateley’s.

The whole story revolves around this strange family of three where Lavinia Whateley, a deformed unstable albino, and the mother of Wilbur Whateley with an unknown father, Wilbur the boy with some extremely unpleasant, ugly appearance with an inhuman body odor, begin walking normally at the age of seven months, started to talk properly at the age of eleven months and looked like a fifteen-year-old grown-up boy at the age of four and a half and his sorcerer grandfather who keeps on buying more and more cattle yet the number of his herd never increases.

While reading the story you will encounter some strange events, unpleasant humans, monsters, dark rituals, witchcraft, and much more weird stuff.

Read the whole story of ”The Dunwich Horror” here

best horror short stories online free to read

6. The Call of Cthulhu

book cover of famous horror short story the call of cthulhu

Another amazing horror short story by H.P Lovecraft was first published in 1928.

The Call of Cthulhu is one of the best and most famous horror short stories by H.P Lovecraft where he debuts his extraterrestrial entity Cthulhu.

The whole story is written in three parts in a documentary style. The popularity of this short horror story can be guessed by the thing that it was turned into a movie and a play station game.

Read the whole story of ”The Call of Cthulhu” here

8. The Lottery

book cover of the lottery by shirley jackson

Described as one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature, The Lottery written by Shirley Jackson went through a lot of controversies and bans in some countries when first published in 1948.

The lottery is more than just a horror story, It can be one of the most mind disturbing short fiction you will ever read.

The story starts with a description of an annual rite known as ‘’the lottery’’ happening in a fictional small town in contemporary America. All the people of that certain fictional village have gathered to participate in the local tradition, the lottery, which is organized every year in the village for better agriculture.

Everyone in the village old or young, children, or women had to participate in the lottery and that unlucky person, whoever received the paper with a black dot had been stoned to death by the mob.

This strange and mind disturbing short story presents the psychology of a mob who is ready to do the act of cruelty and violence just because now they are part of a large group who thinks that this cruel act is justified for the sake of their agricultural benefits and they all are behaving in the same manner blindly without caring about their inhuman act.

When the mob got ready to start throwing stones at Mrs. Hutchinson, her horrifying words shakes the readers as she says;

It isn’t fair, It isn’t right, Mrs Hutchinson Screamed, and they were upon her.


Read the whole story of ”The Lottery” here

9. NightShift

book cover of night shift horror short story collection by stephen king

Night Shift is the collection of 20 great short stories by the king of horror writing, Sir Stephen King. The collection was first published in 1978 winning Stephen many awards and nominations later in those times and still, it is one of the favorite books of horror short stories for all the readers craving for horror short fiction.

The collection contains some of the best horror short fiction by Stephen king these are

  • Jerusalem’s Lot-
  • Graveyard Shift-
  • Night Surf
  • The Boogeyman
  • Trucks
  •  The Mangler
  • The Woman in the room
  • One for the road
  • Children of the Corn
  • The Man Who Loved Flower
  • I know what you need
  • The Ledge
  • Quitters, Inc
  • Battleground
  • Gray Matter
  •  I am the doorway
  • Strawberry Spring
  • Sometimes They Come Back
  • The Lawnmower Man
  • The Last Rung on the Ladder

All the short stories from these collections deliver a great horror reading experience for readers.

NightShift is currently not free on web


Watch the below informative video by Ted-Ed on why you should read Edgar Allan Poe.

This was our list of best and famous horror short stories of all the time, yet want to read something else then do try our quick MicroFiction Stories.

Neel Rana

About the Author- Neel Rana is a YA short story author, flash fiction writer, literary enthusiast and the founder of Pandora Post. Neel holds a degree in BA Honours in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. Neel’s magnum opus YA short storybook, “The Drunken Ghost” has been well received by the readers.