Do you hear that jingle in the air? Is it made by festive revelers or something more sinister? Yes, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for Horror Delve’s Third Annual Suggested Reading For The Holiday Season. If the tales listed below aren’t enough, you can find more suggestions here:

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


1. “The Phantom Riders” by Ernest R. Suffling (1896) – Everyone attending a Christmas party in 1695 witness the apparitions of two rivals they didn’t realize were dead moving through the house. The ghosts return the following Christmas Eve to reenact the events which led to their demise.

2. “The Vanishing House” by Bernard Capes (1899) – A group of minstrels, who get lost traveling in the frigid snow, try playing some music to distract themselves when a house appears out of nowhere. A strange looking person is seen watching from a window as a girl comes out to offer them drinks. This story is written in a style meant to mimic the manner of speech of the main characters’, which makes it a difficult read, but it’s very short and the ending is pretty creepy.

3. “The Shadow” by E. Nesbit (1910) – During the wee hours of a Christmas party, three young ladies coax a shy housekeeper into telling them of her encounter with a ghost that took the form of an amorphous, deadly shadow. Nesbit, as always, crafts a good tale here.

4. “The Black Cat” by W. J. Wintle (1921) – A man with an innate fear of cats begins to see one everywhere appearing as a heap of earth and a moving shadow. It seems to be stalking him during the Christmas season.

5. “The Step” by E.F. Benson (1934) – A shrewd businessman mercilessly evicts tenants who owe him money without a second thought to their plight or the fact that Christmas is so near. As things go from bad to worse for the family he tossed out, he begins to hear disembodied footsteps following him. The protagonist is similar to Ebenezer Scrooge, but the horrors he encounters at the story’s conclusion are far more terrifying.

6. “The Hanging Tree” by R. Chetwynd-Hayes (1984) – A precocious young girl becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure watching and beckoning to her from a bench by a large tree across the street from her family’s house. None of the others attending Christmas Eve dinner there are able to see him. This is a top notch, eerie tale with a rich Christmas setting.


7. “Behind the Doors” Ramsey Campbell (2010) – A grandfather becomes concerned after his grandson’s math teacher gives the boy an Advent Calendar in the days leading to Christmas Day. The teacher is the same man who taught and tormented the grandfather himself forty years previous. Festering with hate spurred by his memories of the teacher, he starts trying to figure out what the teacher’s end goal might be and how to stop it.

8. “With Their Eyes All Aglow” by Jeff C. Carter (2013) – An entomologist searching for an elusive luminous spider in Myanmar comes across a Christmas tree farm in the jungle as well as the deadly predators living among them.

Article by Matt Cowan


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