Top 16+ Chilling Short Horror Stories and Collections In Order (2022)
A good horror story should make you feel like you're being slowly consumed by something inescapable and unstoppable. Something that is both dark and light, something that is both beautiful and grotesque.
There are some great things about horror short story collections. They can be devoured one at a time and ingested easily when the reader’s lifestyle does not allow much time for reading. Ideal for someone riding the night train, or working the graveyard shift. Short story collections are typically like boxes of candy. You open up, pick one, you either like the taste or you don’t, and you move on to the next.
All the horror short stories in the following list are of in normal length, and includes short stories, novelettes, and a novella, so you can select a story depending on the battery status of your reading lamp.
Let's see the best short horror stories and collections available on Amazon, ordered in reverse chronological order. If you are interested in my favorite horror quotes and my personal favorite micro story, check out the next section.
What Are The Most Chilling Short Horror Stories and Collections?
The Mammoth Book of Nightmare Stories, by Stephen Jones (2022)
This collection won the British Fantasy Awards in anthology category.
The book is a selection of sixteen horror stories to kill your nerves from favorite authors like Neil Gaiman, Tanish Lee, Harlan Ellison and many other great authors. This fantastic comprehensive selection contains stories that aren't so well known. There are numerous stories with frightening endings, well written and darkly conceived.
My personal favorite chapter was Joe R. Lansdale's Tight Little Stitches In A Dead Man's Back.
Cackle, by Rachel Harrison (2021)
This is a well-written and darkly funny take on how one woman deals with a supernatural invasion in her new home in the country. The story starts with her unexpected breakup and then moves on to the new job and apartment. It’s a very well-paced novel that keeps you guessing and turning the pages.
Annie isn't the only one to notice how strange things are getting in the town of Woodbury. The local coffee shop seems to be a hotbed of supernatural activity, but not all is what it seems. As Annie gets closer to uncovering the truth behind the mystery, she must decide if she's going to stand up for herself and her new home, or succumb to fear and paranoia.
The Other: Encounters With The Cthulhu Mythos Trilogy, by Troy Young (2020, 2021)
This book is a collection of short stories based on the Cthulhu Mythos. Each story builds on the previous one and leads up to the final story where the characters (who started out as strangers) join forces to defeat Cthulhu. The stories are well written and the characters are complex.
Dr. Adele Kramer is a psychologist who has been researching the Black Pharaoh for years. She attempts to help her patients by plumb the mysteries of their minds, until she finds an entity more powerful than Nyarlathotep himself.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes short horror stories like Lovecraft.
Touch, by Steven Jenkins (2021)
When Adam Beal is exposed to a mysterious virus, he's not sure what it will do. Maybe nothing. Or maybe everyone who catches it dies. And though infected himself, he may be the only one left able to save them. But first he'll have to survive.
I've read many zombie books in the past, but this one was different. I liked how it wasn't in the typical style, and was more about survival and cringe moments in this case, the way the story was told, and the characters were well done.
This book is great for the fans of short zombie horror stories.
The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft: At the Mountains of Madness, The Call of Cthulhu, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H. P. Lovecraft (2021)
Maybe you have seen the name H. P. Lovecraft mentioned in a lot of articles about his unusual or weird fiction, but you had never read anything of his writings? Hence this isn't a complete collection of author's stories, it is a great start who are not familiar with Lovecraft's life work.
H.P. Lovecraft is the most verbose writer in horror genre, his sentences run on for half a page at times, but the imigiary world he created is unique and scary as hell.
Wearing Skin: 12 Devilishly Dark Horror Short Stories, by Simon Paul Woodward (2020)
This new well-edited horror book consists of 12 short stories including “The Angel of Loughborough Junctions”, “The Galilean Manoeuvre” and “American Sexual Lobster”.
The core story “Wearing Skin” is about a tale of body swapping touching the mythic question of immortality and sex. The author presents the scenes in their raw form, that shocks the readers and keep them in fear.
Hence most of the stories are standalone, patterns like sexuality and bizarreness surrounds these dark tales. The book is an excellent read if you are fan of Joe Hill.
Dark Halloween: A Flash Fiction Anthology, by Eleanor Merry and Cassandra Angler (2020)
What could be a better read for Halloween than a skeleton and ghosts stuffed story? The authors of these short stories want to pull us from the real world to a terrifying place. These stories are filled with twists and terror, so let them scare you!
Dark Halloween is a collection of chilling tales to get your heart racing and keep you up at night. Featuring stories from some of the brightest names in horror, such as Bentley Little, H.P Lovecraft, Jack Ketchum, Ed Gorman and many more.
Full Throttle: Stories, by Joe Hill (2020)
The author's first success was Heart-Shaped Box, brought genuine scares for readers. This book is a collection of short stories honoring Matheson's work, that have been written over last five-ten years.
In this short horror collection, not all stories have a happy ending. It's not in the author's nature to give the ending we want. He writes the ending that is the truth as he sees it.
My personal favorite was Late Returns in this collection, which is a mind bending time travel horror.
Places Where The Moon Never Shines: 8 Twisted Tales, by Leon Thornton (2020)
This bunch of British horror stories lures the reader into a fog of both real and unworldly situations that is sure to bind them long into the night hours, while everyone else sleeps…
Ever feel like you just want to get away for a short while? Disappear from this intolerable, human infested lump of space rock and find a quiet little corner in the shadows? Perhaps, like a spider you seek to spin your web in a cool dark place where you can forget about the manic world and chew quietly on bite-sized chunks of horror fiction. If this is the case, then ‘Places Where The Moon Never Shines’ might be worth considering as your next snack.
The setting of these stories suggests inspiration comes from pre 90’s style horror. If you are old enough to remember those times when cellular phones were a thing of the future, computers were basic and kids played with toys, then you may feel a twinge of nostalgia for the good old days.
Short Horror Stories Vol. 12: Scary Ghosts, Monsters, Demons, and Hauntings (Supernatural Suspense Collection), by Scare Street, Ron Ripley, David Longhorn (2020)
The last episode of the “Supernatural Suspense Collection” contains two short creepy stories. Maybe the last part of the series isn't the best one, but the whole series deserves the readers attention.
This book is filled with terrifying tales of ghosts, demons, monsters, hauntings and otherworldly spirits. These are the kinds of stories that will make you sleep with the lights on. If you like a good scare then this is the book for you!
The Horror Zine's Book of Ghost Stories, by Bentley Little, Graham Masterton, Dawn Harris, Joe Lansdale (2020)
The Horror Zine's Book of Ghost Stories is a compendium of brand-new tales from some of the biggest names in horror. From well-known masters like Ramsey Campbell and Stephen King, to rising stars like Damien Angelica Walters and Brian Kirk, this book has it all.
If you are looking for afterlife and ghosts stories from various authors, this is a good book to read. I loved the chilling atmosphere of this anthology. Do you feel that ghost stories became boring lately? These authors won't disappoint you! Fresh ideas and twists everywhere and there is no simple way to die anymore. So be aware of the long-dead fingers upon your ankle!
Salt Slow, by Julia Armfield (2019)
In this debut, Julia Armfield explores women’s experiences in contemporary society. Urban dwellers sleep apart from their bodies, like Peter Pan’s shadow; a city turns insomniac. Visibly ecstatic, Salt Slow is an experimental novella that traces these intersections of the natural and the artificial.
Julia Armfield is a great storyteller. The characters are interesting, the stories are paced well and the endings are satisfying at least in most cases. Without doubt these are some of the best horror stories I've read in the recent years. They are creepy, but also funny at least in the darkish sense. I highly recommend this collection to anyone who likes dark fiction.
Don't Scream: 60 Tales to Terrify, by Blair Daniels (2019)
Don't Scream is a collection of 60 tales to terrify. Each story is written in the same style and theme, with consistent characters and locations throughout. Reading just one story a day for a year will give you an excellent education on what horror is all about.
Don't Scream is a well crafted book with full of scary stories written in first person point of view. Some of them happened in the past some are happening in the present, and some of them feels like a first hand experience of the author. If you're looking for some stories that will have you jumping at darkness, based on everyday things it could be a good choice.
Ghost Stories: Scary Ghosts & Paranormal Horror Short Stories Anthology, by Ron Riple Et al. (2016)
For more than twenty years, Ron Ripley has been writing works of fiction in the horror and science fiction genres. In Ghost Stories , his first collection of short stories, readers are asked to join him on a journey through some of the darkest of his works.
Let's start with a classic formation, but thanks to the multiple authors this is a really good mix of horror stories. The book consists of 8 terrifying stories. We will find crows, dogs, shelters and ghost hunters in these shorts. Every short story holds a unique event or element within the story.
I strongly recommend this scary short book for ghost story lovers.
The Kentucky Cannibal, by Ryan Green (2016)
A chilling tale of murder and cannibalism across the Wild West, The Kentucky Cannibal offers a gripping new perspective on one of history’s most notorious killers.
A well-researched and gory tale that will keep you on your toes and leave you wondering what will happen next. The story is very vivid and extremely chilling. The author did an excellent job describing the feelings of the main character. I enjoyed the plot and the pacing, and really liked the ending.
Horror Stories: Scary Ghosts, Paranormal & Supernatural Horror Short Stories Anthology (Scare Street Horror Short Stories Book 4), by Ron Ripley Et al. (Free) (2016)
Supernatural horror stories by bestselling authors, and new writers. Stories of ghosts, hauntings, possessions, creatures and the paranormal. This book contains four supernatural horror stories. Each one of them is sure to keep you awake at night, and make your skin crawl with goosebumps.
Most of these stories were very well told and I could relate to most of them. My favorite was Scarecrow and the Sin Eater, where a poor young boy seeks revenge on the people who are abusive towards him.
What Are My Personal Favorite Quotes From Short Horror Stories?
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
― Howard Phillips Lovecraft, The Nameless City
Maybe all the schemes of the devil were nothing compared to what man could think up.
— Joe Hill, Horns
In the midst of all these haunted people, she sat alone, without a ghost yet longing for one, her writing like a clasp of fingers around empty air.
— Julia Armfield, Salt Slow
What Is My Personal Favorite Micro Horror Story?
The First Day of School by Zenryhao
Everyone loves the first day of school, right? New year, new classes, new friends. It's a day full of potential and hope, before all the dreary depressions of reality show up to ruin all the fun.
I like the first day of school for a different reason, though. You see, I have a sort of power. When I look at people, I can…sense a sort of aura around them. A colored outline based on how long that person has to live. Most everyone I meet around my age is surrounded by a solid green hue, which means they have plenty of time left.
A fair amount of them have a yellow-orangish tinge to their auras, which tends to mean a car crash or some other tragedy. Anything that takes people “before their time” as they say.
The real fun is when the auras venture into the red end of the spectrum, though. Every now and again I'll see someone who's basically a walking stoplight. Those are the ones who get murdered or kill themselves. It's such a rush to see them and know their time is numbered.
With that in mind, I always get to class very early so I can scout out my classmates' fates. The first kid who walked in was basically radiating red. I chuckled to myself. Too damn bad, bro. But as people kept walking in, they all had the same intense glow. I finally caught a glimpse of my rose-tinted reflection in the window, but I was too stunned to move. Our professor stepped in and locked the door, his aura a sickening shade of green.
Final Thoughts on Short Horror Stories and Collections
Naturally there is huge competition in the genre of horror short story collections. There are countless anthologies by the likes of Steven King and Dean Koontz, and countless more written by unpublished, unheard of authors. From the grassroots to the top you will find exceptional and talented writers in this category, making it very hard for those aspiring authors to rise up from the quagmire and be noticed.
Occasionally after sifting through piles of psychological horror books, the reader will find a gem that stands out from the rest and take a chance on it. Maybe you have just discovered one.
My profession is online marketing and development (10+ years experience), check my latest mobile app called Upcoming. But my real passion is reading books both fiction and non-fiction. I have several favorite authors like James Redfield or Daniel Keyes. If I read a book I always want to find the best part of it, every book has it's unique value.