Recommended Halloween Reading: Last Lines of 15 Notable Works of Horror Fiction

  • Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818), Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 

In a nutshell: unwanted baby wreaks vengeance on irresponsible parent. 

He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.

  • Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), Charles Maturin 

In a nutshell: scholar bargains with the devil for a 150-year extension on life, only to spend most of it looking for his contract replacement.      

Melmoth and Monçada exchanged looks of silent and unutterable horror, and returned slowly home.

  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Robert Louis Stevenson 

In a nutshell: urbane, respectable doctor unleashes the beast in him.

Here then, as I lay down the pen and proceed to seal up my confession, I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end.

  • The Great God Pan (1894), Arthur Machen 

In a nutshell: doctor experiments on a young woman to “lift the veil” over the human mind, known to the Ancients as “seeing the god Pan”; she does, literally, and more. 

And now Helen is with her companions…

  • Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker 

In a nutshell: bad enough that this immigrant acquires chunks of our real estate; he’s out to steal our women, too! 

Already he knows her sweetness and loving care; later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake.

  • The Turn of the Screw (1898), Henry James  

In a nutshell: governess battles two dead ex-employees of a country manor for the souls of her two young charges, but are these ghosts real or just figments of her imagination?

We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.

  • Rebecca (1938), Daphne du Maurier

In a nutshell: naïve, innocent second wife is haunted by beautiful, brilliant—above all, dead—first wife.

And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.

  • The Haunting of Hill House (1959), Shirley Jackson

In a nutshell: ghosthunters observe and document phenomena in a house reputed to be haunted, but who is the haunter and who is the haunted?

Within, its walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. 

  • Interview with the Vampire (1976), Anne Rice

In a nutshell: immortality is a bitch.

And then, stuffing the notebook quickly in his pocket, he gathered the tapes into his brief case, along with the small recorder, and hurried down the long hallway and down the stairs to the street, where in front of the corner bar his car was parked.

  • The House Next Door (1978), Anne Rivers Siddons

In a nutshell: new, ultra-modern house plumbs the horror of breaking social taboos.

“It looks like it’s alive.”

  • Falling Angel (1978), William Hjortsberg

In a nutshell:  Beware of clients who call themselves Louis Cyphre and hire shamuses to track down missing crooners over breach of contract. 

This time, the joke was on me

  • The Woman in Black (1983), Susan Hill

In a nutshell: hell hath no fury like a mother sundered from her child.

Enough.

  • Beloved (1987), Toni Morrison

In a nutshell: slavery, America’s original sin, is a revenant.

Beloved

  • The Little Stranger (2009), Sarah Waters

In a nutshell:  As British country house and gentry fall into ruin and the working-class gains ascendancy, whose poltergeist is it?

For I’ll turn, and am disappointed—realizing that what I am looking at is only a cracked window-pane, and that the face gazing distortedly from it, baffled and longing, is my own.

  • Aklat ng mga Naiwan (Book of the Left-Behind, 2018), A.A. Mendoza III

In a nutshell: at last, our very own Filipino novela del dictador about a dictator who writes a novel titled Ang Pista ng Mga Katawan: Kontra-Pagwawasto (The Feast of Bodies: Against Correction), the second part of which is a 300-page, extraordinarily gruesome interrogation manual (divided into three sections, “Pagdukot” [Abduction], “Pagtortyur” [Torture], and “Pagdispatsa” [Disposal]”) that gives the lie to the myth of the “smiling martial law.”  

Aminin man natin o hindi, nasa guhit-tagpuan ng ating kolektibong kahibangan ang ating katubusan. (Whether we admit it or not, our redemption lies on the horizon of our collective mania.)

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