In this post, I thought it would be fun to create my own list of Horror Masterworks books containing the greatest horror novels and short stories of all time.
The idea struck me because a while ago Gollancz brought out a series of Science Fiction Masterworks. These contained seminal sci-fi novels considered some of the best sci-fi novels of all time, such as Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Robert Silverberg’s The Book of Skulls as well as the obligatory PK Dick books. The series was an introduction to many authors readers might not be familiar with.
This was followed soon after by another series of Fantasy Masterworks with books such as Lord Dunsany’s The King of Elfland’s Daughter and George R R Martin’s Fevre Dream. However, due to less success this time around, plans for a Horror Masterworks series were apparently shelved. It might also have been due to the fact that some of the “fantasy” tiles were in fact horror, or even science-fiction as in Jack Finney’s Time and Again.
There has been a huge reticence by major publishers and booksellers recently to acknowledge the horror field. Yet despite this, horror is booming. Horror films like The Conjuring and the Paranormal Activity series have accounted for some of the most profitable Hollywood films this century. Horror novels continue to appear regularly on Amazon’s Top Selling Books list. The public, it seems, thirsts for horror, even if publishers don’t want to supply it.
In conclusion, it seems unfair that Sci-fi and Fantasy should get their own Masterworks series while Horror is left out. So without further ado, here are my recommendations for Gollancz’s non-existent Horror Masterworks series!
THE HORROR MASTERWORKS COLLECTION THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN…
- H P Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu & Others
- Ray Bradbury, The October Country
- Richard Matheson, I Am Legend
- Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
- Bram Stoker, Dracula
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
- Peter Straub, Ghost Story
- James Herbert, The Rats
- Stephen King, The Shining
- Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire
- Charles L Grant, The Hour of the Oxrun Dead
- Clive Barker, Cabal
- Ramsey Campbell, The Doll Who Ate His Mother
- Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan
- Robert Bloch, Psycho
- William Hope Hodgson, The House on the Borderland
- Sheridan Le Fanu, Through A Glass Darkly
- Roald Dahl, Kiss Kiss
- M R James, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
- Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Grey
- Edgar Allen Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination
- Thomas Ligotti, Teatro Grottesco
- Laird Barron, Occultation
- Robert R McCammon, Boy’s Life
- Daphne Du Maurier, The Birds
- Brett Easton Ellis, American Psycho
- Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
- Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
- William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist
- Algernon Blackwood, Ancient Sorceries & other Chilling Tales
- Charles Dickens, Ghost Stories
- Rudyard Kipling, The Mark of the Beast & Other Stories
As you can see, there is plenty for horror fans to sink their teeth into.
One word of warning: this is not a list of personal favourites (although many of them are) or a list of the most scariest books of all time. Instead, I’ve tried to balance true masters in the field with their most notable works, either because the book set a new bar in the genre, or because it is their most representative work. I’ve also tried to include some modern writers such as Thomas Ligotti and Laird Barron to show you that horror is not dead but is in fact alive and well and still growing, albeit a little more in the dark these days!
I hope you enjoy the list. Feel free to disagree, and be sure to let me know what you think about the list in the comments below!