Every country has ghost stories. From the kaidan folktales of Japan to the wailing woman legends of Latin America, there are plenty of scary stories to keep horror fans entertained far beyond the Halloween season. The United Kingdom, in particular, has some of the most famous and varied spooky tales to keep the chills running down our spines. Below are thirteen of some of our favorite horror novels that take place in the UK by British authors, including everything from vampires to haunted houses and much more.
Bloody Brilliant! 13 British Horror Stories to Give You a Fright
Does any country do creepy, labyrinthine estates that may or may not house a specter or two better than the United Kingdom? In this haunting novel that combines all the best elements of ghostly tales with historical fiction, a wounded navy veteran heads to his family’s estate with his deaf sister at the start of the Blitz. But soon, his sister begins hearing mysterious voices, and they must uncover what darkness lies in the house’s history.
Dominic Lancaster hoped to prove himself to his family by excelling in the Navy during World War II. Instead he is wounded while serving as a gunner and loses his leg. Still recovering from his wounds and the trauma of his amputation when the Blitz begins, Dominic finds himself shuffled off to the countryside by his family, along with his partially deaf sister, Octavia. The crumbling family estate on the shores of Ullswater is an old, much-neglected place that doesn’t seem to promise much in the way of happiness or recovery.
Something more than a friendship begins to flourish between Dominic and his nurse, Rose, in the late autumn of that English countryside, as he struggles to come to terms with his new life as an amputee. Another thing that seems to be flourishing is Octavia’s hearing.
As winter descends, sinister forces seem to be materializing around Octavia, who is hearing voices of children. After seeing things that no one else can see and hearing things that no one else can hear, Octavia is afflicted with a sickness that cannot be explained. With Rose’s help, Dominic sets out to find the truth behind the voices that have haunted his sister. In doing so, he uncovers an even older, darker evil that threatens not only Octavia, but Rose and himself.
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In this unofficial sequel to DRACULA, one of horror’s most seminal novels, a British soldier encounters a strange commander named Harker in the midst of the Great War. Harker is capable of unnatural feats of strength and seems to have a bloodthirsty love of violence. But there is more to Harker than meets the eye, and in this white-knuckled thriller that goes from the horrors of no-man’s-land to the shadowy mountains of Transylvania, nothing is what it seems.
In this midcentury classic that inspired the film VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED and taught us to be afraid of spooky kids, an entire village wakes up after a mysterious object appears. Soon, the townswomen discover they are all pregnant. As the resulting identical children grow, they become alarmingly powerful and it’s clear that they’re not entirely human. But what exactly are they? And can they be stopped?
Travel to Victorian London with this thoroughly creepy and lush novel following a beautiful young artist and the strange, mysterious man who becomes fixated on her. A haunting and terrifying thriller that evocatively explores the dangerously narrow line between love and obsession and reminds us that danger very often lurks in the darkest of shadows.
The #1 international bestseller and The New York Times Editor’s Choice
“As lush as the novels of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield, as exciting as The Alienist and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, this exquisite literary thriller will intrigue book clubs and rivet fans of historical fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“A lush, evocative Gothic.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This terrifically exciting novel will jolt, thrill, and bewitch readers.” —Booklist, starred review
Obsession is an art.
In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.
Obsession is an art.
In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment. But for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.
“A lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) that is “a perfect blend of froth and substance” (The Washington Post), The Doll Factory will haunt you long after you finish it and is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and Fingersmith.
The debut that put Ruth Ware on the map, this white-knuckled thriller follows a woman invited on a weekend getaway—only to have things to go horribly and dangerously awry. A sinister tale that crawls under your skin, this bestseller reminds you to always be careful in the woods.
*AUTHOR OF THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 and THE LYING GAME
*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, AND LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
*SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
An NPR Best Book of the Year * An Entertainment Weekly Summer Books Pick * A Buzzfeed “31 Books to Get Excited About this Summer” Pick * A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick * A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year * A BookReporter Summer Reading Pick * A New York Post “Best Novels to Read this Summer” Pick * A Shelf Awareness “Book Expo America 2015 Buzz Book” Pick
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.
Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.
When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.
Filled with dread, unease, and plenty of mystery, THE LITTLE STRANGER is a story that asks: Is it ghosts or something even darker? In postwar England, a doctor is summoned to a crumbling country home and soon becomes wrapped up in the strange and eerie events affecting the family. A slow-burn exploration of the trauma of war, the cruelty of class divisions, and the haunting power of memory.
In this Gothic fairy tale, children mysteriously begin arriving at the isolated estate of a wealthy and disfigured man. Why are they here and what are they running from? And why does he allow them all in to explore his sprawling mansion? This is an atmospheric, thought-provoking, and unforgettable exploration into the unknown.
A “disquieting” (The New York Times) and mesmerizing tale from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor—a tale that “[stirs] the imagination in the manner of Roald Dahl or C.S. Lewis” (Winnepeg Free Press).
In a sprawling estate lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign. Then more children begin to show up.
Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.
“A one-of-a-kind literary horror story” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review), The Children’s Home is “an absorbing and dream-like narrative that recalls both the pastoral gothic of Shirley Jackson and the dystopic vision of John Wyndham” (Columbus Dispatch). “Written with charm and restraint,” (The Missourian), Lambert’s American debut weaves elements of psychological suspense and neo-gothic horror to reveal the grotesque—as well as the glimmers of goodness—buried deep within the soul. “This genre-bending horror story is sure to haunt you in all the best ways” (Bustle).
In this sophisticated and deliciously engaging novel, the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” poet Lord Byron does not die in Greece but becomes one of the undead: a vampire. He then embarks on a thrilling and intoxicating adventure of sex and violence, one that will effortlessly transport you across the oceans and through time. A Gothic travelogue unlike any other.
Famed nineteenth-century poet and rake Lord Byron travels to Greece and becomes the world’s most formidable vampire—entering a dark, intoxicating world of ancient arts and scorching excesses of evil—in this offbeat book by the author of Slave of My Thirst.
Traveling in the mountains of Greece, Byron falls under the spell of a mysterious fugitive slave, whose pale, slim body arouses his lust. Utterly entranced, his fate is sealed. The supreme sensualist embarks on a life of adventure—that of the world's most formidable vampire.
Chosen to enjoy powers beyond those any vampire has ever known, Byron enters a dark, intoxicating world of long-lost secrets, ancient arts, and scorching excesses of evil. He drinks deeply of terror and sex. But his diversions, delicious and cruel, are also his torment: an all-consuming thirst damning all those he loves...
The past and the future collide in this sinister paranormal tale of a mysterious inheritance, a strange visage in an empty window, and a missing girl. Working in an old Shropshire house, an Oxford scholar and a local antiques dealer embark on a frantic search for answers when it becomes clear that there are dark and gruesome secrets within its walls. With mounting suspense and plenty of shivery nightmares, this is another haunted house you’ll definitely want to visit.
Another classic of British Gothic horror, THE WOMAN IN BLACK masterfully explores grief, memory, and the powerful love between mother and child—all while providing thoroughly terrifying chills. From unexplained noises in an isolated house to the terrifying appearance of a woman in black, this is one of the most thoroughly effective haunted house stories you’ll read.
A modern classic of Gothic horror, Susan Hill drew upon the rich tradition of British ghost stories to craft this atmospheric tale of a mysterious specter whose appearance heralds the death of a child. Who is the terrifying woman in black and why does she haunt the halls of the isolated Eel Marsh House?
From the Nobel Prize–winning author, her darkly biting novel follows a seemingly perfect family in 1960s England whose contented domestic existence is terrifyingly disrupted by the birth of their fifth child. With freakish strength, an abnormal appearance, and a propensity for violence, he inspires fear among all who encounter him. A brutal and twisty nightmare of the inherent cruelty in society.
An isolated English village. Superstitious townsfolk. A shuttered taxidermy museum. A stranger’s sudden death. And a young woman whose memory of her childhood has been wiped away by a mysterious accident. At turns sinister and romantic, THE TAXIDERMIST’S DAUGHTER is an unputdownable mystery of ghostly proportions.
From the author of CLOUD ATLAS, a gleefully fiendish tale following a brother and sister who, once every nine years, invite a lonely misfit into Slade House. But no one knows what actually happens inside. Feverishly diabolical, this is another spooky fairy tale for adults that you won’t be able to put down.
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