We know it’s not October yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a few extra scary stories as the nights get longer and the leaves start to change. This week saw the release of The Big Book of Ghost Stories, an anthology of spooky tales starring ghouls of all descriptions, edited by Otto Penzler. Though we haven’t worked our way through it yet, we were inspired to think about the fictional ghosts who have creeped us out the most thoroughly over the years — from those inhabiting classic horror stories to those sneaking into more literary fiction. Click through to read about our picks for the creepiest ghosts in literature — and since everyone has their own specific demons to face, let us know which you’d have chosen in the comments.
King Hamlet, Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Shakespeare wasn’t exactly a horror writer, but he was rather fond of using ghosts, and to our minds, King Hamlet is by far the creepiest, sneaking up on Hamlet with blood trickling from his ear, demanding revenge. Is he a “spirit of health or goblin damned”? Is he a figment of Hamlet’s twisted imagination? We’ll never truly know, but he always makes us shudder.