A few horror stories for Halloween

It’s Halloween! Although, admittedly, this is not a big deal to me, just an excuse to dress up and party that we got from Americans. But it’s fun, so I thought I’d share my favourite horror short stories and movies from the past year. Some of them might have elements of horror rather than falling squarely into the genre, but these are the fictions that disturbed me the most. All the short stories and the short film is available for free, and I haven’t shared any plot details.

In no particular order:

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter
Actually, this one deserves to be first, because when I read it this morning I remembered that it was Halloween and I decided to do this post. I was reading Slatter’s story “Flight” in the modern fairytale anthology Once Upon a Time, and I quite liked it, so I skimmed her bio at the end of the tale. This led me to the British Fantasy Award winning “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” at Nightmare magazine. It’s a twisted, lustful tale and absolutely perfect for the occasion.

Lydia’s Body by Vylar Kaftan
This is the kind of story that shows me the kind of nuanced forms that horror can take.

full_witchofduvaThe Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale by Leigh Bardugo
If you’re reading these stories in the order I’ve posted them, you might notice some themes here, like complex, tormented female protagonists. And this one should not be missed. If you don’t recognise Leigh Bardugo’s name, you may recall her other short story on Tor, “The Too-Clever Fox” – an even better tale that I considered adding to this list (but it’s less creepy).

I’m starting to dislike this kind of portrayal of AI, but FUCK, this is a great short film. The ending…!

The ConjuringThe Conjuring
I love horror movies, but, let’s face it, the genre doesn’t often produce top-quality film, and I personally find that many horror movies fall flat towards the end. The Conjuring is an eerily good exception. It scared the shit out of me, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Also, that doll is extremely fucking creepy.

Ok, this is one of those horror movies with a terrible ending that I will skip every time i rewatch it, but everything else is superb – great acting, compelling characters, and some of my favourite horror scenes and ideas.

Up for Review: Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone

I don’t celebrate Halloween, although it’s become an increasingly popular party day in South Africa over the past couple of years. We don’t bother with any of the related traditions like pumpkin-carving or trick-or-treating, and it’s not exactly a family holiday, since (in my experience anyway) kids aren’t typically involved. Mostly, it’s just a good excuse for a few people to throw costume parties and host events like the South African Horrorfest.

Here in Ethiopia, I doubt many people know about the holiday, except for some of the expats and the Ethiopians who have lived in the states (a surprisingly large community). However, I have found myself invited to an American birthday/Halloween party, so I need to think of a costume. Preferably something that I can put together using the clothes in my wardrobe, stuff around the house, and maybe a prop that’d be easy to find in the shops, which aren’t very well stocked. Any ideas?

Now would also be a good time to read Your House is On Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye, a Halloween release from Penguin Books. I love the title and the creepy cover. Also, kids are scary.

Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye (Penguin Books)

Marketing copy from NetGalley:

This Halloween, Penguin Books is excited to publish Stefan Kiesbye’s spooky new novel YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE about a haunted German village and the children who are the guardians of its secrets.


Shirley Jackson meets The Twilight Zone in this literary novel of supernatural horror about a village called Hemmersmoor, a place untouched by time and shrouded in superstition.  YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, YOUR CHILDREN ALL GONE is told from the point of view of its children (Christian, Martin, Linde, and Anke) who grow up in a claustrophobic world of ancient superstitions, pagan rituals and wartime secrets.  The town’s main buildings are its grand manor house whose occupants despise the villagers, the small pub whose regulars speak of ghosts, and the old mill no one dares to mention.  This is where the four young friends come of age, in an atmosphere thick with fear and suspicion.  All too soon, their innocent games bring them face-to-face with the village’s darkest secrets – which will never let them go.


This eerily dispassionate, astonishingly assured novel is evocative of Stephen King’s classic short story “Children of the Corn” and infused with the spirit of the Brothers Grimm.

Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone was published on 25 September by Penguin Books.

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About the author:
Stefan Kiesbye has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. Born on the German coast of the Baltic Sea, he studied in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Portales, New Mexico where he teaches creative writing at Eastern New Mexico University and is the arts editor of Absinthe: New European Writing.  His stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and his first book Next Door Lived a Girl won the Low Fidelity Press Novella Award and was praised by Peter Ho Davies as “utterly gripping,” by Charles Baxter as “both laconic and feverish,” and by Robert Olmstead as “maddeningly powerful.” – NetGalley