When it comes to tales of haunted houses, few are as terrifying as the 1959 gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House. Originally written by the acclaimed Shirley Jackson, the story has since been adapted into feature films in 1963 and 1999 as well as into a very successful Netflix TV series that pales in comparison to Jackson's original tale. Set, of course, in the notorious Hill House, the book focuses on four adults as they battle with their own psyches as much as the specters that seem to be haunting them. Jackson has mastered the art of creating tension in a way that keeps readers gripped with terror.
If you’re looking for more gothic horror to keep you up at night, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is an obvious next choice. Also written by Shirley Jackson, the novel surrounds a strange and isolated family with a tragic past. A feeling of uneasiness permeates the story as we discover what happens when love and devotion walk hand and hand with sociopathy.
Back to the TV series, my next recommendation is the inspiration for the second season, The Haunting of Bly Manor. The classic horror novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James focuses on a governess who, while caring for two children at a remote estate, becomes convinced that the grounds are haunted. Like the other titles on the list, the brilliance of this gothic ghost story comes from the writer’s ability to create an intimate sense of confusion and suspense within the reader.
For a more modern take on these gothic themes, try Wonderland by Zoje Stage. If Shirley Jackson and a copy of Stephen King's The Shining were to somehow have a child, it would be this book. It is set on an isolated farmhouse in the Adirondacks where a devoted mother may be the only one who can save her family from the mysterious presence that beckons to them from the woods. As with the rest of the books on this list, the mix of tension and horror is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.