10 Free Classic Horror Books to Enjoy by Candlelight

A selection of free classic horror stories that will make your blood run cold.

Dim the lights. Light some candles. Hide under a blanket.

And discover this free classic horror reads that can still send chills up several readers’ spines, even if some were written over a century ago.

(Note: These titles are under public domain according to U.S. law, but might not be available if you’re logging in from outside the United States. Sorry!)

free classic horror the king in yellow

The King in Yellow

Robert W. Chambers

This collection of short stories has become one of the most beloved classics in supernatural fiction. It explores the descent of different characters into the unknown while hinting the looming influence of The King in Yellow, a mysterious play that can turn people insane.

Fun fact, the HBO’s True Detective references this book during its first season. No better way to add an extra layer of eeriness to a suspenseful show!

carmilla by joseph sheridan le fanu


Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Count Dracula might be literature’s vampire superstar, but he certainly wasn’t the first to haunt the dreams of many a reader.

Meet Carmilla, an enigmatic woman whose beauty will prove both irresistible and lethal. Will young, innocent Laura survive her deadly charms? Will you?

the yellow wallpaper charlotte perkins gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

One of the most claustrophobic stories ever written, The Yellow Wallpaper puts us in the shoes of a woman dealing with neglect, isolation… and a ghostly presence trapped inside her bedroom walls.

If you’re a fan of wallpaper decoration, you might re-think your design choices after reading this blood-chilling tale.

the willows algernon blackwood

The Willows

Algernon Blackwood

Nothing could be more idyllic than a canoe trip down the Danube river. Unless dark forces are at play, ready to spoil your fun in the sun.

Algernon Blackwood has plenty of great free classic horror stories in the public domain, but this is one might be one of the eeriest, most wonderful stories in Horror history.

If you don’t trust my judgment, H.P. Lovecraft was one of Blackwood’s biggest fans. Isn’t that reason enough to dive right in?

the damned thing ambrose bierce

The Damned Thing

Ambrose Bierce

A trip through the woods becomes deadly when an invisible presence turns two hunters into its prey. And how can they escape the monster’s wrath if they cannot even see the damned thing?

One of the oldest examples of Weird Western fiction, this story poses an unnerving question: how far can you trust your senses when facing a menace beyond human understanding? 

the shunned house hp lovecraft

The Shunned House

H.P. Lovecraft

Lovecraft is considered one of the best horror writers of all time, and the undeniable master of cosmic horror. His Cthulhu mythos still influences creators today, and some of his stories can spook even the bravest of readers.

One of them is The Shunned House, a unique twist on the haunted house trope that deals with obsession, hallucination, and tons of creepy imagery at its finest.

the great god pan arthur machen

The Great God Pan

Arthur Machen

It’s never a good idea to mingle with old gods. Then again, you might be defenseless against their seductive power. Add a mad scientist to the mix, and things will head straight for doom.

The Great God Pan caused such a commotion upon release because of its sexual content, which was way ahead of its time. Thankfully, future readers not only forgave its author but placed him as one of the best writers of Gothic fiction, where he belongs. 

ghost stories antiquary mr james

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary

M.R. James

No one knew how to write a ghost story as masterfully as M.R. James did. In this collection, he will take you to old ruins, decrepit abbeys, and remote mansions. All of them properly haunted, of course!

Don’t blame me if after reading this free classic horror anthology your house starts to look, well, a bit less inviting at night.

haunted hotel wilkie collins

The Haunted Hotel

Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins is considered one of the masters of suspense, and rightfully so. As one of the fathers of detective fiction, his novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone continue to inspire mystery writers today.

In this story, he takes us to an old Venetian palace with a dark past turned into a fancy hotel. Definitely not the best idea, as some of the previous (and deceased) guests are unwilling to stay quiet.

red room hg wells

The Red Room

H.G. Wells

You might know H.G. Wells from his sci-fi classics The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, or The Invisible Man. But he also has several horror stories under his belt.

Enter The Red Room, one of the best (and spookiest) examples of psychological terror to this day. Be warned, when you get in, it might be trickier to get out….

Hey , I write Horror too!

I’ve enjoyed horror classics since I was a teenager, and they became one of my biggest inspirations as an author. And today there’s so much free classic horror content out there for anyone to enjoy!

Some of my readers told me my story American Alchemy: Gold reminded them of gothic literature. Now that’s an amazing compliment!

If you’re curious about an occult mystery set in the Gold Rush, you can get the book for free.

weird west story american alchemy gold by oliver altair

American Alchemy: Gold

Oliver Altair

California, 1849. The call of the Gold Rush is strong. No hostile land or sacrifice will stop Barton Saunders from becoming the man he always wanted to be. Not even the ancient darkness lurking in the shadows of the West.

Happy (and spooky) reading!

Do you want to get notified when I publish a new article? You can join my reader’s group here and get my exclusive story American Alchemy: Quicksilver for free!