A furry rabbit or the family dog may not be the first creatures that come to mind when you think of a scary story. However, animals are principal characters in some of our favorite bone-chilling tales. We were inspired by Friday’s story “The Boomslang Coup,” by Joel Hans, in which an otherworldly taxidermist creates a cast of menacing hybrids. Think: a donkey with the venom of a snake. So, we put together a list of some of our favorite frightening tales with animal stars. Dive in.
It’s hard to compile a roster of scary stories without including Kelly Link’s “Stone Animals,” a story with a cult following. In it, the bunnies are introduced as a domestic issue: an increasing number of them populate a family’s lawn. By the end of the story, they have transformed into creatures of bizarre menace.
In “The Price,” Neil Gaiman takes the age-old trope of the black cat and turns it on its head. A family takes in a stray cat who appears to bring a series of misfortunes into their home. However, it becomes apparent that the cat may be all that stands between the family and much larger forces of evil.
A true classic. In this story, published in Ray Bradbury’s aptly named collection The October Country, a dog brings back abstract tastes of the world (such as the smell and feel of autumn) to a bedridden boy. The boy attaches a sign to the dog that asks that he please bring visitors by. However, eventually, the dog becomes the carrier of something far less comforting.
Adrian Van Young recently contributed a brilliant essay on what makes “When I Make Love to the Bug Man” so darn terrifying. Young’s analysis made us appreciate Benedict’s creepy worldbuilding all the more. In this story, a woman’s house is infested with multiple species of spiders, and that is not nearly the most terrifying part.