The Masters Review’s Halloween Reading List

October 26, 2015

Halloween is upon us, and to get you in the spirit we have compiled a list of chilling stories from The Masters Review archives. From ghosts to zombies to dark fairy tales, we’ve got you covered. These scary stories will help you gear up for the best holiday of the year.

 “The Punk’s Bride” by Kate Bernheimer

Last October, we were proud to publish Kate Bernheimer’s “The Punk’s Bride,” which demonstrates the darkness inherent in the fairy tale genre. This chilling imitation of “The Hare’s Bride” involves punk musicians, a straw doll, and an unexpected wedding party.

kate banner_d3The musician said, “Just get on the back of my bike, and we’ll go to my house and listen to records.” He gestured toward his three-speed. It was white and rusted and had a kickstand. It had a Gordon Lightfoot bumper sticker on it and one of the tires was flat.

Read the story here.

“In Ribbons” by Paul McQuade

“In Ribbons,” our October contest winner from last year, is an exquisitely eerie story, told from the point of view of a child. It builds to a moment of horror you will never forget.

In ribbons‘It’s fox-work,’ Hiro’s grandmother says, her eyes gleaming like jaspers, her thin fingers winding a needle through thinner cloth, closing a rift in father’s shirt. Each week grandma washes the clothes so hard her knuckles redden, but still some specks of coal-dust twine themselves into the weave.

Read the story here.

“Other Dangers” by Ben Hoffman

In “Other Dangers,” a teacher tells her third graders that every minor misbehavior—each yank of a girl’s ponytail—brings the Clock that much closer to doomsday. But when the class reunites after decades apart—they decide to pay their old teacher a visit.

other dangersHer Doomsday Clock! Always it leaned against the blackboard, resting on the dusty ledge beside the chalk, taking up valuable board space on which we could have learned grammar or multiplication. Instead we learned obliteration: how to spell it, what it meant, and that we were on the brink of it. We had to learn, for the clock to terrify us as it did. We had to understand the stakes.

Read the story here.

“NUT Junction” by Davis Slater

One of the first spooky stories to appear in New Voices, “NUT Junction” involves coon hounds, ghosts, and a rural Missouri town.

County roads N, U, and T meet right by some of the best coon-hunting land in the state, maybe in any state. A good hunter can walk into the hollow in thick boots with a gun and two potato sacks and come home with hundreds of dollars in pelts, dinner for a month, and like as not a dozen arrowheads. If she’s smart, though, if she knows the area, she’ll go a couple miles west or a couple miles north and come home with less money and less food and less of a story, for sure, but with her mind intact.

Read the story here.

“Life After Men” by Dale Bridges

Because who doesn’t love a good zombie story for Halloween? In “Life After Men,” the male population has turned into the walking undead.

il_570xN.496299089_1g4nDanny’s partially rotten head makes a totally grosso crunching noise when I smash it with my $2500 Gucci handbag. He falls to the sidewalk and sort of flops around helplessly, while I stand over him, hands on hips, and glare. For a second, his spasms remind me of the last time we frogged, almost two months ago. That was not a pretty sight, either.

Read the story here.

“The Uncanny Valley” by Matthew Pitt

A minister takes his wife to Lamaze class, but he can’t help but be distracted by the man who comes to class with one woman one week, and a different one the next. Something just isn’t quite right about him. We were lucky to publish an excellent essay by Marjorie Sandor on the uncanny this month, and this story illustrates the terror of the familiar turning strange.

3D man head made of beige wireframe isolated on brown“Do you know,” he asks, huffing out the words, “about the uncanny valley?” She shakes her head. Neither did he, until recently. It’s a theory of how tolerant we are to robots. The more that they take after us, the more they appeal—to a point. But if they cross a certain threshold in appearance, speech, conduct, we loathe the parallel. The likeness can go from delightful to unbearable in a snap.

Read the story here.

PLUMP BLACK BUGIf you missed it, be sure to check out the spine-tingling fiction we published this month. Two very different takes on the ghost story: “Double Exposure” by Megan Giddings and “Clean Hunters” by Lena Valencia and Adrian Van Young’s chilling tale of Lady Winchester and her unsettling mansion, “The Lady Winchester Deciphers Her Labyrinth.”


by Sadye Teiser


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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