Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite fictional haunted places

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonToday is the USA’s creepiest holiday, Halloween.

Oh, sure, there are cute costumes, pumpkin-spice everything, candy, harvest carnivals and bobbing for apples, but there also ghosties, ghoulies and scary noises. And, haunted places.

Houses, or interiors generally, can be haunted by entities, or they can absorb death, despair and evil themselves, radiating those back at hapless humans who enter the space.

The Little Stranger by Sarah WatersOne of my favorite haunted buildings in fiction is Hill House, in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. This mansion has both an evil ghost and evil oozing from its wainscoting and walls.

Several decades later, the decaying “stately pile” in Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger is another brilliantly creepy example of a haunted building.

What is your favorite fictional haunted place? Let’s not limit it to buildings. Is there a haunted spaceship you love? Let us know. If you want to share a personal experience in a real-life haunted place, we’d love to read it.

One random commenter will choose a book from our Stacks.


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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16 comments

  1. I do think Shirley Jackson’s Hill House is a great story – much more subtle and psychological than your typical haunting tale.

    BTW there’s a great set of real-life spooky stories on Ask a Manager today. My favorite was the haunted museum theater story, #4 in the list. Fascinating and chilling! https://www.askamanager.org/2019/10/has-anything-spooky-happened-to-you-at-work.html

    • I just went and read that one… That’s pretty scary. It’s possible he just had a dizzy spell, but that wouldn’t explain the sounds he heard. And then the question becomes, what caused the dizzy spell?

  2. Noneofyourbusiness /

    Hogwarts, because the ghosts are friendly and serve as mascots for the school houses.

  3. SandyG /

    I have to go with Hogwarts. It’s haunted but the ghosts aren’t scary.

  4. Lady Morar /

    The Murder House in “American Horror Story” is pretty comfortable. If you’re a ghost and your family is with you.

  5. Well, the Overlook Hotel is obvious but still I”d say a great choice. And I like the uniquenes of David Mitchell’s Slade House.

  6. The Distinguished Professor /

    George Martin wrote a haunted spaceship, the Nightflyer in “Nightflyers”.

  7. For a haunted spaceship it is hard to beat the Event Horizon.

    And then there’s always Space Station Three – Carmen Miranda’s ghost is far friendlier.

  8. John Smith /

    I will say the town of Seaburgh, from the M.R. James story “A Warning to the Curious,” since that’s very scary!

  9. Sethia /

    I agree the Nightflyer would be terrifying!

  10. Becky Ashwell, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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