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''Dracula''

OK, it wasn't the first vampire novel, but Bram Stoker's most famous work was certainly the first book to pull together all the qualities we now associate with vampires — except the sparkling: Transylvanian, aristocratic, dangerous to young women, so, basically Bela Lugosi (who was actually Hungarian, but oh, that accent). Much like its monstrous companion FrankensteinDracula wasn't initially regarded as a classic — but once the film adaptations began to appear, it quickly achieved legendary status...

''The Turn Of The Screw''

Nobody's entirely sure what evil lurks at the heart of Henry James' seminal story, but we can all agree that it's creepy as heck. Written in the form of a manuscript by a former governess, now dead, it describes her experiences caring for two unfortunate children on a country estate that may or may not be haunted by the ghosts of former estate workers ... who may or may not be communing with or somehow controlling the children. As with several of the stories on this list, readers are left to judge whether the horrors are real or whether our narrator is merely mad.

''Frankenstein''

Mary Shelley's tragically misunderstood monster turns 200 this year, and he is still lurching along, one of the most influential creations ever committed to the page. While reviewers at the time condemned Shelley's "diseased and wandering imagination," her vision of human knowledge and technological advancement outstripping humanity's ability (or inclination) to use that knowledge responsibly still resonates today.

 

''The Werewolf Of Paris''

Kind of a Les Miserables for lycanthropes, Guy Endore's 1933 novel is The Great American Werewolf Novel. A man journeys through 19th century France, seeking to destroy his nephew — whom he suspects of having inherited the family curse — and along the way giving readers a tour of man's appetite for carnage, with stops during the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. What does it matter, Endore asks, if a werewolf kills a few people, in the face of a political system that kills thousands?

''I Am Legend''

Richard Matheson's novel about the last man left after a plague turns humanity into vampire-zombie hybrids is as much a meditation on loneliness as it is a horror story. (Spoiler alert: Things don't end well for the dog.) I Am Legend was turned into several movies, and it was also a major influence on horror master George Romero, who once said he had taken the idea for Night of the Living Dead from Matheson's novel.

''Feed (Newsflesh Series)''

What if journalism was our last line of defense against a zombie apocalypse? (As a journalist, I ... well, actually no, this book scared the bejesus out of me.) In Mira Grant's zombified world of 2040, humanity is confined to tightly patrolled safe zones and bloggers are their primary source of entertainment and information. Brother and sister team Georgia and Shaun Mason are chronicling a presidential campaign convoy that gets attacked by zombies — leading them to uncover a vast conspiracy to use fear of zombies to force social change.

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