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Seven of the most haunted houses in literature

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Don't worry, they're just stories. Right?
Don't worry, they're just stories. Right?
Courtesy of publishers

October is a time for falling leaves and scary reads. And the only thing more terrifying than the unchecked encroachment of the pumpkin spice flavor into every major food group is a genuinely haunted house.

To celebrate the spooky season, The Thread is running — screaming — through its favorite haunted houses in literature. Tell us your favorite, or most feared, on Twitter @TheThreadMPR.

1) The Bly house from "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

Henry James' gothic masterpiece unfolds in a simple country house in Essex, where a governess is given the task of looking after two young orphans. But as quickly becomes apparent, the siblings' previous caretakers may still be present on the grounds. This book is the original reminder to never be a babysitter in a horror story.

2) Hill House in "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson is an undisputed master of the ghost story. "The Haunting of Hill House" is one of the first examples from the genre in which the ill-fated characters week scientific proof of the supernatural. When you go looking for the ghosts, you should know how your story will end.

Hill House has inspired two films and found a die-hard fan in Stephen King. And if you're a fan of Jackson's, then you should consider a trip to the Blackwood House in her final book, "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" — the scene of a very different kind of haunting.

3) The Overlook Hotel in "The Shining" by Stephen King

Inspired by his own one-night stay at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, Stephen King created one of the true nightmare locales of fiction: The Overlook Hotel. 

When the Torrance family holes up in the empty hotel as caretakers for the winter, the building's dark and terrifying secrets start taking hold. Beware the bartender. The film adaptation only helped cement The Overlook Hotel's place on this list.

4) The house on Ash Tree Lane from "House of Leaves" by Mark Danielewski

Anyone who has crawled their way through this experimental horror story probably still thinks about it from time to time, late at night. It's presented as a found document — a manuscript whose origin is difficult to trace. It tells the story of a family that moves into a new house, only to discover that it has some unexplained characteristics. Somehow, it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside — and there's a growl coming from its depths. 

The more the family tries to explore and explain the source of the incongruities, the more alarming things become. 

5) 895 Stillwater Lane from "The Grip of It" by Jac Jemc

Owning a house is the American dream, right? Jac Jemc turns a young couple's first grasp at homeownership into an unsettling modern nightmare in this new novel. Julie and James want to leave behind the city — and their tensions and quarrels — when they buy a big old house nestled near a forest and a lake. 

But as they try to fix things up, the house leaves its own mark on their minds and their bodies. A stain on the wall is never just a stain on the wall.

6) Manderley from "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

This Gothic classic finds a young, unnamed narrator swept off her feet by an older, wealthy man, who brings her home to his isolated English estate: Manderley. 

She quickly learns that the house is burdened with the ghost — maybe literally — of his first wife, Rebecca, who died the year before. And the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, doesn't love change. Everything unravels from there.  

The book is a reminder that having a mansion means you just have more room for secrets.

7) The House of Usher from "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe unsettles like no other. It's difficult to pick the most haunted location from his work — it could be the room with the heart under the floorboards or the catacombs where you don't want to turn your back — but the House of Usher has a lot going for it in this competition. There's the nearby tomb and the corpse that may not be a corpse. The eerie, glowing house-swallowing lake really seals the deal.