Top Ten Favorite Classic Monster Books

top ten tuesday

Each week, The Broke and the Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book meme. This week, we’re talking about our favorite classics. I decided, in the wake of spending a day watching and writing about the Penny Dreadful season 1 finale and the True Blood final season, that I’d do a list of my favorite monster classics. Here they are:

1. Dracula, Bram Stoker

2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

3. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

4. Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

5. The Call of Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft

6. 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, Jules Verne

7. Beowulf

8. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

9. Pet Sematary, Steven King

10. The Classic Fairy Tales, Maria Tatar (editor)



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  1. Fifteen comments and no one has challenged your description of LOTR as a “monster story”? Huh. I like the rest of the list (well, I’d put IT over Pet Sematary) but that one really sticks out to me.


        1. I see it as a monster story mostly based on the importance of Gollum to the story, though the other monsters I named were a bonus.

          If the story has to be about the monster, then Beowulf doesn’t really fit either, and Frankenstein, which is more about the man than the monster, barely fits. That Grendel and Frankenstein’s creature are so compelling and play such large roles in the plot are the major reasons that I call those monster stories, and Gollum works in much the same way.


  2. Beowulf??
    I considered buying it,but then I said,”It’s written in verse,and the story is perhaps not as gripping as a novel’s.” So I disregarded it.

    And wow….you won’t believe me.
    Last Saturday I was reading a mini-essay about fairy tales,and the author mentioned Maria Tatar’s Classical Fairy Tales.He shared a short extract from Tatar’s book,which I found really interesting.So much so that I ended up adding it to my wish list on goodreads! It is a very little known book,so it is a surprise to see that you’ve included it in your list! And what a coincidence!
    Well,I’ll definitely buy it now!


    1. Beowulf is in verse, but if you get the right translation (I prefer the Seamus Heaney edition, which seems to be pretty standard now), it works beautifully. It’s the oldest surviving English writing, and it’s got monsters all about. Definitely worth the read.

      I picked up Tatar’s fairy tales book for a class when I was working on my master’s, and it’s on my comps list. It’s a wonderful collection that is smartly edited.


  3. Frankenstein pips Dracula for me; but I’m a sucker for Stephen King. His Nightmares and Dreamscapes book of short stories has some wonderful monstrosities lurking in the pages.


    1. In general, I’m not a huge King fan. It’s hit or miss for me. But I really loved Pet Sematary and a few of his others. His writings on writing are stellar; I’ll have to check out the short stories.


      1. His book On Writing was excellent. I loved how he came out and admitted some of his books in the 80s were crap. That was bold.


    1. Frankenstein runs a very close second to Dracula as my favorite of the monster books. And agreed on the Victorian era. I think we see a lot of the religion versus science play out in the literature of the time, and it’s really fascinating. And I’m so glad you mentioned that Monster Theory book—-it’s on my Amazon wishlist. 🙂


    1. I enjoyed Jeckyll and Hyde partially because I’m very interested in the turn of the twentieth century. It was a really interesting time, and a lot of the science versus superstition arguments of the time make their way into the novel. That said, I can see why it wouldn’t be everyone’s cuppa. 🙂


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