Monday, September 12, 2011

Charles Rutledge's Book of Horror Vol III

It's that time of year again. October approaches and I always try to get the table of contents up early for my annual imaginary horror anthology, so that anyone interested can track down any of these stories before Halloween. As always, the contents were pulled from a wide variety of sources. Several of them came from my recently acquired collection of DAW's Year's Best Horror Stories volumes. Others, like the ones by Howard and Lovecraft, are readily available in current books. The newest story is probably the one by Joe R. Lansdale, pulled from the 2011 anthology Supernatural Noir. The oldest is Mary E. Wilkins Freeman's The Hall Bedroom, which is available at the inestimable Literary Gothic website (Of which I shall have more to say later.) and I'll provide a link at the bottom of this post. It's a very strange little story, written in the early 1900s and I was impressed with the idea behind it. Not so much scary as unsettling.
Unfortunately the new volumes of Karl Edward Wagner's horror fiction won't be available until next year, but you can still track down the very creepy .220 Swift in the collection In a Lonely Place, and it was recently reprinted in the anthology The Mammoth Book of Monsters. I will note that I enjoyed using some of the stories that Wagner had picked for the DAW anthologies, making some of my own Best Horror choices from Wagner's past selections.

Anyway, here's this year's unlucky 13 scary stories.

Manly Wade Wellman/ Chastel

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman/ The Hall Bedroom

Karl Edward Wagner/ .220 Swift

H.P. Lovecraft/ The Dreams in the Witch House

Robert E. Howard/ Children of the Night

R. Chetwynd Hayes/ Acquiring a Family

Joe R. Lansdale/ Dead Sister

Hugh B. Cave/ From the Lower Deep

Clark Ashton Smith/ The Witchcraft of Ulua

Harlan Ellison/She's a Young Thing and Cannot Leave Her Mother

Joseph Payne Brennan/ The House on Stillcroft Street

Frank Belknap Long/ The Hounds of Tindalos

Stephen King/The Night Flier

This year's Stephen King selection, The Night Flier, is still one of the scariest short stories I've ever read. It's one of those that makes you stop and go whoa. When King is on, he's hard to beat. The Hugh B. Cave story also has a very shuddersome moment or two. Those are probably the just plain scariest of the lot. Anyway, I hope those of you interested in some Halloween reading can make use of this list. I wish you uneasy nights and shadow haunted days.

Here's the link to The Hall Bedroom. Explore the Literary Gothic site while you're there. I have found this to be a treasure trove of stories, information, and links to further reading dealing with the literature of the macabre. Can't recommend this site highly enough.


Anonymous said...

Nice selection. I've occasionally dreamed of editing an Ultimate anthology of what I'd consider the finest horror tales I've read, but never thought of it as an ongoing series. That's actually kind of a neat way to get you to think of every horror yarn you read in a historic and critical context. Pretty cool.

Do you have David Hartwell's The Dark Descent? Probably the best (huge) single volume collection of horror stories I know.
For the classic ghostly tale, you can't miss with The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories.

Geez, usually I wait a bit further into the autumn before I start binging on spooky tales, but you've put me in a mood.

John Hocking

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Thanks, John. I do have the Oxford ghost story book, but I wasn't familiar with The Dark Descent. Looked it up and got one on the way. Amazon Prime is a dangerous thing.
I too usually wait until a bit farther into the fall before going all Halloween-ish, but I like to get the list up early. In the last couple of years, as I've been reading and studying the Horror genre more closely, I've been impressed with the amount of good stuff that's out there. Some of the oldest stories are some of the best too. Landon's Thurnley Abbey comes to mind.
Anyway, glad I could help start you toward your horror bingeing. Let me know if you turn up anything good.

Anonymous said...

You will not regret purchasing the Dark Descent, which packs more strong and diverse horror yarns between two covers than any other collection I've seen.

Hey, I have to ask. Like I said, The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories is top shelf stuff, but it was a single story in that anthology that originally grabbed my attention.
Did you read W.F. Harvey's The Clock? Short, and deceptively simple, this weird little gem offers one of the best examples of Lovecraftian fear of the unknown I've found in any medium.
At about four pages long, its power to weight ratio is amazing.

I do not recall reading Landon's Thurnley Abbey. Where can I find it?


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Thurnley Abbey has been reprinted a bunch, most recently in The Screaming Skull and Other Classic Horrors, a Fall Rivers reprint of an old Tor anthology. It's also in the book Classic Victorian & Edwardian Ghost Stories. It's also online several places, but I'm sure you'd prefer a book. I would.

The Clock doesn't ring any bells, but it sounds like my sort of thing. I'll go back and check. Thanks for the recommendations!

Anonymous said...

Ah hah.
Found Thurnley Abbey in my copy of Oxford's Victorian Ghost Stories (same editors- Cox & Gilbert- as The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories).
Don't think I've read it.
Now I have something to look forward to this evening.


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Ah, I'd forgotten it was in the Victorian Ghost Stories book too. I'm not at home and couldn't check the shelves. Funny how often when someone mentions something it turns out we have a copy somewhere. Usually means you have a lot of books. Think you'll enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I read Thurnley Abbey last night. It's a chiller all right, with a couple of moments that really produce the old gooseflesh.
Got to be the most purely physical haunt of any I can recall from that era-- almost pushes into George Romero territory.

The only element that left me wanting was the host's insistence that the narrator speak to the ghost. The reason why isn't even insinuated. Did he hope his friend could communicate with it? Considering the host's abject powerlessness before the ghost, I wondered if maybe he thought if his friend spoke to the ghost it might transfer the haunting-- sort of invite the specter to haunt the narrator instead. But that's just me speculating.

Not being finnicky-- that was a fine story. Thanks for pointing out a strong tale of the old school that I had missed.


Charles R. Rutledge said...

Really glad you enjoyed it, John. Yeah, it's quite a chiller and more graphic than a lot of the stuff that came out around the same time. And I got much the same feeling about the narrator's buddy.

My copy of the Dark Descent arrived tonight and I have to say it is one impressive collection. Also got a copy of Le Fanu's novel Uncle Silas. My autumn horror reading is off to a great start!