Saturday, September 08, 2012

Charles Rutledge's Book of Horror Vol IV

As always, I try to have the table of contents for my Imaginary Horror Anthology up by mid-September so that anyone interested in tracking down the stories and/or authors has time to do so before Halloween. Have to say this has been a bumper year for Horror and Weird fiction anthologies including Cemetery Dance's massive two volume Century's Best Horror collection and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's also gigantic anthology, The Weird. This was also the year that Centipede Press published The Best Horror stories of Karl Edward Wagner in two volumes. Add that to various other collections I picked up and I had plenty of horror reading in 2012. Now a bit about some of my choices.
   This year marks the first time I've included a digital original as a choice. That's how impressed I was by Heath Lowrance's THE LONG BLACK TRAIN.
   The vampire entry for the year, THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER comes from Leslie S. Klinger's collection, In the Shadow of Dracula. No one knows who wrote it back in 1860, but it's a classic pre-Dracula vampire yarn.
   Once again one of the just plain scariest stories in my list comes from Hugh B. Cave. THE DOOR BELOW has often returned to my thoughts. This appeared in Whispers III.
   I devoted an entire post to H. Russell Wakefield's THE RED LODGE earlier this year. My introduction to this writer and a darn creepy tale.
   A big surprise was Anthony Boucher's THEY BITE. I primarily knew Boucher as a Sherlockian and writer/editor of mysteries. Turns out the guy could also turn out a disturbing little horror story.
   I had to wrestle a bit with my choice for Manly Wade Wellman this time around. I was going with WHEN IT WAS MOONLIGHT, a story where Edgar Alan Poe fights a vampire, but then I decided on the last story Wellman wrote about John the Balladeer, WHERE DID SHE WANDER. Similarly I had to give a lot of thought to selections from Karl Edward Wagner and H.P. Lovecraft since I've already used my top favorites from these two writers in earlier lists. I think the two stories I went with are excellent examples of both writer's work, though.
   Since Ray Bradbury passed away this year, I wanted to make sure and include one of his early horror stories. THE JAR is old school Bradbury at his blood chilling best.  I chose a Solomon Kane yarn to represent Robert E. Howard this year. I've long said that the best sword & sorcery stories have a horror tale at their heart and HILLS OF THE DEAD  certainly qualifies. And speaking of REH, as I was re-reading Nathanial Hawthorne's YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN (a story my pal Cliff reminded me of this week) I began to wonder what influence this tale might have had on Howard's creation of Solomon Kane. I'll blog more on that later. And I reviewed the Chiller adaptation of Bloch's YOURS TRULY, JACK THE RIPPER  in an earlier post. The original story is well worth your time.
   Anyway, here are this year's unlucky Thirteen stories.

1. The Mysterious Stranger by Anonymous

2. They Bite by Anthony Boucher

3. The Door Below by Hugh B. Cave

4. The Long Black Train by Heath Lowrance

5. The Red Lodge by H. Russell Wakefield

6. She Walks on Dry Land by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

7. Where Did She Wander by Manly Wade Wellman

8. The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft

9. Into Whose Hands by Karl Edward Wagner

10. The Jar by Ray Bradbury

11. The Hills of the Dead by Robert E. Howard

12. Young Goodman Brown by Nathanial Hawthorne

13. Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper by Robert Bloch


Paul R. McNamee said...

Good list, thanks. I just read "Where Did She Wander?" this summer. One of the creepier John the Balladeer tales, indeed.

Keith said...

I've read most of these and probably have copies of all of them. It's been so long since I read some of them, though, only the titles are familiar. I'll need to rectify that.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

Paul, yeah that's a good one. I re-read it when I was putting the list together.

Keith, I think you'll have a good time re-reading any of these. Some great horror stories.