Once again it’s time to post a collection of “Halloween Treats”: classic ghost and horror stories to be read in the dark of night! I’ve been doing this since 2007, and you can read the old editions here: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and my 2010 post on the true story of the “Lady of the Lake“. It is likely that not all of the links in those old posts work, but the lists are there.
This year, I’ll start with a couple of recent entries. One is a webcomic that is now a true classic, even though it only appeared in 2010! Another is generally acknowledged as the best example of “creepypasta” out there. Read on — you won’t be disappointed.
His Face All Red, Emily Carroll (2010). Emily Carroll almost instantly became an recognized master of horror with His Face All Red, a story that starts with an incredible twist and builds an almost unbearable level of dread. Carroll’s illustrations, and use of the flexibility of the web page, make it a true work of art.
Candle Cove, Kris Straub (2009). This brilliant creepypasta takes the form of an internet chat, in which a group of people gradually remember a local-access children’s show that they used to watch. This is a nearly perfect story.
Count Magnus, M.R. James (1904). I’ve included one story by the masterful M.R. James every year I’ve done ‘Treats! Count Magnus is one of his most famous, and for good reason. When one Mr. Wraxhall visits the mausoleum of the infamous count, he makes a rash declaration — which is followed by horrifying consequences.
The Horror-Horn, E.F. Benson (1923). E.F. Benson is another classic master of the ghost story. In The Horror-Horn, however, he tells a quite different tale, about a man who vacations in a remote area of the Swiss Alps and has a terrifying encounter with beings who are not quite human.
Berenice, Edgar Allan Poe (1835). One of Poe’s lesser-known stories, it captures all of his familiar themes — obsession, madness, death — and wraps them up with a truly ghastly ending.
The Hill and the Hole, Fritz Lieber (1942). In a story clearly inspired by the weird curvatures of space and time in Einstein’s general relativity, a surveyor comes to a rural area to measure a hill. However, a local little girl tells him that it is, in fact, a hole. With things in it. Things that don’t want to be seen.
Murder on Dogenzaka, Edogawa Rampo (1924). Finally, something not quite horror, but rather twisted in its unfolding. A murder has taken place in a bookshop, a seemingly impossible crime. The narrator follows in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and C. Auguste Dupin in attempting to solve the crime through rational deduction, but learns that reason alone cannot always bring one the answers. (Tip o’ the hat to Justine Howe for pointing me to the story!)
That’s all for this year — Happy Halloween!