It is getting really challenging not to repeat myself with these annual samples of classic horror stories for Halloween, as I’ve been doing this for ten years! You can read the old editions here: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 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.
Some Other Animal’s Meat, Emily Carroll (2016). We begin with another illustrated horror classic by the masterful Emily Carroll. In this one, a new wonder product for one’s skin has more side effects than advertised…
The Pale Man, Julius Long (1934). A professor convalescing at a country hotel is lonely and looking for company. One of the only other guests he might talk to, however, is a curious pale man who switches rooms every day.
The Double Shadow, Clark Ashton Smith (1933). A sorcerer and his apprentice delve deep into ancient and forbidden secrets, and rashly decide to summon an ancient power whose name and nature is unknown. Neither the living nor the dead will be safe from the horror that comes for them.
In the Vault, Howard Philips Lovecraft (1925). I haven’t shared any Lovecraft in the past couple of years! In this story, which is pre-cosmic horror, an unscrupulous undertaker accidentally locks himself in a tomb overnight, which allows for an old score to be settled…
The Wind in the Portico, John Buchan (1928). A scholar, hunting down information in a rare text, finds that a copy is owned by an eccentric man in the English countryside. The man lives in a curious house, recently restored with the remains of a temple to a pagan/Roman god. The temple fills the scholar with a sense of dread, which extends in short order to the house’s owner. They plan to reconsecrate it to Christianity, but the temple may have other ideas.
The Spider, Hanns Heinz Ewers (1915). A young student of medicine opts to move into room #7 of a small hotel, intent on solving the mystery of why the three previous occupants in a row committed suicide. He is prepared for any danger, but this leaves him blind to a web of deception that ensnares him more securely the longer he remains.
The Damned Thing, Ambrose Bierce (1893). Arguably Bierce’s most effective horror story. When the mangled body of Hugh Morgan is discovered, an inquest is launched to determine the cause of death. The evidence mounts that something beyond the perception of humankind is lurking in the wilds.
The Hog, William Hope Hodgson (1929). A tale of Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder, as he risks his own life and very soul to help a man who is being haunted by a supernatural presence that is beyond space and time — and nowhere near human.
The Listeners, Walter de la Mare (1912). A short and eerie poem in which a man arrives at a lonely house to fulfill a promise… but who is keeping watch to see that he does?
Skulls in the Stars, Robert E. Howard (1929). The story that inspired my blog title! Puritan warrior Solomon Kane is warned not to take the haunted road across the moors at night, but he does so anyway, as he fears no man, beast or demon. But what he finds will force him to make a decision that he is unprepared for.
The Seven Sigils, James Platt (1894). A tale of a deal with the devil, and the betrayal, consequences, and horrors that follow. This story is unique in this genre in the number of surreal twists and turns it takes before reaching its appalling conclusion. Link goes to a pdf of the original book version of the story!
This should be enough to give readers a chill for the season — have a happy Halloween!