Ever since I started my blog back in 2007, I’ve been doing a yearly compilation of classic horror stories that can be freely read on the internet! (Search “Halloween Treats” on my blog to see earlier editions!) I see no need to stop the tradition, though in recent years I decided to start doing a theme every year.
The theme this year is “bodies.” Every story features the horrors of the recently dead, who are a very strong reminder that all of us will end up dead and decaying one day. I’ve tried to add vintage illustrations of stories whenever possible. Now without further ado, let’s look at some stories…
The Body Snatcher, Robert Louis Stevenson (1884). A chance encounter between two men late in life soon reveals their shocking history as body snatchers in their medical school days, and the evolution of their work from the removal of fresh corpses from graves to the creation of new corpses. Eventually, though, macabre justice comes to find them.
In the Vault, H.P. Lovecraft (1925). One of Lovecraft’s early non-cosmic horror stories! An undertaker finds himself accidentally trapped in a winter vault for coffins that are to be buried in the spring, and he takes desperate actions to free himself, with unexpected and horrific consequences.
The Striding Place, Gertrude Atherton (1905). When Weigall’s lifelong friend goes missing on the moors, he goes out at night in search of him. What he finds is not at all what he expected. Thanks to Trevor Henderson for pointing out this story to me in a twitter thread this month!
Berenice, Edgar Allan Poe (1835). One of Poe’s lesser known stories, I think, about a young man, Egaeus, who becomes obsessed by a particular feature of his cousin Berenice. But Berenice is sick, and dying, and Egaeus is known to have cataleptic spells…
Lukundoo, Edward Lucas White (1925). One of my favorite horror stories of all time! Singleton, an explorer of Africa, recounts the time he went to the aid of one of his colleagues, Stone, in the depths of the jungle. He finds Stone stricken by a particularly horrific curse, and this curse has sprouted from a hatred both surprising and almost unfathomable.
The Stolen Body, H.G. Wells (1898). Here we have a story from the Victorian spiritualism era, a rare supernatural story by a famous science fiction author! When a paranormal researcher succeeds in performing astral projection, he finds that in his absence his body is taken over by a less-than-friendly entity.
The Loved Dead, C.M. Eddy (1919). This story of madness and death sparked outrage, and caused Weird Tales to avoid similar stories for quite some time! In the story, a nameless narrator describes how he learned as a child that he found… pleasure… in the company of the dead, and this ever-growing lust led to increasingly extreme measures!
His Face All Red, Emily Carroll (2010). We wrap up with an illustrated story, and perhaps one of the most brilliant horror stories I’ve ever read. It begins with “this man is not my brother,” and spirals into strangeness from there…
Hope you find a few stories to give you chills! Happy Halloween!