The Mask Of Cthulu (August Derleth)

One thing you can say about this August Derleth fellow is that he enjoys the frequent use of the word ‘conterminous’; and for that, I found his work rather endearing! ‘The Mask of Cthulhu’ is probably best enjoyed in small doses, since reading the whole collection in one voluminous bite reveals a distinct lack of variety in each fiendish tale of slumberous batrachian maleficence. These eldritch narratives, while stolid and well-written, do lack invention, and a modicum of dry wit would have added much to the murky proceedings. [Read more…]

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65 Short Stories (W Somerset Maugham)

coverI think astrology and karma play a major role in whether someone is born to be a writer or not. By that I mean a creativity that cannot be learned by conscious techniques or formal education etc. The person concerned is usually moved internally to share something large with the world. And W Somerset Maugham was born to enthrall and entertain people with the written word. It was fate. Like some other literary titans, Charles Dickens and Jules Verne, he was an Aquarius. They usually possess personal charisma that effortlessly draws others to them, originality in their field of work, and are very broad-minded. [Read more…]

Casting The Runes ( M R James)

When someone with a distinctive voice reads a story, they can bring it alive in a new way. English actor Michael Hordern skips delightfully through this classic tale of the supernatural, first published in 1911, from the king of all ghost story writers: Montague Rhodes James.

Pigeons From Hell (Robert E Howard)

thriller-3This is one of the great horror tales of all time. I find the title particularly irresistable. If you are going to read this short story, go off alone somewhere with just a fading flashlight. Find an abandoned house with a cold unlit fireplace and read the story while sitting on the stone hearth. It will have a bigger impact.  I’ve added images from the 1961 television classic version, one of the Boris Karloff Thriller series. [Read more…]

Tales Of The Unexpected (Roald Dahl)

dahltalesunexpectedIn sixteen short stories the reader is both enthralled and appalled at the depths to which some of the characters sink to when placed in various predicaments. This book is an absolute pleasure to read due to the fabulous writing and narrative skills of the author. Bold, unapologetic, devious, dark, and simultaneously lighthearted. [Read more…]

Night Shift (Stephen King)

stephenkingnightshiftKing’s flair for the short story is almost unsurpassed. My favourite is “Children of the Corn”, where a bizarre road accident prompts an argumentative couple to seek help. When they begin to explore a strange town, a rather disturbing lack of adults leads them into a sinister ritual. Each story is very cinematic, so its no surprise to learn that 12 of them have been turned into (bad) movies. But there are some crappy ones too, depending on your taste. [Read more…]

Masque Of The Red Death (Edgar Allan Poe)

Lon ChaneyDream in the language of dream, with an imagery shining forth in a symphony of sound and colour. Not to get too pretentious about it, but Masque is the greatest short story of the last 200 years. It contains a Biblical weight and foreboding tone that resonates in the reader’s back teeth. This is an Old Testament horror from the Prophet of Doom himself!

[Read more…]

Nightmare At 20,000 Feet: Horror Stories (Richard Matheson)

51m8fe557yL._AC_UL320_SR212,320_Matheson’s story-telling is addictive and the heavy, meaty sense of tension-filled dread with which he is able to consistently imbue his stories is truly special. He has this way of making me feel like I am a part of the story in a way that works brilliantly, especially considering that Matheson loves an open ending. [Read more…]

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