It’s been over a year since we published Ghost stories by Victorian women, a “further reading” list chosen by Professor Melissa Edmundson, which followed neatly on from her anthology Avenging Angels, published by Victorian Secrets. Now seems an especially good time to follow up on that list, with most people self-isolating and hungry for recommendations, and from short stories we jump to novellas. Authors one might expect such as Margaret Oliphant and Charlotte Riddell feature on this new list by Edmundson, an expert on 19th and early 20th women writers of the supernatural, but did you know Little Women author Louisa May Alcott wrote sensation fiction under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard? Read on as Edmundson walks us through seven brilliant authors of the supernatural.
I used to avoid “funny” ghost stories. Humour seemed at odds with the effect I sought from reading about the supernatural. It dispelled the atmosphere, leaving the stories, and the reader, disenchanted. Later on, I learned that horror could be funny, and that funny things can be horrific.
In the past few years, there has been a great deal of focus in the horror community on the explosion of horror literature in the 70s and 80s, an interest partly generated by Grady Hendrix’s excellent book Paperbacks from Hell. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking about gothic and horror writing that was being published just prior to those years – the time when writers such as Shirley Jackson and Richard Matheson were flourishing. If “mid-century” often conjures up images of cocktails and cigarettes, McCarthyism and the atomic bomb, Freudian theories and existentialism, what horror novels and stories were highly reflective of those times? Below is a list of six books that partially embody the notion of mid-century horror.
We’re cheating slightly this month by starting off with four books released not in November but on Halloween, which is close enough for us and it’d be a real shame not to highlight them. Blame publishers for thinking 31 October is a great date to release books. As always, this is not an exhaustive list. If you think there’s a book we’ve caused grave injustice to by leaving off, leave a comment or get in touch.
What unites ghost stories and folksong? A Venn diagram of the two would surely put love and death in the centre. Robert Aickman wrote in the introduction to The 3rd Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories that the eerie tale fulfils our “need to escape, at least occasionally, from a mechanistic world, ever more definable, ever more predictable, and, therefore, ever more unsatisfying and frustrating.”
It’s been a little while since we published a roundup of the latest horror books so it’s nice to return with quite an exciting bunch for September. Stephen King’s The Institute is certainly the biggest name on this list – read our review. Is there a book we’ve missed that you think should be included? Leave a comment or get in touch.
The past decade has seen a spike in meta-horror, particularly in film. Tucker & Dale vs Evil, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and The Cabin in the Woods all bring a comedic self-referential vibe to a genre known for its tropes. But what about books? Below, find a list of some of the best in meta-horror literature. From classics to contemporary fiction, there is something to haunt everyone. But be warned, reading this list may have consequences…
Turn on the news today and you’ll be confronted by a headline that seems more likely to have been ripped from a movie than real life: “Record heat fuels wildfires in Alaska”; “High likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end by 2050”; “Half of the Great Barrier Reef is dead”. Cheery stuff. Even so, this isn’t a disaster movie we’re living in, it’s a slow-burn horrorfest. There’s a lingering sense of dread now that accompanies us everywhere. We know there’s something on the horizon and we’re pretty sure it’s not going to be pleasant. And while some of us are trying to rewrite the narrative to make it less apocalyptic, the rest of us are still sleepwalking to oblivion.
The stately homes of England, how beautiful they stand, To prove the upper classes have still the upper hand. – Noël Coward, “The Stately Homes of England”, 1938
From the grand halls of the aristocracy to the homely manors of the gentry, the country house has been an enduring feature of the English landscape for centuries. Its inhabitants have likewise long been conspicuous on the English social scene and this is reflected in fiction. Despite urbanisation and the major social changes that have taken place in Britain since the Second World War a fascination with this class of people, their way of life and their houses has remained. One only has to think of the most popular British period dramas for confirmation.
Today, the nominees for the 2018 Shirley Jackson Awards, rewarding ‘outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic’ were announced. The awards will be presented on Sunday July 14th, voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics.