View Full Version : My Favorite Horror Story

08-01-2006, 02:34 AM
I have an entertaining book that is called My Favorite Horror Story. It was published by DAW Books in 2000. The editors asked fifteen contemporary horror authors what their favorite horror story was. The story was then prefaced by a brief reason why the author liked the story.This book is similar to Horror 100 Best Books except it deals with the short story. This is the contents page:

Sweets to the Sweet by Robert Bloch Chosen by Stephen King
The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick Chosen by Ed Gorman
The Distributor by Richard Matheson Chosen by F. Paul Wilson
A Warning to the Curious by M.R. James Chosen by Ramsey Campbell
Opening the Door by Arthur Machen Chosen by Peter Adkins
The Colour Out of Space by HPL Chosen by Richard Laymon
The Inner Room by Robert Aickman Chosen by Peter Straub
Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Chosen by Rick Hautala
The Rats in the Walls by HPL Chosen by Michael Slade
The Dog Park by Dennis Etchison Chosen by Richard Christian Matheson
The Animal Fair by Robert Bloch Chosen by Joe R. Lansdale
The Pattern by Ramsey Campbell Chosen by Poppy Z. Brite
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe Chosen by Joyce Carol Oates
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce Chosen by Dennis Etchison
The Human Chair by Edigawa Rampo Chosen by Harlan Ellison

A number of Poe and Ligotti stories are among my favorites. Also a couple of Lovecraft's. Maybe M.R. Jame's "Count Magnus" or "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs, or "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, or T.E.D. Klein's "Nadelman's God." But I think I will go with the paranoid animal fable "The Burrow" by Franz Kafka. This story is essentially about the futility of trying to fend off death. A mole-like creature is plagued with dread imaginings of being torn to shreds. It sees enemies everywhere. All of the animal's thought and energy is focused on strengthening the fortifications of its burrow. Its thoughts become incoherent due to the unmitigated anxiety of trying to defend itself from predators, both real and imagined. As with most of Kafka's stories, it is very funny too.

What is your favorite horror story?

G. S. Carnivals
08-01-2006, 05:54 AM
I was completely done in by the claustrophobia of "The Graveyard Rats" by Henry Kuttner. "The Yellow Sign" by Robert W. Chambers has left me feeling tainted since I first encountered it many years ago...

08-01-2006, 06:12 AM
'The Upper Berth' and 'The Dead Smile' both by F Marion Crawford.

And if it can been seen as a separate story (as I think it can be), the second chapter of 'The Beetle' by Richard Marsh.

08-06-2006, 07:23 PM
I remember reading and liking both "The Yellow Sign" by Robert W.Chambers and "The Upper Berth" by F. Marion Crawford. I'll have to track down "The Dead Smile." I know Necronomicon Press published a chapbook of this one in their Lovecraft's Favorite Stories series.

I have had a copy of Richard Marsh's The Beetle for ages, but I haven't gotten around to readng it yet.

I read "The Graveyard Rats" last night. I was blown away! Thanks GSC. That is as gruesome as any EC Comic that I have ever read. I bet Poe would have loved it.

"Belated fears were beginning to crawl, maggot-like, within his mind, but greed urged him on."
Henry Kuttner - "The Graveyard Rats"

08-07-2006, 03:50 PM
OK, so far everyone has mentioned tales I also would have listed, for the most part.

I'll add E. F. Benson's "Caterpillers", Chamber's "The Repairer of Reputations", and a story entitled "What Was It?", whose author's name eludes me for the moment.

If we are counting stories beyond shorts, I must forward William Hope Hodgson's THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND.


08-07-2006, 05:23 PM
Wasn't What Was It? by Fitz-James O'Brien?

yellowish haze
08-08-2006, 12:26 AM
Hey, Des! "The Diamond Lens"?

08-08-2006, 12:27 AM
You are correct, sir. O'Brien it is. Thanks for the memory-jog, DF.

For your prize, I would reward you with your very own Star Vampire, but I see you already have your own...


yellowish haze
08-08-2006, 12:31 AM
Sorry, I've just realised that while skimming through the posts, in the last of them I took the title of the story to be a part of the sentence. Never mind... back to bed...

08-08-2006, 04:20 AM
Thanks for reminding me of 'The Diamond Lens', Yhaze!

I've looked all over - even via the eponymous lens - but can find no star vampire.

08-08-2006, 12:47 PM
I just found out that Aetherwing also recommended Kuttner's "Graveyard Rats" on the Cthulhu Mythos Story thread some time ago. Thanks, Aether, I must have missed it. That is probably why I bought The Book of Iod a while back. Unfortunately, neither Rats nor "Return of the Witch" is in that volume. I did manage to track down and read a couple of the stories you mentioned, and I would definitely add them to the top of my favorite horror stories list:

"Notebook Found in a Deserted House" by Robert Bloch
"The River of Night's Dreaming" & "Sticks" Karl Edward Wagner

I liked the first half of House on the Borderland more than the second half, but I read it under less than ideal circumstances, so that may have taken something away from the story. I have the Caroll & Graf pb edition from 1983. It has great cover art by R. Courtney. This was made into a nice graphic novel as well.

I remember liking E. F. Benson's "Caterpillers" and Chamber's "The Repairer of Reputations" but it has been ages since I read them. I think they are due for a reread.

I have never read anything by Fitz-James O'Brien but I have heard good things about "The Wondersmith." I have that story in the anthology Terror by Gaslight edited by Hugh Lamb.

Here is a link I found on Mr. O'Brien:


08-08-2006, 01:11 PM
Thanks for reminding me of 'The Diamond Lens', Yhaze!

I've looked all over - even via the eponymous lens - but can find no star vampire.

The Star Vampire I refer to is not a story, but the image you use as your avatar. Forgive me if I was being vague. The creature depicted in that picture, however, features Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars", and is a fun horror story in its own right.

08-08-2006, 01:24 PM
I am glad you enjoyed the KEW tales and "Notebook", Ben. It is alway a pleasure to share great stories with one's own kind, so to speak!

"What Was It?" is the only F-J O'Brien story I have read. I first read it when I was in sixth grade (many moons ago...), and the IDEA of what happens to the protaganist of the story kept me in dread more than once while lying in my bed.

I should also mention M.R. James' "Oh Whistle and I'll Come To You, My Lad". What an astounding title! Of course, I might hesitate to blow an ancient Roman whistle bearing that inscription if I should stumble upon it...


The Silent One
08-08-2006, 01:51 PM
"Caterpillars" was horrifying. Also in the volume Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (just as great as the title states) is Robert Hitchens' "How Love Came to Professor Guildea", which insofar is quite repulsive.

G. S. Carnivals
08-08-2006, 08:06 PM
I must add at least one more "traditional" story to this list: "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood. More "untraditional" favorite stories to follow...

G. S. Carnivals
08-08-2006, 09:52 PM
Since horror has absolutely no manners, and even less respect for genre distinctions (which are somewhat artificial and relative anyway), I have a bulging handful of less "traditional" horror stories that are personal favorites.

Here are ten mentions (for now) in no particular order:

"Descending" by Thomas M. Disch
"The Roaches" by Thomas M. Disch
"Flight Useless, Inexorable the Pursuit" by Thomas M. Disch
"The Asian Shore" by Thomas M. Disch
"Masks" by Damon Knight
"Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" by Harlan Ellison
"No Direction Home" by Norman Spinrad
"The Black Gondolier" by Fritz Leiber
"Born of Man and Woman" by Richard Matheson
"Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor

Threads like this one are among my favorites at TLO. Our tastes and reading histories vary. This is where we converge and diverge at once. This is where we learn about the unanticipated treasures that others have already discovered.

08-10-2006, 04:57 AM
A few more that I really like:

"The Mysterious Stranger" by Mark Twain. Twain would not allow this story to be published in his lifetime because he knew it would offend a great many people. This was his last novella. Ligotti has mentioned Twain's book Letters From the Earth in an interview. The tone of this work is similar to that book. It is a scathing indictment of humanity and the human condition. (Make sure you don't read the sanitized version.)

"Moxon's Master" by Ambrose Bierce. This story may appeal to fans of Ligotti because it has a puppet (actually, an automaton ) theme to it, and it deals with the nature of consciousness.

In searching my anthologies for some of the stories recommended in this thread I came across a book called The 13 Greatest Horror Stories of All Time. Here is the list they came up with:

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
Green Tea by Sheridan La Fanu
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs
Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad by M.R. James
The Country of the Blind by H.G. Wells
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I agree with Aetherwing on M.R. James. The title "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" is deceptively disarming. And quite memorable after you read the story. His stories can be very creepy. I am a big fan. And so is TL.

08-11-2006, 01:21 AM
Oh, yes. Montague Rhodes James is arguably one of the foremost stylists of the classic ghost tale. I didn't know that TL agreed, but am not in the least surprised.

I don't think anyone has mentioned Saki as yet: his "The Open Window" is masterful, and should probably be mentioned under the Humour/Horror section as well. Romance at short notice, indeed!

Also by Saki (H. H. Munro) worth mentioning is "The Interlopers". Very nice twist ending. And lastly, "Sredni Vashtar". A tale showing the sly and devious nature that children can truly exhibit...especially with the aid of their own private gods.

Robert R. McCammon has several good ones, of which I shall advance "Something Passed By" from his BLUE WORLD collection (alas, out of print). Cosmic and personal horror in a very short tale, the explanation being as vague as that offered by the dying old fellow at the end of HPL's "Colour Out of Space". Well worth the read.

Finally, I am down to Richard Christian Matheson, scion of Richard Matheson. I have read only one short short by the man, but it was ironic and quite chilling. It is called "The Dark Ones", and is memorably good.

I agree wholeheartedly with Phil. These types of threads are almost as good as a lively discussion in a good coffee shop.

Admiration to All,

08-11-2006, 02:27 PM
Hey, what about 'The Apple Tree' and 'The Demon Lover' by Elizabeth Bowen?
And I love frequenting the coffee-houses with Addison & Steele. :-)

08-15-2006, 12:00 AM
In the August 1983 edition of The Twilight Zone Magazine, editor T.E.D. Klein put together an article on book and story recommendations with the help of some notable contributors. To type the entire list, including commentaries, would be a bit much, so I just listed some that sounded interesting.

The Auctioneer by Joan Samson Selected by Thomas Disch

The Hole of the Pit by Adrian Ross Selected by R.S. Hadji
"An extraordinary historical fantasy, chronicling the seige of a seaside castle during the Englih Civil War by the "Fiend from the Pit," an amorphous mass of cold grey slime. Written in a graceful pastiche of seventeenth-century English, this novel boasts strong characterizations, a fine brooding atmosphere and several effectively horrific outbursts. It is that avis rara, a completely unknown masterpiece, rivaling the best of Hodgson."

The Cross of Carl by Walter Owen Selected by Karl Edward Wagner
"Antiwar novella concerning a German foot soldier in World War I, horribly wounded and baled up with other battle casualties to be rendered into soap. After this, things really get strange."

Freak Museum by R.R. Ryan Selected by Karl Edward Wagner
" ... an unwed mother falls into the clutches of a gang of mad scientists who create monstrous freaks from newborn infants - or are the freaks real? A battery of stock detective types die horribly finding out."

Selected by T.E.D. Klein

1. Casting the Runes by M.R. James
2. The Novel of the Black Seal by Arthur Machen
3. The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
4. The Dunwich Horror by HPL
5. Bird of Prey by John Collier
6. Who Goes There? by Don A. Stuart (John W. Campbell) Antarctic horror, the genesis of The Thing.
7. They Bite by Anthony Boucher
8. Stay off the Moon! by Raymond F. Jones
9. Ottmar Balleau X 2 by George Bamber
10. First Anniversary by Richard Matheson
11. The Autopsy by Michael Shea
12. The Trick by Ramsey Campbell
13. To Build a Fire by Jack London

08-15-2006, 01:10 AM
Hmm...so hard to choose
"The Repairer of Reputations" Robert W. Chambers
"The Horla" Guy De Maupassant
"The White People" by Arthur Machen
"Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen" by Robert Aickman
" The Man Whom The Trees Loved" by Algernon Blackwood
"Green Tea" by Sheridan LeFanu
"The Change"by Ramsey Campbell
"Our Temporary Supervisor" by Thomas Ligotti

And about two billion others.

08-15-2006, 05:46 PM
"The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and the Randolph Carter/Dream Quest series by HPL will always remain favorites of mine. And just about every story from the Teatro Grottesco cycle by TL

"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson...love it

"Le Horla" by Maupassant

"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl. What was great about Dahl, was he wrote these seemingly innocent stories that, deep down, were quite disturbing at the core.

G. S. Carnivals
08-15-2006, 08:07 PM
"Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl. What was great about Dahl, was he wrote these seemingly innocent stories that, deep down, were quite disturbing at the core.
I agree completely with this assessment of Roald Dahl's work. I bought Dahl's collection Kiss Kiss at a flea market in the late 1970's. ".15" is discreetly written in ink on the cover of my 1961 Dell paperback. What a bargain. Unfortunately, "Lamb to the Slaughter" is not collected in the book. Dahl was married to actress Patricia Neal. "Klaatu barada nikto!"

Mention of Roald Dahl's name made me think immediately of Gerald Kersh, yet another writer whose work is hard to categorize as this thing or that thing or the other thing. Both Roald Dahl and Gerald Kersh deserve to be remembered.

This literary association session is over.

08-18-2006, 02:16 PM
In the late 1950s Roald Dahl was hired to recommend twenty-four ghost stories that could be adapted for television. Mr. Dahl has stated that he read over seven hundred stories to come up with the required twenty-four. (M.R. James is conspicuously absent). The series got only as far as the pilot stage, because the show offended the producers and sponsors so much that they cancelled the entire project. The guilty story was "The Hanging of Alfred Wadham" by E.F. Benson. It involves a priest, a confessional, etc., enough to offend the tender religious sensibilities of 1950s American audiences.
Much later, Roald Dahl was asked to put together a book of ghost stories. He started with his choices for the television show, but was forced to pare down his selection to fourteen.

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

W.S. by L.P. Hartley (T.E.D. Klein reprinted this one for The Twilight Zone Magazine. Great story).
Harry by Rosemary Timperley
The Corner Shop by Cynthia Asquith
In the Tube by E.F. Benson
Christmas Meeting by Rosemary Timperley
Elias and the Draug by Jonas Lie
Playmates by A.M. Burrage
Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman
The Telephone by Mary Treadgold
The Ghost of a Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Sweeper by A.M. Burrage
Afterward by Edith Wharton
On the Brighton Road by Richard Middleton
The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford

08-18-2006, 03:22 PM
A very interesting selection! Its background was unknown to me.

As to its contents, I know them all except Jonas Lie and Mary Treadgold.

G. S. Carnivals
10-25-2006, 09:39 PM
It has just dawned on me that much of what I personally consider to be horrifying concerns human transformation: deterioration, dehumanization, sinister manipulation, and various forms of reconstruction and evolution. My favorite horror film will always be The Wolf Man (1941). Larry Talbot's predicament is so poignant because he has no choice in the matter...

I list a few more favorites that suggest horror's ubiquity. In no order of preference:

"Evening Primrose" by John Collier
"I Live with You" by Carol Emshwiller
"Pretty Boy Crossover" by Pat Cadigan
"The Heat Death of the Universe" by Pamela Zoline
"Passengers" by Robert Silverberg
"Down Among the Dead Men" by William Tenn
"Blood Music" by Greg Bear
"Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes
"Flies" by Robert Silverberg

Brian Richmond
10-28-2006, 07:41 PM
I know this is a strange confession to make in such a setting, but I am a bit of a sentimental old fool. One of the effects horror fiction can create - and that is often overlooked - is a frisson of sadness. At about 11 years old my introduction to horror was helped by various Alfred Hitchcock Anthologies, particularly the Monster Museum and the Ghostly Gallery. It was in the former, I think, that I read The Homecoming by Ray Bradbury. I remember the part when the mother tells the little boy - the only mortal among a family of vampires, shape-shifters and the like - that, when he is dead, she will come and tend his grave. At 11 years old, this was devastating. Of course, I'm now much older and more cynical but, catch me in the right mood and...no,no...I've just got some dust in my eye, that's all...
Not a particularly cool choice, I know but I'll have to crave your indulgence.
On a somewhat darker note, The Room in the Tower by EF Benson never fails to give me the willies, along with with the same author's The Caterpillars.

10-29-2006, 10:50 PM
Here are some of my favorites:

"His Unconquerable Enemy" by W.C. Morrow- a fiendish tale by a neglected master of the macabre, set in India.

"Talking in the Dark" by Dennis Etchison-- an atmosphere of menace grows steadily in this short piece.

"The Shadow over Innsmouth" by H.P. Lovecraft-- a superb sense of place, exquisite descriptions of dilapidation and decay, and a monstrous yet strangely beautiful climax.

"Sardonicus" by Ray Russell-- the main character inspires both revulsion and sympathy- a man whose face is locked in a perpetual grin.

"The Skull of the Marquis De Sade" by Robert Bloch-- an interesting blend of history and fiction, definitely worth reading.

"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" by Edgar Allan Poe-- be sure to check out Vincent Price's interpretation of Valdemar in one segment of the movie Tales of Terror.

"Skeleton" by Ray Bradbury-- a story of a man afraid of his own skeleton.

"Lot No. 249" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-- features a reanimated mummy.

"The Cone" by H.G. Wells-- descriptions of the unique beauties of factories and industrialization can be found in this tale of psychological horror.

"The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne-- an excellent example of quiet horror and Hawthorne's obsession with the problem of sin.

11-06-2006, 05:37 AM
Quite a few, these are the ones that come to mind right not, but in no particular order

-The Ash tree, M.R. James
-Green Tea, J. S. Lefanu
-Carmila, J. S. Lefanu
-The Great God Pan, Arthur Machen
-A voice in the Night, William Hope Hodgson
-The Color out of Space, H. P. Lovecraft
-Netherscurial, TL, of course!
-Apartment 205, Mark Samuels
-An Abhorrence to al Flesh, Matt Cardin (When's the next anthology out, Matt?!)
-The Midnight Meat Train", Clive Barker
-partofit, Simon Logan (Not exactly horror, but eerie)
-The Pit and the Pendulum, E.A. Poe
-The Night, Guy de Maupassnt
-I have no mouth and I must scream, Harlan Ellison
-The Area, Stefan Grabinski
-The Spider, Hanns Heinz Ewers
-The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
-The Decapitated Chicken, Horacio Quiroga.

Plenty of stories by HPL ad TL… plenty

11-06-2006, 05:51 AM
The Hole of the Pit by Adrian Ross Selected by R.S. Hadji
"An extraordinary historical fantasy, chronicling the seige of a seaside castle during the Englih Civil War by the "Fiend from the Pit," an amorphous mass of cold grey slime. Written in a graceful pastiche of seventeenth-century English, this novel boasts strong characterizations, a fine brooding atmosphere and several effectively horrific outbursts. It is that avis rara, a completely unknown masterpiece, rivaling the best of Hodgson."

I own the Spanish translation (http://www.valdemar.com/product_info.php?products_id=232) of this book (I'm told it is the only translation in any language other than the original English, that rare is that book supposed to be) but I am not that thrilled about it. Legend has it none other but Ramsey Campbell stumbled upon it, collecting dust in an old box he had stored somewhere in his attic... some actually think the book was penned by Campbell himself using the Adrian Ross pseudonym, although there are supposedly some historical records that claim M. R. James actually was a friend of Ross... so who knows.

Some of the material in that book is similar to what one could find in the works of William Hope Hodgson (Specifically in "The House at the Borderland" ) and even HPL, but most of the book is centered around other issues and the slimy grotesquerie is thrown on stage as a second rate attraction, or at least that's the way I perceived it.

11-06-2006, 10:41 AM
Interesting back story on "The Hole of the Pit", Karnos, I hadn't heard it before. I still haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I do know that it was rediscovered in the anthology Uncanny Banquet edited by Campbell. Who knows, maybe he just added the monster, if it sits oddly on the page.

I am in agreement with many of your story selections. Ewer's "Spider" is outstanding, as is Gilman's "Yellow Wallpaper." I meant to post something on your thread, but work has me very distracted lately. I have the "Yellow Wallpaper" on audio too, in two separate versions. One is an unabridged reading and the other is a radio play adaptation done in the 1940s (I think) for the show Suspense. TL shares an anthology with Gilman's story in American Gothic Tales edited by Joyce Carol Oates. I also have a weakness for Barker's "Midnight Meat Train." I haven't read it in years, though, and I do remember having a chuckle at Joshi's less than complimentary review of it. That's it for now. Back to work. Sigh.

G. S. Carnivals
11-14-2006, 09:41 PM
In my library is an anthology named The Horror Hall of Fame edited by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg. Its contents reflect the polling results of participants in the 1981 and 1982 World Fantasy Conventions. From the book's introduction: "The Horror Hall of Fame was conceived with the idea of paying tribute to the many writers and stories that predate the World Fantasy Convention and have helped make horror the rich and complex body of literature it is today." Tastes, of course, are relative. The cream, however, does rise to the top. (Note the titles which have already been mentioned. These are certainly recommended!) The book's contents:

"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe
"Green Tea" By Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
"The Damned Thing" by Ambrose Bierce
"The Yellow Sign" by Robert W. Chambers
"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs
"The White People" by Arthur Machen
"The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood
"Casting the Runes" by M. R. James
"The Graveyard Rats" by Henry Kuttner
"Pigeons from Hell" by Robert E. Howard
"It" by Theodore Sturgeon
"Smoke Ghost" by Fritz Leiber
"Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" by Robert Bloch
"The Small Assassin" by Ray Bradbury
"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" by Harlan Ellison
"Calling Card" by Ramsey Campbell
"Coin of the Realm" by Charles L. Grant
"The Reach" by Stephen King

There is much tasty reading here. Enjoy, my friends!

11-15-2006, 07:27 AM
Edit: Naught.

simon p. murphy
11-20-2006, 11:43 PM
I think there is a strong prima facie case that everything that has ever been written is horror...

But this aside, one of my favorite horror stories of all time has to be the Bible. Warning: spoilers below!

An entity of dubious moral integrity exists alone in The Outer Void. Unsatisfied with keeping his own company, He decides to generate other intelligent life-forms in the Void - He knows this is a cosmic sin, but He quickly changes the rules to salve His conscience.

He later feels that His creaions don't quite live up to His own impeccable standards, and so He goes gangsta on practically every living thing on earth. Satan was kind of like Charles Manson - very charismatic, and his preferred mode of operation was to convince other people to do his dirty work. God, on the other hand, likes to get hands on. From cover to cover, God kills hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children.

Consider this, taken from www.stanford.edu

"A person with a borderline personality disorder often experiences a repetitive pattern of disorganization and instability in self-image, mood, behavior and close personal relationships. This can cause significant distress or impairment in friendships and work. A person with this disorder can often be bright and intelligent, and appear warm, friendly and competent. They sometimes can maintain this appearance for a number of years until their defense structure crumbles, usually around a stressful situation like the breakup of a romantic relationship or the death of a parent".

Or the death of an only child, perhaps....?

His worshippers, on the other hand, present as textbook examples of sexually abused children, meeting challenges to their values, beliefs or lifestyle responses equivalent to 'daddy chose me because I'm special'.

In true Ligottian style, everyone is totally screwed from the beginning; God made heaven practically impossible to get into just so He could watch his creations squirm trying to get there, and even those that do make it realise how crap it is, and that they're stuck there forever.

End of rant - don't take anything I say too seriously, because I was probably stoned when I said it.

11-21-2006, 05:03 AM
But this aside, one of my favorite horror stories of all time has to be the Bible.

I agree, it is quite a horror story. (I can think of a few other names to call it) But always keep in mind, it is only fiction.

11-21-2006, 07:13 AM
Hey, just because the Demiurge tells us he's God doesn't mean we have to believe him. :P

I think someone mentioned The House on the Borderland up-thread. One of the only "horror" novels I actually like (The Haunting of Hill House can go screw!) I thought it benefited from dropping the conventional horror elements and going the crazy metaphysical route toward the end; that was the most evocative part! I also enjoyed The Night Land, even if the love story is total fromage.

simon p. murphy
11-21-2006, 08:30 PM
Yeah, House on the Borderland ftw. Quite well developed and nicely maintains suspense, unlike The Boats of Glen Carrig which was mostly munchkinised swashbuckling and gratuitous monster appearances, although it had its tense moments near the beginning. Have not yet read The Night Land, but the whole metal pyramid thing sounds creepy.

On a more serious note than my last post, I have to say that 'Nausea' by Sartre is one of my favorite non-conventional 'horror' novels. Possibly the first novel of 'philosophical horror', although I suspect that wasn't quite Sartre's intention, since I think it was just more of a plug for Being and Nothingness - a great read if you have the time to read an intellectually-crammed 1000 page existential treatise...slow-going in places, but worth it, especially for someone with Ligottian philosophical inclinations (although, having said that, being an uber-libertarian, Sartre wouldn't have liked Ligotti's deterministic thread).

But back on topic, other good horror stories I've read are 'The Willows' by Algernon Blackwood (which many people seem to think is over-rated - I don't see why - it roxxor) and 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs' by Harlan Ellison. Both are rooted firmly within the 'cosmic horror' genre, as Lovecraft defined it.

Yours in Christ,


Mr. D.
11-26-2006, 11:58 PM
My favorite horror story - if "favorite" is the correct word - is actually a movie. It was the most horrifying and emotionally draining artistic experience that I have ever had. The film is entitled "Come and See." It is a Belarusian film set in Belarus in the Second World War. The story is that of a teenager who is caught up in the anti-Nazi fight. The Germans are pacifying Belarus and an underarmed, outnumbered group of civilians are fighting them. The horrors that the Germans inflict on the citizens of the countryside, all in the name of policy, are so horrendous that I almost couldn't take it. The screenwriter - Ales Adpmovich - was in the war himself and is merely relating what he saw. The things that people do to each other are, to me, the worst things of all. The Russian or Belarus title is "Idi i Smotri" and it was released in 1985. If you haven't seen this movie I highly reccomend it. However, you have to be prepared for a truely terrifying experience.

G. S. Carnivals
11-29-2006, 09:18 PM
I'm rather surprised that no one has mentioned The Dark Descent edited by David G. Hartwell. This hefty 1987 anthology is certainly a book I'd choose to take with me if I were marooned on a deserted island. Under one cover, the amazing contents are:

PART I: The Color of Evil

The Reach - Stephen King
Evening Primrose - John Collier
The Ash-Tree - M. R. James
The New Mother - Lucy Clifford
There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding - Russell Kirk
The Call of Cthulhu - H. P. Lovecraft
The Summer People - Shirley Jackson
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs - Harlan Ellison
Young Goodman Brown - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mr. Justice Harbottle - J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Crowd - Ray Bradbury
The Autopsy - Michael Shea
John Charrington's Wedding - E. Nesbit
Sticks - Karl Edward Wagner
Larger Than Oneself - Robert Aickman
Belsen Express - Fritz Leiber
Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper - Robert Bloch
If Damon Comes - Charles L. Grant
Vandy, Vandy - Manly Wade Wellman

PART II: The Medusa in the Shield

The Swords - Robert Aickman
The Roaches - Thomas M. Disch
Bright Segment - Theodore Sturgeon
Dread - Clive Barker
The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan Poe
The Monkey - Stephen King
Within the Walls of Tyre - Michael Bishop
The Rats in the Walls - H. P. Lovecraft
Schalken the Painter - J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A Rose for Emily - William Faulkner
How Love Came to Professor Guildea - Robert Hichens
Born of Man and Woman - Richard Matheson
My Dear Emily - Joanna Russ
You Can Go Now - Dennis Etchison
The Rocking-horse Winner - D. H. Lawrence
Three Days - Tanith Lee
Good Country People - Flannery O'Connor
Mackintosh Willy - Ramsey Campbell
The Jolly Corner - Henry James

PART III: A Fabulous Formless Darkness

Smoke Ghost - Fritz Leiber
Seven American Nights - Gene Wolfe
The Signal-Man - Charles Dickens
Crouch End - Stephen King
Night-Side - Joyce Carol Oates
Seaton's Aunt - Walter de la Mare
Clara Militch - Ivan Turgenev
The Repairer of Reputations - Robert W. Chambers
The Beckoning Fair One - Oliver Onions
What Was It? - Fitz-James O'Brien
The Beautiful Stranger - Shirley Jackson
The Damned Thing - Ambrose Bierce
Afterward - Edith Wharton
The Willows - Algernon Blackwood
The Asian Shore - Thomas M. Disch
The Hospice - Robert Aickman
A Little Something for Us Tempunauts - Philip K. Dick

11-30-2006, 10:58 PM
The Mist, the novella by Stephen King, was for years the example for me of a perfect horror story. No happy ending, the mystery remains, and good characters and just scary goings-on. And even monsters. For those who've read it, I don't think he constrains us to believe that the pits of the earth were opened up due to the alluded-to govt./military experiments nearby. I like to think the other possibility was also there -- that the goddamn demons or whatever just decided to come the #### up and ruin everybody's day at that supermarket and in that town and as far as the eye could see, which wasn't very far of course, because of...the mist!! Mist made it all spooky and cozy-wozy...

I liked The Haunting of Hill House a lot. In fact, better than the movie The Haunting, from 1962 or so.

Apropos of nada: "Just because it's wearing a Bigfoot suit doesn't mean it's not a Bigfoot." (Actually heard in our little Mystery Club down in Virginia this past summer.)

08-19-2007, 09:27 AM
I was asked that question when I joined one online group, and I answered "Professor Guildea".

08-19-2007, 09:23 PM
A favorite story that I haven't read in several years is "Sticks". It sticks with you:p

08-21-2007, 03:49 PM
I think Hugh Walpole's sinister tale "The Silver Mask" deserves a mention.

08-22-2007, 12:03 AM
Stephen King's "The Mist" novella was a favorite way back when. I liked that he left the mystery intact, and the tense/gloomy/adventurous ending. I don't know what my favorite is now, I'm pretty sure something by TL. I did like most of the stories in Robert Aikman's Cold Hand in Mine last year.

08-23-2007, 05:50 PM
Do you mean short story or novel?

My favorite horror short story would have to be "The Picture In The House" by H.P. Lovecraft

My favorite horror novel is "Blood Meridian" by Cormac McCarthy. (Although it is a western)

09-22-2007, 04:21 PM
I will also add "The Desolate Presence" by Thomas Owen. TL mentioned this author in one of his interviews many years ago. I just unearthed the book while looking through some boxes. I have only read about half a dozen of his stories, and this is the only one I really care for, but it is outstanding. It may be his most well known story because the book is titled The Desolate Presence and Other Uncanny Stories by Thomas Owen. I would highly recommend it to TL fans. It is very Ligottian.

I agree that Blood Meridian is a great "horror" novel. It is one of my favorites too.

10-21-2007, 05:28 PM
I thought it might help me to post this question in a community of knowledgable horror enthusiasts. I am trying to put together a collection of good horror stories for my high school class. I read an anthology years ago -- something picked up while traveling in a hostel, and then left behind -- which contained two excellent, spine-chilling stories. One was, I have recently discovered, AM Burrage's 'The Waxworks.' The other I cannot seem to find.
It was about a young boy hidden away with his reclusive mother in the forest, and found after her death. He wouldn't speak, and as far as I can recall, it was believed that she killed him through abuse. Although, eventually it was discovered that the case was exactly the opposite. Few horror stories have chilled me in this way. Any ideas?

Icicle Kite
10-22-2007, 01:03 AM
My memory doesn't usually paint a coherent picture for things I've read in the deep past....

At the moment I'd choose:

"Xelucha" M.P. Sheil
"Phorfor" M.P. Sheil (the entire collection "Shapes in the Fire" is quite remarkable)
"Conflict" Stéphane Mallarmé
"Witch In-Grain" R. Murray Gilchrist
"A Country Dr." Franz Kafka
"the Masque of the Red Death" Poe
"Los of Breath" Poe
"Four Beasts in One; the Homo-Camelopard" Poe
"Lottery in Babble" Jorge Luis Borges
"the Whisperer of the Darkness" H.P. Lovecraft

-If I could Cheat a little, and Consider a couple novels and Poetry, then:

"Maldoror" Comte de Lautreamont
"the Hill of Dreams" Arthur Machen
"Milton" William Blake ( Had some most fantastic dreams after reading this)
"Aha!" Aleister Crowley
"Moon Child" ...Crowley

couple of these are more supernatural then horror...but whatever.

10-22-2007, 03:35 PM
O'Brien fans should also check out 'The Spider's Eye'. Uncanny and original.

My favourite horror story is Orson Scott Card's 'Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory'. The tittle is a bit of a mouthful, I admit, but the story is quite simply a masterpiece.

10-22-2007, 09:16 PM
At the moment I'd choose:

"Xelucha" M.P. Sheil
"Phorfor" M.P. Sheil (the entire collection "Shapes in the Fire" is quite remarkable)

I’ve been meaning to read M. P. Shiel ever since running across a description of his work in Brian Aldiss’s Billion Year Spree, back when I was a teenager too many years ago.

In his essay “Thomas Ligotti: The Escape from Life,” S. T. Joshi says of Ligotti’s prose style: “The closest analogy, on purely stylistic grounds, is the eccentric idiom of M. P. Shiel, although he is not a writer whom Ligotti acknowledges as an influence or model....[Ligotti’s work] stylistically echoes Shiel’s tortuous, metaphor-laden prose-poetry, while at the same time seeking to capture that atmosphere of nightmarish or hallucinatory strangeness that typifies Shiel’s best work.”

I’ve glanced briefly at some of Shiel’s writings on the Project Gutenberg site, and here and there I can see a definite resemblance between the two writer’s styles. But -- at least based on the little of Shiel I’ve looked at -- the resemblance seems to be spotty. Some of Shiel’s sentences and paragraphs don’t seem very much like Ligotti’s. Still, Joshi’s observation is an interesting one -- food for thought for whenever I get around to reading Shiel.

Icicle Kite
10-25-2007, 09:58 PM
They probably have influences in the same schools of thought.

07-17-2008, 12:55 PM
Here are a few other great horror stories that I have read recently:

Just TheVery Thing They Wanted by Dino Buzzati
The Phantom Slayer by Fritz Leiber
Shallaballah by Mark Samuels
At the Bureau by Steve Rasnic Tem
Ice Age of Dreams by Michael Cisco

07-17-2008, 02:47 PM
My favourite may be H P Lovecraft's The Hound -- but that's probably largely for sentimental reasons.

07-17-2008, 06:29 PM
Here are a few other great horror stories that I have read recently:

Just TheVery Thing They Wanted by Dino Buzzati
The Phantom Slayer by Fritz Leiber
Shallaballah by Mark Samuels
At the Bureau by Steve Rasnic Tem
Ice Age of Dreams by Michael Cisco

Your list reminded me that The Alarming Revenge of a Domestic Pet by Dino Buzzati is one of my favorites.

07-18-2008, 03:10 PM
Your list reminded me that The Alarming Revenge of a Domestic Pet by Dino Buzzati is one of my favorites.

That sounds like a good one. I only have two books by Buzzati: The Tartar Steppe and The Siren (a collection of short stories). I have read a couple more in anthologies. I found "Just The Very Thing They Wanted" in European Tales of Terror. His out of print collections Restless Nights and Catastrophe are way too expensive for me. Catastrophe is supposed to be reprinted next month, but it has been slated for publication for years and they keep putting it off, so I'm not holding my breath. Buzzati has written some excellent stories.

07-19-2008, 11:39 AM
It seems strange to see a Mark Samuels story cited.

Last time I saw one of his was when he was posting me his early efforts for criticism. I assume they're improved since then (although whether as a result of my criticisms or in spite of them is a matter open to doubt). ;)

09-23-2009, 10:46 AM
As they say on Facebook, I like this:

(20 horror stories that Carl Ford (of Dagon) enjoys).

09-23-2009, 05:55 PM
Obviously anything by Thomas Ligotti, "The Chimney" by Ramsey Campbell, "The House of Usher" by Poe, and "How To Edit" by Richard Christian Matheson. Yes, that last one is actually a short story. Alex

06-09-2010, 11:53 PM
I will also add "The Desolate Presence" by Thomas Owen. TL mentioned this author in one of his interviews many years ago. I just unearthed the book while looking through some boxes. I have only read about half a dozen of his stories, and this is the only one I really care for, but it is outstanding. It may be his most well known story because the book is titled The Desolate Presence and Other Uncanny Stories by Thomas Owen. I would highly recommend it to TL fans. It is very Ligottian.

Thank you, Bendk. I just received a copy of this from an antiquarian friend who insists it's right up my alley, and your comments have helped confirms he is right. I hope to start the book soon.

06-10-2010, 02:22 AM
It is almost impossible to choose, because the instant after one has made their choice, one remembers "The Fall of the House of Usher" or "Sticks." These days I am divided between "The Haunter of the Dark" and THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD. It's been two years since I have read WARD, as I am waiting for S. T. Joshi's new annotated edition before I peruse it again.

I've just read Laird Barron's collection OCCULTATION for a second time, and if I can choose a favourite new horror author, he is it. Read "Catch Hell" last night, and gawd it spook'd & thrill'd me! An amazing writer.

10-08-2015, 04:53 PM
Remember that tastes change all the time, so this is by no means definite. My favourite weird tales, by order of memory, are as follows:

The Wendigo -- Algernon Blackwood
The Willows -- Algernon Blackwood
The White People -- Arthur Machen
The Watcher by the Threshold -- John Buchan
Count Magnus -- M.R. James
The End of A Summer's Day -- Ramsey Campbell
In the Shadow of Another World -- Thomas Ligotti
The Masque of the Red Death -- Edgar Allan Poe
The Music of Erich Zann -- H.P. Lovecraft
The Festival -- H.P. Lovecraft

Honourable mentions go to Mark Samuels' Apartment 205, Robert H. Barlow's The Night Ocean, Donald Wandrei's The Red Brain, Le Fanu's Green Tea, Buchan's The Wind in the Portico (that hideous glowing Gorgon carving!) and Skule Skerry, Conan Doyle's The Horror of the Heights and Lot No. 249, and Bierce's The Damned Thing and The Death of Halpin Fraser.

James Sucellus
10-08-2015, 06:43 PM
People may not agree a couple of these count as 'horror', but really my perception of genre has broken down completely lately. Some of these authors are likely to incite ridicule, but I was asked to give my favourites and can only be honest. I refuse to live a lie.

My mind would probably be completely different tomorrow, but these are scattered selections. Contains novels and poems, strangely.

Robert Aickman – The Inner Room
Walter de la Mare – Seaton's Aunt
Edgar Allan Poe – Ligeia
HP Lovecraft – The Festival
Thomas Ligotti – Gas Station Carnivals
Franz Kafka – The Metamorphosis
Edgar Allan Poe – The Fall of the House of Usher
Ray Bradbury – There Will Come Soft Rains
Thomas Ligotti – Purity
Robert Aickman – The Same Dog
HP Lovecraft – The Music of Erich Zann
Elizabeth Jane Howard – Three Miles Up
Ramsey Campbell – The End of a Summer's Day
Robert Aickman – The Trains
Robert Aickman – The Swords
Edgar Allan Poe – The Masque of the Red Death
HP Lovecraft – The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Ramsey Campbell – The Brood
Vladimir Nabokov – Terra Incognita
Elizabeth Bowen – The Demon Lover
Jorges Luis Borges – The Book of Sand
Thomas Ligotti – The Shadow at the Bottom of the World
Robert Aickman – The Stains
Robert Aickman – The Cicerones
William Hope Hodgson – The House on the Borderland
Walter de la Mare – Out of the Deep
Walter de la Mare – Crewe
Oliver Onions – The Beckoning Fair One
Robert W Chambers – The Yellow Sign
Arthur Machen – The White People
Algernon Blackwood – The Willows
Edgar Allan Poe – The Black Cat
Fritz Leiber – Smoke Ghost
Guy de Maupassant – The Horla
Karl Edward Wagner – The River of Night's Dreaming
J Sheridan Le Fanu – Schalcken the Painter
MR James – Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad
Robert E Howard – Pigeons from Hell
Clark Ashton Smith – The Double Shadow
Thomas Ligotti – Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes
HP Lovecraft – The Colour Out of Space
Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights
Daphne du Maurier – Don't Look Now
Ira Levin – Rosemary's Baby
Walter de la Mare – A Recluse
Walter de la Mare – All Hallows
Robert Aickman – The Hospice
Robert Aickman – The Clock Watcher
Franz Kafka – In the Penal Colony
Walter de la Mare – The Listeners
Walter de la Mare – Mr. Kempe
Edgar Allan Poe – The Raven
Harlan Ellison – I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
Ambrose Bierce – The Death of Halpin Frayser
Saki – The Interlopers
Stephen King (problem?) – It
Clive Barker (yes!) – In the Hills, the Cities
Clive Barker (I regret nothing!) – Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament
George RR Martin (YES!) – Sandkings

Robert Adam Gilmour
10-08-2015, 08:16 PM
It's probably too soon for me as I haven't read much (roughly 25 books of fiction, sadly)... but so far...

William Hope Hodgson - House On The Borderland
William Hope Hodgson - The Night Land
Edgar Allan Poe - The Black Cat
HP Lovecraft - Rats In The Walls
HP Lovecraft - Dreams In The Witch House
Ralph Adams Cram - The Dead Valley
MR James - Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You My Lad
MR James - Count Magnus
Arthur Machen - The White People
Arthur Machen - Great God Pan
Robert W Chambers - The Yellow Sign
Nathaniel Hawthorne - Rappaccini's Daughter
Algernon Blackwood - The Willows
Clive Barker - In The Hills, The Cities
Hugh B Cave - Murgunstrumm
Hugh B Cave - Stragella
R Chetwynd-Hayes - The Jumpity Jim
Ramsey Campbell - The Brood
J Sheridan Le Fanu - Schalken The Painter
Lucy Clifford - The New Mother

10-09-2015, 01:42 AM
Since James went all idiosyncratic on us, I have no qualms about doing this:

1. Homer, Odyssey, Rhapsody 11/Nekyia
2. Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
3. Moses/Anonymous, The Book of Job
4. John the Evangelist, Book of Revelation
5. Dante, The Inferno
6. Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
7. Lovecraft, The Dreams in the Witch House*
8. Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
9. Bizot, The Gate
10. Beevor, Stalingrad
11. Krasnahorkai, Satantango, V Unraveling
12. Chessex, The Vampire of Ropraz
13. Ligotti, Severini**

Every single one of these choices horrified me at the time of first reading.

* I suffer from frequent episodes of sleep paralysis. This condition makes HPL's story cut deep.

** If you live on the Equator it truly resonates.

10-10-2015, 02:09 PM
There are many to enumerate, so I selected the ones that struck me as a young reader (9-10 years old), back when I started reading horror stories:

1. Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher
2. H.P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
3. Bram Stoker, Dracula
4. Oscar Wilde, The Portrait of Dorian Gray
5. Horacio Quiroga, The Feather Pillow

James Sucellus
10-19-2015, 03:12 AM
Robert H. Barlow's The Night Ocean

I think I had avoided reading this due to the concept of 'collaborations' always bothering the part of my brain that needs to distinguish a single, clear authorial voice, but I checked this story out on Hell-Ghost's recommendation and was astonished at just how effective it was.

It took the themes of Dagon, The Call of Cthulhu and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, but handled them with remarkable restraint. No monsters. Just an eerie disquiet and stillness, giving way to haunting melancholy.

Adored it.

10-19-2015, 01:04 PM
The Spider

Hanns Heinz Ewers

10-19-2015, 11:26 PM
I agree with James. If read carefully, one sees "The Night Ocean" was the only possible sequel to "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" worth writing. The style, oddly enough, reminds me of "The Dark Chamber". Judging from the previous Barlow revision--the manuscript exists--Lovecraft probably rewrote phrases and even sentences. I'd guess it's about twenty percent Lovecraft, maybe a little more. Of course, they could have discussed Barlow's ideas for the story during Lovecraft's last visit but there's no evidence of that I'm aware of...

James Sucellus
11-03-2015, 08:48 PM
5. Horacio Quiroga, The Feather Pillow

Good shout! I read this on Gutenberg just now whilst in bed. Scariest use of a pillow I have read since MR James' Casting the Runes. This fear should be tapped in to more often.

James Sucellus
11-05-2015, 12:25 PM
I did a George Lucas or Stalin (which is worse?) and retroactively edited my list to replace my previous favourite MR James story selection Canon Alberic's Scrapbook with Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad, as I think it is the purest evocation of the nightmarish psychosexual repression bursting forth in MR James' stories. When I first got in to MR James, I really enjoyed his stories on a plot level but the absence of any psychological, emotional hook (which I find more overtly prevalent in Le Fanu's work) meant I found it hard to rate him among the other masters.

It was only upon realising how integral his repressed sexuality (likely homosexuality) was to his descriptions of the paranormal that I realised what a unique, often surreal artist he was. I don't know (or ever want to know) what the entity is supposed to be on a plot level in his Whistle tale, but it is clearly interested in something other than killing the protagonist, who is himself more afraid of being touched than being killed:

'Turning half away from him, it became suddenly conscious of the bed he had just left, and darted towards it, and bent and felt over the pillows in a way which made Parkins shudder as he had never in his life thought it possible.'

Brilliance. The BBC adaptations really miss this aspect of his work, although their Schalcken the Painter adaptation increased the sexual element substantially, to good effect.

Robert Adam Gilmour
11-05-2015, 12:40 PM
Personally I don't see the sexual element in "Whistle". I think his fear of touching it is similar to the way we don't fear the average spider actually hurting us but merely touching it at all. Except he does fear the thing will hurt him.

James Sucellus
11-05-2015, 12:54 PM
I find the sad longing of his ghosts very interesting and I'm not usually one for imposing my own interpretations on to other writers' personalities, such as when people draw the comparison between Cthulhu and the female genitalia.

Perhaps instead of 'sexuality' I'd go for the broader label of 'intimacy' when it comes to Monty's ghosts, which doesn't necessarily have to be sexual, although the undertones are there. See also the revanent in A School Story (Aickman's favourite, I believe), which is found embracing its victim at the end of the story, despite the teacher's best attempts to escape his secret past.

'One body had the arms tight round the other.'

Such things crop up too much in Monty's fiction for me to dismiss and I think they add a rich thematic underbelly.

Robert Adam Gilmour
11-05-2015, 01:52 PM
"How Love Came to Professor Guildea" by Robert Hichens springs to mind about the intimacy. Seems more like a portrayal of a character than Hichens having such hangups though.

It seems to me that Machen shows a real disgust at sex (which isn't necessarily repression). I've said it elsewhere but the more I think about sex being the central horror of "Great God Pan" and "The White People" the more it impoverishes them for me. I like to think it was something more bizarre than that.

James Sucellus
11-05-2015, 01:58 PM
My perception of Machen was that he changed a lot through the various eras of his career, which makes him an interesting writer to examine. Whilst the pagan sexual element is shown as a negative one in The Great God Pan, by the time of The Hill of Dreams he seems to be more honest in his appreciation of that area, even if as with The White People it leads to a path which poisons the protagonist to death. In both of the latter stories, the sexual elements are painted with a haunted fascination rather than the repulsion shown in The Great God Pan, and even in that tale Machen seems more interested than he is letting on. His stories seem both equally fascinated and repulsed by sex, which creates an interesting tension.

Post-1890s Machen seems much more repressed even than he was during the earlier period of that decade, with his journalistic pieces seeming sexless in comparison to the period of his greater works, although the later story The Bright Boy has some salacious implications.