{Book + Short Stories} What Went Back to the Library Today

Took a couple of #RIPXIV / #somethingWickedFall books back to the library today:

Cover via Goodreads

The Small Hand and Dolly by Susan Hill

Two chilling ghost stories from the author of The Woman in Black, both set in crumbling English houses that are haunted by the spirits of thwarted children.

In The Small Hand, antiquarian bookseller Adam Snow is returning from a client visit when he takes a wrong turn and stumbles across a derelict Edwardian house with a lush, overgrown garden. Approaching the door, he is startled to feel the unmistakable sensation of a small cold hand creeping into his own, almost as though a child had taken hold of it. Plagued by nightmares, he returns with the intention of figuring out its mysteries, only to be troubled by further, increasingly sinister visits. In Dolly, orphan Edward Cayley is sent to spend the summer with his forbidding Aunt Kestrel at Iyot House, her decaying home in the damp, lonely fens. With him is his spoiled, spiteful cousin, Leonora. And when Leonora’s birthday wish for a beautiful doll is denied, she unleashes a furious rage which will haunt Edward for years afterward. (via Goodreads)

Read both The Small Hand and Dolly. I enjoyed them well enough, but really don’t have too much to say about them. Neither was as good as the other Susan Hill book I’ve read, The Woman in Black, but that *is* considered a ghost story classic. I probably liked Dolly better because The Small Hand felt a little padded out. Still, some nice reading for autumn nights.

Cover via Goodreads

Poe’s Children: The New Horror edited by Peter Straub

From the incomparable master of horror and suspense comes an electrifying collection of contemporary literary horror, with stories from twenty-five writers representing today’s most talented voices in the genre.

Horror writing is usually associated with formulaic gore, but New Wave horror writers have more in common with the wildly inventive, evocative spookiness of Edgar Allan Poe than with the sometimes-predictable hallmarks of their peers. Showcasing this cutting-edge talent, Poe’s Children now brings the best of the genre’s stories to a wider audience. (via Goodreads)

I find it funny that a this anthology of “new” fiction is over 10 years old at this point… It’s my habit when I go to the library to pluck a couple books from shelves, give some a 10-page test, and maybe read a short story from a random anthology. A few weeks back I picked up Poe’s Children and started reading “Notes on the Writing of a Horror Story” by Thomas Ligotti, since I hadn’t read any Ligotti before. Unfortunately, it was a too long to finish at the library. So, I took it home. I meant to read a few more of the stories, but I only fit in one more. “Notes on the Writing of a Horror Story” was clever with an excellently twisted ending. The other story I read was “The Bees” by Dan Chaon. The setting was great but I thought the ending was a little flat.

Happy Halloween from The Black Cat, Vol. 1


For the past year, I’ve been reading through issues of The Black Cat, a magazine that began publication in October of 1895. It might sound a little sadistic, but I wanted to read popular literature from the turn of the 19th century, but not just “the good stuff” that has survived to be anthologized. Some of the stories I’ve read in the past year were not very good. Some were very…problematic. And some were quite good. Not all the stories were speculative, but many were and almost every month included a “spooky” story. I figured October would be a good time to share some of my favorites. Below are links to five stories and I’ll post another five later in the month.

Our unnamed narrator rents the Chateau Blanc in hopes of curing his melancholy. The house appealed to him due to the strange picture of the previous owner that hangs in the bedroom and the stuffed pet swan that somewhat floats on the lake. He’s sure there is a mystery to these objects…

Link to “The Secret of the White Castle” by Julia Magruder

Our narrator assures us that he never would have thought to go into the house if the lady he were with hadn’t confidently let herself in. They go upstairs and sit down to dinner. Around the table are a group of strange characters including a man that our narrator thinks is his old friend, Bill, from college. Except Bill has been dead for eight years…

Link to “The Interrupted Banquet” by Rene Bache

Our narrator falls in love with the beautiful Aidu. When he meets her she seems to be in some trouble. She agrees to help (and later to marriage), under the condition that she be allowed her freedom and she not be followed when she leaves the house. Aidu is a strange woman; she is never seen eating and once a week she goes for a walk alone and returns re-invigorated. Of course, we know how this story goes. Our love-struck narrator, follows her one evening…

Link to “Aidu” by Hero Despard

A friend finds Mr. Paul Fancourt in a state. What’s wrong? Fancourt tells of his marriage to the lovely and tempestuous Leila. His wife’s temper drove him away for five years and, when he returned, Leila was a different woman. Possibly, quite literally.

Link to “The Little Brown Mole” by Clarice Irene Clinghan

It’s a “very attractive modern house with a history.” The (presumably) first owners of the house die mysteriously, leaving behind a tale and ghosts.

Link to “To Let” by Alice Turner Curtis

Find out more about the Black Cat Project

Spooky Salon, 9/22

Spooky Salon
(A little rebranding for September & October)

Peril the First

Haven’t been super-duper in the mood to read lately. Most things just haven’t been catching with me. The exception has been Moby-Dick although I’m keeping the leisurely pace of Brona’s readalong. Instead of what I have on my Fall TBR list, I decided to read The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg. It’s an “old” favorite. I posted my thoughts on it on Thursday, using my new, more relaxed review format.

The Other The Small Hand and Dolly

I’m going to give The Other another go. I got bogged down reading it, but I don’t think it’s without merit. And as long as I don’t have to take it back to library on Tuesday, I’ll be reading The Small Hand and Dolly by Susan Hill next.

Continue reading “Spooky Salon, 9/22”

Sunday Salon, 8/18/19

Sunday Salon

Reading and Such

I focused on working on the VOTS archive this week and that’s pretty much all I had the overhead for. So, not much reading was done. I’m behind on all my readalongs. I’m looking forward to participating in Bout of Books starting tomorrow.

During my bi-weekly trip to the library, I ended up reading “There’s a Hole in the City” by Richard Bowes (from Ghosts: Recent Hauntings, ed. Paula Guran, but also found at Nightmare magazine) while looking for Glen Hirshberg fiction. It’s a rather good ghost story, told in the wake of 9/11.

For Deal Me In, I picked my last wild card, 2. I went to my list of bookmarked stories and picked “Two Years Dead” by Kathryn Kania from Fireside Magazine. Yes, another ghost story. This one very sweet. Opening line: “When I opened up my OKCupid profile, I was already two years dead.”

DealMeIn
Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

There is definitely a trend occurring with my reading. Along with my classic readalongs I’m also reading lots of mysteries and ghost stories. I’m far away from the end of summer, but September is coming. And R.I.P. is coming…

TV of the Week

I said I was swearing off cinematic universes, but I guess I made an exception for a literary universe. I’m a sometimes Stephen King fan. Some of his work, I’ve liked; some, not as much. Castle Rock was pretty okay as far as  horror TV goes. I had recently tried to watch the first season of Channel Zero, but I didn’t really didn’t care for it. It seemed to go all over the place without doing a good enough job of world-building. I’ve usually liked American Horror Story, but each season seems to go on about five episodes too long at which point it goes off the rails. Castle Rock, of course, has a world in place and was restrained, for what it could be.

Other Stuff

I finished over half of what I had left of the VOTS archive. I would have gotten further, but we opened Fall League registration as well. So, more reformatting this week along with Bout of Books festivities.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

The Black Cat, No. 10, July 1896

Welcome to the July 1896 issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!

This issue of The Black Cat features five writers new to magazine—unless there are some pseudonyms among the bunch. We’d have to go back to issue 6, in March, to find the previous issue of “newbie” writers.

Stories

“On the Last Trail” by H. W. Phillips & Rupert Hughes

The local marshal of Rapid City, a frontier town, forbids the possession of guns within town limits (due to the high death rate). This does not go over well—many of the town’s citizens become paranoid about being unarmed when someone *with* a gun comes to town. Bolande is that man. He’s friends with the Marshal, but that doesn’t make any difference. When Bolande refuses to give up his weapon, the Marshal calls him out. They duel, each shooting and mortally wounding the other. But before they die they agree that they’re still friends.

The story ends with “They were Americans… Of such were the builders of the West.” And I really can’t decide if this story is satirical or not.

While H. W. Phillips is noted in a 1908 issue of The New England Magazine as a writer magazine readers are familiar with, I couldn’t find any other credits. Rupert Hughes was a novelist and early filmmaker.

“A Message from Where?” by L. Francis Bishop

A locked trunk in the attic, a gravestone with his name on it, and lovers kept apart by the Civil War. This story was my favorite of the month due to its gloomy Southern Gothic nature. Mostly, it’s just a tale of a young boy discovering the truth of his history, of learning that the people around him all had lives before he was born.

“The Man with the Box” by George W. Tripp

“The Man with the Box” is science fiction-ish story. The box in question, when calibrated and pointed at someone, will make the target believe he is drinking a chosen beverage rather than a mundane one. For example, if the target were to choose Guinness ale from the dial on the box and then point and fire the box at himself, he’d taste Guinness when drinking a glass of water. But there is also a weird “snake” setting on the box… Shenanigans ensue. I also found this story interesting for its use of kodak and kodakist (in lower case form), presumably to denote the fad of photography and those annoyingly obsessed with it.

The only George W. Tripp I was able to locate with Google died as a high priest in the Church of Latter-day Saints. Same guy? Seems odd, but possible.

“What the Moon Saw” by Isabelle Meredith

This is the second sort-of creepy story in this month’s edition. Ned French has bet a large amount of money that Albert Turn will not at midnight pound a nail into the coffin of a recently buried man. The narrator of this story comes upon them as Turner is about to be lowered into the opened grave (dug up by servants), nails in hand. Not surprisingly, things don’t go well.

“In Miss Polly’s Pew” by Ellen Frizzell Wycoff

Jack Harrold returns after many years to the small town that was his childhood home. Many things have changed, and many things haven’t. He finds the initials he carved into a tree when he was a teenager: “J. H. + M. R.” It takes him a while(!) but he finally remembers who M. R. is—a.k.a. Polly—and how much he loved her(!). As luck would have it, Polly still lives in town and is single. And Jack’s still single too!

Ellen Frizzell Wycoff has a few other short story credits and may even show up again in the Black Cat.

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Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 10, July 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project

Sunday Salon, 7/14/19

Sunday Salon
Missed last week. Sometimes things just get out of hand…

Read & Reading

Since my last update, I finished Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin, which I reviewed on Thursday Saturday, and Magic is Dead by Ian Frisch, which I will review on this coming Thursday (maybe). I read Fevre Dream for the Book Junkies Trial, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do too much more with that challenge. I have three library books and two ARC/review copies that I want/need to get to in the near future. (Plus I still haven’t finished my reread of PHYSIC.) I was considering “catching up” during the 24 in 48 readathon this coming weekend, but Eric and I have been called upon to do some unexpected cat-sitting, so I don’t know how things will go exactly.

This coming week  I’ll be reading:

The Violent Century Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie

The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar and Scripting Hitchcock by Walter Raubicheck & Walter Srebnick along with The Count Monte Cristo and short stories.

Deal Me In: Last Sunday I picked a two—a wild card—and picked a reread “Django” by Harlan Ellison from Shatterday. Each of the stories in Shatterday includes an introduction/origin story written by Ellison. He wrote “Django” while sitting in a bookstore window as a publicity stunt. He was utterly unsure whether the story was good, even after it had been accepted for publication. And that’s a sort of comforting thing for a writer—to know that even your heroes have moments of uncertainty. My DMI story for this week was fairly unremarkable.

DealMeIn
Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

Movie of the Week

Man, what a beautiful movie. Into the Spiderverse is sort of tertiary to the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I’m glad of that. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of the long baroque, epic 22 movie story. (I still haven’t seen Endgame.) If you delve into super-hero comics, you quickly realize there are many iterations of characters and their stories. In fact, the only Spider-man comics I’ve read have been Brian Michael Bendis’ Miles Morales books, rather than the Peter Parker version.  Into the Spiderverse revels in the concept of multiple Spider-men, um, Spider-people and their worlds. The animation is incredible, though I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theater. I think I would have been over-whelmed by the amount of stuff going on.

What Else is Going On?

Been playing quite a bit of EverQuest 2. The server Eric and I play on unlocked the Desert of Flames expansion, so we’ve been adventuring there. This is my main character Ressa Cheep overlooking one oasis of the Twin Tears.


The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

The Black Cat, No. 9, June 1896

Welcome to the No. 9 issue of The Black Cat and the Black Cat Project!

Thankfully, this month’s issue annoyed me a lot less than the last. I guess that’s what happens when I don’t have to deal with a racial invective in the very title of a story.

Stories

“The House Across the Way” by Leo Gale

I was worried that I might not get another good creepy tale in The Black Cat until the autumnal/winter months. My worries were unfounded. There were two in this issue! The first was “The House Across the Way.” Mr. Jones is a bit nosy. He noticed the rather smart family who lived in the building across the street and when he noticed their absence, he was quick to inquire about their apartment. After he moves in, he befriends Mr. Flemming, the second floor’s only other resident. Since the other rooms on the floor aren’t locked, they make light use of them. During one lazy evening, Jones notices that the width of two apartments is shorter than the hallway is long. Is there a secret room? And the better question, why is there a secret room?

“Mrs. Sloan’s Curiosity” by Mabell Shippie Clarke

Mrs. Sloan’s daughter is engaged to Mr. G. F. S. Simms. He is, by all accounts, a nice guy and a good match. But there is one thing: he won’t tell anyone what G. F. S. stands for. We do find out, but I feel like this is maybe a joke that made more sense in 1896.

Mabell Shippie Clark had quite a literary career including a series featuring a character named Ethel Morton.

“The Seaweed Room” by Clarice Irene Clinghan

Prof. Linwood was a collector of seaweed. Until he got married. But now his wife is dead and the seaweed room is kept locked. No one knows why, so surely it would be okay if a late-staying guest spends the night there, right? “The Seaweed Room” is the second creepy story of the issue and it does not disappoint. It’s my favorite story of the issue due to its atmosphere and its brevity.

This is Clarice Irene Clinghan’s third story for The Black Cat, each better than the last.

“The Second Edition” by Geik Turner

Last month, Geik Turner’s story highlighted how one lonely man can bring a railroad to his knees. This month a lonely night shift newspaper editor is coerced into printing a detraction at gun point. Mr. Turner definitely seems to have something to say about the state of the world.

“The Luck of Killing Day” by McPherson Fraser

The issue concludes with a Western. In order to impress the only unmarried woman at Ft. Niobrara, two lieutenants crash a Native American celebration. As one does. I guess.

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Want to read for yourself?
Here’s the link to Issue No. 9, June 1896

Or find out
More about the Black Cat Project