#RIPXIII and #SomethingWickedFall Update 3

Here are a couple of perilous goodies of which I’ve partaken:

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

A Long Fatal Love Chase

“I’d gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom,” cries Rosamond Vivian to her callous grandfather. A brooding stranger seduces her from the remote island onto his yacht. Trapped in a web of intrigue, cruelty, and deceit, she flees to Italy, France, Germany, from Paris garret to mental asylum, from convent to chateau – stalked by obsessed Phillip Tempest. (via Goodreads)

This was a “lost” novel from Louisa May Alcott. After an eventful European tour, Alcott returned home and began writing a serial in order to help provide for her family. (This was before the publication of Little Women.) A Long Fatal Love Chase is sensational, melodramatic, and sometimes over-wrought. There is a bit of swooning, but also a heroine who escapes via balconies, disguises, intricate plans. I enjoyed this books quite a bit.

Haunters: The Art of the Scare (2017)

I have a confession: Aside from the very tame haunted “ride” at Peony Park, I’ve never been to a haunted house. Honestly, I have no desire to, but I am curious about how these attractions are created, who runs them, and who works at them. I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror, but I’ve always loved make-up and practical special effects. This is a really interesting documentary about all of those things. Haunters also addresses extreme haunted/torture houses, a relatively new phenomenon which I really don’t understand.

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#RIPXIII and #SomethingWickedFall Update 2

Love and Marriage…and the Gothic

I sometimes forget that gothic literature is more often than not “romantic” literature. So many gothic stories are centered on match-making and weddings and star-crossed lovers. So far, a good number of my Gothic September stories highlight this very thing.

“Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1839) – Schalken, a poor painter, is in love with Rose Velderkaust, the niece of his mentor. Although he isn’t the richest or most handsome, Rose is a bit keen on him too. Alas, a mysterious stranger with a chest of gold asks for Rose’s hand in marriage and Uncle Douw can’t refuse. Rose disappears on the way to her new home in Rotterdam and Schalken is left to discover her fate. Le Fenu uses a nested narrative to tell this tale as part of The Purcell Papers. Rev. Purcell relates Schalken’s story as a story told to him by the owner of Schalken’s painting of events. Unnecessarily labyrinthine? Maybe.

“The Dream Woman” by Wilkie Collins (1874) – The subtitle of this story is “A Mystery in Four Narratives” and Collins also engages stories being told to others. We start with Percy Fairbank and his wife encountering a hostler, Francis, suffering from a nightmare (during the day, when he should be attending to his duties). Francis tells his story of a mysterious woman who he met on 2am of the night of his birthday. He married her, but through a dream he knows she will bring him ruin. Fairbank then relates how he tried to help Francis, but it’s all too obvious that his efforts will be in vain. The last narrative is that of a man set to watch over Francis on the night of his birthday. The set-up for the story is long, but it’s the inevitability that is chilling.

“The Ebony Frame” by Edith Nesbit (1893) – The narrator of “The Ebony Frame” has matrimonial problems as well. He’s engaged-ish to Mildred, a “dear good girl,” but he believes his destiny is the beautiful Pre-Raphaelite woman who inhabits a painting that he inherited. She totally real; he’s sure of it. “The Ebony Frame” is less unsettling than the others, but still entertaining.

In the land of perilous novels, I pulled A Long Fatal Love Chase by Lousia May Alcott from my TBR “jar.” A doomed, scandalous love affair with a tall, dark stranger seems to be the order of the day. More thoughts on it in the future.

Skull TBR "jar" with paperback of A Long Fatal Love Chase

Other Perilous Stories of Note

I’d also like to mention a couple of contemporary horror short stories that I read in the last week or so. Definitely worth checking out!

#RIPXIII and #SomethingWickedFall Update 1


Beware the Outdoors

The Ritual poster The Ritual (2017)

Directed by David Bruckner
Starring Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, Sam Troughton

I picked this off of Netflix’s horror list just because. The Ritual starts off as a pretty decent “lost in the woods” movie with a slight psychological twist. Four friends take a memorial trip to hike King’s Trail in Sweden. A short-cut takes them deep into the woods and into the sway of the Jötunn and its followers. This movie does for tall, straight trees what The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did for the rev of a two-stroke engine.

The Wendigo cover “The Wendigo” by Algernon Blackwood

I read “Dark Warm Heart” by Rich Larson a couple of weeks ago and was reminded of the wendigo and Blackwood’s contribution to the myth. I figured it would be a great accompaniment to The Ritual. And it is. The horror is as quiet as the wind through the trees. I think I can see some of ETA Hoffmann’s influence as Defago chants about his burning feet, and Blackwood’s influence in John Carpenter’s The Thing as “men” huddle around the campfire.

Trollhunter poster Trollhunter (2010)

Directed by André Øvredal
Starring Otto Jespersen, Hans Morten Hansen, Tomas Alf Larsen, Johanna Mørck

The wendigo and jotunn led me, of course, to trolls. Trollhunter is a Norwegian found footage film. It isn’t entirely horror and is sometimes slightly on the comedic side. There is a certain ridiculousness to the Troll Security Service, a sort of wildlife control society for trolls, and the film is aware of that. A few moments are pretty tense though. I did really like that the “found footage” is appropriately open-ended and does lack a narrative beat or two.

🎃 Fall Blogging Events 2018

Continue reading “🎃 Fall Blogging Events 2018”

The Last Perilous Update


October has been more slumpy than expected both on the reading and writing ends. The unusually high temperatures probably aren’t helping. And maybe I started my Halloween celebrating too early. I’m not burnt out on “spooky,” but it’s definitely more on the background level of things. Which is perfectly fine and comfortable.

Peril of the Short Story

Ben at Short Story Magic Tricks did a whole week of Ambrose Bierce stories around mid-October. I’m a little sad that I didn’t read Bierce when I was young, when I had first read Poe. Bierce is lighter, maybe a little more clever, but still with all the chills that 19th century lit can allow. (And with a mysterious real-life death/disappearance!)

Peril on the Screen

On the opposite side of the horror coin from Ambrose Bierce, there is the Saw franchise. Personally, I have affection for Saw and at least a few of its sequels. I think I’ve watched at least through Saw IV, though I don’t remember much about the last one. The last time I watched any of  them was before I’d read much about magic. The story telling in Saw and Saw II, which I’ve recently rewatched, does remind me of how magic tricks are structured. The audience doesn’t know where the trick (or movie) is heading and there is plenty of misdirection and hidden moves, though within the bounds of reality (mostly). I picked up a “box” set of  movies 1-7 and plan on watching one a day until Halloween.

Peril of the Playlist

While I’ve been mostly enjoying great horror movie scores, like Christopher Young’s Hellraiser and Franz Waxman’s The Bride of Frankenstein, my all-time favorite bit of Halloween music the The Nightmare Before Christmas and its cover album Nightmare Revisited which includes Marilyn Manson’s great version of “This is Halloween.”

Mini Reviews, Vol. 10

alt text The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

On the heels of WWI, temp girl Sarah Piper takes work as an assistant to two ghost hunters; one posh, one rough, both scarred by the war.

This book was much too much of a romance for me. Sarah’s spends an overage of time believing that her beau (Matthew, the rough one) hates her for no real good reason and that she must never tell him how she feels for no good reason. The ghost story was passable, somewhat predictable. The Haunting of Maddy Clare was an audio book and the narrator’s portrayal of Matthew was disconcerting.

alt text Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll “tells” five stories of isolation and dread akin to Grimm’s fairy tales.

With a limited color palette and drawings that are by turns stark and detailed, these are new tales of old-fashioned creepiness. The stories and art evoke a coldness, a darkness that seems perfect for fall and winter reading. Through the Woods was an impulse pick-up for me for during readathon and it was the highlight. Might even become a yearly Halloween read.

Deal Me In, Week 40 ~ “Visitors”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

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

“Visitor” by Jack Dann

Card picked: 9
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer and Peter D. Pautz

The Story

After Mr. Benjamin died, he came back to Charlie’s room for a visit.

Charlie is fifteen and is suffering from peritonitis after an appendectomy. The other patients in the ward are similarly in pain, but Charlie had managed to make friends with Mr. Benjamin from across the hall. Even now that Mr. Benjamin is dead, their friendship isn’t over and maybe Mr. Benjamin can help as Charlie decides between a pain-filled life and an okay, but a little lonely, after-life.

While still not a story with a particular connection to specific architecture, I did enjoyed it’s gentle take on ghosts.

Peril of the Short Story