Archive for nathaniel hawthorne

Four Horror Novels for Halloween

Posted in Dark Musings, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Happy Halloweek, everyone! To kick off prime celebration time, I’ve put together a short list of my favorite horror novels that capture the Samhain spirit. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it scratches the surface.

For atmosphere, ghouls, and disturbing stories, theseĀ are four novels that can’t be missed.



Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ouvre goes beyond tedious, forced high school reads. “Seven Gables” is a classic American Gothic, stocked full of Puritan themes, eerie imagery of witchcraft and brutal settlements, and a terrific drama about a cursed family. The titular house is full of spectres not seen, but felt, memories that won’t go away. By now, a plot like this has been overdone, but Hawthorne’s gorgeous descriptions make up for any familiarity. Autumnal and phantasmal, it’s a must-read.



Yeah, yeah, Stephen King is great and all. But not all of his novels are suited for Halloween reading. “Pet Sematary,” though, has it all – cursed graveyards, undead children, evil spirits, and a spooky suburban setting over which the presence of death hangs like fog. On top of that, it’s beyond terrifying. The first time I read it, I had to put it down while I waited for the chills to pass so I could keep going. With both entertaining and psychological horror, and one of the most disturbing ending lines of all time, this one is perfect for ghost season.



A terribly cheesy title – but this is one of the best horror novels of the 1970s. Penned by weird fiction master Richard Matheson, this novel is oppressively atmospheric, with doom and dread oozing from the first pages. The house is masterfully described and full of hidden horrors – in true 70s fashion, psychedelic and sensual, too. The terse prose creates such an aura of paranoia and horror that it’s actually difficult to read through, but the suspense is such that you can’t stop. For a quick, terrifying, and entertaining read, with all the Halloween trappings, there is no better book.



If you talk about Hell House, you have to talk about Hill House. Shirley Jackson is the master of quiet, psychological horror. This book pairs her brilliant character analysis with an uncanny haunted house story, a combination that results in madness and terror. It subverts the cliches in the most disturbing way possible. And Hill House is one of the most formidable villains in all of dark literature – how can you fight a house? Finding a way to dissect loneliness and agoraphobia within the most ghostly of places, “Hill House” is a truly horrific read.

As Halloweek chugs along, keep your eyes peeled for more original Smucky stories and short films! And stay spooked – it’s the best time of the year.

Stories for HALLOWEEN That You Can Read Online

Posted in Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Happy 1st of October, horror fans!

As the chill wind blows and the spirits creep forth, it’s important to have an arsenal of spooky tales to spin by the fireside. For the first section of October recommendations, I’ve assembled a collection of short stories that ooze the autumn atmosphere and send shivers up the spine – all in the public domain, and easily accessible online. So cozy up by the fire, lock your doors, and settle in with these STORIES FOR HALLOWEEN.



You can’t go through October without indulging in Washington Irving’s lush, warm world of Tarrytown. This is a story for the senses – Irving describes the scent of the air, the texture of the autumn foods, and even the quality of light with relish. Combine that with a terrifically fun and creepy myth, and you’ve got the perfect (family-friendly) Halloween yarn. Purely for the sensory delights, this one is a must.



What’s autumn without some late-night Sabbaths? Trauma from high school lit class aside, Nathaniel Hawthorne is worth celebrating for this richly atmospheric and disturbing story. This is one of my favorite depictions of the devil, and, like the best Hawthorne, it raises nasty concerns about Puritan values. Without spoiling the fantastic ending, I’ll just say this tale is the perfect witchy spookfest – and also makes us question what we know about our neighbors.



Got to have a good old Gothic breakdown on this list. Charlotte Perkins Gilman weaves a simple but utterly nightmarish world in which the female narrator, confined to a single room with hideous wallpaper by a husband who thinks she’s insane, becomes convinced that there are women in the walls, trying to escape. Psychologically and visually, this story is beyond disturbing. But its fabulous Grand Guignol house setting makes it a perfect tale for October.


Screenshot 2014-05-24 17.51.56

You can’t have a Halloween list without a bit of Poe. While there are many stories to choose from, this one has always been my favorite. It reads like an archaic fable, beautifully described and slowly mounting in tension, before a climax of shock and violence. This is a costume party gone horribly wrong. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to you this season, but regardless, this creepy morality tale is ideal at the stroke of midnight.



Again, an author often cited. But H.P. Lovecraft outdoes himself with this cosmically frightening story of netherworld beasts and their human servants. Like Washington Irving, Lovecraft evokes his town of Dunwich with perfect attention to atmosphere, and it serves as a flawless setting for the horrors that commence. Full of unhallowed rituals and nightmarish creatures, this story captures the sentiment of Halloween exquisitely. And, to boot, it’s terrifying.


the count by Rosemary Pardoe

Most of M.R. James’s stories were designed for dark winter nights, but I find this classic is better suited for October. Like all of James’s work, it begins with a benevolent protagonist who uncovers a hidden mystery – but the horrors extend beyond simple spectres, because the titular phantom is so malevolent. Graveyards, knotted woods, and dust-filled halls abound in this story; all lorded over by the presence of Count Magnus. Much darker than most of the stories on this list, this one will chill you long into the night.



Robert Chambers has gotten a lot of attention after his works were cited as influencing “True Detective.” His Carcosa saga is definitely worth visiting, and this one is the best of them all. A deformed church employee, a forbidden book that drives people mad, a cosmic lord waiting to be born again – all of these elements, along with a tensely thick Gothic atmosphere, make this story perfect for October.

So, light your fire and don’t look out the window – these stories should keep you chilled this autumn. Stay tuned for a list of contemporary tales that evoke the same atmosphere.

(No photos/artwork used is my property – credit goes to the individual creators.)