There's something unique about winter that makes it the perfect time to read horror. I think it's because the nights are longer and the darkness is where evil lives. (Don't tell evil I said that.) But I would be holding back if I didn't also add that huddling under a blanket is somehow conducive to reading. And what better thing to read on those long, cold wintery nights than a good, old fashioned horror story?
Ah, but what specific books should you read? As luck would have it, Centipede Press has just published a series of wonderful classic horror and weird-fiction titles that fit this situation perfectly. Centipede Press has been specializing in high-quality horror fiction since 2001. Moreover, they publish collector's editions that have become the must-have, authoritative editions of classic speculative fiction literature. Here's a look at some of their recent weird/horror offerings....
Is there anyone who is a more revered master of horror than Edgar Allan Poe? Poe specializes in gothic horror, a sub-genre that combines fiction, horror and romanticism and takes its name from the classically architected buildings in which many of these stories are set. Poe's influence on speculative fiction is undisputed and the Edgar Allan Poe collection from Centipede Press showcases the reason why. This collection (the first in the publisher's Library of Weird collection) contains 39 stories and 21 poems written by this master of psychological horror. Stories include The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (the only complete novel written by Poe), "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and (one of my favorites) "The Cask of Amontillado." The classic poem "The Raven" is also included here. I can think of no better way to get your horror on.
If anyone is as revered as Edgar Allan Poe, it's got to be H.P. Lovecraft. He was an undeniable master of dark horror and weird fiction in the short form. He is best known as the originator of the Cthulhu Mythos, a set of shared world stories which posit that the Earth was ruled eons ago by ancient, malevolent aliens who have since fallen into a deathlike slumber within the bowels of the planet. The H.P. Lovecraft collection from Centipede Press contains 24 short stories, novelettes and short novels including “At the Mountains of Madness” (a Cthulhu story), "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" (about a young man who attempts to duplicate the alchemical experiments of his "wizard" ancestor), as well as 26 poems. This high-quality edition also includes photographs of Lovecraft.
English author William Hope Hodgson wrote stories crossing the horror, fantastic fiction and science-fiction genres, but is perhaps best known for his novel The House on the Borderland, a novel credited with bridging the gap between British supernatural fiction of the late 19th century and modern horror fiction. The story itself is about a man who lives in a house that seems to simultaneously exist in our world and one of unspeakable horrors. The new William Hope Hodgson collection from Centipede Press not only contains The House on the Borderland, but also the novel The Ghost Pirates (in which a ship's crew slips into another dimension and witnesses bizarre manifestations that force them to question their own sanity) and 21 short stories, including his occult detective "Carnacki" stories. This collection also includes rare photographs of Hodgson.
Perhaps more aptly described as weird fiction than as straight-up horror fiction, the Algernon Blackwood collection includes 18 short stories and novelettes by the English author who was a prolific writer of ghost stories. This collection includes two of his best-known classics. "The Willows" is a story where very strange things begin to happen (seemingly from an unseen malevolent entity) to two men on a canoe trip. In "The Wendigo," a group of men hunting in the wilderness are visited by a terrifying creature borne from Native American legend.
Witch House by Evangeline Walton is a classic haunted house novel. In this story, Elizabeth Stone seeks the help of a doctor to save her daughter from a terrible danger. The doctor discovers that a horrible force is at work in their New England home. The Centipede Press publication contains the author’s original version without the extensive cuts and reorganization made during earlier publications. It also contains additional short stories; the author's full, 20,000 word, never-before-published prologue to the novel; interior illustrations; excerpts from Evangeline Walton's letters; and two chapters of an unfinished novel about the Salem witchcraft trials.
The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb is a horror/suspense novel by American author Davis Grubb, first written in 1953. It was a best-seller that went on to become a finalist for the National Book Award. In this thriller, an ex-convict named Harry Powell poses as a prison chaplain to insert himself into the lives of the family of his ex-cellmate...all in the hopes that he can find the money hidden from his last bank robbery. The novel is a stark examination of life in the American South during the Great Depression. In addition to an introduction by Joe R. Lansdale, the new Centipede Press edition contains photographs, letters, photographs, sketches and other materials from the Davis Grubb family archives.