Hocking’s Seven Shudders
Short stories of the supernatural that chill to the bone.
by John C. Hocking
This is a much shorter list than I’d like but many of the finest authors of the weird tale currently have their work available only in rare old paperbacks or lavishly expensive new hardcovers and I wanted to suggest stories a reader might find without too much effort or expense. Alas, Karl Edward Wagner, T.E.D. Klein, H. Russell Wakefield and too many others are still hard to find.
Algernon Blackwood- The Willows.
(Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories, Penguin 2002)
This otherworldly encounter of sublime eeriness was H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite.
Anthony Boucher- They Bite.
(No recent print release but it can be found in e-book versions of The Compleat Werewolf and Far & Away)
Smart, lucid, and sneaky, this is that great rarity—a well written and dead serious monster story.
Robert Chambers- The Yellow Sign.
(The Yellow Sign, Dover 2004)
Delicate until it isn’t, and haunting throughout. Have you found the Yellow Sign?
W.F. Harvey- The Clock
(The Beast with Five Fingers, Wordsworth 2009)
Fear of the unknown and the unseen delivered with the greatest power to weight ratio in the entire horror genre. Short, simple and once read, never forgotten.
M.R. James- O Whistle and I’ll Come to Ye My Lad
(Collected Ghost Stories, Wordsworth 2007, and most any other collection of James)
One of the master’s finest ghost stories does enduring justice to the old concept of the sheet-shrouded specter. Shot through with subtly chilling details and building to a fine frenzy.
Fritz Leiber- Smoke Ghost
(Smoke Ghost and Other Apparitions, Open Road Media 2014)
A bold, brilliant modernization of the ghost story gives the supernatural a soot-stained niche in the urban world. One of a handful of gem-like supernatural tales the author tuned out in the 1940’s.
John Langan- Technicolor
(The Wide Carnivorous Sky, Hippocampus Press 2013)
Richly imagined, cleverly presented, and with a wonderfully building chill. Langan is my favorite of the modern crop of weird writers.