Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Outsider

Today I want to talk about one of Lovecraft’s shortest but possibly most effective short stories, The Outsider.

The Outsider is a beautifully written short regarding a chap escaping a castle.

The story is told in first person, which was a means of story telling Lovecraft favoured to an extent. Our narrator talks about his life, focusing on how lonely and isolated he has been and ultimately how unhappy. He has no real memory of other people, or even where he is from originally. He also describes his environment, the dark and rather run-down castle that squats in an endless forest. The narrator has never even seen natural light. All his knowledge from outside world comes from books.

But despite the dark and lonely life the narrator is not completely downtrodden he has a determination to free himself. He climbs the tallest tower of the castle, but the stairs don’t reach the entire way, and so he climbs the walls until he reaches a trapdoor. When he pushes through he realises he is not up high as expected but rather at ground level in another world.

He’s rather chuffed with this.

The narrator is in a churchyard and walks through, passing through countryside until he reaches another castle. A very familiar castle. However, there are people in this castle and desperate for human contact the narrator clambers in a window. The people inside become terrified and flee from him. Though the narrator doesn’t realise its him they are running from and instead becomes afraid himself, what else must be close to him that scared all the people.

He eventually sees himself and he’s not exactly a person, he sounds more like a ghoul. The narrator tries to return to his old castle but finds the way barred. Now he is trapped in this world, still completely alone.

My Thoughts

This story is effective for several reasons, it plays on common fears of loneliness and isolation, the feeling of being trapped. Then the hope of escape only to have that hope ripped away and finding yourself in a worse position. It plays on the fear of trying something new only to find it putting you in a worse situation with no way back.

The plot is simply structured, told from the point of view of the narrator, allowing the reader to live in the narrators head, feel what he feels and also, importantly know what he knows and nothing more.

This is of course, a classic horror story harks back to the Gothic genre, with spooky settings in the form of the old castle, themes and bone-chilling characters.

Katie's Stories

I got a shout out in a review for Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters

I got a shout out in a review! *Insert excited bouncing*

As usual, editor Rhonda Parrish chose a different, somewhat quirky tale to lead us into the pages of “Water.” Catherine MacLeod’s dark tale, “The Diviner,” was an excellent choice to begin this collection of stories and poems. The author wove the story in such a way as to make it easy to believe in the character of Melly, a seemingly ordinary person possessing out-of-the-ordinary cooking skills.

Everybody has different tastes, and there were some stories that reached out and immediately grabbed my attention like “There’s Something in the Water” by Katie Marie, a scary warning tale about a town with a horrific secret. Rebecca Brae’s “The Witch’s Diary: Adventures in Hut-Sitting” is a whimsical revelation of Hester’s world while she spends time away from college on a summer job (her quick comment on fairies was blunt, unexpected, and hilariously delivered). Colleen Anderson’s vivid “Siren’s Song” described a world that was, before it slipped into the catalog of legends.

There’s a touch of horror that worms into some of the stories, as the accepting way we perceive these legendary beings becomes tainted and the beings morph into monsters. This suited me just fine, and I warily strolled through the paths of what could be. Many of the stories eagerly took my hand and led me into the unknown, including Davide Mana’s “The Man Who Speared Octopodes” and “Bruno J. Lampini and the Song of the Sea” by Josh Reynolds. Horror may contain a huge dose of humor as deftly displayed by Joel McKay’s “Number Hunnerd.”

Bottom line, there is something here for almost everyone and it is not hard to appreciate the imaginative poems and stories contained in this book. While I liked some of the offerings more than others, there wasn’t a throwaway to be found, and the wide variance of styles kept the reading interesting. Highly recommended. Five stars.

My thanks to Tyche Books Ltd. and the editor for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.

Katie's Stories

Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters OUT TODAY!

Water is the most yielding of all elements, changing to fit its container, whether that be a thimble or a lake bed. At the same time, anyone who has ever watched the unrelenting progression of a tsunami understands its raw power. Associated with mutability, transformation, and the subconscious, water is both the tranquil azure of a tropical sea and the tumultuous waves and whitecaps of an embroiled ocean. As many faces as water may wear, the creatures within and associated with it have even more.

Featuring: Catherine MacLeod; Kevin Cockle; Greta Starling; Elise Forier Edie; Kate Shannon; Sara Rauch; Katie Marie; Rebecca Brae; Colleen Anderson; L. T. Waterson; Chadwick Ginther; Julia Heller; Marshall J. Moore; Joel McKay; Elizabeth R. McClellan; Eric M. Borsage; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Josh Reynolds; Liam Hogan; Mari Ness; Davide Mana; Sarah Van Goethem; Valerie Hunter; and Kelly Sandoval.

Order now on Amazon!

Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Monkey’s Paw

Today I want to talk to you about the short story The Monkeys Paw. 

I cannot imagine that you will not have seen, or heard of, one of the parodies of this story. Someone finds a severed monkey hand that grants wishes that all turn out to produce hopelessly ironic consequences. The adaptations and parodies cross almost all mediums from television to plays, films, comics and even cartoons. The Simpsons did a Halloween episode of the story, the turkey’s a little dry! 

That aside, the original short story was penned by W.W Jacobs in 1902 and was published in the collection titled The Lady of the Barge. 

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: The Legend of Sleepy hollow

Today I want to talk to you about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow is a short story written by Washington Irving in 1820 and I imagine most of you will be familiar with the story even if you have not had the opportunity to read the original short.

The story follows Ichabod Crane, a meek man, as he contends with the local bully Brom Bones for the hand of the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel.

This story has been adapted time and time again, it’s been television series, it’s been a play, it’s been movies, and it’s been animated by Disney. It is almost impossible not to know this story in one iteration or another.  

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Classic Horror

Classic Horror: William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe

Today I want to talk to you about one of the slightly lesser-known stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and by lesser known I do not mean unknown, I just mean that it isn’t referred to as much as say The Raven or The Tell-tale Heart.

I am talking about William Wilson. The story of a man who encounters his doppelganger and was inspired by Washington Irving’s “An unwritten Drama of Lord Byron” which was also about a doppelganger.

I personally feel that this short story is underrated, especially as Poe himself labelled it as his best effort.

It was published in the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in 1840. It has since been adapted many times across many different countries in both film, comic, and radio play. It is also referenced in various modern creations, for example by one of my favourite modern authors Stephen King who’s novel The Outsider draws a parallel between the situation faced by the main character and Poe’s story of William Wilson. The Outsider has been said (by King) to have been inspired by the story William Wilson.

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Katie's Stories

Katie Stories: Sobriety Test

In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to share a short story. I originally write this longer ago than I would like to admit, and it was published in Danse Macabre.

Sobriety Test

“What awful racket is this?” I asked, raising my voice over the stereo.

“It’s Howling Moon’s latest song, James gave me a copy,” Holly shouted back at me.

“You know Holly, just because James’ band sings a song doesn’t mean we all want to hear it,” Amy leaned forward from the back seat and turned the volume down.

“Thank you,” I said.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Holly muttered. “I liked it.”

“Don’t sulk,” Amy said. “After the fuss you made about Lucy being extra careful with James’ van you probably shouldn’t deafen her. It might effect her driving.”

“Between that noise and this rain it’s not the best driving conditions,” I said keeping my eyes on the road. It had started raining when we left the city, a light patter that had rapidly evolved into a torrent. The wind had picked up, steadily pushing us to the left. The van felt oversized and clumsy.

Continue reading “Katie Stories: Sobriety Test”
Katie's Stories

BUY IT NOW! The Horrorzines Book of Ghost Stories

My short story Scratching will soon appear in The Horrorzines Book of Ghost Stories!

Buy it here.

“This collection of ghost stories is fresh, varied, and entertaining. Perfect company for long a winter’s night.”  – Owen King, co-author of Sleeping Beauties

“An incredibly creepy collection of stories of the recently and not so recently dead, written by some of the finest writers in horror. I suggest that when reading, do so in the daylight, because reading these at night will only make you more aware of your own, unempty house.” – Susie Moloney, author of The Dwelling and The Thirteen

“Gruesome, eerie, horrific, sometimes uplifting; this is a terrific selection of ghost stories that satisfy the soul—they chill the blood, too.” – Simon Clark, author of Whitby Vampyrrhic

“Looking for a perfect evening? Spend the night hunkered down in your favorite chair with only a reading light on, and dive into The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories. Forget sleep, these tales will keep you enthralled till daybreak.” – Tony Tremblay, author of The Moore House

“Nobody keeps the supernatural alive like The Horror Zine.” – Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church