Welcome to this week’s edition of Friday Book Round Up! We just read and reviewed a fantastic collection of macabre short stories by B. P. Smythe and I started thinking about macabre stories I have read. Some are creepy while others are downright terrifying. You be the judge. Here’s my top five:
A unique luxury edition of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s famous short stories, Tales of the Macabre takes the reader into the heart of a dozen stories, including The Fall of The House of Usher, Berenice, and The Black Cat…all beautifully illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. Includes Charles Baudelaire’s essay on Poe’s life and works.
Howard Phillips “H. P.” Lovecraft (1890-1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction. Stephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” Lovecraft’s readership was limited during his life, but his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft – as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century – has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction”. This is a collection of his very best work.
A Knock at the Door: A family dog with a police background tries to warn a family in an isolated farmhouse about an ax murdering serial killer who is on the loose in their neck of the woods.
Digging for the Truth: A newly relocated physician with a gambling problem gets in over his head with the mob and resorts to a risky insurance scam to get out of debt.
Cold Reality: A pathologist with a drinking problem runs into unexpected findings during an autopsy on a drowning victim.
The Corpse That Talked: A forensic pathologist has an unexpected run in with an animated corpse, while alone doing a late night post mortem.
Unseen Advantage: A particularly disturbed serial killer is sought in a gruesome murder spree as a veteran psychiatrist and forensic team try to solve the case and get the right man.
Stolen Colors: A Vermeer painting stolen from a vengeful mob boss leads to trouble for the thieves as they dash through the northeast and try to cash in on the stolen property while staying alive.
Mystery Cove: An ex black ops military man tries to settle down to a peaceful life in the country but his past secrets will not let him rest.
Gray Sky of Summer: Two teenage friends visit an abandoned house for fun but run into a mysterious old man who sends them digging in a local cemetery for a surprise that will change their lives forever.
Just Dessert: A man with only a few months to live takes revenge on his perennially obnoxious sister-in-law.
Unlucky Shot: Man’s best friend helps solve a brutal murder in a most surprising way.
The Party: A terminally ill woman reflects on her life, suicide, and euthanasia during her last days.
The Wager: A bet made many years ago among friends about who would live the longest, leads to an unexpected ending for the last survivor.
The Undertaking: A group of young friends decides that breaking into a local funeral home one night would be an adventure; unfortunately for them they were right.
Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares. Dare you enter the world of the strange and macabre, where the passing of time is not always as straightforward as it seems?
A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.
In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop.
A serial killer adds another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free, and will truth finally be set free in The Letter?
Nine stories originally published between 2010 and 2011. Stories range from very short to novelette.
Dahl is a master at introducing readers to a new sense of what lurks beneath the ordinary.
“Roald Dahl is at the peak of his powers in this collection. For anyone who knows him only as the author of the Willy Wonka books–or who thinks of him purely as a children’s book author–this is the book to change your mind and make you think admiringly about Dahl’s considerable powers as an adult writer.
The book is comprised of gem after gem. Two of Dahl’s most famous stories are here. One is “Lamb to the Slaughter,” about the wife of a police detective who kills her husband in a most unconventional way and then disposes of the murder weapon in a manner that would make any criminal proud. The other, “Nunc Dimittis,” describes the lengths to which a society smoothie goes for revenge.
Dahl’s descriptive powers are basic, but his imagination is limitless. He manages to calmly, smoothly pull you into his stories and make the most outrageous things seem perfectly in keeping and perfectly normal–while still just a bit askew.
The stories are all vintage Dahl. Each has elements of the macabre and the grotesque, couched in the comfortable trappings of middle-class life: marriage, tidy houses, bills, resentment, secrets, tidy houses, and so on. Dahl pulls off the neat trick of making the macabre laughable, though–he’s not trying to scare the reader as much as make us shout with laughter and recognition and then settle back to enjoy a shiver of anticipation. In “William and Mary,” the terminally ill narrator is propositioned by a neurosurgeon friend to give his brain up for experimentation after death. Despite the gruesome details, the story is hilarious:
” . . . So when I get you on the table I will take a saw, a small oscillating saw, and with this I shall proceed to remove the whole vault of your skull. You’d still be unconscious at that point so I wouldn’t have to bother with anaesthetic.”
“Like hell you wouldn’t,” I said.
“You’d be out cold, I promise you that, William. Don’t forget you DIED just a few minutes before.”
“Nobody’s sawing off the top of my skull without an anaesthetic,” I said.
Dahl doesn’t get any better than this!” — Catherine S. Vodrey, Amazon Reviewer
Have you read any macabre books lately? Which one is your favorite? Share in the comments below.
MRS N, Book Addict