Tag Archives: weird fiction

Tales of Terror (1899) by Dick Donovan

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Dick Donovan was a pseudonym of James Edward Preston Muddock – though he was better known as Joyce Emerson Preston Muddock. A well-travelled journalist, he wrote prolifically in a number of genres. The vast majority of his output were sensational detective stories in which “Dick Donovan” was the main character. So popular did this Glaswegian detective prove that Muddock issued later works under this pseudonym. Other works include the horror novel, The Shadow Hunter (1887), the ‘lost world’ novel The Sunless City (1905) and two volumes of supernatural tales.

Muddock’s life was the equal of any of his own fictions. During his travels as a journalist, he visited several continents, experienced the Indian Rebellion first hand, met cannibals and mined gold in Australia. He also married three times and fathered ten children! These and more details of Muddock’s life and career can be found in this article by Bruce Durie.

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Tales of Terror (1899) was Muddock’s second collection of macabre stories, after Stories Weird and Wonderful (1889). Not all of the stories are supernatural. “‘Red Lillie'” is a sensational story about a lover’s promise; “With Fire and Death” is a gruesome (and very one-sided) account of the Indian Rebellion of 1857; while “The Pirate’s Treasure” is a pretty straightforward tale of piratical adventure. The majority of the stories do have a supernatural content, however, ranging from the vampire narrative “The Woman With the ‘Oily Eyes'”, to the traditional ghost stories of “The Corpse Light” and “The Spectre of Rislip Abbey”, the bloody Gothic horror of “The Cave of Blood”, and the folklore of “The Dance of the Dead”. Appropriately for the time of year, the collection also includes “The White Raven” – an effective ghost story set at Christmas.

Tales of Terror [Kindle]

Tales of Terror [Epub]

Tales of Terror [PDF]

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Carnacki, the Ghost Finder (1913) by W.H. Hodgson

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Cover of the 1913 edition

William Hope Hodgson’s tales of the occult detective Carnacki first appeared as a five-part series in The Idler in 1910. This was followed by a further story (‘The Thing Invisible’) in The New Magazine in 1912. In 1913, all six tales were collected in book form as Carnacki, the Ghost Finder. This ebook edition includes the original 1913 volume, together with three further stories which were included in the 1947 edition of the collection as well as the revised version of ‘The Thing Invisible’ from 1948. For more on the textual history of the stories, as well as Florence Briscoe’s original illustrations from The Idler, visit Marcus L. Rowland’s website.

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Illustration by Florence Briscoe, illustrating a scene from ‘The Gateway of the Monster’

The stories are narrated by Carnacki, a detective specialising in alleged hauntings and other sinister or seemingly impossible goings-on – aided only by his encyclopaedic knowledge of ancient lore and the application of his trusty ‘electric pentacle’. Although the stories are narrated by Carnacki, the ghost-hunter’s narrative is relayed to readers at second hand via an un-named frame narrator – one of several of the detective’s close friends, who gather periodically at Carnacki’s home at Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea embankment to hear an account of his latest case.  Carnacki’s open-minded approach to the supernatural is particularly refreshing in that it is uniquely double-edged – never ruling out a supernatural explanation, he is nevertheless equally determined to find a rational explanation if one exists. Consequently, first-time readers never know for sure at the beginning of the tale whether the events narrated will prove to be genuine manifestations or clever hoaxes.

Carnacki the Ghost Finder [Kindle]

Carnacki the Ghost Finder [Epub]

Carnacki the Ghost Finder [PDF]

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Cover of the 1947 edition