Tuesday Terror! Horror Stories edited by Darryl Jones

Something for everyone…

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

This anthology consists of twenty-nine horror stories from the long 19th century: that is, roughly, up to the beginning of WW1. It comes with an interesting and informative introduction written by the editor, Darryl Jones, Professor of English Literature and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. I recently read and reviewed Jones’ own history of horror, Sleeping with the Lights On, and while obviously that book goes into considerably more detail, this introduction covers similar territory, discussing the various sub-genres, and how horror reflects and to some extent addresses the anxieties of its times. The stories in the collection are selected to give a feel for the broad range of horror writing in the Victorian era, so there’s everything here from mild and humorous to too strong for my moderate tastes, from a few pages to near novella length, from household names to people of whom I’d never heard. Jones also discusses the importance of periodicals in that era, and tells us that around two-thirds of these stories first appeared in those.

There are plenty of lesser known stories in here to make it an enjoyable read even for people who’ve read a fair amount of Victorian horror already, but I felt that, because it also includes several major classics, it would be an ideal collection for someone relatively new to the genre who wanted to get a feel for the style of some of the better known authors too. Robert Louis Stevenson is here, with The Body-Snatcher; Dickens’ The Signal-Man; Kipling’s The Mark of the Beast; Gilman’s The Yellow Wall Paper; Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw; and Blackwood’s The Wendigo. There are also examples of horror writing from authors who are probably better known (to me, at least) for their other works: Balzac, Melville, Zola. And a couple of my newer favourites, found since I started this little detour into the delights of terror, appear too: Arthur Machen and Robert W Chambers. There are ghosties and ghoulies and lang-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, and mad scientists, of course, and family curses, and vampires, and insane narrators, and Gothic houses galore.

Since I’ve featured several of the more familiar stories already in Tuesday Terror!, here are a few of the rest that I most enjoyed. I hadn’t heard of these ones before, but they may be well-known to better-read horror fans…

Chickamauga by Ambrose Bierce – a little boy is fighting imaginary battles with his toy sword and strays so far that he becomes lost in the woods. He falls asleep, and when he awakes the ground is covered in dreadful crawling things. I don’t want to say much more because the impact of the story is in discovering what it is the boy sees and what has happened. But it’s a commentary on how we pass the drive to war down from generation to generation – powerful and horrifying.

August Heat by WF Harvey – Our protagonist draws a picture of a man standing in the dock after being condemned to death. It’s come entirely from his imagination, so imagine his surprise when he meets that very man later that day. Turns out the man is a stone-mason and is busy carving a name on a gravestone… this is a deliciously spine-tingling little horror story, with a delightfully scary ending. Camp-fire material!

The Derelict by William Hope Hodgson – To demonstrate his theory that, given the right conditions, life will come into being spontaneously, an old doctor tells the tale of when he was once on a ship blown off course by a storm. When the storm abated, they discovered they were next to another ship, long abandoned. They went to investigate… (For goodness sake, never investigate abandoned anythings! It never turns out well…) There’s some brilliant horror imagery in this and heart-pounding peril! Great!

The Adventure of Lady Wishaw’s Hand by Richard Marsh – Our narrator, Pugh, is sent a strange and unexpected legacy on the death of his acquaintance, Colin Wishaw – a woman’s hand! It looks remarkably alive, and it’s not long before we become aware that it can move on its own. A delightful tale of a family curse – light horror, lots of humour (that hand can be very naughty!) and a narrator who deserves all he gets. Lovely stuff!

Because of the wide range of content and styles, unsurprisingly my reactions to them varied wildly too. Seventeen got either four or five stars, which is a pretty high proportion of the total. But several got two stars and one, a hideous story from Bram Stoker that starts with the killing of a kitten, was abandoned before I finished the first page! However, different readers will bring their own tastes to the stories and may well find that they enjoy the ones I disliked – I knew as I was rating them that often my reaction was based on how the stories made me feel rather than their intrinsic quality. The same may apply to my five stars, of course – stories moderate enough for me may be too mild for those who prefer harder hitting stuff. In short, there will be something here for everyone and inevitably everyone will be less keen on some too. That’s why I think it’s such a good sampler, which I happily recommend to the seasoned reader or the horror newbie alike.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Oxford World’s Classics.

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29 thoughts on “Tuesday Terror! Horror Stories edited by Darryl Jones

  1. Hmm…I’m pretty sure I’d skip the Stoker in this collection, FictionFan. But overall, it does sound like a fine collection. And it’s always nice when a group of stories like this strikes a balance that will appeal to those new to the genre as well as veterans of it. That’s not easy at all!


    • Ugh! I couldn’t believe the start of the Stoker – it should have a warning! I thought it was a great mix of famous and less well known stories, and there are some real classics in here for people who haven’t read much horror. And I’ve found a few more authors to investigate… 😱

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, what happened to Porpy?

    The Adventure of Lady Wishaw’s Hand makes me think of the monkey’s paw story. And I’m pretty sure I saw a horror film with a hand moving about on its own. Perhaps Lady Wishaw was the inspiration.


    • Poor Porpy – I forgot to add him! And now he’s looking at me with an evil gleam in his eye… 😱

      I’m sure I’ve seen that film too, though I don’t remember the story. And wasn’t there a disembodied hand in the Addams family? It must be a horror “trope”! This hand was exceedingly naughty though – and therefore quite funny… 😀


  3. I can see where you’d abandon the one about the killing of a kitten, FF — why, Tommy and Tuppence were probably hiding their eyes and hissing after they heard that! The others, however, sound most intriguing, and I must find time to read at least a few of them.


    • Ugh – I couldn’t believe how horrible that story was! If Bram Stoker were still alive, I’d send T&T over to hunt him down and take revenge! That’s the thing about horror anthologies – there will always be some that are too graphic for my tastes. But there are loads of really excellent ones in this collection too… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I wasn’t either till a couple of years ago when I started reading some of the old classics to feature on the blog… and now I’m kinda hooked! It’s quite hard to know which authors and styles will suit you in the beginning, though, which is why I think a mixed selection like this is really good…


  4. I read the first paragraph and thought that is an awful lot of horror to stomach in one go! Then I read on and realised that I actually know, and have read, some of the stories included – who’d have thought it? This definitely sounds like a good collection for a wide variety of writers and subjects.


  5. Shame on you Bram Stoker! I don’t blame you for abandoning that one. The other stories you summarized look quite good-I love a good campfire story. Good to have a few of those in your back pocket, you never know when you will need it…


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