A chilling collection of classic weird and supernatural tales from the dark heart of American literature
A masquerade ball cut short by a mysterious plague; a strange nocturnal ritual in the woods; a black bobcat howling in the night: these ten tales are some of the most strange and unsettling in all of American literature, filled with unforgettable imagery and simmering with tension. From Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Zora Neale Hurston, the authors of these classics of supernatural suspense have inspired generations of writers to explore the dark heart of the land of the free.
The stories in this collection have been selected and introduced by Laird Hunt, an author of seven acclaimed novels which explore the shadowy corners of American history.
'The Masque of the Red Death', Edgar Allan Poe
'Young Goodman Brown', Nathaniel Hawthorne
'The Eyes', Edith Wharton
'The Mask', Robert Chambers
'Home', Shirley Jackson
'A Ghost Story', Mark Twain
'Spunk', Zora Neale Hurston
'The Yellow Wallpaper', Charlotte Perkins Gilman
'An Itinerant House', Emma Frances Dawson
About the Author
Laird Hunt is an American writer and translator. He has written seven novels, including Neverhome, which was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice selection, an IndieNext selection, winner of the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine and The Bridge prize, and a finalist for the Prix Femina Étranger. A resident of Boulder, CO, he is on the faculty in the creative writing PhD program at the University of Denver.
Read an Excerpt
“Shiver by shiver, we gain insight.”
Guillermo del Toro, Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories of Ray Russell
Somewhere around midnight, when I was 7 or 8 and staying with my family on my grandmother’s
Indiana farm, as I lay in a creaky bed in a small bedroom at the back of the old house, I saw the ghost of a baby floating above me. The baby was life-sized and dressed in a stiff white gown. It was glowing. And weeping. They were not tears of joy. I couldn’t move. The wailing grew louder,
almost siren-like, and this eventually released me. I sprang out of bed, threw off my covers. Howls were coming from the room down the hall where my younger cousin was staying. By and by, I
could hear her parents telling her she’d had a nightmare and should go back to sleep. I went back to sleep too.
In the morning when I told my parents about the ghost, they said that clearly I’d heard my cousin,
who was not much more than a baby herself, and so had dreamed up this visitor. I did not believe them. I said that the sad little ghost had been summoned by my cousin’s crying, that it had slipped in under the cover of her tears. In an investigative spirit, I asked my grandmother if any babies had ever died on the farm. My grandmother, never one for soft-balling sharp truths, said that in fact she herself had been in that inconvenient condition on the farm when she was first born, and that if a doctor’s assistant hadn’t pumped icy water on her at the kitchen sink while the attending doctor took care of her mother, she would be in that inconvenient condition still. My parents—ever eager to rationalize and no doubt not yet far into their first cups of coffee—then said that probably I had already heard this story about my grandmother’s still birth and revival without realizing it, and that my cousin’s crying had helped craft the submerged memory into a nightmare.
“But I was awake the whole time! It was Grandma’s ghost! She sounded angry!” I said.
“Grandma is right here,” they said.
“But she died, she said so!” I said.
“Go out and play,” they said.
And that is what I did.