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“It was at this precise moment that the nervousness he had hitherto experienced leaped the boundary line, and entered the state of fear, almost of acute, unreasoning fear. Before it turned into terror there was a further boundary to cross, and beyond that again lay the region of pure horror.” —Algernon Blackwood “The Kit Bag” Time and again in the 101 tales collected in Great Horror Stories, characters are confronted with situations to which the only possible response is horror—horror that paralyzes the will, numbs the senses, and overwhelms rational thinking. The provocations for that horror are many: an encounter with a ghost, an unholy survival from the past, a body returned from the dead. The fear that they stimulate, however, is an emotional reaction that all we readers can relate to—and enjoy as armchair travelers in fictional realms whose terrors lay just with the borders of our suspended disbelief. The tales of horror in this volume include: Amina—Edward Lucas White. Isn’t it strange how an episode that seems so wondrous in the Arabian Nights can be so ghoulish when it unfolds in real life? The Feather Pillow—Horacio Quiroga. Each night the woman awoke from sleep more sickly and drained than before. Who knew that the nightmare responsible was not of her own dreaming? Hop-Frog—Edgar Allan Poe. The court jester planned the perfect costumes to make the King and his cabinet the hit of the masquerade. Little did they know that their perfect costumes were perfectly suited to slake the jester’s thirst for revenge. The Music of Erich Zann—H. P. Lovecraft. Erich Zann played his unearthly music with the urgency of someone for whom it was a matter of life and death—and so, apparently, it was. The Squaw—Bram Stoker. They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. For some creatures, however, revenge is only fulfilling when it’s as hot as the blood they shed. A Tough Tussle—Ambrose Bierce. A dead body is a dead body, but in the dark, when the imagination is free to explore the most shadowy recesses of possibility, perhaps it can be something more. A Tropical Horror—William Hope Hodgson. The monster that rose from the ocean depths to attack the Glen Doon defied all logical explanation. So did its monstrous appetite for the ship’s crewmen.
About the Author
Stefan Dziemianowicz has edited more than fifty anthologies of horror, mystery, and science fiction, including Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror, Great Ghost Stories, and Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.