Last night I finished The World’s Greatest Horror Stories, published in 2004 by Magpie Books and edited by Stephen Jones and Dave Carson. This is a collection of stories mentioned in Lovecraft’s essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, which is included in the collection. Reading this book gives one a good foundation in the history of the horror genre up to Lovecraft’s time. It includes such masterworks as Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Machen’s “The Great God Pan”, M.R. James’s “Count Magnus”, Charles Dickens’s “The Signalman”, Guy de Maupassant’s “The Horla”, Rudyard Kipling’s “The Mark of the Beast”, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Bodysnatcher” along with many others.
Though a couple may be a little long-winded by today’s standards, overall these are wonderful stories, classic supernatural tales demonstrating what horror should be that were lauded by none other than the father of modern supernatural horror himself! I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in literature in general though particularly of course to those with an interest in the horror genre. The beauty of these tales is their ability to keep the reader in edge-of-your-seat suspense,terrified and spellbound, without resorting to the more-often-than-not overdone and too often appalling gimmicks of gore and shock. These tales show that grisly details are not needed to enthrall an audience, but that imagination and craftsmanship are.