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April 4, 2019

Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural – A Treasury of Spellbinding Tales Old and New

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I get goose bumps thinking about some of tales in this collection. It's a feast for any horror fan – forty-seven short stories and six poems selected by Marvin Kaye with Saralee Kaye. The selections focus on psychological terror rather than blood and gore. As Kaye says in his introduction "Any story thatave my jaded spell a chill appeared to present proper credentials for membership in the club." These are not the more well known horror tales that appear over and over in anthologies, some are not readily available anywhere else.

I have several favorites among them. "The Bottle Imp," an intriguing spin on making a pact with the devil, was written in 1891 by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. Keawe, a native of Hawaii, buys a strange bottle from an elderly man who tells him the imp in the bottle is responsible for his wealth. The imp will also grant Keawe whatever he wants. Of course there is a catch. If he dies with the bottle in his possession his soul will burn in Hell. It must be sold for less than its purchase price and he may not dispose of it or give it away. Stevenson throws some twists and turns into the story and Keawe faces some horrific choices.

"Dracula's Guest" was published posthumously after Bram Stoker's death and was probably intended to be the first chapter of his novel "Dracula." The narrator is Jonathan Harker on his way to Transylvania on Walpurgis Night, the first of May, when witches and demons are about. He does not heed the coachman's superstitious words and he leaves the safety of his hotel to wander in the forest alone where he has an eerie feeling he's being watched. When he comes across an ancient tomb in an old graveyard he realizes just how foolish he's been.

"Flies," by Isaac Asimov, was first published in June 1953. It's a short science fiction story about a group of former college students who meet at a reunion twenty years after graduation. They discuss their achievements and Casey tells them he does research on insecticides. Ironically the flies seem to bother him and no one else.

British novelist Tanith Lee provides a different take on the Cinderella story. "When the Clock Strikes" her heroine turns into a witch who swears allegiance to Lord Satanas.

"Lazarus" by Leonid Andreyev is a retelling of the miraculous return to life described in the scriptures. Lazarus returns home after being dead for three days and family and friends celebrate his resurrection. He's dressed grandly but his days in the grave left him with a bluish cast to his face and reddish cracks on his skin. His temper is changed as well. He's no longer cheerful and carefree and he's unwilling to talk about the horrors he's seen.

"The Flayed Hand" was written by Guy de Maupassant. A young student acquires a shriveled hand, severed at the wrist from a deceased sorcerer. He intends to use it as the handle to his door-bell to frighten his creditors, but the owner wants it back.

The strength of this collection is in its diversity. It's divided into five sections, each with stories that are unique and chilling. Some of the stories are written in a dated style that may not appeal to readers who like more contemporary literature. But the prose sets the mood and creates an atmosphere that invokes a sense of dread that is so perfect for this type of story – the kind that makes your skin crawl. This is a book to be picked up and read over and over again.

Publisher: Doubleday & Company Inc. (May 1985)

ISBN: 978-0385185493

Pages: 623

Table of Contents

Introduction by Marvin Kaye

Fiends and Creatures
Dracula's Guest by Bram Stoker
The Professor's Teddy Bear by Theodore Sturgeon
Bubnoff and the Devil by Ivan Turgenev, English adaptation by Marvin Kaye
The Quest for Blank Calveringi by Patricia Highsmith
The Erl-King by Johann Wolfgang Von Goëthe, English adaptation by Marvin Kaye
The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Malady of Magicks by Craig Shaw Gardner
Lan Lung by M. Lucie Chin
The Dragon Over Hackensack by Richard L. Wexelblat
The Transformation by Mary W. Shelley
The Faceless Thing by Edward D. Hoch

Lovers and Other Monsters
The Anchor by Jack Snow
When the Clock Strikes by Tanith Lee
Oshidori by Lafcadio Hearn
Carmilla by Sheriden LeFanu
Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory by Orson Scott Card
Lenore by Gottfried August Bürger, English adaptation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The Black Wedding by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Martha Glicklich
Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe
Sardonicus by Ray Russell
Graveyard Shift by Richard Matheson
Wake Not the Dead by Johann Ludwig Tieck
Night and Silence by Maurice Level

Acts of God and Other Horrors
Flies by Isaac Asimov
The Night Wire by HF Arnold
Last Respect by Dick Baldwin
The Pool of the Stone God by A. Merritt
A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor by Ogden Nash
The Tree by Dylan Thomas
Stroke of Mercy by Parke Godwin
Lazarus by Leonid Andreyev

The Beast Within
The Waxwork by AM Burrage
The Silent Couple by Pierre Courtois, translated and adapted by Faith Lancereau and Marvin Kaye
Moon-Face by Jack London
Death in the School-Room by Walt Whitman
The Upturned Face by Stephen Crane
One Summer Night by Ambrose Bierce
The Easter Egg by HH Munro ("Saki")
The House in Goblin Wood by John Dickson Carr
The Vengence of Nitocris by Tennessee Williams
The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew by Damon Runyon
His Unconquerable Enemy by WC Morrow
Rizpah by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Question by Stanley Ellin

Ghosts and Miscellaneous Nightmares
The Flayed Hand by Guy de Maupassant
The Hospice by Robert Aickman
The Christmas Banquet by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hungry House by Robert Bloch
The Demon of the Gibbet by Fitz-James O'Brien
The Owl by Anatole Le Braz, translated by Faith lancereau
No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince by Ralph Adams Cram
The Music of Erich Zann by HP Lovecraft
Riddles in the Dark (Original Version, 1938) by JRR Tolkien
Afterword
Miscellaneous Notes
Selected Bibliography

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Source by Gail Pruszkowski