Tag Archives: Arthur Machen

More Spooky Stories for Halloween

Ben Weger via Flickr.

Ben Weger via Flickr.

Season of mists and yellow fruitfulness…and, of course, of ghosts and stories for long cold evenings. We asked some Hedgehog Review editors, contributors, and friends to send in their recommendations for their favorite Halloween stories for this weekend. Enjoy!

Ghosts, Edith Wharton

According to Edith Wharton, we don’t so much believe in ghosts as feel them, “in the warm darkness of the pre-natal fluid far below our conscious reason” where “the faculty dwells with which we apprehend the ghosts we may not be endowed with the gift of seeing.” Not long before her death in 1937, she worried that this “ghost-instinct” might be gradually atrophying. Ghosts, she wrote, don’t need “echoing passages and hidden doors behind tapestry” to “make themselves manifest,” but two conditions diminishing in a noisy and fast-paced world. Silence, of course, for a ghost “obviously prefers the silent hours,” and also continuity: “For where a ghost has once appeared it seems to hanker to appear again.”

Happily, Wharton’s Ghosts, an omnibus of her own ghost stories, ably stimulates that faculty required for their enjoyment. Her tales are exquisitely sensitive, with subtle premonitions and invariably tragic endings. They induce chills that run down the spine. From “The Triumph of Night,” one of her lesser known:

Faxon’s first impulse was to look away, to look anywhere else, to resort again to the champagne glass the watchful butler had already brimmed; but some fatal attraction, at war in him with an overwhelmingly physical resistance, held his eyes upon the spot they feared.

The figure was still standing, more distinctly, and therefore more resemblingly, at Mr. Lavington’s back; and while the latter continued to gaze affectionately at his nephew, his counterpart, as before, fixed young Rainer with eyes of deadly menace.

—Joseph E. Davis is publisher of The Hedgehog Review.

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The Hedgehog Recommends: Spooky Stories for Halloween

“The Old Hall, Fairies by Moonlight; Spectres & Shades, Brownies and Banshees,” by John Anster Fitzgerald (c. 1875). Via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Old Hall, Fairies by Moonlight; Spectres & Shades, Brownies and Banshees,” by John Anster Fitzgerald (c. 1875). Via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s that time of year again: a weekend for spooky (or not-so-spooky) stories to be enjoyed with friends or, for the very brave, alone. We asked some Hedgehog Review editors, contributors, and friends to send in their recommendations for the book or movie to curl up with this weekend. Enjoy!

Let the Right One In
Forget all the overheated vampire movie stereotypes of sexy men in frilled shirts and virginal damsels in enticing décolletage. Rather, Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 film (based on the best-selling novel Låt den rätte komma in by John Ajvide Lindqvist) is more about the relationship between two loners in a suburban Swedish apartment building. Oskar is an alienated and bullied twelve-year-old boy. His friend Eli, the vampire, dresses oddly, smells funny, and is poignantly trapped by her predicament. Their assignation point is a jungle gym where they share a Rubik’s cube and discover their ability to communicate in Morse code. As their mutual trust grows, Oskar and Eli discover several, not always pleasant, truths about themselves. One of the most touching moments comes as Eli stands outside the door of Oskar’s apartment, unwilling to enter without his express consent—hence, the film’s title—an invitation that permits intimacy and respect and establishes that Eli will never victimize Oskar as his peers have. Intelligent, austere, mesmerizing, and, yes, horrific, this movie confirmed, for once, the critical hype it received and proved that it was indeed unlike any vampire movie ever made.—Leann Davis Alspaugh is managing editor of the Hedgehog Review.

Lolly Willowes: Or, the Loving Huntsman, Sylvia Townsend Warner
Lolly Willowes seems like it’s going to be the story of Laura, a nice girl who grows up and slips into an obscure and helpful spinsterhood, living with her brother’s family and helping to run his home. And it is that story, though if Laura is a spinster, it’s at least half because she has a habit of saying things like this to her beaus:

“If you are a were-wolf, and very likely you may be, for lots of people are without knowing, February, of all months, is the month when you are most likely to go out on a dark windy night and worry sheep.”

But Laura gets tired of being such a helpful member of her brother’s household, so she moves to the country. When her family follows her there, Laura … strikes a deal with the Devil to keep them away, sells her immortal soul, and becomes a witch. The book is worth it if only for the depiction of a Witches’ Sabbath, which newly witched Laura attends in the hopes of finding, at last, her sort of milieu; but finds instead she feels as out-of-place and awkward as ever. Witchery only solves so many problems.—B. D. McClay is associate editor of the Hedgehog Review.
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