In Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural, edited by Marvin Kaye, there are horror, ghost and speculative fiction stories that are amazingly gruesome in nature, and all written by authors who were masters of their forms.
The title is in no way an exaggeration.
Each of these authors is a master of prose, and I find it interesting that so many authors try their hand at a ghost story (or many, depending on the author), and for me, these stories are a cut above even the other Marvin Kaye collections of stories, and at one time, I had them all.
Whether or not you’re a fan of dark material, I found these stories to be a fantastic resource for story plotting and description.
Each and every one is a master class of some kind.
And. fyi. I pulled out my favorites in the list below.
Also, they’re handy stories to have at your disposal in case anyone starts giving you genre grief. You know, the old, ghost stories aren’t real literature nonsense.
I offer the .pdf of Patricia Highsmith’s short story, “The Quest for Blank Claveringi” in the hopes that it will introduce more people to her elegant prose, and for educational and reviewing purposes.
Though the story is dark.
If you’re a fan of Edward Gorey (you are, even if you don’t know his name, you love his illustrations and aesthetic, really, you do) then look for the Kaye collections that still have the dust jackets drawn by Edward Gorey.
That’s the cover shown below. And each of the Marvin Kaye books has a different Gorey cover.
The authors, from the table of contents:
“Dracula’s Guest” – Bram Stoker
“The Professor’s Teddy Bear” – Theodore Sturgeon
This story about the bear, has inter-dimensional demons, time travel and teaching, all rolled into a story, that, is messed up.
Consider that a trigger warning. This story is dark.
“Bubnoff and the Devil” – Ivan Turgenev
“The Quest for Blank Claveringi” – Patricia Highsmith
“The Erl King” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“The Bottle Imp” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“A Malady of Magicks” – Craig Shaw Gardner
“Lan Lung” – M. Lucie Chin
Lan Lung is a ghost story that is also a historical story, the narration is from the POV of a tourist who falls off the Great Wall of China and wakes up a ghost in ancient China. The story manages to be very thought provoking in regards to cultural appropriation, while also being damn entertaining and there’s dragons. Chinese dragons.
“The Dragon Over Hackensack” – Richard L. Wexelblat
“The transformation” – Mary W. Shelley —
“The faceless thing” – Edward D. Hoch.
“The anchor” – Jack Snow
“When the Clock Strikes” – Tanith Lee
“Oshidori” – Lafcadio Hearn
“Carmilla” – Sheridan LeFanu
“Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory” – Orson Scott Card
Here, the author of the incredible series Ender’s Game, writes a story of vengeance that is messed up! I’m sorry, I don’t have very many ways of saying, this story really fucks with your head, but several of the stories in this collection do.
This is one of them. Be warned.
“Lenore” – Gottfried August Burger
“The Black Wedding” – Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Hop Frog” – Edgar Allan Poe
“Sardonicus” – Ray Russell
“Graveyard Shift” – Richard Matheson
“Wake not the Dead” – Johann Ludwig Tieck
“Night and Silence” – Maurice Level
“Flies” – Isaac Asimov —
“The Night Wire” – H. F. Arnold
“Last Respects” – Dick Baldwin
“The Pool of the Stone God” – A. Merritt
“A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor” – Ogden Nash
“The Tree” – Dylan Thomas
“Stroke of Mercy” – Parke Godwin
“Lazarus” – Leonid Andreyev
What happens to Lazarus after Jesus resurrects him?
Andreyev takes one of the rare ‘happy’ moments from the Bible and recasts it.
Um. Darkness awaits in this one, too.
“The Waxwork” – A.M. Burrage
“The Silent Couple” – Pierre Courtois
“Moon Face” – Jack London
“Death in the School Room” – Walt Whitman
“The Upturned Face” – Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane is the author that taught me prose could be poetic in its simplicity, and in this story, that simplicity is used to deliver one of the most powerful anti-war stories ever written.
“One Summer Night” – Ambrose Bierce
“The Easter Egg” – H. H. Munro (Saki)
“The House in Goblin Wood” – John Dickson Carr –
“The Vengeance of Nitocris” – Tennessee Williams
“The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew” – Damon Runyon
My grandmother introduced me to Damon Runyon’s work. He was fantastic with accents and dialog and if you’re a musical theater person, you know Runyon’s work in the musical “Guys and Dolls.”
“His Unconquerable Enemy” – W. C. Morrow
“Rizpah” – Lord Alfred Tennyson
“The Question” – Stanley Ellin
“The Flayed Hand” – Guy de Maupassant
“The Hospice” – Robert Aickman
“The Christmas Banquet” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Hungry House” – Robert Bloch
“The Demon of the Gibbet” – Fitz-James O’Brien
“The Owl” – Anatole Le Braz
“No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince” – Ralph Adams Cram
“The Music of Erich Zann” – H. P. Lovecraft
“Riddles in the Dark” – J. R. R. Tolkien.