Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Best Ghost Story 27 from 1800-1849: The Chase


In October of 1833 a scary ghost story was published in The Western Monthly Magazine, a publication that was unafraid to publish supernatural stories. The story was simply titled The Chase and beneath it, it claims to be from "the log book of Richard Mizen, Q. S." I have been unable to find a "Richard Mizen" listed elsewhere in the literature and this captain is likely a fiction. Regardless, "The Chase" is one of the best ship battle stories for the first half of the nineteenth century. The writing is at a high level. The dialogue snaps and feels real. The drama builds to a climatic end and it is one of the best anonymous ghost stories in the countdown of the Top 40 ghost stories from 1800-1849. I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849: Story 28 is Solange by Alexander Dumas


The 28th best ghost story for the first half of the nineteenth century is Solange by the esteemed Alexander Dumas (1802-1870). This is the best ghost story by Dumas given its plot, style and characters. It is also his scariest ghost story with the plot building to its climatic end, which I won't give away here. The full title of the tale is "Solange: Dr. Ledu's Story of the Reign of Terror" and it was published in 1849. Most of the Top 40 ghost stories I have picked for this countdown have a ghostly presence throughout. In Solange, however, the ghost appears near the end, but it's effect is horrific just the same.


The portly Alexander Dumas is best known for creating such memorable characters as the Three Musketeers and Quasimodo. He is not considered a player in the realm of supernatural tales. None of his stories made my list of the Top 40 horror stories for the period in review and, obviously, none of them reached the level of the dozen picked for The Best Horror Stories 1800-1849 that I edited. He did pen "The Vampire of the Carpathian Mountains," which is thought to be the first vampire story set in the ominous mountain range of Europe. He also wrote a werewolf story by the title of "The Wolf Leader" in 1857.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Ghost Stories 1800-1849; Mary Burnet by James Hogg


It's been awhile since I last posted scary ghost story 30, maybe too long. Without further delay I pick James Hogg's (1770-1835) Mary Burnet as the 29th best ghost story for the first half of the nineteenth century. The scary story is the classic case of an "innocent maiden" who is wronged and, well . . . I'll let you read for yourself what happens. 


James Hogg, commonly known by his penname "The Ettrick Shepard," was self-educated. He eventually made his way out of the rustic life of country living in Scotland. He began writing short stories and articles for Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and befriended Sir Walter Scott. While Hogg's novels did not leave a deep mark on literature, his short stories were penned at a very high level. In my estimation he is greatly overlooked as a writer of horror and ghost stories in this important half century. Two of his stories made my list of the Top 40 horror short stories for the period in review, but none rose to the level of the top dozen that I include in The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849, which recently won a literary award. Hogg has a way with dialogue that takes one back to the old Scottish brogue and in the scary story of "Mary Burnet" he does not disappoint in this regard. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849" Finalist Award Winner in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that I recently published The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849: A Classic Horror Anthology. The book was well received by the horror community and the reviews were favorable (some are posted below); so I entered it in a book contest to see how it would do against the big publisher and best selling authors.

I am pleased to let you know that the book was just selected as a finalist awards winner in the anthology category for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. The physical book is annotated and sells for $12.99 at major online book retailers. The ebook is not annotated and can be had for $2.99, the price of a cup of coffee and it will entertain for hours. Even cheaper still, Amazon has just selected it as one of its best selling Kindle books and discounted it to only $.99 only as part of its "sunshine sale." Of course, there's not a lot of sunshine in this classic scary story horror book!

The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849 is a book for anyone who loves a classic horror story.

Thanks to Edgar Allan Poe, HonorĂ© de Balzac, Nathaniel Hawthorne and others, the first half of the nineteenth century is the cradle of all modern horror short stories. I read over 300 horror short stories and compiled the dozen best. A few have never been republished since they were first published in leading periodicals of the day such as Blackwood’s and Atkinson’s Casket.

At the back of the book I include a list of all short stories I considered along with their dates of publication and the author, when available. I even include background for each of the stories, author photos and annotations for difficult terminology.


‘The Best Horror Short Stories 1800-1849’ will likely become a best seller . . .What makes this collection (of truly terrifying tales!) so satisfying is the presence of a brief introduction before each story, sharing some comments about the writer and elements of the tale. Barger has once again whetted our appetites for fright, spent countless hours making these twelve stories accessible and available, and has provided in one book the best of the best of horror short stories. It is a winner.



Through his introduction and footnotes, Barger aims for readers both scholarly and casual, ensuring that the authors get their due while making the work accessible overall to the mainstream.



[a] top to bottom pick for anyone who appreciates where the best of horror came from.