I don’t know why, exactly, but all I’m reading of late are ghost stories. MR James, if there are any left, but also Dickens, Hodgson’s Carnacki stories and I’ve just finished the splendidly creepy Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. I wallow in them, I find them utterly compelling, fascinating and – fuck you, David Mitchell* – satisfying.
It’s probably the season, the long nights, the early dark. It attracts ghost stories as a way to keep you indoors, huddled round the fire, talking of the things in the dusk.
So, hopefully, immersed as I am, I’ll produce that story I promised.
Meanwhile, here are some things which scare me.
Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by MR James – you don’t know ghost stories until you know this backwards. Not that you’ll want to read it twice.
The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens – magnificently eerie short from Dickens, whose ghost stories deserve wider recognition than the regular trot-out of A Christmas Carol (as good as that is).
The Moon-Bog by HP Lovecraft – as with a lot of Lovecraft, not exactly spooky, but the atmosphere is unsettling. His longer stories (The Dunwich Horror, say, or Shadow over Innsmouth) conjure a greater feeling of dread, and there is a sequence in Innsmouth which is genuinely heart-in-mouth terrifying. But The Moon-Bog has stayed with me, for whatever reason.
The vampire of Croglin Low Hall – supposedly true story that simply scares the bejesus out of me.
*Though that whole article is confused bollocks. The fun is not in finding out what is the cause of the haunting but in following the increasing terror of the protagonist as they discover the cause.