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What specialist publishers produce the best "spooky" literature? I have some recommendations:

* Valancourt Books is an independent press based in Chicago, specializing in quality new editions of rare literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, especially Gothic, Classic, and Irish literature. This is the best press around for beautiful and affordable Gothic novels.
* Arkham House began by publishing the works of H.P. Lovecraft, who remains on at the center of the press's success; Arkam House also introduces fans to new authors in the world of the macabre, fantasy, and horror.
* Bison Frontiers of the Imagination, the classic science fiction series from the University of Nebraska Press, includes a number of wonderful classic works of apocalyptic literature.
* Broadview Press publishes a wide variety of literary texts, including excellent (and reasonably priced!) editions of Gothic staples like The Castle of Otranto, The Monk, Vathek, and Frankenstein.
* Zittaw Press specializes in reprints of Gothic literature, particularly hand-sewn chapbooks, as well as some novels.
* Night Shade Books is an impressive up-and-coming publisher of weird fiction, including horror, science fiction, and fantasy.

Today we move away from poetry and back to prose to consider another haunting story: Carmilla, a 1872 Gothic novella by J. Sheridan le Fanu. This chilling story of a female vampire predated Bran Stoker's Dracula by over twenty years, and remains a thoroughly chilling read today. Here is an excerpt:

Under a narrow, arched doorway, surmounted by one of those demoniacal grotesques in which the cynical and ghastly fancy of old Gothic carving delights, I saw very gladly the beautiful face and figure of Carmilla enter the shadowy chapel.

I was just about to rise and speak, and nodded smiling, in answer to her peculiarly engaging smile; when with a cry, the old man by my side caught up the woodman’s hatchet, and started forward. On seeing him a brutalised change came over her features. It was an instantaneous and horrible transformation, as she made a crouching step backwards. Before I could utter a scream, he struck at her with all his force, but she dived under his blow, and unscathed, caught him in her tiny grasp by the wrist. He struggled for a moment to release his arm, but his hand opened, the axe fell to the ground, and the girl was gone.

- from Carmilla by J. Sheridan le Fanu

Read the complete novella at Project Gutenberg.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 16th, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC)
Carmilla. Isn't that the one with the lesbian vampire, or is that just a gross exaggeration?

Carmilla was also used as the name of a bad guy in one of the Castlevania games (Circle of the Moon, to be specific).
Oct. 16th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC)
Carmilla definitely can be read as a lesbian story, but on the other hand, that's not the only interpretation of the story. Either way you read it, it's a chilling vampire tale!

That's very interesting about the name reappearing in the game! Definitely not a coincidence, I'd guess.
Oct. 17th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
Since the recurring Big Bad of the Castlevania series is Dracula, I'd also say it's not a coincidence.
Oct. 16th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
Eeeee, that is a chilling portion, indeed! Yet, I think I shall just have to read the full novella, now that my interest has been engaged...

*cautiously clicks on the link, prepared to be chilled and freaked out, but enjoyably so*
Oct. 16th, 2006 02:23 pm (UTC)
Yay! *happy dance* I hope you enjoy it. I think it's particularly effective because of all of the horrific bits it leaves to the imagination. And the ending is marvelous. Happy reading!
Oct. 17th, 2006 12:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recs. I've bookmarked this entry:)
Oct. 20th, 2006 07:32 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome! I hope the links are useful. I know Valancourt Books has an early Bram Stoker book - The Snake's Pass - that's quite good, FYI.
Oct. 19th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
Thanks for the mention!

I'm personally looking forward to curling up with a stack of our books for Halloween! :)
Oct. 20th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
You're most welcome! Terrific Tales is great fun, by the way. I really enjoyed it.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )