The Haunters and the Haunted by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1859)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror April 30, 2013
“The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in her bed with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her.”
Well, this is a provocative beginning to the story, isn’t it? Being strangled in your bed by the devil? I’ve had nightmares like that so this line really lured me in.
Our author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton was well known in the horror genre from the 1850s, but he also had a political career and wrote historical novels. Mary Shelley called him “a magnificent writer,” but he is probably one of the most neglected authors of our time. Some called him the British “Poe,” while other literary contemporaries at the time proclaimed him a terrible writer (he penned the much ridiculed “It was a dark and stormy night.”). I chose him because The Haunters and the Haunted is one of the earliest haunted house stories, immensely readable, suspenseful, and probably one of the first “psychic phenomena” stories at that time. And, the story carries a certain diabolical reverence.
The House and the Brain is the alternate title and important to note because this story hinges on the scientific elements of the human brain meshed with the spiritual elements. The narrator reporting theses events believes that apparitions or ghosts are not supernatural but within the laws of nature (“our nature” that is), the laws of nature that we do not fully understand yet.
Okay, so here we go. Our narrator decides to spend the night in this haunted house where the woman was strangled by the devil. Does he in fact see a ghost? He does: “livid face, long drowned … bloated, bleached, sea-weed tangled in its dripping hair … shadows, malignant serpent eyes.”
Our calm and objective narrator explains that he believes there is a power that extends over the dead, over certain thoughts and memories that reside in the brain of the dead. And this brain “is of immense power, that it can set matter into movement …”
Exactly what power is this? Are you ready for this material force and what it is capable of doing to our narrator … or should I say, do to you as the reader?
Listen … can you hear the sinister laughing in the dark chink of your brain?
This story is a must read for those of us who adore the classic ghost story that goes beyond the supernatural.
Read it here on Read Book Online:
One more quick note. My second novel, The Dazzling Darkness, was just released April 27th by KDP on Amazon (ebook). Can I tempt you into taking a look at my own supernatural mystery? Click on the link: