Category Archives: classic horror stories

Dead Still Here on All Hallows Eve

All Hallows      Walter de la Mare (1926)

Sunday’s Gothic Short Story, October 30, 2022

READING FICTION BLOG

Here is a perfect story to read aloud for Halloween.  Walter de la Mare is a dazzling author famous for his ghost stories and psychological drama. This is a fast short story and absolutely classic. We have a traveler visiting a deserted cathedral. The cathedral is not just haunted.

Devils are creatures made by God, and that for vengeance.

Why would devils haunt a deserted cathedral?

We then turned inward once more, ascending yet another spiral staircase. And now the intense darkness had thinned  a little, the groined roof above us becoming faintly discernible. A fresher air softly fanned my cheek; and then trembling fingers groped over my breast, and, cold and bony, clutched my own.”

 

You got to read this one. Author de la Mare is one of the finest writers of the supernatural.

 

 

Walter de la Mare  (1873 – 1956) was an English poet, short story writer, and novelist. He is probably best remembered for his works for children, for his poem “The Listeners”, and for a highly acclaimed selection of subtle psychological horror stories, amongst them Seaton’s Aunt and The Return. He was considered one of modern literature’s chief exemplars of the romantic imagination.

 

Read All Hallows  at Gutenberg.ca (page 288 in Table of Contents):

https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/delamarew-beststories/delamarew-beststories-00-h.html#Page_288

 

Listen to the audio at BBC Radio:

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

 

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Author of the Week, Stephen King, October 20

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK  October 20

Stephen King

(Horror, Suspense, Science Fiction and Fantasy)

 

 

“I’m one of those people who doesn’t really know what he thinks until he writes it down.”

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn’t carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding, and revising.”

“The worst advice? ‘Don’t listen to the critics.’ I think that you really ought to listen to the critics, because sometimes they’re telling you something is broken that you can fix.”

 

Stephen King (born 1947) is a best-selling American author of horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies.  The Stand, The Shining, Carrie, and It.  His memoir, On Writing, has become an inspirational read for writers. King has published 50 novels, some under pen-name Richard Bachman. With over 200 short stories published, King has received Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to the American Letters and the 2014 National Medal of Arts.

WHAT’S UPCOMING FROM STEPHEN KING?

Salem’s Lot    The movie: release Date: April 21st, 2023

Author Ben Mears returns to ‘Salem’s Lot to write a book about a house that has haunted him since childhood only to find his isolated hometown infested with vampires. While the vampires claim more victims, Mears convinces a small group of believers to combat the undead.

Read an interview at The Paris Review, 2006.

https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5653/the-art-of-fiction-no-189-stephen-king

 

Stephen King on “Lisey’s Story,” writing process on YouTube.com. “Lisey’s Story” is an Apple TV miniseries.

 

 

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays once a month at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 250 free short stories by over 150 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary or classic authors. Audios too.

 

[Apologies that I’ve not been posting these past few months. I’ve been working on my newest novel Draakensky, which is in it final stages of writing. This story is supernatural, magical realism, and murder. Very exciting and all absorbing. More updates to come on this.]

 

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Author of the Week, Shirley Jackson, June 13

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   June  13

Shirley Jackson

(Mysteries, Supernatural, Gothic Horror, “Quiet Horror”)

“In the country of the story the writer is king.”

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it, and make it work, and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”

“I began writing stories about my children because, more than any other single being in the world, children possess and kind of magic that makes much of what they do so oddly logical and yet so incredible to grown-ups.”

Shirley Jackson is American novelist and short story writer.  The Lottery is her most famous short story but most of us admire her novel The Haunting of Hill House. She wrote six novels, two memoirs, and more than 200 short stories. The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle established her as a master of gothic horror and psychological suspense.

Listen to Shirley Jackson read her short stories,

The Lottery and The Daemon Lover:

 

The writing of Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson’s second novel, has inspired one of the most anticipated films of  2020. Shirley, won awards at Sundance Festival in January, is a psychological thriller that reflects on writing, womanhood and what it means to be a wife in 1950s America. Elisabeth Moss plays Jackson.

The film opens with a shot of the infamous short story The Lottery in The New Yorker. In actuality, Jackson started writing Hangsaman in 1950. The film focused on when Jackson was living in Bennington, Vermont, before she moved to Westport, Connecticut.

 

Hangsaman’s narrative structure descends into a shapeshifting ambiguity that left some critics at the time rather confused. But this is where Shirley really comes into its own in illustrating Jackson’s potential thought process behind the novel. “So what will become of your heroine?” asks Hyman, to which Jackson replies: “What happens to all lost girls: they go mad.”

Watch the trailer:

(Classic “Quiet Horror”)

 

Library of American interviews Joyce Carole Oates about Shirley Jackson (6 pages:

Click to access LOA_Oates_on_Jackson.pdf

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays once a month at Reading Fiction Blog! 

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 250 free short stories by over 150 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary or classic authors. Audios too.

Follow or Join me here every month.

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Crime of Passion and a Curse

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (1887)

Tuesday’s Ghost Story   March 29, 2022  READING FICTION BLOG 

 

 

Oscar Wilde is most famous for his The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his comic masterpieces Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Like much of his work known for its satirical brilliance, and even if you are not drawn to ghost stories, this one will brighten your day.

The Otis family members are spending the summer at the castle in Canterville, previously owned by British aristocrats Lord and Lady Canterville. A good part of the narrative is from the ghost himself Sir Simon de Canterville. And what a guy! Prepare yourself for a parody of Gothic fiction. Lightning storms, strange laughter, blood stains, hidden passages, crows that cry havoc, tea in the library with a secret hatch, and dashes of romance—and, of course, a murder. All this will beg the question: Is love stronger than death?

Very entertaining classic literature at its best. Oscar Wilde’s wit and realism, and his engaging characters are memorable both on the page and on the screen.

Read the short story here at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14522/14522-h/14522-h.htm

Listen to the audio on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0iIV9zSuDI

 

Watch the FREE film on You Tube (1:20 minutes). This 1997 movie was directed by Crispin Reece, starring Ian Richardson, Celia Imrie,  Sarah-Jane Potts, and James D’Arcy. There is another version, 1996, with Neve Campbell and Patrick Stewart, but this version I feature here is far better.

 

 

Oscar Wilde was born of professional and literary parents. His father, Sir William Wilde, published books on archaeology and folklore. His mother, who wrote under the name Speranza, was a revolutionary poet and an authority on Celtic myth and folklore.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above for more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 250 short stories by more than 150 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading

one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Dabbled in Blood, the Masked Figure

Tuesday’s Short Story, January 25, 2022

The Masque of the Red Death  by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

 

 

This month of January is the anniversary of  Edgar Allan Poe (birth January 19, 1809). What better time to mark our appreciation of this great writer than to read one of his stories?

The Masque of the Red Death is fast 20-minute read for readers who love supernatural and mystery. I think this story has a timeliness during this Covid pandemic when we are all wearing masks and where many of us wish we could run away to our private abbeys to stay safe.

“The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.”

Prince Prospero summons his dominions to his castle, an abbey in the far hills. Here the ‘gay society’ is safe to enjoy themselves in the seven rooms of different colors—which have its own mystery. We are at a masked ball with music and dancing, but who arrives? An uninvited mysterious figure. In the seventh room that is draped in black velvet with blood red window panes, our tale goes deep with supernatural, psychological, and horrific elements in grand Poe style. This is soooooo Gothic!

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1064/1064-h/1064-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio read by Sir Christopher Lee:

 

Watch the film created at the University of Technology, Sydney for Media Arts and Production (15 minutes). Sweeping, baroque, and spooky.

 

 

Poe wrote in many genres. He was the first to include deep psychological and intuitive horror in his stories. His tales often reflect that the true monster of evil is within each person and what happens when that evil is acted upon. His most famous work is The Raven.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories (some with audio), by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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More Than A Shadow for Christmas

A Warning to the Curious, A Ghost Story for Christmas  by M.R. James (1925)

December’s Short Story,  Tuesday, December 14, 2021

M.R. James  (Montague Rhodes James) is the master of British ghost stories. Five stars all the way.  No arguments. He is known as the originator of the “antiquarian ghost story.”

This story was written to be read aloud on Christmas Eve, like many of James’s stories were at the time. I love his style of writing because he often brings up the mysterious in a way that leaves you chilled to the bone with his supernatural manifestations. In his A Warning to the Curious,  A Christmas Story we have a multiple layered narrative that is creepy and unsettling— storytelling so smooth, you’ll be unable to stop reading. His skills in drawing in the reader by implication and suggestion of the malevolent  supernatural reach far deeper into the imagination than explicit horror narratives. He does write exquisitely in  “quiet horror,” which is my genre!

The setting is the wind-beaten coastal town of Seaburgh. Heaths, fir woods, a gorse, church tower, white windmills and cottages of bright red brick.  Quaint, yes, but buried here is an Anglo-Saxon crown (one of three holy crowns of East Anglia). An antiquary archeologist, Paxton (A James’ classic gentleman protagonist), is vacationing at the village inn and discovers where this crown is buried in “a mound in the woods” of Seaburgh . Dare he dig it up? He does, of course he does. And soon after Paxton begins to notice a “dim presence” following him … and waiting for him in secret places.

The theme is obviously curiosity but with tones of the attraction to fear. And as ghost story readers that we all are, attractions to fear are always at the core.

 

You can read it below, listen to the audio, or watch the 1972 film, which is vintage horror.

Read the full short story (35-minute read) at Gutenberg Australia

https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605921h.html  

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com:

 

Watch the 1972 film broadcast by the BBC:

 

 

James’s ghost stories were published in a series of collections: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911), A Thin Ghost and Others (1919), and A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925).

In the anthology Ghosts and Marvels, James is quoted: “Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo. … Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.”

 

As an extra treat, you might want to try BRIT BOX from your cable stations. They are showing MR James’ A Ghost Story for Christmas collection (available from 20th December 2021).

Based on the works of MR James’ chilling short stories, this collection of BBC produced adaptations of ghost stories is an extra special Christmas treat. These adaptations, which have a subtlety and style all of their own, have been a major influence on many contemporary British horror filmmakers and have come to be some of the most sought after British TV titles of all time by their legions of eager fans.

BBC’s classic M.R. James ghost stories coming to BritBox this Christmas

 

TO ALL, HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON AND PROSPERITY FOR ALL THE NEW YEARS TO COME!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

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Blog Collection

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Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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The Haunted House in the Square, for Halloween

The Empty House  by Algernon Blackwood  (1906)

October’s Short Story for Halloween,  October 21, 2021

 

What could be more satisfying than to read a classic haunted house mystery during Halloween season? Especially a gabled house surrounded by dark gardens that cry out and air fragrant with ruin. Inside lurking staircases flicker shadows, and a faceless clock ticks away on the threshold of midnight.

Dean Koontz says of haunted houses: “We are haunted and regardless of the architecture with which we surround ourselves, our ghosts stay with us until we ourselves are ghosts.” How utterly delightful to be a ghost! Maybe our DNAs truly are blueprints of the past.

One of the absolute finest writers of ghost stories is Algernon Blackwood. Here at Reading Fiction Blog, you will find six of his stories to read for free—because Blackwood is a master at ghosts, psychological chills, and performing the highest atmospherics. He has been considered the foremost British supernaturalist. His skills lie in drawing upon Oriental thought, psychology and philosophy, which bring an intelligence to his stories.

The Empty House is a simple story, a fiction over 100 years old. There was a murder in this house that is now empty and shunned by the village folk.  Aunt Julia and her nephew Jim Shorthouse spend a night in The Empty House.

 

We walk through this house with Aunt Julia and Jim, not as observers, but as participants in seeking the ghost.  The atmospherics do it all to illicit fear  and trembling as the characters engage in the supernatural events. Pay close attention to the narrative closure. It sneaks up on the reader, leaving you breathless in the sea air.

 

The original chatter about this story was that Blackwood personally experienced some of these ghostly events during his ghost hunting work at the Society of Psychical Research in London. We are in a well-written “quiet horror” of supernatural literature.

 

Read it here at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14471/14471-h/14471-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com:

 

More of Algernon Blackwood’s free short stories here at Reading Fiction Blog:

Blackwood, Algernon  Ancient Sorceries, February 5, 2013

Blackwood, Algernon  Wood of the Dead, September 9, 2014

Blackwood, Algernon  House of the Past, November 9, 2015

Blackwood, Algernon  The Glamour of Snow,  March 1, 2016

Blackwood, Algernon A Psychological Invasion, Case 1,  June 28, 2016

Blackwood, Algernon  The Willows, October 16, 2018

 

Have a Happy Halloween!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week, James Herbert, April 19

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   April 19

James Herbert

(Novels and Short Stories, Supernatural, Ghost Stories, Horror)

 

 

“I’m never going to win the Booker and I have no great literary pretensions, but I know how to write well. I do it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper and I know my spelling and grammar.”

“I have a dread of sounding pretentious and try not to talk too much about what I do. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to point it out: I’m not just in it for the gore.”

“To be haunted is to glimpse a truth that might best be hidden.”

“I’ve actually seen a ghost, so I know what they are really about.”

 

James Herbert (1943 – 2013) was an English author of the supernatural and popular for his horror fiction. He sold 54 million books that were translated into 34 languages. His best known novels are The Fog, The Survivor, and The Dark. Also the Ghosts of Sleath, The Secret of Crickley Hall , The Dark. Some of his novels were adapted for film, television, and radio. Herbert’s final novel Ash imagines Princess Diana and her secret son as well as Lord Lucan, Colonel Gaddafi and Robert Maxwell living together in a Scottish castle. Stephen King said of Herbert’s stories, “His work has a raw urgency.”

 

Interview by Terry Wogan with James Herbert. True horror fans will love this!

 

BBC interviews James Herbert on his experiences with ghosts.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/19463081

 

James Herbert Amazon Page:

https://www.amazon.com/James-Herbert/e/B000AP90NS

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

Leave a comment

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Ghost at the Threshold

Sir Edmund Orne  by Henry James (1891)

Tuesday’s Ghost Story for Halloween   October 27, 2020

Reading a ghost story during Halloween week is always a good idea. Sometimes it’s fascinating to go back to the classic authors who are so different from, and I dare say refreshing, our modern ghost writers. And who better to read than author Henry James. He’s known for his psychological realism and emotionally powerful ghost stories. Reading his novels and short stories is often an experience as in the famous Turn of the Screw. In 1903, James gave advice on how to read his work. He suggested you read a few pages a day and not break the thread  “The thread is really stretched quite scientifically tight. Keep along with it step by step — & the full charm will come out.”

There is literary magic in his stories. Reading his work slowly so the imagination can peak and run is a worthwhile effort.

In Sir Edmund Orne, we have a lovely coquette named Charlotte Marden and her mysterious mother Mrs. Marden who has “intuitions.” The story opens on a quiet sunny Sunday in Brighton, is full of romance, intrigue, and of course a ghost on a mission. The story is more quiet mystery than horror but unsettling and holds the suspense all the way through.

From our determined and charming narrator …

“I felt beneath my feet the threshold of the strange door, in my life, which had suddenly been thrown open and out of which unspeakable vibrations played up through me like a fountain. I had heard all my days of apparitions, but it was a different thing to have seen one and to know that I should in all probability see it familiarly, as it were, again.”

 

Read the story at East of the Web:

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/EdmuOrme.shtml

Listen to audio at Librivox Recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43FaG7G5Rj0

 

Henry James was an American novelist and critic.  He wrote 20 novels, 112 tales, and 12 plays  and volumes of travel writing and criticism.  He is best remembered for his The Portrait of a Lady (1881) and the novella The Turn of the Screw (1898).

 

 

The Haunting of Bly Manor, a Netflix anthology series is a twist on Turn of the Screw. 

 

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, romance, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine    HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine  

Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian       The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

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Mr. Moundshroud and A Thousand Pumpkins

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury  (1967)

Tuesday’s Tale for Halloween    September 29, 2020

Halloween is one month away. If you’ve not read Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, it’s a MUST READ for Halloween fans. This is an adventure story about a group of boys on Halloween night. Tom and his mates must search the Halloween world to find their missing friend Pip, who has been abducted into the Land of the Dead.

 

At some 160 pages, longer than a typical short story but not quite a novella, you can settle in for a spooky and nostalgic ride. What is so wonderful about this story, aside from all the little horrors along the way, is that we discover some of the oldest Halloween traditions from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mexico, Irish Druids, and much more about the Land of the Dead. Here’s a peek as the boys come upon a haunted house.

“Then the darkness within the house inhaled. A wind sucked through the gaping door. It pulled at the boys, dragging them across the porch. They had to lean back so as not to be snatched into the deep dark hall. They struggled, shouted, clutched the porch rails. But then the wind ceased. Darkness moved within darkness. Inside the house, a long way off, someone was walking toward the door. Whoever it was must have been dressed all in black for they could see nothing but a pale white face drifting on the air.”

 

At this house they come upon the Halloween Tree …

The pumpkins on the Tree were not mere pumpkins. Each had a face sliced in it. Each face was different. Every eye was a stranger eye. Every nose was a weirder nose. Every mouth smiled hideously in some new way. There must have been a thousand pumpkins on this tree, hung high and on every branch. A thousand smiles. A thousand grimaces. And twice-times-a thousand glares and winks and blinks and leerings of fresh-cut eyes. And as the boys watched, a new thing happened. The pumpkins began to come alive.

 

Ray Bradbury at his best! Rich language, vivid imagery, and so eerie on our most famous dark autumn night of the year. I loved the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud.

Read the story free at the EnglishOnlineClub.com (Illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini):

http://englishonlineclub.com/pdf/Ray%20Bradbury%20-%20The%20Halloween%20Tree%20%5BEnglishOnlineClub.com%5D.pdf

 

Listen to the audio by Ray Bradbury on YouTube.com

 

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