Tag Archives: Halloween stories

THE MONKS OF MONK HALL (1844-1845): HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Happy Halloween! Balladeer’s Blog marks it with a neglected work of American horror.

Monks of Monk HallTHE MONKS OF MONK HALL aka THE QUAKER CITY (1844-1845) – Written by George Lippard, this strange and macabre story was originally serialized from 1844-1845 before being published in novel form. This bloody, horrific work was America’s best-selling novel before Uncle Tom’s Cabin

I always refer to this book as “Twin Peaks Goes To The 1840s.” On one level The Monks of Monk Hall deals with crime, corruption, drugs and sex-trafficking among many supposedly “respectable” citizens of Philadelphia the way Twin Peaks did with residents of the title town.

On another level the novel deals with supernatural horrors that lurk behind the Quaker City’s murders, vices and sexual perversions, again like the David Lynch series. The center of the darkness is Monk Hall, an old, sprawling mansion with an unsavory history and reputation. Many have disappeared into the bowels of the building, never to be seen again. The power players and criminals who mingle at the Hall in bizarre orgies, secret murders and drunken debauches are known as “Monks” – Monk Hall’s exclusive membership.

Monks of Monk Hall 4Think of Monk Hall as a combination of Twin Peaks establishments like the Black Lodge, One-Eyed Jacks and the Great Northern all rolled into one. The vast, multi-roomed Hall is honey-combed with secret passageways and trap doors. Beneath the mansion are a subterranean river plus several levels of labyrinthine catacombs filled with rats, refuse and the skeletal remains of the Monks’ many victims from the past century and a half.   

The sinister staff of Monk Hall are happy to provide their members with all the sex, opium and other diversions that they hunger for behind their public veil of respectability. Throw in the occult practices of the members and there’s a sort of “American version of Sir Francis Dashwood’s Hellfire Club” feel to it. Among the novel’s more horrific characters:

Monks of Monk Hall 2DEVIL-BUG – The deformed, depraved and deranged bastard offspring of one of Monk Hall’s members and one of the many prostitutes who are literally enslaved there. Devil-Bug has spent his entire life in the Hall and has no other name. He is squat, incredibly strong and grotesquely ugly with one large gaping eye and one small, withered, empty socket on his face.

This monstrosity works as Monk Hall’s combination door-man, bouncer and executioner, gleefully murdering on demand and secreting the corpses away in the sub-basements beneath the mansion. Just to make him even more unwholesome, Devil-Bug sleeps next to the corpse of one of his victims and uses occupied coffins as furniture in his creepy rooms.

RAVONI – Interchangeably referred to as a sorcerer, mad doctor, astrologer and anatomist, this handsome but sinister man pulls the strings behind the supernatural evils of Philadelphia and vicinity.

Monks of Monk Hall 3Master of an occult method of eternal youth, Ravoni has been alive for over two hundred years. (The novel repeatedly says just two hundred years, but the villain refers to having been present at the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which happened in 1572, so it has to be longer)

Ravoni has powers of mesmerism, prognostication and can even raise the dead. He was the original owner of Monk Hall under another name long ago. Readers eventually learn the kind of dark rituals the man performed at the Hall but don’t learn the full extent of his evil plans until the climax of the novel.          Continue reading

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RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER (1844): HALLOWEEN STORY

Halloween Month continues with this neglected femme fatale from Nathaniel Hawthorne. FOR THE OTHER CREATURES IN THIS MONSTER RALLY CLICK HERE 

Rappaccini's Daughter 2BEATRICE RAPPACCINI

First Appearance: Rappaccini’s Daughter (1844)

Cryptid Category: Human-plant hybrid.

Lore: Beatrice Rappaccini, also called the Poison Woman, had been experimented on by her mad scientist father since infancy. Some dark rumors even held that the father – Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini – had spawned her from a seed-pod and that his tales of a wife were lies.

Beatrice was so toxic that she was the only one alive who could come into contact with the monstrous and deadly plants in her father’s courtyard garden. The Poison Woman’s beauty drove men wild, tempting many admirers to brave the dangers of her father’s mutated plant life.

The dark beauty’s flesh was a toxic poison and her breath could kill insects, snakes, rats and small children. Dead creatures made the ideal fertilizer for the creations of Beatrice’s father. It was hinted that Beatrice fed on the vermin killed by her breath, just like Venus Flytraps and other carnivorous plant-life. Continue reading

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GRAVEYARD SHIFT: JON MALIN AND MARK POULTON’S HALLOWEEN HEROES

Graveyard Shift vol 2Halloween month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a look at the first two volumes of Graveyard Shift, the “monsters as superheroes” sensation drawn by THE Jon Malin and written by Mark Poulton.

The introductory Graveyard Shift graphic novel presented the team’s “senses-shattering origin.” To quote the creators: “Scientists Vladimir Blud, Lillith Mayhew and her husband, head of security Mick Mayhew are working on advance human regeneration for the mysterious ATLANTIS CORPORATION. Betrayed, murdered and put into their own experiments they are reborn with super human abilities, they are the GRAVEYARD SHIFT and they are all that can stop a rising supernatural evil from taking over the world!”

Graveyard ShiftGraveyard Shift Volume Two featured the team taking on the reborn menace of Dracula himself and his legions. The first two installments raised six figures each on Indiegogo and it is presumed that the third volume, expected in 2020, will continue that trend.

Malin is one of the comic book “Outlaws” going their own way to pursue their vision free of the corporate influence of the Big Two publishers. He has also worked with fellow Outlaw Richard Meyer on his indy superhero team called Jawbreakers. Continue reading

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NOUGHTS AND CROSSES (1891): HALLOWEEN STORIES BY Q

Just one week left until Halloween! Balladeer’s Blog continues its month-long celebration.

Arthur Quiller CouchNOUGHTS AND CROSSES: COLLECTED SHORT STORIES (1891) – Written by “Q” aka Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, this was a collection of his short stories. Those stories: 

DOUBLES AND QUITS – This tale dealt with a feuding husband and wife who take their bitterness beyond the grave. After burial their ghosts continue their hate-filled struggle. 

THE HAUNTED DRAGOON – A sergeant in the dragoons helps his mistress murder her husband, then sells her out so that she gets all the blame. Her ghost and the ghost of her child begin haunting the man.

THE LADY OF THE SHIP – Lady Alicia of Bohemia is a beautiful witch. Despite the evidence of her dark nature a well-to-do man marries her, convinced he can save her. The tale nears its climax when the Devil arrives in human form to claim the witch’s soul.  Continue reading

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THE WERWOLVES (1898): HALLOWEEN STORY

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this look at  Canadian werewolf lore.

the werwolvesTHE WERWOLVES (sic) (1898) – Written by Honore Beaugrand, this story features fairly unique werewolf lore. The tale is not structured in a traditional way but instead expands upon accounts of lycanthropy in campfire tales as if they really, truly happened.

A modern comparison might be with those far-fetched tales of the supernatural from supermarket tabloids or online Creepypastas. The pretense of reality adds to the fun.

Set in the very early 1700s The Werwolves treats readers to a pack of Iroquois lycanthropes rampaging around Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. These werewolves are much more intelligent and gregarious than many other such monsters.

They operate in a pack to steal away victims and even dance around a fire in their wolfmen forms howling and chanting before devouring their victims.

These Canadian variations also look much different than readers might expect: they have the heads of wolves and the tails of wolves but the rest of their bodies remain human after their nocturnal transformation.  Continue reading

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CITY OF VAMPIRES (1867)

Halloween Month moved another notch today. Balladeer’s Blog continues its month-long celebration with a look at another neglected gem of horror fiction.

Vampire city 2LA VILLE-VAMPIRE (City of Vampires) 1867 – Written by the accomplished and prolific Paul Feval, it’s Village of Vampires, or City of Vampires or, if you prefer, Vampire City (Wham, bam, thank you ma’am! Va- va- va- Vampire CIT-EEE! … Had to be said.)

Paul Feval’s heroine in this story is the young Ann Ward, who went on to be Ann Radcliffe, pioneer of Gothic Horror through such works as The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Ann’s friends Cornelia de Witt and Ned Barton depart for the continent with their new acquaintance Otto Goetzi.

Vampire CityGoetzi turns out to be a vampire who lures Cornelia and Ned deeper and deeper into a trap. Back in England, Ann Ward deduces all this from odd letters that she receives from her friends and from horrific premonitions which come to her in nightmares.

Ann and a much older family servant called Grey Jack cross the English Channel to come to the rescue of Ann’s friends. Soon the trail leads to Belgrade and then to a dismal city called Selene by outsiders but known as the Sepulchre to its inhabitants, all of whom are vampires.    Continue reading

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THE GHOST GARDEN (1918): HALLOWEEN NOVEL

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues.

Ghost GardenTHE GHOST GARDEN (1918) – Written by female author Amelie Rives. This story starts out in Colonial Virginia. Melany Horsemanden was almost legendary for her beauty but also for her mean-spirited nature and casual cruelty.

She had an elaborate dream-mansion constructed for herself and named it Her Wish. True love comes Melany’s way but her selfish and outrightly villainous nature drives away the only man who truly loved her, not just her wealth and beauty.

Horsemanden dies young and her ghost haunts the mansion for years. Eventually Evan Radford, a wealthy northern man, shows up and is so intrigued by the history of the deserted mansion Her Wish that he explores the grounds. Continue reading

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THE CENTENARIAN (1822): GOTHIC HORROR

CentenarianTHE CENTENARIAN (1822) – Written by THE Honore de Balzac. Thirty-one days of Halloween continue here at Balladeer’s Blog! The Centenarian or The Two Beringhelds was one of the “quickie” novels that Balzac wrote in his early career, this one under the pseudonym Horace de Saint-Aubin.  

Balzac himself looked down on The Centenarian and other early works that he churned out for quick money like the Pulp writers of a century later. Still, this work has value, just like the early Pulp stories from writers like Tennessee Williams, Dashiell Hammett and others. Plus I’m a Napoleon geek so I love immersing myself in the time period in which the novel is set.

The title character is really Count Maxime Beringheld Sculdans. The Centenarian was born in 1470 and led an adventurous life, supposedly even serving as a ship’s doctor when Columbus visited the New World. During his wanderings across the globe Count Maxime studied all the medicine and related sciences that he could.

Under the Rosicrucians the Centenarian learned various secrets of alchemy, including universal healing powers and immortality. Those last two secrets often worked hand in hand: Maxime would use his powers to mystically withdraw the illness or injury out of a sufferer but his “fee” was the draining of the life essence of another person in return. 

Honore de BalzacThe Centenarian leeches out the vitality of his victims but NOT by sucking out blood like a vampire. He drains their life force via alchemical means with his “medical” equipment. By the time of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, Count Maxime has grown a bit weary of his eternal life in typical Gothic style.  

In recent centuries our title character has devoted himself to secretly watching over his family line, mysteriously saving their lives or killing off their enemies at crucial periods. The Centenarian has most recently intervened in Spain during the Wars of the French Revolution, saving the life of his descendant General Tullius Beringheld.

Intrigued, Tullius seeks out information on his enigmatic savior and eventually learns the Centenarian’s true identity and about his supernatural nature. By this point (the 1790s) Maxime’s body is misshapen. His arms are emaciated but his torso and legs are thick and muscular.

He is unusually tall but the skin on his head is so thin that his  scalp and facial features resemble a living skull. He smells of the grave but his powers of healing make others treat him with fear and respect despite the awful fee he demands.  

The Centenarian’s additional powers include immunity to hanging and other forms of mortal injury. He has superhuman strength and his fiery eyes can induce fear, paralysis or death. He can read minds and teleport as well.   Continue reading

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THE WIZARD OF THE MOUNTAIN (1867): HALLOWEEN STORY

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues!

wizard of the mountainTHE WIZARD OF THE MOUNTAIN (1867) – Written by William Gilbert, father of THE W.S. Gilbert.

This book centers around the wizard Innominato (“Nameless One”) in Italy during the 1200s. Though sometimes classed as a novel this is technically a collection of episodes or short stories centering around the customers of the Innominato.

These figures pay the feared wizard for his services but dark twists often befall the customers anthology show style. Here are the individual episodes:

THE DOCTOR ONOFRIO – An evil lawyer (the doctor of the title, as in juris doctorate) wants the Innominato to magically grant him wealth and a restoration of his youth. The wizard agrees but warns the lawyer to change his ways. If he doesn’t, every malevolent act he commits will age him. The vile man’s behavior quickly ages him to death.

THE LAST LORDS OF GARDONAL – A sleazy nobleman lusts after a beautiful peasant girl but in his feverish pursuit accidentally kills her. He wants the wizard to bring the girl back to life. The Innominato does … but she turns out to be a vampire.

THE ROBBER CHIEF – A bandit comes into conflict with our sorcerer. The magician serves up a very cold revenge that goes beyond the grave. After he is killed the dead outlaw’s ghost is mystically condemned to haunt a palace until he has done sufficient penance for all of his evil acts in life.   Continue reading

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MUMMY STORY FOR HALLOWEEN – IRAS: A MYSTERY (1896)

Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues with this vintage mummy tale.

Iras A MysteryIRAS: A MYSTERY (1896) – This story was written by female author Henrietta Dorothy Everett under the pseudonym Theo Douglas. The setting is the 1880s.

Our main character, Egyptologist Ralph Lavenham, becomes haunted by Savak, an evil priest whose spirit was unleashed during a séance Lavenham attended. The spirit of this ancient Egyptian continues harassing our hero until he pieces together the fact that the ghost has an interest in a mummy that the Egyptologist owns. Continue reading

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