Reading List

The Weird

The weird is a subgenre of horror and/or science fiction, focused less on monsters than on the creation of strange atmospheres and encounters with the mysterious. I'm looking, specifically, for weird fiction that also considers the land (or other pagan or pastoral themes); but this means I read a lot of general weird fiction along the way, and this is my list for that. The best-known writer of weird fiction is, of course, H.P. Lovecraft - whom, for political reasons, I intend to exclude from the reading list in future - once I have enough alternative recommendations for weird and cosmic things. Unfortunately, these texts tend to be niche (by which I mean pricey), and i'm not yet an expert in the genre to know where to look. So, your patience in this is appreciated.

Ghost Stories (2016) - EF Benson

Book | Unread. One of a set of books from a publisher of niche short stories. I love Lovecraft, but quite desperately want to Not Recommend Him As Official Here - for obvious reasons - so this is on my to-read list in the hope of finding more Weird Fiction that is a better fit (and, preferably, to get some more women on the reading list as well). A review

The Centaur (1911) - Algernon Blackwood

Book | Unread. One of a lot of Blackwood books I have on my e-reader. I'm enjoying Blackwood a lot, and it's all on Project Gutenberg.

The Human Chord (1910) - Algernon Blackwood


Book | Great read. The use of sound in weird fiction, to represent uncanny presences which are both impactful yet formless, surely starts here; and the mood of this text is Kabbalistic, with a specifically brilliant depiction of what that might look and feel like. SolarLunar/LunarStellar. Inessential, but invigorating, and also I sedoretu-ship it.

The King in Yellow (1895) - Robert W. Chambers

Book | Short story collection later linked into the Cthulu mythos; more decadent macabre than weird, and overall quite underwhelming. Only one of any potential interest is The Demoiselle d'Ys; but overall, Chambers' inability to write women, meandering style, and lack of Fencraft-specific interest dominates. Also, some spine-curdling racism on like literally page two. One to avoid.

the Collected Lord Dunsany (1878-1957) - Lord Dunsany

Book | Unread. Dunsany is one writer named by Lovecraft as the greatest in weird fiction, the supernatural and horror. I am trying to build a list of authors to form an alternative to using the word "Lovecraftian" and recommending his works, for obvious reasons. Dusnany was also an influence on Tolkien; so a man worth reading up on!

The Complete M.R. James (1862-1936) - M.R. James


Book | Influential ghost-weird writer, all reclusive clergymen discovering something horrifying and stories that creep up on you. Much-adapted as the Ghost Stories for Christmas series. I have the newest selection of his works available in print, and hope to make a better list of especially recommended selections soon. View from a Hill, Warning to the Curious and the Ash Tree - off the top of my head. And Number 13 I just like a lot. Worth reading one at a time, and uninterrupted - very scary stuff. So far, though, not notably pagan - in the way that, say, Machen is. It's more forgotten things in archives and buildings, which is landweirdy too in its own way.

The Great Return (1915) - Arthur Machen


Book | I really enjoyed this; creepy goings on in a little village and the far beyond - but it's not notably weird or pagan.

The Villa and The Vortex (2021) - Elinor Mordaunt

Book | Unread. One of a set of books from a publisher of niche short stories.

British Weird. Selected Short Fiction, 1893-1937 (2020) -

Book | Unread. One of a set of books from a publisher of niche short stories.

Unquiet spirits: the lost female ghost-story writers returning to haunt us (2020) -

Booklet | Article discussing little-known women ghost writers.Review

Women's Weird (2019) -

Book | Unread. One of a set of books from a publisher of niche short stories.

Women’s Weird 2. More Strange Stories by Women, 1891-1937 (2021) -

Book | Unread. One of a set of books from a publisher of niche short stories.

Supernatural Horror in Literature (1933-1935) - H.P. Lovecraft


Article | Lovecraft is the best known writer of weird fiction; but not the first, and in this scholarly essay he talks through the writers of supernatural horror preceding him. It's not an essential read, however I have pulled some very good quotes out of it, as well as a number of valuable recommendations to follow up. In general, given Lovecraft's personal politics, the hope in the future is that I can produce a Reading List of weird fiction with zero works by H.P. That's a work in progress, but if you'd like to get ahead of me this essay is a good startpoint.

The Call of Cthulhu (1928) - H.P. Lovecraft


Book | The weird is Stellar, and for many people, Lovecraft is their entry and understanding of what the weird is. Generally, however, his stories are not the best source of landweirdy, rural or British lore. Call of Cthulu is one of the better stories in this regard, concerning a slumbering being slowly awakening in the awareness of seekers and artists. Plus, we love some good fear of the sea here. As noted elsewhere, my ultimate goal is to have no works by Lovecraft on the syllabus; but I'm stymied by my lack of access to (often rare, often expensive) books of weird fiction. So, while Lovecraft is most people's first touchpoint for what "weird fiction" is - know it ought not to be your last, and there's a big corpus to explore.

Do Not Disturb (1991) - Nicholas Renton


Serial | Really nice film. A couple try and run a walking tour in a little Norfolk village, dedicated to the works of a little-known woman writer of weird fiction. Nicely scripted ensemble piece, and rather like The Ghost Room, it is a meta-reflection on the figure of the narrator and the horror writer. Also, an early Peter Capaldi film. Creepy. Not essential, but a really good example of weird landscape fiction, and a good watch.

The Ice House (1978) - John Bowen


Serial | Unsettling, erotic, measured and satisfying goings on at the stately home/spa. Entry in the Ghost Story for Christmas series; for completionists only.