With the penultimate novel in the saga—Half-Blood Prince—we know that things must become much worse before they can become better and reach resolution in the seventh and last novel. We should thus expect that it will be chilling in unmatched fashion, and I shall argue that it’s the scariest of them all! Let’s take an eerie walk through the dark corners of Half-Blood Prince, to places seemingly devoid of light or hope . . . .
The month of October has arrived, and the spooks are creeping out of closets and from under beds, up from dark wells and out of spidery corners under juniper bushes. The pumpkins have come to harvest, Aberforth is doing even less cleaning out of cobwebs than usual, and it’s time to talk ghoulish things at the Pub!
This year, rather than picking themes for each week, we’re opening up the entire month to all things spooky and scary. Alongside regular posts, then, which should include Travis’ upcoming review for Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, the Blogengamot has been whispering rumors of ghost stories and dark fairy tales, sci-fi monsters and witch hunts, and talk of other things that might be caught going bump in the night. If you have suggestions, we’d love it if you leave them in the comments or send an E-Owl.
Grab your pointy black hat and your drink of choice–it’s a good season for pumpkin spirits–and let’s celebrate our Hog’s Head Halloween!
It’s a dark and stormy Halloween night at Hogwarts.
The wind keens, and the Whomping Willow churns and rustles. Fang’s lugubrious howls curl around a full moon hovering between silvery clouds. The Hogwarts ghosts flit silently throughout the still castle. Filch and Mrs. Norris prowl the halls, seeking miscreants.
Having feasted, Hogwarts students are now gathered around sprightly fires in their respective common rooms, telling spooky stories, as they toast marshmallows on long forks. You are one of them, and we want to hear your tale of terror from the wizarding world.
Regale us with a scary story, featuring characters known or unknown to us. It may be a wizard urban legend; a story passed down in magical families, a chilling new tale, or a retelling of something printed in the Quibbler. Adapt a Muggle story, if you wish. But your tale must take place in the wizarding world.
We’re waiting . . .
This year on October 31, the Hog’s Head Pubcast and Middle-Earth Radio are going to join forces for a Halloween evening broadcast (more details coming soon!) One of our plans is to read some spooky tales on the air, and here’s where you come in: we’d love suggestions of short works to read. What are your favorite Gothic and otherwise Halloweenish stories? For the broadcast, we’re looking for anything that’s in the public domain, or anything we could get the author’s permission to include.
Middle-Earth Radio has an actor whom we hope to have join us and do some of the reading. If any of you especially want to read on live radio, though, let us know. We just might be able to work that out.
Looking for that something special to give your undead other this Valentines? Look no further: Abigail Johnson at Tor.com has found 13+1 perfect gifts to scare the screaming heebie jeebies out of your dreaded ones.
Celebrate the holiday in style with a glass of Dracula Pinoit Noir from Vampire Vineyards, the perfect accompaniment to any romantic getaway, even if you never drink–vine. Or try hard to get Wolfsbane Soap–who knew that werewolves are allergic to shea butter? And if you’re just looking for a simple, heartfelt token, consider the Zombie Heart Pendant [pictured]. Ms. Johnson explains:
Is it a brain? Is it a heart? It’s a little of both!
The toxic zombie heart now in red!
The catch, of course, is this: all these products are priced in US Dollars, so if you’re on another currency there may be some exchange fees. And that’s it. Everything on the list is legitimately for sale. You can buy them if you want to. No gimmicks involved. The Vampire Teddy Bear is a little pricey, though.
So, if Valentine’s Day has been howling at the moon in frustration, howl no longer! Here’s the perfect way to show your undead ones you fear them.
Read and report–see anything you like?
If you want to see other thoughts and links to online copies of this story, you can go here.
My discussion assumes that you’ve read the story–that is, I don’t summarize it–but, if you haven’t, hopefully it will encourage you to.
Read my commentary, and discuss.
“Weeping and Howling”: Frame, Sex, and Otherness in “The Gray Wolf”
“The Gray Wolf” (1871) is among George MacDonald’s most complex and troubling tales. It contains at first blush little to startle the reader of gothic fiction—the blasé traveller who lost his way, the seductive she-werewolf, the growing sense of horror and threat. And yet it does not feel like a typical gothic tale. It leaves the reader puzzled, to return to it questioning.
On Thursday, I’ll be discussing George MacDonald’s spectacularly disturbing tale “The Gray Wolf” (1871). It’s classic Gothic, classic she-werewolf, but with some twists. For one thing, it’s set with truly evocative detail in the Shetland Islands. For another, the ending isn’t what you expect. Or what you think, the first few times you read it. It is not by any means a straightforward werewolf tale.
This isn’t exactly MacDonald’s best known work. So to get all you werecritics started on devouring this, here’s the full text online, in pdf. (Hat-tip to revgeorge for the link.) Or if–as I do–you prefer the weight and feel of a book, go out and get yourself a copy of The Portent & Other Stories. You won’t regret it.
Here’s a taster–no spoilers–to whet your appetite for a truly troubling tale:
Just a quick shout out on one of my favorite poems. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe was first published with his name attributed to it on this day in 1845. Very haunting and very Gothic. Anyway, if you’d like to read it, go here. If reading isn’t your thing, you can find a recording on Librivox here. If you want to see a video of Vincent Price reading The Raven, go down to the bottom of the wikipedia page on the poem and you’ll find it under external links/video. He does a dramatic reading of the poem, not literal, but hey it’s Vincent Price! And if you want to see the best adaptation of The Raven ever, go here for The Simpson’s Halloween special version. So, if you like really depressing, gothic poems, enjoy!!