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An Anthology of Woodland Tales


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Tales of dark and scary forests are older than history itself. World literature – especially fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction – has seemingly always recognized woodlands as a zone that emulates the frightful shadows of the human heart, in which lurk unseen monsters and unnoticed traps. The forest harbors both an archetypal attraction – of freedom and sincerity – and an archetypal horror – of chaos and evil. While modern man may find solace in a weekend camping trip, there is still a small part of our evolved brain which shivers at the sight of trees blocking out the sun. They represent the loss of civilization and order, the reign of savage Nature and merciless Fate. The woods allow us to reconnect with our roots, but they also threaten to undo the work of society: to turn boys into monsters, men into murderers, and brave souls into cowering sheep.


​The stories in this book sample from classic tales of horror and the supernatural – and all are set in the untamed wild. There are stories of alternate dimensions, portals to bewitching worlds, haunted houses surrounded by tangled trees, demon-possessed campers running off into the night, canoers fighting for their life against otherworldly forces, headless horsemen lurking in swamps, Satanic orgies among the thorny brambles, hikers spirited away without a sound, children seduced by witch cults, werewolves shifting behind the trees, and ghosts peering through campfire flames. These are classic tales from the pens of Ambrose Bierce, Algernon Blackwood, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and other masters of horror. They are tales of man versus nature, of camping trips from hell, and of the almost hopeless fight to survive the woods.


As dear as they may be to us, as much as Wordsworth and Thoreau adored them, and as much as our souls swell at the sight of unfettered Nature, we still recognize the woodlands as our natural enemy. They threaten to harbor wild beasts, to discombobulate our sense of directon, to sever us from our secure communities, and to ensnare us in a world of savage misrule. I personally recommend that everyone spend time in nature – breathe the air under trees and see the sky reflected in a woodland pond – but the next time you go camping, take this book with you. Wait until the shadows have dropped and the light through the overhead branches is purple and dim. Light a fire in front of you and a lantern at your side. Read these classic stories of sylvan dread as the shadows shift around your campfire. I promise that it will deliver a truly rustic camping experience…

Ulalume – Edgar Allan Poe                                                       


— Temptations in the Wilderness —

The Dead Valley – Ralph Adams Cram                                      

The White People – Arthur Machen                                         

Young Goodman Brown – Nathaniel Hawthorne             

Roger Malvin’s Burial – Nathaniel Hawthorne                                

The Devil and Tom Walker – Washington Irving               


— That Dark Old House in the Woods —

The Suitable Surroundings – Ambrose Bierce                          

A Haunted Island – Algernon Blackwood                            

Tailypo – Appalachian Traditional                                      

Some Haunted Houses – Ambrose Bierce                                 


— Camping Trips from Hell —

The Willows – Algernon Blackwood                                     

The Wendigo  – Algernon Blackwood                                    

To Build a Fire – Jack London                                                     

The Camp of the Dog – Algernon Blackwood                       

The Valley of the Beasts – Algernon Blackwood                   


— There’s Something Off About These Woods —

The Eyes of the Panther – Ambrose Bierce                                                

The Thing in the Forest – Bernard Capes                                   

Rip Van Winkle – Washington Irving                                    

The Boarded Window – Ambrose Bierce                                  

The Damned Thing – Ambrose Bierce                                      

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving 



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