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Romance has always had a dark side: something sinister, possessive, even fatal lurks behind the desire to attract and be attracted. For centuries something spiritual – even supernatural – has been suspected in the ways of lovers in the night. Shakespeare called love-making “the beast with two backs”; in many ages the monomaniacal lust of a man for one woman has been blamed on witchcraft; the French refer to the sleep that follows intercourse as “le petite mort” – the little death. There is a night-side to our amours: a dark, animalistic release that takes place when we are alone with our love, drenched with shadows and candlelight. Something vestigial and primitive about romance returns us to our less civilized forms, and for some of us, it is one of the few moments that we can genuinely sense our relationship to infinity and the realm of spirits. Consequently, romance has become one of the most prominent themes in Gothic fiction: from “Dracula” to “The Phantom of the Opera,” from “Wuthering Heights” to “The Raven,” nothing bridges the gap between reality and imagination, the physical and the spiritual, quite so nimbly as carnal attraction; and no genre is more capable of deconstructing these emotions quite so nimbly as horror.

The collection presented here offers samples of some of the greatest romantic ghost stories and supernatural fiction from the Golden Age of Horror. There are tales of ghostly highwaymen, resurrected vampires, Deceased lovers returning from the grave, marriages between ghosts and the living, marriages between skeptics and decapitated corpses, attractions struck up after breaking into haunted houses, attractions frustrated by hereditary curses, abductions by demon lovers, abductions by possessive spirits, abductions by vengeful ghosts, romantic waltzes with the Grim Reaper in female form, revenge had by jilted lovers, revenge had by murdered rivals, revenge had by deceased wives, romances with revived Egyptian slave girls, romances with cursed mummies, romances with enchanted portraits, romances across dimensions of time and space, tragedies involving poor communication between the genders, tragedies involving hypnosis, tragedies involving unintended affairs, and tragedies involving assault by animated statues. Oh, and much, much more. If your Valentine has a taste for the macabre and the romantic, pair this book with your roses and your box of chocolates. And make sure the chocolate is dark – very dark.

— Plaintive Poems —

The Highwayman – Alfred Noyes                                       

Lenore – G. A. Bürger                                                                 

Annabel Lee – Edgar Allan Poe                                           

A Dream Within a Dream – Edgar Allan Poe               

Ulalume – Edgar Allan Poe                                                  

La Belle Dame Sans Merci – John Keats                             


— Haunted Hearts —

The Woman’s Ghost Story – Algernon Blackwood      

The Way It Came – Henry James                                           

Olalla – Robert Louis Stevenson                                     

The Bridal Pair – Robert W. Chambers                            

The Spectre Bridegroom – Washington Irving                 

The Haunted Inheritance – E. Nesbit                                     


— Courting Corpses —

The Adventure of the German Student – W. Irving                 

Schalken the Painter – J. Sheridan Le Fanu                      

Ultor de Lacy – J. Sheridan Le Fanu                                   

John Charrington’s Wedding – E. Nesbit                              

Laura Silver Bell – J. Sheridan Le Fanu                           

The Dance of Death – Algernon Blackwood                 


— Vengeful Valentines —

Man Overboard!  – F. Marion Crawford                            

The Captain of the Polestar – Arthur Conan Doyle     

Sir Edmund Orme – Henry James                                         

The Cold Embrace – Mary E. Braddon                                

Ligeia – Edgar Allan Poe                                                      

The Coming of Abel Behenna  – Bram Stoker                      


— Heartbreaking Horrors —

Man-Size in Marble – E. Nesbit                                              

The Oval Portrait – Edgar Allan Poe                                

The Bohemian – Fitz-James O’Brien                                  

From the Dead – E. Nesbit                                                       

The Shadow – E. Nesbit                                                             

Poor Pretty Bobby – Rhoda Broughton

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