Here are the depths of fear and darkness, the furthest limits of agony in mind and body...

Born in the eighteenth century, the horror story produced a literature of terror filled with werewolves and vampires, and which borrowed many elements from its sister genre, the ghost story.

Many famous writers were tempted by it, including Maupassant, Poe, Gautier, Conan Doyle, L.P. Hartley and Ray Bradbury. In this excellent anthology Charles Cuddon has selected the best stories of all, spanning the whole period.

The Monk of horror, or The Conclave of corpses, by Anonymous —
The Astrologer's prediction, or The Maniac's fate, by Anonymous —
The expedition to Hell, by James Hogg —
Mateo Falcone, by Prosper Merimee —
The Case of M. Valdemar, by Edgar Allan Poe —
Le Grande Breteche, by Honore de Balzac —
The romance of certain old clothes, by Henry James —
Who knows?, by Guy de Maupassant —
The body snatcher, by Robert Louis Stevenson —
The death of Olivier Becaille, by Emile Zola —
The boarded window, by Ambrose Bierce —
Lost hearts, by M. R. James —
The sea-raiders, by H. G. Wells —
The derelict, by William Hope Hodgson —
Thurnley Abbey, by Perceval Landon —
The fourth man, by John Russell —
In the penal colony, by Franz Kafka —
The waxwork, by A. M. Burrage —
Mrs. Amworth, by E. F. Benson —
The reptile, by Augustus Muir —
Mr. Meldrum's Mania, by John Metcalfe —
The beast with five fingers, by William Fryer Harvey —
Dry September, by William Faulkner —
Couching at the door, by D. K. Broster —
The two bottles of relish, by Lord Dunsany —
The man who liked Dickens, by Evelyn Waugh —
Taboo, by Geoffrey Household —
The thought, by L. P. Hartley —
Comrade death, by Gerald Kersh —
Leningen versus the ants, by Carl Stephenson —
The brink of darkness, by Yvor Winters —
Activity time, by Monica Dickens —
Earth to Earth, by Robert Graves —
The dwarf, by Ray Bradbury —
The Portabello Road, by Muriel Spark —
No flies on Frank, by John Lennon —
Sister Coxall's revenge, by Dawn Muscillo —
Thou shalt not suffer a witch..., by Dorothy K. Haynes —
The terrapin, by Patricia Highsmith —
Man from the south, by Roald Dahl —
Uneasy home-coming, by Will F. Jenkins —
The Aquarist, by J. N. Allan —
An interview with M. Chakko, by Vilas Sarang

Cover illustration: Steve Crisp.