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The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

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Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The co Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “one of the finest horror stories of [the twentieth] century,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation–and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers–and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. In these and other lavishly illustrated classics, such as the revenge nightmare “Worms of the Earth” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” Howard spins tales of unrelenting terror, the legacy of one of the world’s great masters of the macabre.


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Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The co Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “one of the finest horror stories of [the twentieth] century,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation–and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers–and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. In these and other lavishly illustrated classics, such as the revenge nightmare “Worms of the Earth” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” Howard spins tales of unrelenting terror, the legacy of one of the world’s great masters of the macabre.

30 review for The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.K. Grice

    What I loved about this collection were the horror stories dealing more with the occult than you might find in a usual horror anthology. The illustrations are also beautifully done. Some of these stories were the best I have ever read, in any genre. It was a tragedy that we lost Robert E. Howard at such a young age.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    Narrated by Robertson Dean Description: Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “ Narrated by Robertson Dean Description: Here are Howard’s greatest horror tales, all in their original, definitive versions. Some of Howard’s best-known characters–Solomon Kane, Bran Mak Morn, and sailor Steve Costigan among them–roam the forbidding locales of the author’s fevered imagination, from the swamps and bayous of the Deep South to the fiend-haunted woods outside Paris to remote jungles in Africa. The collection includes Howard’s masterpiece “Pigeons from Hell,” which Stephen King calls “one of the finest horror stories of [the twentieth] century,” a tale of two travelers who stumble upon the ruins of a Southern plantation–and into the maw of its fatal secret. In “Black Canaan” even the best warrior has little chance of taking down the evil voodoo man with unholy powers–and none at all against his wily mistress, the diabolical High Priestess of Damballah. In these and other lavishly illustrated classics, such as the revenge nightmare “Worms of the Earth” and “The Cairn on the Headland,” Howard spins tales of unrelenting terror, the legacy of one of the world’s great masters of the macabre. Under a couple of the titles I have left a link, which gives you this entire book online for free. (view spoiler)[In the Forest of Villefère A Song of Werewolf Folk Wolfshead Up John Kane! Remembrance The Dream Snake Sea Ghost The Moor Ghost Moon Mockery The Little People Dead Man's Hate The Tavern Rattle of Bones The Fear That Follows The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux Cassonetto's Last Song The Touch of Death Out of the Deep A Legend of Faring Town Restless Waters The Shadow of the Beast The Dead Slaver's Tale Dermod's Bane The Hills of the Dead Dig Me No Grave The Song of a Mad Minster The Children of the Night Musings The Black Stone The Thing on the Roof The Dweller in Dark Valley The Horror from the Mo A Dull Sound as of Knock People of the Dark Delenda Est The Cairn on the Headland Worms of the Earth ...Four The Symbol The Valley of the Lost The Hoofed Thing The Noiseless Terror The Dweller Under The An Open Window Whether the Cavern The Man on the Ground Old Garfield's Ghost Kelly the Conjure-Man Black Canaan My Agitation To A Woman One Who Comes at Eventite The Haunter of the Ring Pigeons From Hell The Snake's Bro The Dead Remember The Fire of Asshurbanipal Spectres in the Dark The House (hide spoiler)] From wiki: Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. Halloween 2015 reads: #1: 3* Nobody True by James Herbert: fraudio #2: 4* The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard: fraudio #3: 1* Brain Child by John Saul: fraudio #4: 3* Domain (Rats #3) by James Herbert: fraudio #5: 3* The Mourning Vessels by Peter Luther: paperback #6: 2* The Doom of the Great City: ebook short-story #7: 5* Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury: fraudio #8: 5* The Dead Zone by Stephen King: fraudio #9: TR The Chalice: hardback #10: TR Seven Gothic Tales: ebook #11: TR Tales of Men and Ghosts #12: 2* Shattered by Dean Koontz: fraudio #13: 5*The Dunwich Horror: ebook

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I vacillated constantly between 3 and 4 stars for this book. When it's good it's great. Howard can spin terror to a hair fine thread that like the "monomolecular" wire in some Science fiction stories can cut straight through. Unfortunately all the stories in this volume don't quite make it to that level. But, I believe that the fright out weighs the "slight". I own collections of Conan, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn...so some of the stories here aren't new to me. I will probably try to run this I vacillated constantly between 3 and 4 stars for this book. When it's good it's great. Howard can spin terror to a hair fine thread that like the "monomolecular" wire in some Science fiction stories can cut straight through. Unfortunately all the stories in this volume don't quite make it to that level. But, I believe that the fright out weighs the "slight". I own collections of Conan, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn...so some of the stories here aren't new to me. I will probably try to run this book down and add it to my collection. I took it out of the library twice and there are usually people waiting on it. This is a book to be picked up now and again and savored, not read through quickly and taken back. In these pages you'll meet reptilian horrors, lycanthropes, demonic terrors and...humans, possibly the worst of the lot. Evils from out of time and alternate dimensions death and worse than death creep through the entire tome. Yes there are a few negatives, a few stories that don't measure up (or poems). At first I was a little afraid we'd quickly O.D. on werewolves as the first 2 tales take us down that road, but not to worry...things quickly get weirder (more weird?). But, mostly the book is packed with the kind of frights you're/we're probably looking for. We see mentions of dark and evil books, ones we're aware of (if we've read others, like Lovecraft) and a couple of Howard's own imagining. We find stories of evil and even redemption...so, four stars. WARNING: By the way. This is a collections from the 1930s so there are a couple of non-PC words used including a couple of times the "milder" of the older racial terms is used. Not a good thing, but a product of its time. Just wanted anyone who chooses to read it not to be surprised.

  4. 5 out of 5

    H. P.

    Up, John Kane, the grey night’s falling; The sun’s sunk in blood and the fog comes crawling; From hillside to hill the grey wolves are calling; Will ye come, will ye come, John Kane? Tor’s Conan pastiches was no way to step away from Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories. I enjoyed them—the Robert Jordan and John Maddox Roberts pastiches, at least—but I need a bit more of the real thing before moving on. And with Halloween around the corner? Del Rey’s collection The Horror of Robert E. Howard wa Up, John Kane, the grey night’s falling; The sun’s sunk in blood and the fog comes crawling; From hillside to hill the grey wolves are calling; Will ye come, will ye come, John Kane? Tor’s Conan pastiches was no way to step away from Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories. I enjoyed them—the Robert Jordan and John Maddox Roberts pastiches, at least—but I need a bit more of the real thing before moving on. And with Halloween around the corner? Del Rey’s collection The Horror of Robert E. Howard was the perfect hair of the dog. I don’t know that The Horror of Robert E. Howard is the best introduction to Howard. Conan remains well known and relevant for a reason. And, of course, Solomon Kane has his partisans. I really want to get to the Bran Mak Morn stories, and I have a collection of Howard’s Breckinridge Elkins stories. But The Horror of Robert E. Howard might be the best volume to pick up after your first introduction to Robert E. Howard. If you don’t start with Solomon Kane, here is an introduction to the Puritan crusader. Howard’s occult detectives Conrad and Kirowan make multiple appearances. Howard was also a very fine poet, and a number of his poems are included. The stories tend toward the short end of the scale; this is an ideal book to pick up in the evening after each day of work as All Hallows’ Eve approaches, the bite of the coming winter begins to infiltrate the autumn air, and the onset of darkness encroaches a little further each night. You can see H.P. Lovecraft’s influence over Howard in these stories, as you would expect. Both in the Conrad and Kirowan stories and the multiple stories set in the seaside Faring Town. But this is Howard. He prefers his heroes and heroines to be heavy on agency. The book is filled with characters who things like, “Somehow, I will slay the man who kills me, though my corpse climb up forty fathoms of ocean to do it.” And if a suspected witch needs to lay down a curse? She isn’t going with some mealy-mouthed, half-hearted curse. No, she is going to curse with gusto: “‘The curse of the Foul Fiend upon you, John Kulrek!’ she screamed. ‘The curse of God rest upon your vile soul throughout eternity! May you gaze on sights that shall sear the eyes of you and scorch the soul of you! May you die a bloody death and writhe in hell’s flames for a million and a million and yet a million years! I curse you by sea and by land, by earth and by air, by the demons of the oceans and the demons of the swamplands, the fiends of the forest and the goblins of the hills! And you’ – her lean finger stabbed at Lie-lip Canool and he started backward, his face paling – ‘you shall be the death of John Kulrek and he shall be the death of you! You shall bring John Kulrek to the doors of hell and John Kulrek shall bring you to the gallows-tree! I set the seal of death upon your brow, John Kulrek! You shall live in terror and die in horror far out upon the cold gray sea! But the sea that took the soul of innocence to her bosom shall not take you, but shall fling forth your vile carcass to the sands! Aye, John Kulrek’ – and she spoke with such a terrible intensity that the drunken mockery on the man’s face changed to one of swinish stupidity – ‘the sea roars for the victim it will not keep! There is snow upon the hills, John Kulrek, and ere it melts your corpse will lie at my feet. And I shall spit upon it and be content.’” Now that is a curse! (From the Sea Curse.) Howard isn’t just writing Lovecraftian fiction, mind you. There are werewolves and vampires and ghosts (oh my!). Howard puts his own spin on each. His take on werewolves and his take on vampires are worth lifting for contemporary works. They are certainly more interesting than much of the contemporary canon (especially for werewolves, who have been underserved). But there is also plenty of room to flesh them out further. The ghost stories are a good reminder that Howard was as inspired or more by Texas folklore as by Lovecraft. These stories, in particular, remind me of those that I grew up with. (And remind me that Weird Tales also published stuff like the Silver John stories.) The Dream Snake and The Shadow of the Beast would fit in some of the volumes off my shelves (and my parents’ shelves before that, and my grandparents’ shelves before that). The only anomaly being that one features a giant snake and one the ghost of an ape. Because this is Howard, after all. There are two Solomon Kane stories in the selection I read—Rattle of Bones and The Hills of the Dead. I am a big fan of both, so I see the collected Solomon Kane stories in my near future. The Hills of the Dead provides the image for the cover art. Some themes reoccur. One in particular that struck me was a deep sibling love for a sister (philia, nor eros, this isn’t GRRM we’re talking about here). Howard touches on it in The Little People and returns to it in Dermod’s Bane. Howard was an only child, and you get the sense he regretted not having a sibling. It doesn’t stop him from writing powerfully and poignantly on the subject. In case you’re wondering who Howard’s horror influences are, he gives us a pretty good clue when a character identifies Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu, Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, and Machen’s Black Seal as master horror tales. (And in Howard’s world, erudite men don’t blush at serious discussion of horror in the salon.) A character called Conan of the reavers appears in the (excellent) People of the Dark. Howard would use that name again. Delenda Est and The Cairn of the Headland are historical, supernatural horror, and each has a nice twist to it that really leverages the history. There are two stories in particular from this chunk of the book that are worth discussing: Worms of the Earth and The Valley of the Lost. Worms of the Earth is my first Bran Mak Morn tale. Before picking this collection up for a little HallowRead, my intuition was to go from Conan to Bran Mak Morn. It was a good intuition, though. Bran Mak Morn is a Pict king during the twilight of his people, fighting the encroachment of the Roman Empire. I always loved Howard’s depiction of the Picts in his Conan stories. Bran Mak Morn is no Conan, though. He is more normal in stature, and distinctly wolfish. Where Conan might have lashed out immediately when a Roman governor crucified his countryman (if he even cared that it was one of his countrymen), Bran Mak Morn coldly plots revenge. And to get it, he goes straight to dabbling in the black arts, negotiating with a degenerate, fae race dwelling underground to strike at his foes. “‘Bran, there are weapons too foul to use, even against Rome!’ Bran barked short and sharp as a jackal. ‘Ha! There are no weapons I would not use against Rome! My back is at the wall. By the blood of the fiends, has Rome fought me fair? Bah! I am a barbarian king with a wolfskin mantle and an iron crown, fighting with my handful of bows and broken pikes against the queen of the world. What have I? The heather hills, the wattle huts, the spears of my shock-headed tribesmen! And I fight Rome – with her armored legions, her broad fertile plains and rich seas – her mountains and her rivers and her gleaming cities – her wealth, her steel, her gold, her mastery and her wrath. By steel and fire I will fight her – and by subtlety and treachery – by the thorn in the foot, the adder in the path, the venom in the cup, the dagger in the dark; aye,’ his voice sank somberly, ‘and by the worms of the earth.’” I’ve seen Howard crowned the king and inventor of the Weird Western, and after reading The Valley of the Lost, I know why. The Valley of the Lost is just about a perfect story in every way (although the prose is a little pedestrian for Howard). The structure, the tension, the payoff, the twists, the worldbuilding. Howard does a phenomenal twist on the zombie. Again, if you’re looking for new ideas about old monsters, Howard riffed on all the big ones. And none of them sparkle. Howard again features a degenerate race grown stunted in their pursuit of wickedness, their glory and millennia of evil behind them. All against the backdrop of the red Texas sun, leather-skinned cowboys, and bloody red Texas feuds. It is a very personal story, both in how it ends, the setting, and lines like this: “John Reynolds was a man of the outlands and the waste places. He had never seen the great cities of the world. But he knew that nowhere in the world today such a city reared up to the sky.” Robert E. Howard never got very far from Crossplains, Texas, but imagined things that nowhere in the world had anyone quite imagined just the same. The weird westerns are highlights. There are three in the last third of the book—The Man on the Ground, Old Garfield’s Heart, and The Dead Remember—and all three are tremendous yarns. Howard was just much better when he was playing in his sandbox instead of in Lovecraft’s. This section of the book also contains a pretty good barbarian, sword and sorcery story, The House of Arabu. This section also contains a story, The Hoofed Thing, that, like his Conan story Beyond the Black River, gives a prominent role to a heroic dog. I saw a blogger characterize Black Canaan as “the most racist short story I have ever read, but also one of the most effective short stories.” As to the first assertion, I can’t agree, even if I only look at stories from this collection. The racial politics are baked into the story, but that will be true of any story set in the rural Deep South in the decades after the Civil War, at least if it is written with any realism. The surface level stuff like social structure and language isn’t jarring. Much more jarring is the language that Howard uses in some of the earlier stories in the collection—language more likely to reflect Howard’s own views. We see this language even where Howard shows some sympathy toward the African-American character, such as in The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux. It is very in your face. (Although when Howard describes Ace Jessel’s opponent as “the very spirit of the morass of barbarism from which mankind has so tortuously climbed,” we know Howard had complex views towards barbarians.) But the really troubling attitude comes up in some of his other stories, particularly The Children of the Night. The racism of The Children of the Night isn’t the visceral racism of the rural South, but the erudite racism of well-educated 19th century American sophisticates. The story opens Kirowan, Conrad, and four others casually discussing skull formation. Pseudo-science like phrenology would power the eugenics movement and be welcomed with open arms by the Progressive movement. Progressive hero Oliver Wendell Holmes would write what might be the most shocking statement ever laid down in a Supreme Court opinion when he rationalized that “three generations of imbeciles is enough” in giving a constitutional ok to forced sterilization of “mental defectives.” We’ve largely memory-holed it, but these were mainstream views—at least among our would-be aristocrats—until the horrors of the Third Reich put a spotlight on the natural end of that particular road. Howard, then, shows not just the prejudices of his geography but also those of his intellectual class. As to the latter assertion, I wholeheartedly agree that Black Canaan is tremendously effective. It’s one of the longer stories in the collection, but I blew through it and it felt like quite a short story. Howard is masterful at slowly ratcheting up the tension throughout the story. As the blogger noted, the role of race in the story makes it more effective as horror, not less, and the entire thing is delightfully creepy. So now that I’m done, how does Robert E. Howard’s horror measure up? The first question to ask: measure up to what? I am woefully under read in horror. I would take Robert E. Howard over the Stephen King I’ve read. But I haven’t read Edgar Alan Poe since high school, and I haven’t read H.P. Lovecraft at all. I read The Turning of the Screw a few years ago, and it bored me to tears. I’m hardly the best judge of horror. It has never grabbed me as a genre. But I did love these stories. I particularly loved Howard’s weird westerns, and introductions to Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn have me excited to grab those collections. None of these alone will supplant Conan for me (yet), but this collection shows Howard undeniably had serious range as a writer. As with their other Howard collections, the good people at Del Rey packed The Horror of Robert E. Howard with original art.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    OK, there's an elephant in the room, so let's just deal with that first. Robert E. Howard lived, and wrote, in rural Texas in the 1920s and 1930s, so some of his racial and gender portrayals are ... well ... not great. Not actively vicious, necessarily, but containing some very unfortunate stereotypes and the occasional cringe-worthy use of dialect. All of which is amplified by the fact that most of the stories take place in contemporary settings, and many are first-person narrated by people who OK, there's an elephant in the room, so let's just deal with that first. Robert E. Howard lived, and wrote, in rural Texas in the 1920s and 1930s, so some of his racial and gender portrayals are ... well ... not great. Not actively vicious, necessarily, but containing some very unfortunate stereotypes and the occasional cringe-worthy use of dialect. All of which is amplified by the fact that most of the stories take place in contemporary settings, and many are first-person narrated by people who are, well, products of their time. "Black Canaan", while quite effective as a horror story, and "Kelly the Conjure-Man" are probably the worst offenders in that regard. So now that we've got that out of the way ... As per the title, these are all horror stories of one stripe or another; mostly with contemporary settings (rural Texas or Louisiana in the 1920s, plus one haunted boxing ring), but also with some historical settings -- a fair number of "gothic" tales on the moors of the British Isles, one or two Westerns (an era which, at the time of Howard's writing, was much less removed than it is now), and a few medieval or even ancient stories. Some of Howard's recurring characters make appearances -- Bran Mak Morn in "Worms of the Earth" and Solomon Kane in "The Hills of the Dead". Many of the stories are short -- just a few pages with a final line in italics because of the unutterable horror and surprise! -- but in a few he was able to stretch out at a bit more length -- the aforementioned "Black Canaan" and "Pigeons from Hell" (possibly the best story in the book?) in particular. The book also includes a healthy assortment of Howard's poetry, and closes with a handful of fragments of varying degrees of length & polish. I have to say that personally I kind of prefer Howard when he's being more historical or writing sword & sorcery. My favorite new-to-me story in this book was probably "The House of Arabu", a horror story set in ancient Sumeria. Definitely worth checking out -- I still really enjoy Howard's prose style -- despite the caveats above. Probaby closer to a 3.5 than a 3, if only GR allowed half-stars ...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Barrett

    2.5 I grew up reading Howards work and loved his sword and sorcery tales, but this collection of horror stories didn't thrill me. Maybe if I was still 12.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Warning: Delving into this one too deeply may lead to REH overload. Here we find that when Howard crosses into Howard all of the peculiarities of his writing style are greatly intensified-both all that is good and all that is bad-making the contents of this book almost too intense to read, except in short snippets. I could not stand more than two or three stories in a single sitting. One thing this collestion makes clear is that Howard's particular style of purple prose is best suited for the gen Warning: Delving into this one too deeply may lead to REH overload. Here we find that when Howard crosses into Howard all of the peculiarities of his writing style are greatly intensified-both all that is good and all that is bad-making the contents of this book almost too intense to read, except in short snippets. I could not stand more than two or three stories in a single sitting. One thing this collestion makes clear is that Howard's particular style of purple prose is best suited for the genre he created, that peculiar mix of fantasy, adventure and horror that came to be called swords & sorcery. In other settings it a bit much. He's at his best writing of an adventure in some fantasy realm half Arabian Nights, half Lovecraft. At that the man was simply brilliant. Anywhere else his prose is trying to fit ten pounds of content into an eight pound story. It does not fit. (And sometimes is a four letter word that rhymes with fit.) The farther he got from the real world the better he got. Sadly, good horror is too often best when presented in a setting very close to the real world. I offer the caution that some of these stories reflect social attitudes not acceptable today. The man was a product of his times, and in reading his failings seem to be born more of ignorance than spite. In some was it makes REH all the more fascinating, that such an imagination could have sprung up in an otherwise un-notable small town in Depression era Texas.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jefferson

    The Pulpy Horror Just Beneath and Within Us The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (2008) features at least 20 poems and 35 stories (including a few unfinished ones) written for pulp magazines in the 1920s and 30s. Howard's horror displays his energetic and wide-ranging imagination, being set in various genres, including historical, western, adventure, boxing, and Lovecraftian horror, in various locales, including Texas, New England, France, Ireland, and Africa, and in various eras, from ancient The Pulpy Horror Just Beneath and Within Us The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard (2008) features at least 20 poems and 35 stories (including a few unfinished ones) written for pulp magazines in the 1920s and 30s. Howard's horror displays his energetic and wide-ranging imagination, being set in various genres, including historical, western, adventure, boxing, and Lovecraftian horror, in various locales, including Texas, New England, France, Ireland, and Africa, and in various eras, from ancient times through the 20th century. He imagined many kinds of horrible supernatural phenomena, including werewolves, witches, ghosts, zombies, vampires, animated skeletons, and tentacular toad gods; possession, curses, sorcery, and demonology; and haunted portraits, dangerous books, soul-snatching opera records, and divine heart transplants. The collection is uneven. Among the stronger stories are "Rattle of Bones" (in which Solomon Kane meets a notorious brigand, a deranged inn keeper, and a sorcerer's skeleton), "The Horror from the Mound" (in which an ancient vampire invades the western genre), "Worms of the Earth" (in which devolved, serpentine "little people" play a key roll in a Pictish revenge plot against Roman occupiers), "The Hoofed Thing" (in which pets and people go missing after a reclusive researcher moves into the neighborhood), "Black Canaan" (in which sexy skull dances and scary zombie magic make the white ruling class nervous in the swampy south), and "Pigeons from Hell" (in which Howard achieves an American gothic masterpiece with an interesting play on race and place). Although Howard's ideas about racial identity, purity, and ranking are repugnant, he also wrote stories in which a brutal, racist cowboy gets his just deserts or in which the white Puritan Solomon Kane and his African juju blood brother team up to fight vampire zombies. Because Howard's horror loses potency once the horrible being or secret or artifact is described or revealed or used, the unfinished miscellanea that conclude the collection are among its strongest pieces. In "The House," for example, the narrator investigates what happened to the half-mad poet Justin Geoffrey when he was a boy to make him so different from his normal family and concludes that it has to do with the locked house featured in an ominous painting by a strange artist. Robertson Dean does a great job reading everything in the audiobook, wielding his deep and rich voice so as to endow the horror with gravitas and believability (perhaps more than the text will really bear). Although Howard's characters usually stumble upon things that tear asunder the thin veneer of civilization or the fragile veil of reality, plunging them into "nameless horror" and black abysses, often the most horrible things in his stories are human beings, being greedy, treacherous, vengeful, and violent. Though his stories are rarely really scary, many are morbidly fascinating, and the best transcend their pulp origins and attain a macabre grandeur and a disturbing depth.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sadie

    When Howard is focused on the story, he's amazing. He can make you feel chills of creeping horror when he puts his mind to it. He can make you see and feel what it is he's writing about. But that isn't to say you'll be getting a lot of that out of him. He was a prolific author, and the stories in this collection range from amazing to downright boring. Worth reading at least once, because when he's good, he's really good. A topic that got rather old, to me, was his insistence on writing about race When Howard is focused on the story, he's amazing. He can make you feel chills of creeping horror when he puts his mind to it. He can make you see and feel what it is he's writing about. But that isn't to say you'll be getting a lot of that out of him. He was a prolific author, and the stories in this collection range from amazing to downright boring. Worth reading at least once, because when he's good, he's really good. A topic that got rather old, to me, was his insistence on writing about race, particularly how superior he felt the Aryan race was. I know, it was the 20's and 30's, but that's hardly an excuse for his constantly bringing it up, particularly when it had no bearing whatsoever with the story. He brought it up so often, in so many stories, that it was headache-inducing from how often I rolled my eyes. He's a great author, just not all the time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    If you're a fan of Robert E. Howard you'll surely love this massive collection of his short horror stories. I read some review that said there isn't much horror in them. Well, there is a lot of action, something Howard was always a master of, but there is certainly horror if your definition of that term is broad. Howard's horror spans the gaps between ghosts, werewolves, ancient haunted tombs, eerie pine lands, and many more. There's a lot of Lovecraftian elements here, and lots of eerie western If you're a fan of Robert E. Howard you'll surely love this massive collection of his short horror stories. I read some review that said there isn't much horror in them. Well, there is a lot of action, something Howard was always a master of, but there is certainly horror if your definition of that term is broad. Howard's horror spans the gaps between ghosts, werewolves, ancient haunted tombs, eerie pine lands, and many more. There's a lot of Lovecraftian elements here, and lots of eerie western scenarios. Dig me No Grave, Old Garfield's Heart, The Black Stone, The Thing on the Roof, are all wonderful tales. Pigeons from Hell is Howard's best horror piece, to my way of thinking. And it certainly creeped the hell out of me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Excellent collection by a master story-teller.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    Another fine collection of short stories from Robert E. Howard accompanied by some truly amazing artwork by Greg Staples. As I always do with these Del Rey collections, I read one story per week (with a few exceptions when I couldn’t resist the urge to read just one more) and thus it has taken me five full months to get through the collection. No doubt I will go into withdrawal now until I start the next set. There are 60 items within, counting stories, poems, and unfinished fragments. There are, Another fine collection of short stories from Robert E. Howard accompanied by some truly amazing artwork by Greg Staples. As I always do with these Del Rey collections, I read one story per week (with a few exceptions when I couldn’t resist the urge to read just one more) and thus it has taken me five full months to get through the collection. No doubt I will go into withdrawal now until I start the next set. There are 60 items within, counting stories, poems, and unfinished fragments. There are, of course, horror elements in all 60 but the range of “horror” is quite vast. We are treated to everything from traditional supernatural tales, to occult horror, to psychological scares. Occasionally we encounter characters we’ve come across before, including Solomon Kane and Steve Costigan but for the most part these are all unique, stand-alone stories that demonstrate the amazing versatility of this gifted writer. There is even a story that ties in to HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos (not surprising given the pair’s well-known long-term correspondence). No doubt I will return to these stories from time to time, just like my other REH collections. They never seem to get old.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peregrine 12

    Five stars from this Robert E Howard fan. This is the collection I'd been waiting for. REH's horror stories are my favorite of all his works and this book brought many of them together. Also: The artwork in this book is fantastic. The illustrations by Greg Staples really helped set the atmosphere - dark, foreboding, and eerie. Howard wrote to sell his stories to the pulp genre of the time, so many of the plots are nearly identical. But not all of them. I won't go into my favorites in this collecti Five stars from this Robert E Howard fan. This is the collection I'd been waiting for. REH's horror stories are my favorite of all his works and this book brought many of them together. Also: The artwork in this book is fantastic. The illustrations by Greg Staples really helped set the atmosphere - dark, foreboding, and eerie. Howard wrote to sell his stories to the pulp genre of the time, so many of the plots are nearly identical. But not all of them. I won't go into my favorites in this collection, but the one thing that did surprise me and left me wanting more were the bits in the Miscellanea chapter at the end. 'Golnor the Ape' and 'Spectres in the Dark' were so different in kind from all of the finished tales that I only had to wonder whether he wrote these late in his career (before his death at age 30). 'Golnor' offered a limited, first person perspective that did not seem to be written in Howard's own voice, as so many of his first-person stories are. 'Spectres' was outright creepy. Keeping in mind that this was written (I'm guessing) in the early 30's - this tale was very Stephen King-ish long before King was born. Again, I can only lament REH's passing. I wish he'd had more time to mature as a writer and produce and finish his many and varied creations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Billy Wells

    I really enjoyed these well written stories, more in the beginning than toward the end not because of the individual stories, but simply because the morbid tone weighs on you after reading so many stories in one book. Howard's style reminds me of Lovecraft since the plots are pretty much humorless and straight to the horror. Howard does create a great deal of suspense as you walk deeper into his dark and sinister settings. I suggest reading this book in spurts, not continuously. The essence of th I really enjoyed these well written stories, more in the beginning than toward the end not because of the individual stories, but simply because the morbid tone weighs on you after reading so many stories in one book. Howard's style reminds me of Lovecraft since the plots are pretty much humorless and straight to the horror. Howard does create a great deal of suspense as you walk deeper into his dark and sinister settings. I suggest reading this book in spurts, not continuously. The essence of the author's fine work would be more compelling that way, in my opinion. I also enjoyed the poetry included, which seemed reminiscent of Poe. The rhyme schemes and the rhythm of the verse were as good as any I have read. Howard wrote Conan the Barbarian. Sadly, he committed suicide when he was thirty years old.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Quicksilver Quill

    A Universe Full of the Unexplainable Reading The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard was quite a revelation. I never knew that the man who invented Conan was such a creative storyteller and great writer. His stories are full of action, adventure, and spine-tingling horror. More, Howard demonstrates great versatility in his range of writing, moving easily from mythic sword and sorcery fantasies to gunslinging westerns; from old haunted houses and accursed swamps to ancient Babylonian cults in the d A Universe Full of the Unexplainable Reading The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard was quite a revelation. I never knew that the man who invented Conan was such a creative storyteller and great writer. His stories are full of action, adventure, and spine-tingling horror. More, Howard demonstrates great versatility in his range of writing, moving easily from mythic sword and sorcery fantasies to gunslinging westerns; from old haunted houses and accursed swamps to ancient Babylonian cults in the desert. Indeed, R.E.H. traipses through time and place more readily than any character ever invented by H.G. Wells! Lavishly illustrated, the book is packed with plenty of stories and even some of Howard's poems. So . . . if you enjoy entertaining storytelling, and are partial to weird fiction and horror, this collection is not to be missed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Harold

    This was an outstanding book, and a fine introduction to Howard for anyone who is thinking of investigating his work. Though Howard is most often noted for being the creator of Conan the Barbarian, and, in truth, the entire sword & sorcery genre, he was also a talented writer of horror tales. I was drawn in by Howard's language. His characters live in a world of rediscovered long-lost races of people, of quests, of adventure, greed, doom, mystery and terror. Interesting as well was the numbe This was an outstanding book, and a fine introduction to Howard for anyone who is thinking of investigating his work. Though Howard is most often noted for being the creator of Conan the Barbarian, and, in truth, the entire sword & sorcery genre, he was also a talented writer of horror tales. I was drawn in by Howard's language. His characters live in a world of rediscovered long-lost races of people, of quests, of adventure, greed, doom, mystery and terror. Interesting as well was the number of times genres were mixed: cowboys and vampires, gothic with sword & sorcery, and, of course, the obvious influence of his correspondent friend and supporter, Lovecraft. If you are a fan of early dark fiction, I suggest you take a look at this one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Horace Derwent

    FUCKING A!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This collection is best taken in small doses. Read a couple stories and put it down for a bit then come back. Most of the stories are pretty good, with a small handful being great. Binge reading will not be rewarded, as the less impressive stories will be likely to blend together. There’s a lot of evocative writing, and some great action sequences here. Unfortunately, it’s a challenge to make it through all of Howard’s questionable world views to get to them. His work shines best when it is unfe This collection is best taken in small doses. Read a couple stories and put it down for a bit then come back. Most of the stories are pretty good, with a small handful being great. Binge reading will not be rewarded, as the less impressive stories will be likely to blend together. There’s a lot of evocative writing, and some great action sequences here. Unfortunately, it’s a challenge to make it through all of Howard’s questionable world views to get to them. His work shines best when it is unfettered by them and he focuses on delivering a two-fisted pulp yarn. For example, BLACK CANAAN has some of the most compellingly terrifying pre-Romero zombies I have ever encountered. Placing the dead as sentries in holes in the creeks and their grasping hands pulling man and beast down to prevent crossing is callously brilliant. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is crushed under the weight of the relentless racism and exoticism. I’m undecided on PIGEONS FROM HELL. While a phenomenal story, the last act is marred by what could be read as a problematic message. (view spoiler)[All the way to the final act, we’re following the mystery of the monster. In the final act, the final turn of the screw is that the monster is the zombified remains of the mistress of the house and not her colored servant. It would be all too easy to make an interpretation that identifies the central theme something akin to “blacks doing monstrous things is expected but when white do them it’s truly horrifying”. I’m not sure that’s a fair interpretation, and expect it’s more in line with the serialized pulp writing style that has to have some sort of reveal every couple thousand words, so when the story goes up to around 10,000 words, the author needs to craft in some extra reveals. It’s kept me thinking, and I’m going to want to revisit this story a couple more times in the future, so that’s something. (hide spoiler)] Now there’s several stories in this collection that I really enjoyed. There’s some amusing fragments near the end which I’m pretty certain are ribbing some of his frequent correspondents like Lovecraft. SEA CURSE has great Poe-like visuals particularly the dead girl floating in from the sea. While it's predictable, it evokes a very solid Tales of the Black Freighter feel. THE BLACK STONE is phenomenal. It’s the Call of Cthulhu for Robert E. Howard. One could extrapolate influences on In the Hills, the Cities (Barker) and N (King). THE THING ON THE ROOF is a really great monster story with probably the most expansive exposition on Unspeakable Cults, which is the primary lexicon that Howard contributed to the Cthulhu Mythos. It could comfortably be considered a companion piece to The Hound. THE HORROR FROM THE MOUND is a uniquely American vampire story. This is almost certainly one of the primary seeds for the Weird West movement. I love the jump scare scene in the middle.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I feel guilty for only giving this book three stars. It's good, don't get me wrong, but there are some flaws and some issues. Thematically, many of the stories are revenge tales of degenerate original races upon representatives of 'true' men. The degenerate Picts spooking the Celts or Britons mostly. We get to find out that Howard's biggest fear is non-white people. Many of his horror stories are cheap copies of Lovecraft or Bierce. This is fine, horror stories aren't Howard's strong point. Don' I feel guilty for only giving this book three stars. It's good, don't get me wrong, but there are some flaws and some issues. Thematically, many of the stories are revenge tales of degenerate original races upon representatives of 'true' men. The degenerate Picts spooking the Celts or Britons mostly. We get to find out that Howard's biggest fear is non-white people. Many of his horror stories are cheap copies of Lovecraft or Bierce. This is fine, horror stories aren't Howard's strong point. Don't let this dissuade you from reading the good stuff: the Sword and Sorcery stuff, Kull, Bran Mak Mor, and Conan. Some of the latter stories are good:Pigeons From Hell, Black Canaan come to mind, but they are severely marred by Howard's ever present racism and Black Canaan drops the n-bomb so much, I thought I was listening to an NWA album. This is the real tragedy of the collection because the second half of the book had the best ideas and were written well, but ultimately marred by Howard's personal demons. Two stories that stand out and don't contain overt bigotry are; the Hoofed Thing and The Fire of Asshirbanipal. The latter of which has a bit of a mythos feel. The incomplete stories at the end are good as well, and it is too bad that Howard never completed them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim Weakley

    This one was a very interesting switch on a beloved author. I have read and know well all of his Conan, Kane, Bran stories etc. The horror stories were a treat. Especially the cowboy horror stories! That was a surprise...how much I enjoyed that segment of the book. I think the ones I liked the best were the unfinished few towards the end of the book. His writing had really improved by that point. A sad ending to what could have been a brilliant career.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Great book. Has some great horror stories, including some involving familiar characters like Solomon Kane and Bran Mak Morn, as well as stories that are a part of the Cthulhu mythos. One caveat though, some of the stories, particularly the "piney woods" stories, have racist terms in the dialogue, which some may find offensive. The introduction does a good job giving those stories some perspective.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lucia

    Pretty awesome. Some of the first person "I found this ancient tome and yaddia yaddia" Lovecraft pastiches were a little heavy handed and got old after awhile, but I loved the other stuff - especially the weird western stuff, and Solomon Kane. Can't wait for my Solomon Kane collection to get here...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Lots of good stories in this large collection but of course the highlight was Pigeons From Hell.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I first learned about Robert E. Howard when a friend introduced me to the movie "The Whole Wide World." I knew about Edgar Rice Burroughs with Tarzan and Barsoom, but didn't realize that Conan the Barbarian was a creation of Robert E. Howard. So, when I had the opportunity to read this collection of horror-fantasy stories, I took it. If you like the style of early pulp writing then I'd recommend this collection. The stories do show their age in many ways (sometimes rather negatively), but remain I first learned about Robert E. Howard when a friend introduced me to the movie "The Whole Wide World." I knew about Edgar Rice Burroughs with Tarzan and Barsoom, but didn't realize that Conan the Barbarian was a creation of Robert E. Howard. So, when I had the opportunity to read this collection of horror-fantasy stories, I took it. If you like the style of early pulp writing then I'd recommend this collection. The stories do show their age in many ways (sometimes rather negatively), but remain a fascinating window to that period of writing. It was fun to read stories where people could simply "die of fright" with no greater rhyme or reason. Stories made for the sheer visceral feel of them rather than carefully constructed world-building. REH's stories often feature the same characters, or at least characters with the same names like Kirowan and Reynolds, but I don't think there was any design to make them fit together in a completely coherent narrative. Sometimes that threw me off as I tried to fit them together, but had to give it up lest I drive myself as made as the characters. Speaking of characters... there is a lot of Poe-like features to them. All of the main POV characters are men and all of them flirt with insanity of one degree or another. I can't say that the characters are well-fleshed out, but they can be oddly compelling despite their lack of... well, character. For example, the protagonist, Jim, from the story "The Dead Remember" has few distinguishing features and does something horrible to boot. And yet I still felt sympathy for his plight as his doom approaches. I also liked the grim character of Solomon Kane, probably because he's of a kind with Vampire Hunter D and other solitary wandering warriors. The character De Montour, featured in two of REH's stories ("In the Forest of Villefere" and "Wolfshead") also fascinated me; I would have liked to see more stories about him. The stories vary a bit in quality. Some display chauvinistic tendencies (REH can't write female characters, I'm afraid) and many feature language or terminology that is very offensive to modern sensibilities ("nigger" comes up a lot.) Some of the stories are put together better than others, but the imagery is universally ghoulish. REH does a good job of suggesting horror while letting our imaginations fill in everything he leaves out. Sometimes the lack of solid description is frustrating, but he usually makes up for it with mood and setting. He's also very good at putting new spins on old tropes like vampires and werewolves. I am annoyed that "Golnor the Ape" is only a fragment contained in the Miscellana at the end of the collection; it had a very strong beginning and I wanted to know what happened next! So if you're a fan or scholar of early pulp, fantasy, or horror, or just want to see some interesting short stories, you may enjoy this collection.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I can count the number of horror writers that can instill a sense of unease in me on two fingers, and Robert E. Howard has the number one spot, with Lovecraft the sole remaining. While Lovecraft favors the psychological uncertainty of the mind's of his characters to instill fear, Howard favors the physical realm and only hints at the psychological tearing of the fabric of his world. Howard uses many names and places Lovecraft invented in his stories. The two of them were close friends. But while I can count the number of horror writers that can instill a sense of unease in me on two fingers, and Robert E. Howard has the number one spot, with Lovecraft the sole remaining. While Lovecraft favors the psychological uncertainty of the mind's of his characters to instill fear, Howard favors the physical realm and only hints at the psychological tearing of the fabric of his world. Howard uses many names and places Lovecraft invented in his stories. The two of them were close friends. But while Lovecraft may often simply hint at a desert realm of one of his elder gods through the insane visions of his characters, for example, Howard will actually physically take his characters directly into that ominous black stone castle deep in the sands of Africa. He's got a very Indiana Jones/archaeology vibe running through his tales. His heroes are usually gun-toting vagabonds or adventurous tomb raiders out for self-fulfilling profit. I favor this approach because while I love Lovecraft, he always leaves me wanting to visit his insane worlds, and Howard offers to take me there through blood, sand, and swamp. Also, Howard has many stories relating to Voodoo rituals, cults, and the deep south, which I find wholly unique. It's a style of horror you'll find nowhere else. Lovecraft's world is centered in and around Arkham, and Howard's, the deep southern reaches of New Orleans. Read both authors to get the most out of each one's stories, as they play off one another. Howard is the best horror I've ever read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joel Mitchell

    Robert E. Howard is best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian and a major contributor to the development of the Swords & Sorcery sub-genre. This book collects a number of his creepier short stories, most of which were originally published in Weird Tales and show the influence of his friend, H. P. Lovecraft. Calling most of them “horror stories” may be a bit of a stretch – they’re more like action/adventure stories with a creepy, Lovecraftian element. The usual Robert E. Howard theme of Robert E. Howard is best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian and a major contributor to the development of the Swords & Sorcery sub-genre. This book collects a number of his creepier short stories, most of which were originally published in Weird Tales and show the influence of his friend, H. P. Lovecraft. Calling most of them “horror stories” may be a bit of a stretch – they’re more like action/adventure stories with a creepy, Lovecraftian element. The usual Robert E. Howard theme of “barbarian purity vs. civilized decadence” figures heavily in many of the stories, but even more of them revolve around his racial stereotypes. Most of the stories prominently feature one or more of these characterizations: Aryans/white people who are heroic, courageous, and intelligent but out of touch with the supernatural; Semitic/Arabic people who are greedy, decadent, and cruel; “Swarthy” southern Europeans who are adept at dishonest political maneuvering; Africans/black people who are cowardly, devious, and uneducated but in touch with genuine supernatural power; and a de-evolved “mongoloid race” who serve as recurring villains. There’s no doubt that the man could write captivating escapist fantasy, but I found the pervasive racial stereotyping (and occasional racial slurs) fairly off-putting. If you want to get a feel for Robert E. Howard, this is a good place to start since it samples a wide variety of settings and characters (but no Conan stories). Also, as with any pulp author, don’t read too many of his stories in a row or they all start sounding the same.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tazio Bettin

    Some of the stories are nice, some are rather banal. The illustrations of Greg Staples really make this edition shine. They're beyond gorgeous, they're just the most perfect inks I have ever seen in modern black and white illustration. Simply gorgeous. It's difficult to rate a book where you find a dozen or so stories that you really enjoyed and the rest just read through with half-interest. The feeling that quantity trumps quality here is big, and I somewhat end up wishing this book contained le Some of the stories are nice, some are rather banal. The illustrations of Greg Staples really make this edition shine. They're beyond gorgeous, they're just the most perfect inks I have ever seen in modern black and white illustration. Simply gorgeous. It's difficult to rate a book where you find a dozen or so stories that you really enjoyed and the rest just read through with half-interest. The feeling that quantity trumps quality here is big, and I somewhat end up wishing this book contained less stories, to be honest. Oh and if you are offended by racism, just avoid this book. If his Conan and Solomon Kane tales felt a bit racist, there are here some stories that revolve entirely on that -to modern readers- offendingly outdated concept of "degenerate races" that sometimes surfaces in Howard's other stories. I tried to keep in mind the culture and the time in which Howard wrote, but even still, I found myself cringing more than I feel comfortable with.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pym

    Some of the stories are blisteringly good pulp fiction, some you have to wade through nauseating racism (you could put this down to them being written in the 1930s, but Howard and Lovecraft did have an especially warped view of the world). A mixed bag.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Boyd

    An excellent selection or Robert E. Howard's horror stories. You get both the more famous of his characters, like Solomon Kane and many of the more obscure ones too. These are the original unedited stories as Howard wrote them. No one writes action horror like Howard. Highly recommend

  30. 5 out of 5

    John Karr

    very cool from one of my favorite writers

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