Hauntingly Good! The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories by Algernon Blackwood

The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories is a collection of ten great scary stories told by Algernon Blackwood, an English author and one of the most accomplished writers in the ghost story genre. He was held in high regard by H.P. Lovecraft, the giant of the horror genre, and Blackwood’s body of work has served as inspiration for many of the great ghost story writers.

Blackwood did not limit himself to short ghost stories. He wrote plays, novels for adults and novels for children, and he worked as a journalist. Writing was in his blood.

The English-born Blackwood had a fondness for North America and lived there for many years. Many of his stories are set in Canada. Blackwood liked to write from his own experiences, and for a time he lived and worked as a farmer in Canada before moving to New York, the setting for many of his other stories. Blackwood was also very well versed in the occult and drew upon his knowledge heavily for his ghost stories.

Empty House was his first published collected works, in November of 1906. He would publish many more collections, right up to 1946’s “The Doll and One Other”, released just five years before his death in 1951, and collections of Blackwood’s works continue to be gathered and published, the last one being a collection of his stories with Canadian themes in 2004.

You can download and read the collection for free in epub, Kindle or PDF format at Feedbooks.com or you can follow the links below to some of the stories read aloud at Librivox.org You can also find the Project Gutenberg edition (hosted by the ever-amazing Internet Archive) in HTML, EPUB, Kindle and TXT formats.

The stories in this collection, in the order of their appearance, are:

The Empty House, the classic “Let’s spend the night in a haunted house! What could possibly happen?” story. Librivox: read by Linda Ferguson (Track Length 38:18)

A Haunted Island is one of the Canadian-themed stories, and this story involves a vacationer on a Canadian island and his run-in with some natives (It doesn’t go well for him). This was first published in Pall Mall magazine (a cigarette brand) in April of 1899. Librivox: read by Chiquito Crasto (Track Length 34:51)

A Case of Eavesdropping, first published in Pall Mall magazine in December of 1900, is based on the author’s experience of living in New York. In it, a New York apartment dweller overhears his neighbour’s conversations that have a sinister and mystic tone from the room next door. Librivox: read by Chiquito Crasto (Track Length 34:32)

Keeping His Promise is the story of two friends, Marriott, a university student, and Field, a bit of a party animal. Field arrived at Marriott’s place rather suddenly and without explanation on a stormy night while Marriott was studying for an exam. The two had made a pact many years before and Field was there to honour it. Librivox: read by Chiquito Crasto (Track Length 32:40)

In With Intent to Steal, a spirit of possession inhabits a barn, vexing the barn’s owners with all sorts of haunting experiences.

The Wood of the Dead is a story about a traveller who encounters the ghostly spirit of an old man who intends a deadly demise for a village’s inhabitants. Librivox: read by Amy Gramour (Track Length 28:00)

Smith: An Episode in a Lodging-House is another story of an apartment-dweller and his neighbour. In this one, the narrator outlines a series of strange and occult experiences with his upstairs neighbour named only “Smith”.

A Suspicious Gift is one of the children’s level stories that Blackwood wrote, a story about our hero, Blake, who receives a mysterious and unexpected gift of some ten thousand dollars in cash (about $250,000 today) at a most opportune moment. The problem is, the money has a very sinister origin which Blake cannot escape.

The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York is a 3-chapter story and a longer read than the rest of the stories. It is a rather lighthearted tale of three people, a butler, reporter and a chemist (not in the pharmacist sense) with a hint of werewolf thrown in for fun.

And finally, Skeleton Lake: An Episode in Camp is another of the Canadian themed stories, set in the Canadian wilderness. This one is a crime story, and the style of the storytelling shows that it was intended for a much younger audience. Librivox: read by Bernard Spiel (Track Length 20:52)

Enjoy this wonderful warm-up to the spirit of Halloween!

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