This time, it's more audio-format short stories. All are from the same LibriVox collection-- Short Ghost and Horror Collection 010. (Note: I'm skipping some of the more familiar stories in this collection-- such as a couple of Poe's-- unless the mood to revisit them strikes at just the right time...)
"The Oval Portrait"
by Edgar Allan Poe
I don't remember reading this one before; it must be one of Poe's lesser-known tales. The idea of an artist capturing someone's essence so perfectly that you sap the very life from their veins is not a completely new one, by modern standards, but it might have been more startling when this was written. If nothing else, it's a quick story... but I doubt it will linger long in my mind.
After finishing the story, I heard echoes of old literature lectures-- specifically regarding Poe's obsession with beauty and death and most particularly the death of a beautiful woman.
From a more rational, skeptical point of view (one that is admittedly probably best left out of things altogether when reading this type of thing), that book the narrator was reading-- with the histories of the paintings in the room-- was exceptionally detailed! ;o) The artist himself must have either written it or at least passed along a full account of events.
"The Hand of the Mandarin Quong"
by Sax Rohmer
I listened to this one in two sessions, because I dozed off in the middle. (Oops! Someone needed a nap...)
This story makes use of a creepy classic horror motif-- the disembodied hand in search of vengeance.
There are a few "product of its time" moments (including a racial slur) that might offend, trouble, or otherwise bother modern readers-- but honestly, when reading old books/stories, it helps to remember that things change, and most likely, no particular offense was meant by the author. (And of course you don't have to read it.)
"The Golgotha Dancers"
by Manly Wade Wellman
This story makes use of a different classic horror motif-- the "haunted"/possessed painting.
Pretty creepy (though the last line made me laugh because it seemed so unnecessary and out of place). The description of the painting brings to mind surrealist works, and it's interesting that the narrator was in the museum to see the works of Goya (if I remember correctly), several of which are themselves disturbing.
"The Stone Coffin"
...Shall we continue telling which "classic horror motif" is central to each story? Or make a switch to "the moral of this story is..."? Let's just leave it at this: If you happen upon a mysterious coffin, it's wise to treat it (and its contents) with respect.
"The Dead Valley"
by Ralph Adams Cram
This is one of my favorite stories in the collection, thus far. Perhaps I was biased from the beginning, as I'm always interested when the main character turns out to be Swedish, as in this case-- but there's more to it than that. There's just enough mystery and just enough detail-- all supplemented with oodles of Weirdness.
I missed the name of the author at the beginning of the story, and as I listened, wondered if it might have been written by Algernon Blackwood, because aspects of it reminded me so strongly of some of his works.
I don't want to give away too much, but-- that little dog!!