The best ominously atmospheric books for a winter's night

Why am I passionate about this?

I love forests. There's a particular atmosphere, a sense of being close to nature. Yet there's a mystery, you can never see too far ahead. What's around the corner? A truly atmospheric book has the quality of a forest, leading us on but never revealing too much at once. Perhaps beyond the next tree, or page, is something that may not be of our universe.


I wrote...

Bowels of Darkness

By Tupenny Longfeather,

Book cover of Bowels of Darkness

What is my book about?

When a deadly plague descends on 17th-century England, Easter Friswell, white witch, sets out to destroy the monsters that have invaded her reality.

In a quiet village, John Stearne sees his father killed by zombies. After hearing a sermon on witchcraft he decides that witches are to blame for bringing about the demon invasion. Setting out to kill all witches, he recruits a young man, one Matthew Hopkins, and the pair declare vengeance on evildoers.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig'

Tupenny Longfeather Why did I love this book?

Hodgson's sea-based stories, drawing on his experience as a sailor, have a plausibility that draws me in. The vast emptiness of the ocean is depicted vividly, creating a sense of isolation that adds to the terror of his work. Add to this some of the most bizarre creatures in literature and we have a bleak, enchanting atmosphere. I find the sense of brooding horror really puts me in the scene.

By William Hope Hodgson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.


Book cover of Black Magic

Tupenny Longfeather Why did I love this book?

The thirst for knowledge of the black arts sets the tone for this book. The smallest events are loaded with ominous foreboding, from the understated beginning to the immensely world-shattering ending. Dirk Renswoude is a dark figure, yet never seemingly repulsive enough to prevent the reader from allying with him, being complicit in his deeds.

By Marjorie Bowen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dirk Renswoude is a craftsman and loner of noble birth who has been mistreated by his family. He meets Thierry, a young scholar on his way to study at the university at Basle and they soon discover that they share a fascination with the black arts. Thierry is initially cautious and afraid of blasphemy, whilst Dirk is ambitious and thirsts for power. Dirk leads them on to experiments with mystic circles drawn on the floor in chalk, the chanting of arcane incantations and the evocation of grotesque, demonic visions writhing in the speculum.


Book cover of The Haunter of the Ring & Other Tales

Tupenny Longfeather Why did I love this book?

Howard's style is compelling, dragging you through the story with an inescapable inevitability. His characters possess stark, almost brutal qualities, sure of their place in the world they inhabit, even when facing the unknown. With mighty warriors such as Conan, we know they cannot lose but when it comes to Howard's horror stories, success is not so certain.

By Robert E. Howard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Haunter of the Ring & Other Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the unsurpassed imagination of the creator of Conan, Robert E. Howard, here are twenty-one tales of suspense, high adventure and Lovecraftian horror.

Foul sacrifices are made to a reptilian God in Hungary, a werewolf prowls the corridors of a castle in strife-torn Africa, criminal masterminds on both sides of the Atlantic vie for world domination, an enchanted ring exerts a terrible influence upon its wearer...

...And, as written in the pages of the accursed Necronomicon and Unaussprechlichen Kulten, the Great Old Ones watch our world from beyond the void - and wait...


Book cover of Doctor Syn

Tupenny Longfeather Why did I love this book?

If Dr. Syn is a mysterious, cunning character, perhaps the Romney marsh is more mysterious. It's a haunting, eerie place, more a character in its own right than a location. The misty bog stays in the memory long after reading this intriguing book. The Dr. himself, and Mr. Mipps his associate, are as fever-inducing as the marsh itself.

By Russell Thorndike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Doctor Syn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Syn, the kindly vicar of the little town of Dymchurch. Syn seems pleasant, but we soon learn that he has a sinister past.


Book cover of Far Off Things

Tupenny Longfeather Why did I love this book?

In Machen's stories, occult experiences are related to place, the environment creating conditions in the mind that open it to receive the ethereal. The connection to nature, billions of years of the natural world, provides countless possibilities for unknown forces to intrude on our reality. Far Off Things is an exploration of psychogeography, informed by Machen's early life in Wales.

By Arthur Machen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Far Off Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur Machen's 1922 collection of essays covers the first part of his life. (It was followed by 1923's "Things Near and Far" and 1924's "The London Adventure.") To the original book has been added a lengthy essay on Machen and his work, as well as a Recommended Works list, covering the essential fiction and non-fiction by this important author. (Of his novella "The Great God Pan," Stephen King said, "Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language.")


You might also like...

God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

By J.M. Unrue,

Book cover of God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

J.M. Unrue Author Of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an old guy. I say this with a bit of cheek and a certain amount of incongruity. All the books on my list are old. That’s one area of continuity. Another, and I’ll probably stop at two, is that they all deal with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances—those curveballs of life we flail at with an unfamiliar bat; the getting stuck on the Interstate behind a semi and some geezer in a golf cap hogging the passing lane in a Buick Le Sabre. No one makes it through this life unscathed. How we cope does more to define us than a thousand smiles when things are rosy. Thus endeth the lesson.

J.M.'s book list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do

What is my book about?

Nine Stories Told Completely in Dialogue is a unique collection of narratives, each unfolding entirely through conversations between its characters. The book opens with "God on a Budget," a tale of a man's surreal nighttime visitation that offers a blend of the mundane and the mystical. In "Doctor in the House," readers are plunged into the emotionally charged moment when an oncologist delivers a life-altering diagnosis to a patient. The collection then shifts to "Prisoner 8086," a story about the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a prison volunteer and a habitual offender, exploring themes of redemption and human connection.

The heart of the book continues with "The Reunion," a touching narrative about high school sweethearts reuniting, stirring up poignant memories and unspoken feelings. "The Therapy Session" adds a lighter touch, presenting a serio-comic exchange between a therapist and a challenging patient. In "The Fishing Trip," a father imparts crucial life lessons to his daughter during an eventful outing, leading to unexpected consequences. "Mortality" offers a deeply personal moment as a mother shares a cherished, secret story from her past with her son.

The collection then takes a romantic turn in "The Singles Cruise," where two individuals find connection amidst shared stories on a cruise for singles. Finally, "Jesus and Buddha in the Garden of Eden" provides a satirical, thought-provoking encounter in the afterlife between two spiritual figures. The book concludes with "The Breakup," a nuanced portrayal of a young couple's separation, told from both perspectives, encapsulating the complexities of relationships and the human experience.

God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

By J.M. Unrue,

What is this book about?

Nine Stories Told Completely in Dialogue is a unique collection of narratives, each unfolding entirely through conversations between its characters. The book opens with "God on a Budget," a tale of a man's surreal nighttime visitation that offers a blend of the mundane and the mystical. In "Doctor in the House," readers are plunged into the emotionally charged moment when an oncologist delivers a life-altering diagnosis to a patient. The collection then shifts to "Prisoner 8086," a story about the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a prison volunteer and a habitual offender, exploring themes of redemption and human connection.

The…


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