Oh hai. Let me tell you: it has been a busy few weeks around these parts. I’m in the final leg of preparations before I move, and my life is in boxes. I can’t find anything. I’m wearing old, achey flip-flops and a rotation of outfits that are heat-tested for the insane weather we’ve been experiencing in Montreal. I’m barely living at my apartment, which is serving as a storehouse for all my worldly possessions (and especially my books.) We take possession (pun) of our new home on June 1st, with another ten days before all of our stuff follows us.
I am trying to maintain a regular posting schedule while working on the plots for the complete Neverafter Sequence arc, while suffering the discomforts of not having my regular writing place available to me to work. (It too is covered in boxes.) Mostly I’ve been reading and indulging in Netflix and drinking beer on the back porch of Tibby’s apartment while writing out character backstories.
The upheaval has been proving good, because everything I’ve put to page lately has been gold. Shiny, sparkly gold, baby.
I have too many collected links, and I have no idea what to do with them. This is only a small sampling of what I’ve amassed over the last month. I’m hoping everything will return to routine by June 10th or so, and things can get back to usual around here.
Before that happens, I’m releasing the next Short Fictions & Curiosities instalment: a little weird story about a boy and his family legacy. Chatham’s Body will be available on May 31st. Sign up to get the notification in your inbox. It’s easier than having to check back here. I also have exactly one hardback book left in my possession, i.e. “not packed in a box.” I will be reviewing The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude at some point this week as well.
I know my Kindle is around here someplace, possibly buried. I’ve been wanting to read The Vampire of Highgate for ages, and it’s on there.
For the time being, I’ve tried to overcompensate for my absence by making this wunderkammer of the web post extra long. Enjoy. 😉
A Collection of Curiosities – Part VI
In this month’s collection, I present to you thirteen collected articles of supernatural, paranormal, creepy, unusual, and macabre origins. We visit Paris and take a peek at the Satanic Feminists (this was a thing, seriously), read a story about the persistence of love beyond the grave, take in ten kids books that are so scary they shouldn’t be for kids, enjoy a few creepy Welsh myths, and coo at the baby bestiary — twee little monsters not yet out of diapers. We visit Haiti to see what’s up with the unrestful dead, check out some haunted travel destinations for the more adventurous among you, get a review in the spectres, spirits, demons, and revenge spirits of Japan, and — one of my favourites — take a peek at Slavic folklore to unearth a few of the undead: vampires, werewolves, Todorci, Psoglavi, and Čuma. Then — because we’re totally not done yet — we look into hearse culture, indulge in a collection of photographs from the deep south, and get a refresher course in cemetery symbolism. I also discovered two new ossuaries this week (not me personally, but new to me personally, yes.) The first rounds off todays post: Chammünster Ossuary in Germany.
The Flowers of Evil: Satanic Feminists of Bohemian Paris Part 1 – Berthe de Courrière
“Fin de Siècle Paris was a city in the midst of transformation. Life was in transition and nothing could hold its mercurial energy at bay. The previous century had seen the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, and what would come to be known as the first wave of feminism was in full swing. The so-called “New Women” were becoming increasingly visible, feminists striking out to claim their independence. The old notions of religion and morality were being turned on their heads and progress left no convention untouched.”
The true story of the fellow who lived in his wife’s tomb
“When Jonathan Reed’s wife, Mary, died in 1893, the widower didn’t want to leave her side. In fact, he was so devoted he moved in to her tomb, where he lived (with a parrot) for over 10 years.”
10 Horrifying Kids Books That Are Not Actually Appropriate for Kids
“Sometimes it’s nice to reflect on books we enjoyed as kids or teenagers. For me, that often means looking back over a list of books that my mother would never have allowed me to read had she realized what they were. Everything from Stephen King and R.L. Stine to Bram Stoker graced my shelves when I was a teenager, but the books that shaped my earlier childhood were even more startling. This list is dedicated to my favorites from my own childhood, and to the contemporary titles which have taken their place as horrifying kid books that might not actually be appropriate for kids. Whether it’s because their content is a little too adult for the audience or because the stories are too unsettling, this list shares a few of my favorite books that are technically for kids… but should probably be read with the lights on.”
10 Horrifying Kids Books That Are Not Actually Appropriate for Kids via Wicked Horror
15 Welsh myths and legends that will send a shiver down your spine (or bring a tear to your eye)
“Wales: It’s the land of dragons, wizards, King Arthur and the Holy Grail but did you know that the Devil is too embarrassed to visit Ceredigion?
That there’s a village named after the country’s bravest dog? Or that the Holy Grail itself ended up in a mansion near Aberystwyth?
Go on your very own quest to find out more about our myths and legends.”
15 Welsh myths and legends to send a shiver down your spine via Wales Online
Baby Bestiary: Putting the Cute In Acutely Dangerous Monsters
“If you’ve ever wondered what kind of cute might exist in your fantasy roleplaying setting, you aren’t alone. The folks at Metal Weave Games also wondered, asking themselves things like, “What would a baby owlbear look like?””
Baby Bestiary: Putting the Cute In Acutely Dangerous Monsters via Geek and Sundry
Unrest in Peace: The Unpopular Dead and Zombie Mean Girls
“Dead people can be so cliquish, particularly when it comes to who they are buried with. And they get unruly about it, making all manner of fuss and messing up an otherwise neat and tidy burial vault. In particular, dead folks don’t seem to like sharing their eternal resting space with suicides, which seems rather unfair as social ostracization often seems to have led to suicide in the first place. Dead people aren’t much nicer than the living, I suppose. No sense of irony either. We have ample evidence of this in a series of 19th Century cases of disturbing the peace in cemeteries ranging from Barbados to the Baltic Isle of Oesel to Suffolk and Stamford, England. Dead people just need to get over themselves and learn to share.”
10 Mysterious Supernatural Destinations That Are Sure To Give You Nightmares
“Thinking about your next holiday? Forget Disneyland and instead explore the darker side of life with these 10 mysterious and supernatural destinations. Who needs the tourist trail when you can explore this weird world of ours by visiting haunted forests, bottomless pits with magical powers and abandoned towns left solely for the dead. You just need to know how to find them, so consider this list your guide to the unknown.”
17 Female Ghosts & Demons in Japanese Folklore
“Japanese folkore has a long, varied list of ghosts (yurei, yokai), demons (oni), and creatures. While Western culture has some pretty vengeful spirits, they are Casper compared to the frightening and torturous spirits of Japan. The female spirits have always interested me, because (frankly) they are pissed and determined. They might suck blood, cut off testicles, or steal children. Below are 17 of the most frightening female spirits I could find.”
17 Female Ghosts & Demons in Japanese Folklore via Notebook of Ghosts
Mysterious Balkan Creatures: Lurking from the Dark
“There is a reason why people all over the Balkans don’t like dark corners and shady groves. You never know what is lurking from the dark. Continue reading and see what you can expect if you find yourself alone with a feeling of an unknown presence behind you. Boo! Just kidding.
If you forgot why as a kid you didn’t love the darkness of the attics and basements, maybe a glance at the creatures below will refresh your memory.”
Mysterious Balkan Creatures: Lurking from the Dark via Slavorium
Hearse Culture: All About Those Dead Sexy Deathwagons
“Hearses aren’t just for Munsters and Addams. While some might leave these beautiful raven vehicles to the good graces of undertakers and funeral directors, others have thrown themselves into the world of hearse culture.”
Brutal South: Photography by Jaime Erin Johnson
“The series Untamed by Jaime Erin Johnson is set in the swamps and woods of Mississippi and Louisiana—places where one regularly encounters life and death, growth and decay. In these photos, Johnson imagines the relationship between a fictional, feral woman and the natural, sometimes brutal, environment. By tea-staining cyanotype prints, Johnson dulls the original images, creating a warmth that enhances textures and patterns rather than landscapes and figures.”
Brutal South: Photography by Jaime Erin Johnson via Oxford American
Death’s Heads, Cherubs, and Weeping Willows: A Brief History of Gravestone Symbols
“Wander through a graveyard, and you will notice the intricate art and symbols (and perhaps even magnificent statues of angels and lovers, or encased photographs) decorating each headstone, tomb, and mausoleum. In addition to someone’s epitaph, the symbols that appear on a gravestone can be powerful indicators of who the deceased was, what kind of life they lived or death they endured, and who buried them. Gravestones reveal just as much about the living and our attitudes toward death as they do our attitudes towards the dead.”
“In the year 1830, cemetery workers in Cham, Germany unearthed a chamber housing thousands of skeletal remains thought to be from the 13th century. Some of the 5000 skulls discovered can still be viewed in the small ossuary behind the ancient Marienmünster Chammünster Church.”
Chammünster Ossuary via Atlas Obscura
Want more? Check out the other wunderkammer-themed posts:
“I’ve heard a few times that it’s unwise to look at a writer’s search history. It gives the uninitiated the impression that you are either deranged, morbid, or psychotic. While this may very well be a possibility in certain cases, I can assure you that I purge that cache regularly. Try and catch me, coppers. Moo hoo ha ha.”
“I was half in love with Victorian England before I began writing Wake the Dead ages ago. It’s a particularly macabre period in history, largely due to the fact that the entire country was thrust into mourning following the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert. It marks a period in history that is attributed with heightened ritualized action surrounding death, commemoration, and grieving that is so intense that it’s frequently referred to as a cult of death.”
“Stuff! Being the third collection of curiosities, oddities, and wonders discovered online — I’ve got some new stuff for you. I tend to aggregate a bunch of weird and wonderful saved links as I’m researching and I often have nowhere to put them beyond my bookmarks, where they’re eventually forgotten. I figured some time ago that it might be best if I put them to use, sharing the interesting and bizarre stuff I come across from my collection of writing inspiration.”
“I might be late to the party, but I suspect that’s the fashionable way to handle these things. I like scheduling these “wunderkammer of the web” type posts for the 27th or the 28th of the month, so technically I’m a day off. What this is: I’ve always had a longstanding fascination with the occult, the subversive, and the alternative: give me a good ghost story or chunk of folklore, and I’m off and running. My mind likes to live in the weird, and accordingly, it’s often where I gather inspiration from.”
“You may have noticed that it’s been a bit quieter in these parts as of late. I’ve noticed a turn in the venues I use for output as the sun comes out from hiding all winter. This is to say my writing efforts fork in two directions: writing the blog and writing fiction.”