If you are looking for stories that are a bit more viscerally scary you might want to have a look at the work of American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Writing in the early 20th century, Lovecraft created an entire world, often referred to as the “Cthulhu mythos,” that centers around a pantheon of all-powerful gods. They once ruled the earth, but now their powers have diminished. However, they are seeking a channel back to power. Lovecraft’s prose is sometimes over the top in its arcane phraseology and purple passages, but there can be no doubt that he was a master at creating a sense of dread that builds throughout the stories, leading to an ominous crescendo.
Much of Lovecraft’s work is set in a fictional New England community that includes the small institution of higher learning, Miskatonic University, home to one of the few remaining copies of that book of dread, The Necronomicon. Lovecraft has a command of character, and he deftly portrays farmers, scholars, townsfolk, and tormented students of the arcane arts. Forgotten prophecies, books of spells, and hidden monsters are all part of the Lovecraftian world.
In the “Dunwich Horror,” the strange birth and development of Wilbur Whateley are presaged by ominous rumblings from the forests and hills of Dunwich. Whateley’s grandfather was a devotee of the black arts, and Wilbur seeks to bring his grandfather’s work to fruition through the spells in The Necronomicon. This delving into things better left alone initiates a horrific series of events that still resonate in Dunwich. As Lovecraft writes:
Across a covered bridge one sees a small village huddled between the stream and the vertical slope of Round Mountain, and wonders at the cluster of rotting gambrel roofs bespeaking an earlier architectural period than that of the neighbouring region. It is not reassuring to see, on a closer glance, that most of the houses are deserted and falling to ruin, and that the broken-steepled church now harbours the one slovenly mercantile establishment of the hamlet. One dreads to trust the tenebrous tunnel of the bridge, yet there is no way to avoid it. Once across, it is hard to prevent the impression of a faint, malign odour about the village street, as of the massed mould and decay of centuries. It is always a relief to get clear of the place, and to follow the narrow road around the base of the hills and across the level country beyond till it rejoins the Aylesbury pike. Afterwards one sometimes learns that one has been through Dunwich.
Check the WRL catalog for The Dunwich Horror and Others