Although she’s been largely forgotten these days, D. K. Broster was a phenomenal writer of short horror stories. “Couching at the Door” has been reprinted many times, but I don’t feel it’s her best. Why “Clairvoyance”, “The Window” or “From the Abyss” hasn’t been reprinted multiple times over the years is a mystery to me. I absolutely love these tales and found they hold up strong even today. They receive my highest possible recommendation.
Dorothy Kathleen Broster was born in England in 1877. She was a novelist and short story writer who wrote under the name D.K. Broster. She worked as a Red Cross nurse during World War I and wrote a number of successful historical novels. Here we will be looking at some of her fantastic supernatural short stories.
1. “Couching at the Door” (1933) – A poet who spent his younger years writing things considered shocking by the general public begins to notice he’s being visited by a mysterious fur boa. He realizes it’s after him due to some dark deed he did years ago and devises a plan to transfer it from him to someone else. I particularly enjoy some of the dream images described within.
2. “From The Abyss” (1940) – A man’s joy at the return of his fiancé after she was believed to have died when her car plummeted off a cliff is short lived when she acts differently and breaks off their engagement. Then he hears that another woman has also returned from the steep deep. Are both women separate parts of the same person, and how did she survive such certain death? This is a fantastic weird tale.
3. “Clairvoyance” (1932) – A wealthy man who collects rare artifacts wants to learn the history of a beautiful Katana he’s obtained. When he realizes one of the girls playing with his children seems to be clairvoyant (psychic), he tries to use her abilities to obtain the information. The serene, everyday start of this excellent tale is sharply contrasted by its violent, bloody conclusion. This is my favorite D.K. Broster story.
4. “The Window” (1932) – An Englishman falls in love at first sight with a French woman who owns a derelict old manor he always wanted to explore. He puts off seeing the house as he enlists to fight alongside her brother for the French when the war begins. On leave one day, he goes to the manor alone. It has a beautiful room with a large window looking out on the sunset. He decides to sketch it but starts to feel he isn’t alone in the empty house, but that it’s filled with a horde of invisible, very angry people. This is another fantastic ghost story by Broster. Highly recommended!
5. “The Pestering” (1932) – A woman and her husband,who’s returned disabled from the war, get a great deal on a house. The wife opens up the lower level as a tea shop to help their strained finances. An old man begins showing up asking to be allowed inside to pick up a chest. They turn him away saying they have no chest, but he’s very persistent and keeps returning asking for it. Eventually, after strange things begin happening inside the house and they lose their servants, the family is forced to seek a way to banish the specter who sometimes appears as an old man and sometimes as a young one. This is a great, longer tale by Broster.
6. “Juggernaut” (1935) – After suffering an ankle injury, a woman is forced to rely on being carted about in bathchairs while on vacation. She and her niece stumbled upon a peculiar mystery in the form of a frail, elderly man who relentless pulls just such an empty chair to-and-fro but who refuses to allow anyone to sit in it saying, “…Mrs. Birling wouldn’t like the chair being used.” This is proven even more odd when they learn that Mrs. Birling died a few years back.
Article by Matt Cowan