A few years back here at Horror Delve I examined several of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories ( https://horrordelve.com/2016/02/23/conan/ ), and while those comprise the works for which he’s best remembered these days, he wrote several fantastic tales in other genres as well. Today I want to take a look at several of his horror stories (which often contained a healthy dose of adventure as well).
1. “In the Forest of Villefore“ (1925) – A man traveling through a forest with a dangerous reputation encounters a wolffish stranger one night.
2. “Sea Curse” (1928) – John Kulrek and his friend Canool were both admired for the adventurous lives they led out on the open sea but were likewise feared for their hard drinking, braggart personalities whenever they ported in the coastal town of Faring. During one visit, after the two men cause the death of a local witch woman’s daughter, she places a curse upon them which later comes to fruition involving a spectral, ghost ship. This is a fun, spooky tale by Howard. You can listen here for free: https://shortstoriess.libsyn.com/107-sea-curse-by-robert-e-howard
3. “Rattle of Bones” (1929) – Solomon Kane and a fancily dressed Frenchman both arrive at an inn called Cleft Skull Tavern. No one else is present and the proprietor comes off shady to Kane. What follows is a short tale packed with interesting reveals. The characters involved are intriguing and the mysteries of the tavern are a really fun mix of adventure, fantasy and horror. You can listen here for free: https://podcasts.podinstall.com/robert-crandall-short-storiess-podcast/201609260900-rattle-bones-robert-e-howard.html
4. “The Black Stone” (1931) – A man who’s fascinated by a mysterious ancient obelisk begins researching its dark history by tracking down obscure, often blasphemous books. You can listen here for free: https://pseudopod.org/2017/11/17/pseudopod-569-black-stone/
5. “The Horror From The Mound” (1932) A rugged farmer in Texas notices his Spanish neighbor seems to go out of his way to avoid an ancient Indian burial mound everyday. When asked about it, the neighbor says it’s cursed. The farmer begins to wonder if there might be treasure inside the old tomb and decides to dig it up to see for himself. This is an excellent horror story! You can listen here for free: https://pseudopod.org/2016/08/11/pseudopod-503-the-horror-from-the-mound/
6. “The Thing on the Roof” (1932) – An man who’s an archeologist and book collector is asked to help find a rare book by a former rival named Tussmann. The book is known as Nameless Cults by Von Juntz but is often referred to as the Black Book due to its sinister contents. He wants information from this book which he believes will direct him to a horde of gold hidden in a place called The Temple of the Toad in Honduras. This is a superb adventure/horror tale by Howard! You can listen here for free: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/horror-stories/147-the-thing-on-the-roof-by-hxq6BcKU80D/
7. “The Fire of Asshurbanipal” (1936) – This Indiana Jone-style novelette follows an American fortune hunter named Steve Clarney and his hulking Afghanfriend, Yar Ali as they seek the long lost city of Kara-Shehr in the middle eastern dessert which is rumored to hold great treasure. He’s not alone in attempting to claim it, as the two find themselves in conflict with rivals who want the riches for themselves. This treasure, however, has an ancient, terrible curse placed upon it. This tales falls firmly in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
8. “Pigeons from Hell” (1938) – Two men traveling through the South from New England spend the night in a moldering old plantation manor. That night they hear someone whistling upstairs. One of the men goes to investigate only to return with a mortal head wound and a hatchet in his hand. This sends the other racing from the house where he is met by a police officer. He tells him the story, and they return to the house to investigate. The history of the house is a dark one, tainted by voodoo. This is an eerie story with some effectively creepy scenes. This one was adapted in an episode of Boris Karloff’s Thriller television series in 1961. You can listen to a reading here for free: https://podcastaddict.com/episode/84459789
Article by Matt Cowan
2 thoughts on “ROBERT E. HOWARD HORROR/ADVENTURE TALES”
It is difficult to pick a favorite from this list but Pigeons from Hell is the horror with the most weight to it. A Texan tale close to his heart.
They are all fantastic, I don’t think I could pick an overall favorite either. “Pigeons From Hell” is definitely a masterpiece.