Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Spooky Country Noir Reads

I did not move this far north to deal with near 90 degree temps in September.  I love the fall, and that means crisp temps, college football, and . . . Halloween.  And, for me, Halloween means reading.  Really, all of those things mean reading, because I really like reading.  Not reading horror, necessarily, but the Halloween season is an exception.  In the past I have focused on older horror at Every Day Should Be Tuesday, running a series of posts on Frankenstein and a series of posts on the horror of Robert E. Howard.  This year I am bringing it home to Hillbilly Highways.  Ghost stories are a rich part of my cultural heritage, and country noir offers plenty of spooky options.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.

The obvious starting point is the Silver John stories by Manly Wade Wellman.  Wellman drew deeply from folklore in writing his stories about a hero who wandered the mountains of western North Carolina.

I think Luke Bauserman may have beaten Wellman at his own game.  His book Some Dark Holler is built around a treasured trope in my folklore—selling your soul to the devil.

Robert E. Howard’s horror stories have a variety of settings, but those set in the piney woods fit here.  The influence of folklore on Howard is underrated.

Brom’s Krampus: The Yule Lord plays with the Krampus mythology in a West Virginia, country noir setting, but that one is probably best saved to bridge the gap between the Halloween season and the Christmas season.

More to the point of a Can’t-Wait Wednesday post, I have three books that I plan to read for the first time between now and Halloween.

I am digging Congregations of the Dead by James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge out of the dusty archives of my kindle.  A small town sheriff, local crime boss, mysterious mountain preacher, and zombies in rural Georgia?  Hell yes.

The next two books come courtesy of Apex Publications and its efforts to promote its back catalog.  Desper Hollow by Elizabeth Massie is another zombie tale.  This one has a twist, with undead status the result of “immortality moonshine.”  What is scarier than a trailer full of undead mountain critters?

My last Halloween read is Harlan County Horrors, a collection of short horror stories set in the “black heart of coal country.”  Harlan County is famous as bloody Harlan for its labor violence, and more recently as the setting for the neo-Western TV show Justified.

What are you planning to read this Halloween season?


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12 thoughts on “Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Spooky Country Noir Reads

  1. Paul McNamee

    I tend to skip around various horror anthologies and horror collections during September-November. I’ve got nothing specific in mind but I have started on THE DARK DESCENT.

    FYI: If you hadn’t heard, Haffner Press will be putting out the Complete John the Balladeer. Two hardcover volumes of the short stories and the novels. (I think the novels are harder to come by than the previous story collections.) Collectible market & pricing, but Haffner makes beautiful books.

    Moore & Rutledge have two more books in that series, so far. They’re all enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Every Day Should Be Tuesday and commented:

    Today’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday post over at Hillbilly Highways focuses on horror books that stand in the coverage overlap for Every Day Should Be Tuesday and Hillbilly Highways. Check out the post for the spooky country noir reading suggestions for this Halloween season.


  3. So I see quite a few books mentioned here I want to check out. I just read Desper Hollow last week and it was awesome. My review and author interview will be up next week. I would also recommend you check out Apex’s Appalachian Undead. There is a short story in it that leads the way to Desper Hollow. Hope you enjoy your reads!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: SF: Desper Hollow by Elizabeth Massie – Hillbilly Highways

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