B is for Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott


I was a teenager when I discovered this book in the library.  I was intrigued because it was written by Louisa May Alcott, so I figured it would be something like Little Women.  Right?  Wrong.

It was an anthology of short horror stories.  There were two of these anthologies, the other one being Plots and Counterplots.  I can’t tell you how many times I checked them out of the library.  I read them over and over, especially my favorite ones.

When Amazon came along, and I could finally buy these books, it was a wonderful day!  It was then that I discovered A Long Fatal Love Chase, her horror novel, which is another wonderful read.

Finding out that Louisa May Alcott wrote psychological horror thrilled me.  I felt like I had a secret.  For years, no one seemed to know about it except me.  I was already a Stephen King fan at the time, but Ms. Alcott wrote a different kind of horror.

I always wonder about the brave women who were so far ahead of their times.  Ms. Alcott wrote these stories in the 1860s.  What compelled her to write such dark and strange stories?  It just goes to show that some of us are just naturally inclined to wonder what really goes bump in the night.

I was already writing short stories and novels at this point.  (Bad ones, of course.  But in early days, practice is what’s important.)  After reading these stories, the tone in some of my own stories changed.  My stories got a little darker, and I tried to make them more layered, focusing on creepy and disturbing rather than overt horror.

“Nothing is impossible to a determined woman.”
― Louisa May Alcott


19 comments on “B is for Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott

  1. So many books and so little time. Who would have known the author of Little Women wrote horror stories. I wonder why it’s such a hidden fact.

    • doreeweller says:

      Good question. In general, I think horror is less widely read than literary fiction. Many people still have some disdain for genre fiction, as if it’s somehow “less than” literary works. Poppycock to that, I say!

  2. I had already been by earlier…
    Great write up, I love learning where other find inspiration and influence.
    I waste megabytes over at WALDINA

  3. Megan Morgan says:

    Wow, this is news to me too! I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I will have to check this out!

  4. Okay, you’ve got me intrigued now! I had no idea Alcott wrote another genre–and a very different one. More books to add to my To-Be-Read pile! Thanks!

  5. Rhonda Strong Gilmour says:

    Thanks for sharing these surprising titles! I love a good psychological thriller/horror story, rather than stories with gratuitous gore.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose

  6. I never knew she wrote horror, either!

  7. Something else I did not know. Now have it downloaded on Kindle and ready to read! Thank you.

  8. Tarkabarka says:

    Interesting! I didn’t know about it either. Good of you to spread the word 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary

  9. I also discovered A Long fatal Love chase through Amazon. It was great to read something by her that was darker. I think that is what she wanted to be known for, but her more realistic and memoir-ish stuff got published and popular. Women were probably not accepted in the horror genre, if it even existed then.
    Mary at Play off the Page

  10. Janet Miles says:

    Oh my! Stumbled on your post from a comment you left on another A to Z-er (the system works!). Little Women is my favorite of all time book, and I love a good mystery. Definitely going to have to check out these books! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. […] B is For Behind a Mask, the Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott– Did you know she wrote thrillers? […]

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