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