Thursday, August 07, 2014

Zombies From the Pulps!: Pigeons From Hell - Robert E. Howard

Now we come to the best story in ZOMBIES FROM THE PULPS!, in my opinion, and a story I've read at least a dozen times. Because of that, I thought I could just skim it for this blog post. But no. Once I laid eyes on the first sentence, I had to read the whole thing again, and I enjoyed it just as much as I ever have. Of course, I'm talking about Robert E. Howard's "Pigeons From Hell", which originally appeared in the May 1938 issue of WEIRD TALES.

For those of you who haven't read it, it's the story of two young men from New England who taking a driving vacation through the South, and what they encounter when they decide to spend the night in an old, deserted mansion on an abandoned plantation. Not much chance of anything good coming out of that!

I won't say anything more about the details of the story. It's exceptionally well-plotted by Howard with a very effective twist ending he saves for the very last line. Mostly, though, it contains some of his most vivid, compelling writing. This is a classic of horror fiction, one of Howard's best stories, and one of the best horror stories by any author that I've ever read. If you've never read it before, that's one more excellent reason to buy this book!


Peter Brandvold said...

I read it out on my deck a few weeks ago, around dusk, sipping bourbon and with Robert Johnson playing low inside the house. Great ambience for PIGEONS FROM HELL. Really raised the hair on the back of my neck!

James Reasoner said...

That sounds like the perfect setting, all right.

Marty McKee said...

And it was adapted, as you probably know, for a chilling THRILLER episode.

James Reasoner said...

And a really good episode, at that. I think the changes they made to the plot were unnecessary, especially the ending, but most of the dialogue comes straight from the story and they also got the creepy atmosphere right.