I'm desperate and determined to track down a horror story I read/had read to me as a kid. This story was effectively creepy despite no gruesome, Stephen King-style happenings - naturally, as it was aimed at elementary age kids. I have almost no information to share, unfortunately.

In the early seventies, a friend of mine owned a set of books that were similar to encyclopedias, or like Child Craft books. One volume contained a story about a monster terrorizing a village. From the fashions depicted in the simple, color illustrations, the story must have taken place in the 19th century. I remember the monster as a Mr. Hyde type, or as being like a werewolf with hairy face, fangs, and hair-covered hands with long nails. He wore clothes. There was a pre-teen boy who figured into the story somehow. It might have been that the boy was hearing tales of this monster from relatives or others rather than witnessing it himself.

I remember no author, no names or dialogue. Just two things I seem to remember happening:

  1. In one part, the monster knocked on someone's door while pretending to be someone else. When the door was answered, he terrorized whoever it was that answered. This part sounds like it might have been lifted from the English legend of Springheeled Jack but little else about Jack's legend fits this story, especially the description of the monster.

  2. The monster might have died and been buried at some point. The boy goes to the graveyard and sees the monster's hand come up out of the grave. I think the final illustration showed the boy running home in the dark.

I truly hope this jars the memory of someone who had the same set of books and can help me. I have even thought of calling my friend's elderly parents to see if they still have the book and can solve the mystery, but I would say that's a long shot. Besides, they'd recommend I be committed.

  • When the door was answered, he terrorized whoever it was that answered. Did he scare them or attack them in some way?
    – Daft
    Oct 28, 2015 at 16:02
  • I don't remember for sure, but I think he just scared them. Like Springheeled Jack in the legend.
    – rjim455
    Oct 28, 2015 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


This sounds very much like a few different M. R. James stories put together. The bulk of it reminds me of An Episode of Cathedral History (1919).

It's set in the late 19th century. The monster is buried (at least for a while), there is a tomb that the monster reaches out of at one point. There is a town terrorized by the creature, and there is a preteen boy. The creature is hairy, but humanoid (a common thread in several M. R. James tales):

“Why, what was it, father?” I said. “Come, you must have seen it,” he says. “Didn’t you see? A thing like a man, all over hair, and two great eyes to it?”

M. R. James has been collected multiple times, so it very well could have been part of a set. It would have been readily available and in print during the 70s.

The rest of your description sounds more like an amalgam of pieces from A School Story or even Canon Alberic's Scrapbook; a thin, hairy ghost/monster menacing someone in their bedroom or through a closed door.

Bit of a reach, but I wanted to put it out there. It may just be that the set pieces and themes are similar to James without actually being your specific story.

  • 1
    Wow. Thank you 8bitartist for your help. I have the read the James story and, so far, from what I've read it doesn't sound like it. But maybe I need to read more of his output. I only know of his classic "Casting the Runes." Could be the author of the anthology story I'm looking for came up with their own version of a James story and combined elements. Thank you so much for providing the most help I've gotten so far.
    – user71430
    Sep 12, 2016 at 13:45
  • 1
    @JimRichardson If you're the same person as rjim455 who posted the question, you might like to merge your two accounts. That way you'll be able to do things like edit your own posts and accept answers to your questions.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 12, 2016 at 13:54
  • @JimRichardson No problem! Sorry it wasn't a match. I think your idea that it was the author doing a pastiche or an homage sounds very plausible to me. If you do end up reading more James during your search, you won't regret it; really good stuff.
    – 8bitartist
    Sep 12, 2016 at 20:47

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