Ten Disturbing Scandinavian Folktales

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Enchanted Wood. Artist unknown. (Scandinavian Folklore/Pinterest)

 

Many folktales are concerned with magical tales of heroism and grandeur. Young people head out on a journey of discovery that makes them a better person. They vanquish evil, help others, and make the world a better place. In the end, the dashing young man usually gets the beautiful girl, and everyone lives happily ever after.

However, some folktales don’t have happy endings. Some folktales can be downright disturbing. Many of the tales in Scandinavian folklore, for instance, are not only grim; some are absolutely terrifying. We selected 10 of the most disturbing for you to enjoy…but, keep a candle burning…


#10. The Sacrificial Beggar Child (Sweden)

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The story goes that there was a town named Dalland that was suffering from a disease that was wiping out much of the population and causing many people to flee. The townsfolk were beside themselves with worry about how to stop it, until an old man from Finland came along with sage advice on how to stop the disease.

He told them that only a sacrifice would put an end to it, and explained that they would need to bury a living thing in the ground. The villagers were desperate to stop the disease, so they took his advice. They began by burying a rooster alive in the ground, but their cruel act failed to produce any results, so they upped the ante by burying an entire goat alive. Unfortunately, this also failed.

Feeling there were no other options left, they decided that the only sacrifice worthy enough to end the spread of the disease would be an actual human being. In order to accomplish this, they set their sights on an orphaned boy and offered him bread as bait for their trap. The unassuming child fell for their trap completely and was dropped in a prepared hole.

The villagers immediately began shoveling dirt on top of the hapless child. The boy was terrified and tried to plead with them to stop burying him alive, but they continued on with their work without mercy. Before long, the job was done and the child was simply left to die, in the hopes he would end the spread of the deadly disease.

Some villagers claimed that they could hear his cries from under the ground, even after his death, decrying the cruel act that had been done to him.


#9. The Christmas Ghosts (Sweden)

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This tale begins with a woman who was preparing to head to a midnight Christmas Mass.

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Zombies, Encounters with the Hungry Dead, ed. and with Commentary by John Skip, 2009

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Table of Contents

9 • Introduction: The Long and Shambling Trail to the Top of the Undead Monster Heap • essay by John Skipp
19 • Lazarus • (1921) • short story by Леонид Андреев? (trans. of Елеазар? 1906) [as by Leonid Andreyev]
39 • “… Dead Men Working in the Cane Fields” • (1929) • short story by William B. Seabrook [as by W. B. Seabrook]
51 • The Return of Timmy Baterman • (1983) • short fiction by Stephen King
65 • The Emissary • (1947) • short story by Ray Bradbury
75 • A Case of the Stubborns • (1976) • short story by Robert Bloch
95 • It • (1940) • novelette by Theodore Sturgeon
121 • Lie Still, Sleep Becalmed • (2007) • short story by Steve Duffy
155 • Bitter Grounds • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman
177 • Sea Oak • (1998) • novelette by George Saunders
203 • The Late Shift • (1980) • short story by Dennis Etchison
221 • A Zombie’s Lament • short fiction by S. G. Browne
227 • Best Served Cold • short fiction by Justine Musk
249 • The Dead Gather on the Bridge to Seattle • (2008) • short fiction by Adam Golaski
271 • The Quarantine Act • short fiction by Mehitobel Wilson
289 • The Good Parts • (1989) • short story by Les Daniels
295 • Bodies and Heads • (1989) • short story by Steve Rasnic Tem
315 • On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks • (1989) • novelette by Joe R. Lansdale
359 • Like Pavlov’s Dogs • (1989) • novella by Steven R. Boyett
423 • Jerry’s Kids Meet Wormboy • (1989) • novelette by David J. Schow
465 • The Visitor • (1998) • short story by Jack Ketchum
473 • The Prince of Nox • (1992) • short story by Kathe Koja
485 • Call Me Doctor • short fiction by Eric Shapiro
491 • The Great Wall: A Story from the Zombie War • (2007) • short story by Max Brooks
499 • Calcutta, Lord of Nerves • (1992) • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
515 • God Save the Queen • (2006) • short fiction by John Skipp and Marc Levinthal
541 • Eat Me • (1989) • short story by Robert R. McCammon
555 • We Will Rebuild • short story by Cody Goodfellow
571 • Sparks Fly Upward • (2005) • short story by Lisa Morton
583 • Lemon Knives ‘N’ Cockroaches • short fiction by Carlton Mellick, III
601 • Zaambi • (2006) • short fiction by Terry Morgan and Christopher Morgan
629 • The Zombies of Madison County • (1997) • novella by Douglas E. Winter
665 • Dead Like Me • (2000) • short story by Adam-Troy Castro
675 • Zombie Roots: A Historic Perspective • (2009) • essay by Anthony Gambol and Christopher Kampe
685 • They’re Us and We’re Are Them: Zombies in Popular Culture • (2009) • essay by Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp

Tales from a Talking Board, a Horror Story Anthology, ed. by Ross E. Lockhart, Word Horde, 2017: Introduction & TOC

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Cover Art & Design by Yves Tourigny.

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”

— Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, Verses 10–12, Holy Bible (New International Version)

“Ages 8 to Adult.”

— Ouija board packaging, 1972

Table of Contents

  • Other books by Ross E. Lockhart
  • Full Title Page
  • Frontmatter
  • Dedication
  • Epigram
  • A Brief History of Talking Boards – Ross E. Lockhart
  • “YesNoGoodbye” – Kristi DeMeester
  • The Devil and the Bugle Boys – J. M. McDermott
  • Weegee Weegee, Tell Me Do – Anya Martin
  • When The Evil Days Come Not – Nathan Carson
  • Grief – Tiffany Scandal
  • Spin the Throttle – David James Keaton
  • Pins – S.P. Miskowski
  • Deep into the skin – Matthew M. Bartlett
  • The Burnt Sugar Stench – Wendy N. Wagner
  • Worse than Demons – Scott R Jones
  • The Empress and the Three of Swords – Amber-Rose Reed
  • Questions and Answers – David Templeton
  • Haruspicate or Scry – Orrin Grey
  • May You Live In Interesting Times – Nadia Bulkin
  • Copyright Acknowledgments
  • About the Editor

Introduction: A Brief History of Talking Boards by Ross E. Lockhart

Not long before the Civil War, a movement swept across the United States, one that held the belief that not only did the soul continue to exist after the death of the body, but that these souls, these spirits, could be communicated with, and could impart wisdom, warnings, and pathways to better connect the living with a supernatural, infinite intelligence. This movement, known as Spiritualism, flourished, boasting nearly eight million followers worldwide by the turn of the twentieth century, despite holding no central doctrine, no canonical texts, and no formal organization. Initially appearing in upstate New York, birthplace of religious movements such as Millerism, Adventism, and Mormonism, Spiritualism boasted its celebrities—the Fox Sisters, Cora L. V. Scott, Achsa W. Sprague, and Paschal Beverly Randolph, to name a few—but a big part of its appeal was its promise to put the power of spirit communication into the hands of its adherents. Advancing technology and American entrepreneurial spirit intervened, and complex divinatory systems like spirit cabinets, table turnings, and alphabetical knockings soon gave way to simpler, more foolproof methods. First came the planchette in 1853, a “little plank” of heart-shaped wood with a pencil incorporated, a means of channeling spirits through automatic writing.

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“Long Lamkin” —- a Folk Murder Ballad Collected by Francis J. Child (Child Murder Ballad)

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Art by Aranda Dill for Folk Song, “Long Lamkin”. (Arandadill/Tumblr)

Long Lamkin

IT’S Lamkin was a mason good
As ever built wi stane;
He built Lord Wearie’s castle,
But payment got he nane.

‘O pay me, Lord Wearie,
come, pay me my fee:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
For I maun gang oer the sea.’

‘O pay me now, Lord Wearie,
Come, pay me out o hand:’
‘I canna pay you, Lamkin,
Unless I sell my land.’

‘O gin ye winna pay me,
I here sall mak a vow,
Before that ye come hame again,
ye sall hae cause to rue.’

Lord Wearie got a bonny ship,
to sail the saut sea faem;
Bade his lady weel the castle keep,
ay till he should come hame.

But the nourice was a fause limmer
as eer hung on a tree;
She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
whan her lord was oer the sea.

She laid a plot wi Lamkin,
when the servants were awa,
Loot him in at a little shot-window,
and brought him to the ha.

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Bradbury Stories, 100 of Ray Bradbury’s Most Celebrated Tales, 2003, TOC

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Table of Contents

xi • Introduction (Bradbury Stories) • (2003) • essay by Ray Bradbury
1 • The Whole Town’s Sleeping • [Dandelion Wine] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
16 • The Rocket • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
25 • Season of Disbelief • [Dandelion Wine] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury
33 • And the Rock Cried Out • (1953) • short story by Ray Bradbury
54 • The Drummer Boy of Shiloh • (1960) • short story by Ray Bradbury
59 • The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge • [The Irish Stories] • (1961) • short story by Ray Bradbury
73 • The Flying Machine • (1953) • short story by Ray Bradbury
78 • Heavy-Set • (1964) • short story by Ray Bradbury
86 • The First Night of Lent • [The Irish Stories] • (1956) • short story by Ray Bradbury
92 • Lafayette, Farewell • (1988) • short story by Ray Bradbury
100 • Remember Sascha? • (1996) • short story by Ray Bradbury
107 • Junior • (1988) • short story by Ray Bradbury
113 • That Woman on the Lawn • (1996) • short story by Ray Bradbury
125 • February 1999: Ylla • [The Martian Chronicles] • (1950) • short story by Ray Bradbury (variant of Ylla)
136 • Banshee • [The Irish Stories] • (1984) • short story by Ray Bradbury
148 • One for His Lordship, and One for the Road! • [The Irish Stories] • (1985) • short story by Ray Bradbury

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Night Chills, a Horror Story Anthology, ed. by Kirby McCauley, 1975, TOC

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ix • Introduction (Night Chills) • (1975) • essay by Kirby McCauley
1 • At Midnight, in the Month of June • [Green Town] • (1954) • short story by Ray Bradbury
13 • A : B : O. • (1971) • novelette by Walter de la Mare (variant of A:B:O.)
31 • Minnesota Gothic • (1964) • short story by Thomas M. Disch
47 • The Jugular Man • (1973) • short story by Joseph Payne Brennan
55 • Alice and the Allergy • (1946) • short story by Fritz Leiber
65 • The Island • (1924) • short story by L. P. Hartley
81 • Yesterday’s Witch • (1973) • short story by Gahan Wilson
89 • Wet Season • (1965) • short story by Dennis Etchison
103 • Innsmouth Clay • (1971) • short story by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
117 • People of the Black Coast • (1969) • short story by Robert E. Howard
129 • Call First • short story by Ramsey Campbell
135 • From Beyond the Stars • (1975) • novelette by Richard L. Tierney
157 • The Funny Farm • (1971) • short story by Robert Bloch
169 • The Face in the Wind • (1936) • novelette by Carl Jacobi
193 • Goodman’s Place • [Southern Appalachia] • (1974) • short story by Manly Wade Wellman
209 • Kellerman’s Eyepiece • (1975) • short story by Mary Elizabeth Counselman
221 • Sticks • [Cthulhu Mythos] • (1974) • novelette by Karl Edward Wagner
243 • The Sign-Painter and the Crystal Fishes • (1933) • short story by Marjorie Bowen

The Darker Side, Generations of Horror, an Anthology ed. by John Pelan, 2002

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  1. Do You See What I Fear • short story by Edo van Belkom
  2. Demon Me • short story by Simon Clark
  3. Spirits of the Flesh • short story by Seth Lindberg
  4. The Misfit Child Grows Fat on Despair • short story by Tom Piccirilli
  5. Pull • short story by Brian Hodge
  6. Mamishka and the Sorcerer • short story by Jessica Amanda Salmonson
  7. Pets • short story by James S. Dorr
  8. The Lamb • short story by Paul Finch
  9. The Mannerly Man • short story by Mehitobel Wilson
  10. Just Someone Her Mother Might
  11. Know • short story by Michelle Scalise
  12. The Ocean • short story by Poppy Z. Brite
  13. The Origin • (2001) • short story by David B. Silva
  14. After the Flood • short story by Joel Lane
  15. The Night City • short story by W. H. Pugmire and Chad Hensley [as by Wilum Pugmire and Chad Hensley]
  16. The Plague Species • short story by Charlee Jacob
  17. Ten Bucks Says You Won’t • short story by Richard Laymon
  18. Armies of the Night • short story by John Pelan
  19. Unspeakable • (2002) • short story by Lucy Taylor
  20. Standing Water • short story by Caitlín R. Kiernan [as by Caitlín Kiernan]
  21. Grave Song • (2001) • short story by Brian A. Hopkins and Richard Wright
  22. Twenty Mile • [Cassie Barrett] • short story by Ann K. Schwader
  23. All the World’s a Stage • (2001) • short story by Brian Keene
  24. What God Hath Wrought • short story by Randy D. Ashburn
  25. We’re All Bozos on This Bus • short story by Peter Crowther
  26. The Whirling Man • short story by David Niall Wilson
  27. Asian Gothic • short story by Shikhar Dixit
  28. Hell Came Down • short story by Tim Lebbon