L. M. MONTGOMERY “The House Party at Smoky Island.” Short story. First published in Weird Tales, August 1935. Reprinted in Startling Mystery Stories, Fall 1968, and Visions from the Edge: An Anthology of Atlantic Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy (Pottersfield Press, trade paperback, 1981). First collected in Among the Shadows (Bantam Starfire, paperback, 1991).

   Whenever I read a ghost story — which isn’t often, but on occasion I do — I want a story that gives me shivers and goosebumps. No gross out gruesome stuff for me. There’s an obvious difference between chills and shock and disgust. You know where the line is as well as I do, and “The House Party at Smoky Island” stays completely on the right side of it.

   It helps, though, when a tale takes place on an island somewhere in the isolated wilderness– of central Ontario, for example, and Lake Muskoka in particular. The manor house in full of people, but it has rained all week, and by Saturday night the guests have been on each other’s nerves for far too long.

   One of the married couples is especially on edge. She has become more and more obsessed with the thought that he killed his first wife. She does not know this for a fact. She only suspects it. As Saturday night arrives, with the wind howling and the rain pouring down, there is a call for each of the members of the house party to tell the rest of the company a ghost story, which only builds up to what happens next.

   And that’s all I can tell you without telling you the whole story, but if ever a ghost story can give you a brief shiver or shill at exactly the right moment, this one will.

   You may have recognized the author’s name, or you think you may have, and if so, you are correct. This is the same L. M. Montgomery who wrote Anne of Green Gables and all of its sequels, plus many other stories meant for children. She is one of Canada’s most well-known and beloved authors, and this is a rarity: the only story she wrote for the pulp magazines.