The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories Study Guide

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost Stories is a compendium of horror stories by the celebrated writer Ambrose Bierce, renowned for his eerie tales of the American countryside and his biting wit. HP Lovecraft wrote of Ambrose Bierce, "Virtually all of Bierce’s tales are tales of horror; and whilst many of them treat only of the physical and psychological horrors within Nature, a substantial proportion admit the malignly supernatural and form a leading element in America’s fund of weird literature."

Primarily set in the American countryside of the 19th century, the book draws from folktales, news events, and local legend and features strong supernatural elements, such as ghosts, shapeshifting animals, strange curses, and time slips.

This short story collection features a number of deaths resulting from great terror or surprise, and the events in the stories often revolve around the unstable nature of time: a particularly horrible event can cause an event from the past to repeat perpetually, or a tragic occurrence can cause two different points in time to come together. Nearly all of the stories build to twisted endings that allow a reader to come to his or her own interpretation of the tale. Even when describing events or scenes of great terror, Bierce does not hesitate to insert a sardonic or humorous observation.

Some of the stories in this collection were adapted into short films or episodes of television shows. For example, "The Eyes of the Panther" has been adapted for television twice, once for Shelley Duvall's Nightmare Classics series in 1989, and once in 2006 by director Michael Barton.