Ambrose Bierce’s regional horror story

The early horror writer made a memorable tale out of his Placer County stop over.

A painting of a mustachioed man in a collared suit stands next to a skull.

Just look at that Bierce-ing glare.

Public Domain painting via Wikimedia Commons

With all the talk of haunted houses, we admit that our minds have already started to think about all of our favorite spooky season activities. Near the top of that list is reading horror stories with a warm beverage and under a thick blanket, especially ones with ties to the Sacramento Region.

Enter: Ambrose Bierce. The noted author, journalist + poet is also one of America’s earliest practitioners of the horror story. Ambrose spent some years in Auburn due to a severe case of asthma in the 1880s, shacking up at a then-recently-built hotel by the name of the Putnam House.

It’s an abode that occupied enough of his mindspace to figure into his strange 1890 short story, “The Realm of the Unreal,” which takes place entirely in Placer County. So go ahead — grab a nice cup of tea or coffee, light some candles, and sit down for a scary Sacramento read.

More from SACtoday