Author Topic: Pseudopod 529: Luella Miller  (Read 3928 times)


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on: February 12, 2017, 02:14:05 PM
PseudoPod 529: Luella Miller

by Mary Wilkins-Freeman.

“Luella Miller” was first published in Everybody’s Magazine, December 1902.

MARY WILKINS-FREEMAN was born in Randolph, Massachusetts in 1852. Freeman’s parents were orthodox Congregationalists, causing her to have a very strict childhood. Religious constraints play a key role in some of her works. She passed the greater part of her life in Massachusetts and Vermont. Freeman began writing stories and verse for children while still a teenager to help support her family and was quickly successful. Her best known work was written in the 1880s and 1890s while she lived in Randolph. She produced more than two dozen volumes of published short stories and novels and is best known for two collections of stories, A HUMBLE ROMANCE AND OTHER STORIES (1887) and A NEW ENGLAND NUN AND OTHER STORIES (1891). Her stories deal mostly with New England life and she wrote a small but noteworthy number of supernatural & weird stories. In April 1926, Freeman became the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She died in 1930.

This week’s reader – Julie Hoverson – has been recording a ton of books for – including Jake Bible’s Dead Mech series, and the short novellas for Brian McLellan’s Powder Mage series (an unusual and very good fantasy series). She also just put out a book of victorian photos called MY LADY’S WARDROBE – the first in a series – aimed at gamers, costumers, and fans of steampunk who are looking for inspiration in garb. Just search her on Amazon or Audible.

Pseudopod wants to direct your attention to a project by one of our Authors, Greg Stolze. This is a good time to go back and relisten to episode 317, Enzymes.

YOU is a novel, set in the universe of the democratic horror game Unknown Armies, which pits readers against a book that hates them while situating them in the person of a middle-aged businessman named Leo Evans.

Leo is divorced, a fan of racquet sports, and a cultist of the Necessary Servant—a quasi-religion he freely admits seems silly, except for the way it grants him extra senses and paranormal abilities. The chief cultist, however, is his ex-wife, and the two of them clash over a key question of what it means to truly “serve” with integrity.

In the process of hashing all this out, Leo must survive a couple attempts on his life, come to grips with an enchantment that makes him hate the person he previously loved most, and deal with lingering issues between himself and his son.

This novel is Kickstarting in February, check the trailer at

Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.

“Close to the village street stood the one-story house in which Luella Miller, who had an evil name in the village, had dwelt. She had been dead for years, yet there were those in the village who, in spite of the clearer light which comes on a vantage-point from a long-past danger, half believed in the tale which they had heard from their childhood. In their hearts, although they scarcely would have owned it, was a survival of the wild horror and frenzied fear of their ancestors who had dwelt in the same age with Luella Miller. Young people even would stare with a shudder at the old house as they passed, and children never played around it as was their wont around an untenanted building. Not a window in the old Miller house was broken: the panes reflected the morning sunlight in patches of emerald and blue, and the latch of the sagging front door was never lifted, although no bolt secured it. Since Luella Miller had been carried out of it, the house had had no tenant except one friendless old soul who had no choice between that and the far-off shelter of the open sky.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 04:57:33 PM by danooli »


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Reply #1 on: March 08, 2017, 08:47:18 PM
I absolutely loved this. For a story that is 115 years old, it felt refreshing. I kept waiting for the Lovecraftian horror to kick in, and had to remind myself that Luella is older than Ch'thulu.

I'm fascinated by women's voices from this time, and I love that the author wrote horror. More classic stories like this, please!

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Reply #2 on: March 09, 2017, 05:10:54 AM
Loved the story and the reading.


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Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 06:16:15 PM
This story was quite thought provoking in its consideration of how, even against all reason, one's sense of empathy can work against what is best for everyone if it's distorted or abused, among other things it touches on. I don't do the same reading as the host of the ending - I think it was less about acceptance and forgiveness, and more about the frustratingly irresistible way that people like Luella have a hold on some people, perhaps even in death.   


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Reply #4 on: March 24, 2017, 04:01:08 AM
My short review from the story's inclusion in AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES:

"Another undeniable classic is Mary Wilkins Freeman's “Luella Miller”, a tale of psychic vampirism, for lack of a better term. It's the characterization and psychological dynamics that make this tale stand out – there's another infantilized woman (ala “Yellow Wallpaper”), and a powerful lack of awareness on the part of the perpetrator as to what is actually occurring, not to mention the almost obsessive complicity on the part of the victims, all of which add up to a disturbing read. A great story."


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Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 08:03:56 PM
I really liked this story! I empathized greatly with the narrator's frustrations. It is difficult for me to decide whether Luella really had no idea how to perform basic chores and was clueless about her affect on others or if she playing it up the entire time. Was she a monster or a cursed victim? If she was innocent and helpless, the story is more of a tragedy (but I would still greatly dislike her character).
The story teller may have been questionably reliable, but very entertaining.