J.A. Hernandez enjoys horror, playing with cats, and hiding indoors away from the sun. Also, books. So many books—you wouldn't believe.
He runs a weekly newsletter called Into Horror History and writes fiction.
Inugami of Japan
Dogs. Woof. Man's best friend. At least, that's a phrase used to describe them, a phrase that goes back to at least Prussia in the mid-1700s with Frederick the Great. Every culture around the world has its unique perspective on domesticated animals, and nearly everyone is likely to have encountered a dog at some point in their lives. Dogs live on every continent except Antarctica, and recent estimates put their total population at around 1 billion.
U.S. Route 66: Hauntings & Strange Phenomena
In every city and small town across the world, there are roads, and anywhere you find roads, you'll discover strange stories. Oddities and unusual tales, often involving the supernatural or some form of evil, come with the territory. Whether it's a disappearing hitchhiker, a rundown old gas station, a ghost town, drivers who forever disappear, or the devil at a crossroads—the stories are everywhere if you know where to look, what path to walk, or what route to drive.
Prime Hook Swamp Creature of Delaware
The world is full of stories of strange creatures. Some can be easily traced to their roots, like in the case of the Hodag of American Folklore, while the origin of others can be full of twists and turns, like that of Tahoe Tessie. Cryptids, as they're called, are a fun topic to research and write about, and most have a wealth of information available, even though difficult to verify. Occasionally, my random topic rolling pulls up a more obscure cryptid, which presents challenges different from sorting fact from fiction.
Haunted Pillar on Broad Street in Augusta, Georgia
Local legends are fascinating. Most of them can't really be traced back to any particular origin, and precisely how or why locals know about them is a bit of a mystery. Where I spent the majority of my teenage years—in Knoxville, Tennessee, there were quite a few local legends; some of those are on my list to write about one day. One of them was about an empty, damaged mausoleum in the back of a cemetery. That's a tale for another time, though, because we're about to head over to Augusta, Georgia, where a stone pillar in a historic district became a local legend—though some the story surrounding it is a complete fabrication, while others believe it to be true.
Owlman of Mawnan, Cornwall
Many legends of cryptids don't have a clear origin, a story that can easily be traced back to the first sighting. For these creatures, the line between cryptid (an as-of-yet undocumented natural animal) and supernatural is sometimes blurry, as is true with cases such as The Qalupalik of Inuit Folklore or El Peuchen of Mapuche Mythology. In some ways, the controversy surrounding sightings of strange things can make them even more intriguing to explore because there is little in the way of proof for or against their existence. At the core of these legends or folklore is a story, often a tangled combination of truth and fiction, genuine experience and exaggeration.
Ghosts of Ogrodzieniec Castle in Poland
What is it about old castle ruins that attract ghosts? Other than the obvious, of course—that castle ruins are just awesome. There's usually some story of an apparition, a strange beast, local legends of orbs or lights, or odd encounters with people who seem to be from another time period. Let's take a trip to Poland, to a small town called Ogrodzieniec, where a ghostly black dog (and maybe a few other spirits) haunts the ruins of a 14th-century castle.
Hodag of American Folklore
American folklore is full of strange creatures, myths, and ghosts. Like other parts of the world, many local legends from towns in America go mostly unheard of unless you're looking for them. A small city called Rhinelander, in upper Wisconsin, is one of those places. It's home to a creature known as the "hodag."
I'm sure you've heard of it. I'd be shocked if anyone with regular access to technology hasn't. Given that—what crossed your mind when you read the word "Godzilla"? Most people alive today might imagine something like a dinosaur crawling out of Tokyo Bay and senselessly ravaging the city. Now that's a pretty straightforward plot. Let's take a look at the 1954 Japanese film "Godzilla" (Japanese: ゴジラ) to see how the idea of the plot lines up with the actual plot of the movie—because it really is intriguing and might be a bit surprising.
The Isdal Woman of Norway
An unidentified body can be pretty challenging for police and other officials to track down who the person is and precisely what happened to them. Many people today carry some form of identification or even a mobile phone that can be used to figure out who they are, but this wasn't always the case, and even today, bodies are found that remain a mystery. The further back in time you go, the harder it was, not only because of the lack of simple physical evidence but also because forensic scientists didn't start using DNA fingerprinting until the 1980s.
Dayan of Indian Folklore
The witches! I love witches! All the witches! Let's dive right into the world of witches in India, to a specific kind of witch called a "dayan"—whose lore primarily comes from Jharkhand and Bihar in India. We're talking pure, unadulterated, uncensored, no-holds-barred, stick-with-you-forever kind of evil here. Lock your doors and pull your curtains because you're about to learn of the truly horrific. If you are easily disturbed, you may want to stop now. This article contains descriptions of real-world violence against women and children.
Jenglot of Indonesian Folklore
If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know I have a haunted doll collection. I'm a big fan of creepy little dolls who tend to move on their own, wake you up in the middle of the night with an echoing giggle, or borrow a butcher knife from the kitchen. There are many different takes on haunted dolls, particularly depending upon the culture they're from. Most of mine are antique porcelain dolls with movable limbs and dead eyes; some even have music boxes and will play a song and dance.