Classic Ghost Stories

Classic Ghost Stories - David Pickering Great introduction to some classic authors of of supernatural fiction. Some are well known--Bram Stoker ("The Judge's House"), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ("Playing with Fire"--actually a weak and rather odd story), Robert Louis Stevenson (the classic "The Body Snatcher") , and Edgar Allan Poe (a personal favorite--"The Tell-Tale Heart'); others are beloved by readers more deeply familiar with the genre--Sheridan Le Fanu, M.R. James ("The Haunted Doll's House"--not his best story in my opinion) and William Hope Hodgson.

I really enjoyed the inclusion of Henry James and Guy de Maupassant. While I certainly was familiar with the fact that they wrote supernatural fiction (James' novella The Turn of the Screw for example) I found "The Romance of Old Clothes" (James) and "The Hostelry" (Maupassant)to be stand-outs in this collection. Both stories have a psychological element (like Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart") that take them well beyond the genre and are quite disturbing.

I also enjoyed Fanu's "Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand" which played on a particular fear of mine that I have had since watching the movie "Asylum" as a kid. I am convinced that Fanu didn't write a bad story. "Gateway of the Monster" is my first Carnaki story and moved Hodgson way up on my TBR pile. Absolutely fantastic.

"The Business of Madame Jahn"(Vincent O'Sullivan) and "The Shadow of a Shade" (Tom Hood) both stand out as classic examples of the horror/revenge tale sub-genre. The ending of "Madame Jahn" will definitely give you a chill.

4 stars