As much as I rarely buy newly published books, I make exceptions for curations of ghost stories and new printings of old, often forgotten work. This is a special Halloween review of Weird Women and Haunted Houses.
It might seem strange, and I’m sure it’s not a preference that many people share, but sometimes when I feel my worst — very anxious, very depressed, very not well — and can’t sleep, scary stories are what I turn to. There’s something about ghosts, goblins, vampires, and spooky houses in settings a hundred and fifty years old that draws me out of the racing thoughts my brain gets stuck in. This is a review of Horror Stories.
I’ve met people that swear by Camp Crystal Lake and others that don Freddy’s classic bladed gloves or put on the Ghostface mask from the Scream series. But nothing really gives me that feeling of decay, destruction, and ghostliness like stories, films, and books that have Victorian settings. This is a review of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black.
It was my lovely spouse who actually recommended this book. She’s made quite few of Compestine’s recipes and enjoyed them almost as much as I know she enjoyed the stories. This is a review of Ying Chang Compestine’s A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts.
What do you think of when you think of Gothic mystery? A mysterious death followed by a mysterious will? Opium? Scary governesses? Some kind of murder plot? Graves? Estranged uncles? Gypsies? Creepy cousins? Murder? Gambling debts? Estates badly managed?
Did you say all of the above?
This is a review of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Uncle Silas.
Why do I like ghost stories? I like them because I like to hear stories. I like to suspend my disbelief for that instant why I wonder if they could happen. I like them because I like to read stories about a version of reality that is just a bit off-kilter and unexplained. This is a review of Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese Ghost Stories.
For a few years, starting when I was twelve or thirteen I followed the same ritual on Friday nights. Right after dinner, as dusk was falling, I’d walk to the mall across the street and enter the store, making a beeline to my favourite section — the horror movies. This is a review of Ray Russell’s The Case Against Satan.
This week’s Halloween in August pick is from a classic horror writer. It’s a collection of five stories all of them sharing a tone of unease, some with themes of the supernatural, others more about a mystery. This is a review of Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now.
I found this copy in the antiquarian section of a used bookstore in a nearby city and it was a surprise. I’d never heard of the story before, but I couldn’t resist the beautifully bound book, with gold lettering, and a generous amount of very lush colour plates. This is a review of Rudyard Kipling’s They.
Something to note about Ligotti: You have to expect to think. Sometimes, when I’m in the mood for a horror story, I’ll pick up a collection and know that I’m reading a good yarn that is just and only that. But Ligotti interweaves an existential dread into his stories and concepts that keep you thinking long after the story ends. This is a review of Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe.