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Haunted Legends Hardcover – September 14, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound) and Mamatas (Spicy Slipstream Stories) collect 20 original stories based on ghost legends from around the world. A few famous figures appear (such as the mysterious hitchhiker in Kaaron Warren's "That Girl" and Gary A. Braunbeck's "Return to Mariabronn"), and lesser-known regional tales inspire two top-notch stories: Jeffery Ford's intriguing "Down Atsion Road," set in southern New Jersey, and Laird Barron's incredibly creepy "The Redfield Girls," about a haunted lake in Washington State. International entries include Ekaterina Sedia's disturbing "Tin Cans," about girls murdered by Stalin aide Lavrenty Beria, and Catherynne M. Valente's "15 Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai," a whimsical and dreamy foray into Japanese myth. Another standout is the riveting "The Folding Man" by Joe Lansdale, featuring a mysterious, murderous pack of nuns. Only a few weak choices feel more like rehashings than retellings.
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“Sure to provide a yardstick by which future ghost fiction will be measured.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Ellen Datlow's The Dark: New Ghost Stories

“What better way to spend a cold winter night than curled in front of the fireplace with a good ghost story or sixteen?” ―The Dallas Morning News on Ellen Datlow's The Dark: New Ghost Stories

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765323001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765323002
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,808,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I'm a huge fan of oral folklore and urban legends. I teach a short section on Florida's Cracker culture and some of the local oral folklore a couple of times every year here at FSCJ, and my students really seem to enjoy investigating the local legends. I've taken student groups to St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach for guided ghost tours. Northeast Florida is rich with haunted history, and it's been a neat learning experience to watch them unravelling some of that stuff through research and composition.

So it was with great anticipation that I got my copy of Haunted Legends, an anthology edited by Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow. The goal here was pretty simple: enlist some of the finest speculative authors in the field to interpret a "true" urban legend. It's this nebulous kernel of belief--that quasi-historical notion that fuels urban legends--that gives so many of these stories their charm. I found the afterwords, attached directly to the tales themselves, very illuminating and a nice touch in explication.

I read every story in the anthology and found them all enjoyable, though a few really did stand out as excellent. In no particular order, here were my favorites:

"The Folding Man" ~ Joe Lansdale. Pure horror fiction here. Lansdale plunges us ass-deep (there's a catalytic mooning in the first paragraphs that gets things going) into a tale of murderous "nuns" and their eponymous folding charge. A gory, chilling pulse pounder, this could only come from the imagination of Joe Lansdale.

"Down Atsion Road" ~ Jeff Ford's story is one of the best at really capturing the narrative aesthetic of an effective urban legend. Told in the first person, this story focuses on a community's visible eccentric--a local artist called Crackpop by the kids.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I very, very much enjoyed Haunted Legends. I'm a sucker always for great short stories, ghost stories and creepy stories and found a lot of entertainment in this selection - highest marks to the marvelous Caitlin Kiernan (for the wonderfully eerie "Red As Red"), Ekaterina Sedia's Stalin-era horror ("Tin Cans"), Cat Valente's gorgeous Japanese myth ("Fifteen Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai"), Jeffrey Ford (for "Down Atison Road" which makes me want to explore the Pine Barrens right now) and Laird Barron (for the wonderfully ominous "The Redfield Girls"). And Richard Bowes "Knickerbocker Holiday" too - and since these are my favorites, you will find your own too.

Datlow has given us numerous terrific anthologies before - Haunted Legend will be up with Lovecraft Unbound on my shelf of diverse winners containing a few stories I will re-read again (and again) when I want a good creep.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a sucker for all those books telling the stories of hauntings and spooky legends at various places I've visited. So, I was pleased to discover this truly wonderful anthology, Haunted Legends. The writing in these stories is oh-so-much better than can be expected in stories of this nature, and, with little exception I was thoroughly mesmerized by every tale.

Good book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This past Halloween, I participated in a lot of chatter about that scariest of spooky story collections - actually, it's a trilogy - compiled by Alvin Schwartz and terrifyingly illustrated by Stephen Gammel: More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Collected From Folklore and Retold (Scary Stories). Recently, the publishers re-released it, but with tamer illustrations - a complete travesty to the horror genre and disservice to children everywhere. All this talk of frightening stories put me in the mood for a new collection, and the fact that some of my favorite authors have contributed to this collection made this seem like a perfect fit. Admittedly, Schwartz's collection set the bar high, but I felt sure that this talented bunch of authors could meet those expectations...

And some of the stories definitely are strong - my favorites were the stories by Catherynne M. Valente, Caitlin Kiernan, M. K. Hobson and Laird Barron. But there were some others that really fell flat to me, too. The collection finished stronger than in started and really the collection took a rather loose definition of legend as the cohesive theme of the book. Stories that stretch that convention (like "The Foxes") just didn't quite measure up against those that did. I had hoped for some nightmare-inducing stories, but none of these fit that bill. There were some creepy moments, and eery atmospheres set up, but ultimately nothing that frightening.

So while the book had its ups and downs, on the whole, this was a pretty solid collection of short stories. Some definitely appealed more than others, but it was entertaining and certainly engrossing.
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Format: Hardcover
I have never been disappointed with any anthology edited, or co-edited, by Ellen Datlow, and HAUNTED LEGENDS continues that trend. While there are a few stories in this collection that didn't really work for me, the majority of them did.

The theme is exactly what the title implies: those local, "home-grown" tales of hauntings and other oddness that you often find retold in poorly-edited "local legends" tomes sold in airports kiosks and tourist-trap gift shops. Datlow and Mamatas' edict to the participants in this anthology was to rescue those local legends from poorly-written retellings and to give them new life -- to make them universal while not sacrificing their local flavor. And most of the authors succeed.

There are 20 stories in the collection. My favorites are "As Red as Red" by Caitlyn R. Kiernan, "Shoebox Train Wreck" by John Mantooth, "Tin Cans" by Ekaterina Sedia, "Return to Mariabronn" by Gary A. Braunbeck, "The Redfield Girls" by Laird Barron, "Between Heaven and Hull" by Pat Cadigan, and "Chucky Comes to Liverpool" by Ramsey Campbell. With the exception of the Kiernan and Campbell stories, they all have to do with transportation-related ghosts -- something I didn't realize until I listed them all together like this. There are a couple of stories that disappointed me, notably "The Folding Man" by Joe R. Lansdale and "Down Atsion Road" by Jeffrey Ford, but not every collection can be perfect.

Even though Halloween is over as of a few minutes ago here on the east coast, I recommend seeking this collection out if you like "local legends" and "home-grown ghosts." It's worth the effort.

More detailed story-by-story analysis can be found here and here.
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