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Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories Paperback – October 1, 1984

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Editorial Reviews Review

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was a prickly, colorful character who wrote maliciously funny short stories for adults (The Best of Roald Dahl) as well as better-known works for children (James and the Giant Peach). As he relates in the introduction, he started the research for this book by making a call to the celebrated ghost-story anthologist/writer, Lady Cynthia Asquith. He then went to the British Museum Library, and read a total of 749 tales before selecting 14 for this anthology. His criterion: "Spookiness is, after all, the real purpose of the ghost story. It should give you the creeps and disturb your thoughts." Included here are not only acknowledged classics by Robert Aickman, Edith Wharton, J. S. Le Fanu, and F. Marion Crawford, but also tales by lesser-known writers such as L. P. Hartley, Rosemary Timperley, Jonas Lie, Mary Treadgold, and A. M. Burrage. The Washington Post writes, "Dahl's taste, it will surprise no one, is impeccable."


“Roald Dahl has selected fourteen of his favorite ghost stories that will deliver chills and goose bumps. "This is the best book of its kind in years.” ―The Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374518688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374518684
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Llandaff, South Wales, and went to Repton School in England. His parents were Norwegian, so holidays were spent in Norway. As he explains in Boy, he turned down the idea of university in favor of a job that would take him to"a wonderful faraway place. In 1933 he joined the Shell Company, which sent him to Mombasa in East Africa. When World War II began in 1939 he became a fighter pilot and in 1942 was made assistant air attaché in Washington, where he started to write short stories. His first major success as a writer for children was in 1964. Thereafter his children's books brought him increasing popularity, and when he died children mourned the world over, particularly in Britain where he had lived for many years.The BFG is dedicated to the memory of Roald Dahls eldest daughter, Olivia, who died from measles when she was seven - the same age at which his sister had died (fron appendicitis) over forty years before. Quentin Blake, the first Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom, has illustrated most of Roald Dahl's children's books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Austin on August 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
And I've read most ghost story anthologies in print. However, I don't agree that the recommended reading level should be young adult and I can't help but wonder if this classification was made hastily because Dahl is best known as a writer of children's books. Most of these stories may be too dense, too subtle for readers used to graphic horror. Readers who are used to so-called "told for the truth" ghost tales will see how much more chilling and "true" a literary ghost story, well-told can be. "Suddenly something dark and shapeless with its arm seeming to hold a black vesture over its head, flitted, all sharp angles like a bat down the narrow ill-lighted street, the sound of its passage audible to none." --from Robert Aickman's "Ringing the Changes," my favorite story in the collection. For readers who like this kind of literary heft in their ghost stories, I also recommend THE GHOST STORIES OF EDITH WHARTON and VICTORIAN GHOST STORIES BY NOTED WOMEN WRITERS.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By James Schulze on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
A ghost story should first and foremost be about atmosphere, and this collection of subtle, beautifully written ghost stories is a must-have. The stories range from the classic Victorian style to more bizarre stories such as the brilliant "Ringing the Changes." In addition, Dahl has selected works that are not usually included in the horror cannon. There is no Poe, no "Monkey's Paw." Instead, Dahl chose to emphasize more subtle and lesser-known works. And his introduction about the importance of women writers is also not to be missed. This is a brilliant anthology.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Grumple Dumple on August 22, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

***Introduction by Roald Dahl......11

***W.S by L.P. Hartley......21

***Harry by Rosemary Timperley......33

***The Corner Shop by Cynthia Asquith......47

***In the Tube by E.F. Benson......63

***Christmas Meeting by Rosemary Timperley......78

***Elias and the Draug by Jonas Lie......81

***Playmates by A.M. Burrage......90

***Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman......115

***The Telephone by Mary Treadgold......146

***The Ghost of a Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu......154

***The Sweeper by A.M. Burrage (Ex-Private X)......162

***Afterward by Edith Wharton......179

***On the Brighton Road by Richard Middleton......210

***The Upper Birth by F. Marion Crawford......214
__________ __________ __________ __________ __________ _________

A great collection of very interesting ghost stories to be read and then re-read again and again!

It seems to me a better recommended reading age would be something like 13 yrs and above.

Originally, I thought that this was a book of stories all written by Roald Dahl himself... that was the impression I got from the title.

Anyway, I recommend this to you!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Spookiness is, after all, the real purpose of the ghost story."
This line is from the late Roald Dahl's delightful introduction to a collection of ghost stories he selected in the late 1950's for a proposed t.v. series that was never picked up by a network. Not a single one of these stories was written by Roald Dahl, although he tells us in the introduction that he tried valiantly. His conclusion is that not just everyone is capable of writing for this genre and he apparently is one of those who is not.

The stories are beautifully written, every one, and present a nicely balanced variety of chills, from the eerie, oh-so-British, "Harry" by Rosemary Timperley to the primitive and gripping "Elias and the Draug" by Norwegian, Jonas Lie.

Be prepared, however, for these stories to be a bit subtle for a generation raised on the likes of Stephen King. They are the faint scritch-scratching of a ghostly hand on the chamber door -- as opposed to a bloodied corpse body-slamming through the door and clutching the reader by the throat.

I bought this book to read to my children, based on how much we adore Roald Dahl's children's books. This was not necessarily the best choice, not because the stories are too graphic or violent, but because the writing style in many of them is slightly wordy and archaic; rather slow going for an antsy eight and nine year old. Several did, however, pass our family "spooky test," which is whether or not one needs to take a flashlight to bed with one.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By M. Scott on April 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I don't usually seek out "scary" fiction, but I was looking for a gift for my son (a teen) and bought this one. He hasn't tried it yet, but I have been eagerly reading the stories. My favorite was also "Playmate", but all of the stories are good.
It should be noted that all of these stories were written quite a while ago. This means that the language is more complex and even maybe seems a little stilted to modern ears, but on the other hand, this is very high-caliber writing, and the language is a joy. (Many readers will have their vocabulary stretched just a little) I found the writing style to be an inspiration for my own writing. This is a very good collection!
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