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Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood (Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction) Paperback – June 1, 1973


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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Mystery, Detective, & Other Fiction
  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486229777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486229775
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"If a ghost is seen, what is it interests me less than than what sees it?" Thus Algernon Blackwood describes his fascination with human beings' ability to sense invisible powers and stirrings in the universe, a fascination he developed most famously in his stories about mystical, ineffable encounters with nature. This collection, selected by renowned scholar of the supernatural, E. F. Bleiler, is an excellent sample of Blackwood's work, including 12 of his best ghost stories and a crime story as well. Blackwood is acknowledged today as the author who made the ghost story into a respectable literary form.

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Customer Reviews

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Each story starts slowly but by ten pages in, you will be hooked each time.
Chris P. Robertson
Algernon Blackwood ranks with M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu as one of the three best writers of ghost stories in the English Language.
Roscoe Kendig
This English author neatly closes that gap with great stories full of suspense and eeriness.
Jeffrey Leach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on May 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Algernon Blackwood writes some very creepy stories. Born in 1869 to a ruling class family in Kent, England, Blackwood failed to live up to the expectations of his ultra religious parents. After attending the University of Edinburgh, the young man headed to Canada, then a part of the British Empire. In Canada Blackwood failed at several different endeavors, including an attempt at journalism, running a milk farm, and managing a bar. Algernon then went to New York City where he lived in penniless isolation. It was here that the future novelist encountered the seedy side of humanity, including dangerous criminals, con men, and other assorted unsavory types. Most people, when confronted with such a bleak atmosphere, would give up in frustration. Blackwood did not; he caught a break when a wealthy individual hired him as a private secretary. His eventual return to England led to the start of his writing career, a career as the premier author of supernatural fiction.

This compilation of Blackwood stories, compiled by E.F. Bleiler in the early 1970s, contains several of Blackwood's most lauded tales. The stories vary in length from fifty pages to less than ten pages. The title of Bleiler's collection, "Best Ghost Stories of Algernon Blackwood," is more than a little misleading. There are only three stories dealing with spirits from beyond the grave here, and only one of those, "The Listener," is truly creepy. The best stories in this book, without a doubt, are two of the lengthier contributions: "The Willows" and "The Wendigo," which must rank as the eeriest stories ever written. Blackwood has the amazing ability to introduce not only deep sensations of terror, but to sustain and build that terror throughout the story. Every fan of horror must read Algernon Blackwood at some point.
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82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By R. MCCOSKER on December 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's unfortunate that this collection of unequalled horror and suspense pieces goes by the name "ghost stories." In fact, there are almost no ghosts to be found in this book. Blackwood (1869-1951), who must rank as one of the greatest English language fiction writers ever, is also one of literature's best-kept secrets, a genius who exquisitely married mind-bending metaphysical revelation with unbearable suspense.
Calling these "ghost stories" is like calling Moby Dick a "fishing tale" or Les Miserables a "detective story" -- it simply doesn't begin to reveal the scope and depth of what is contained. It's hard to compare Blackwood with any other writer, because he was so unique. He was a major influence on H. P. Lovecraft, but was vastly more compelling, subtle and profound. You might think of him as Hermann Hesse meets a maturer version of H. P. Lovecraft.
The place to start in the collection is with Blackwood's hallmark stories, The Willows and The Wendigo. They could just as well be titled The Camping Trip From Hell and The Hunting Trip From Hell respectively, and I do mean Hell. Presumably the movie The Blair Witch Project drew its inspiration from those metaphysical shockers, in comparison to which The Blair Witch Project is just a romp in the woods (no pun intended!).
Yet Blackwood is not difficult to follow or to begin to understand. His prose ceaselessly crackles with sublime, cumulative thrills on every page. A suggestion: Read Blackwood slowly, without distractions, so you can savor and ponder every line. You won't be disappointed, but be prepared to never look at the world quite the same again.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Roscoe Kendig on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Algernon Blackwood ranks with M.R. James and Sheridan LeFanu as one of the three best writers of ghost stories in the English Language. In the Dover collection under review the stories " The Willows " and the " Wendigo " best illustrate Blackwood's talent for taking an ordinary event i.e., a canoe trip in " The Willows " and a hunting expedition in " The Wendigo " and gradually revealing the supernatural landscape into which the characters have unwittingly trespassed. Implicit in Blackwood's work is a notion akin to Melville's " mask of appearance " that ordinary experience is a mere crust beneath which lies the truly supernatural and terrible reality that is human existence. In " The Willows " Blackwood's characters discover a rent in the fabric of ordinary experience that is truly terrifying and in " The Wendigo " Blackwood demonstrates what happens when one tries to return from a fall through that crust. Blackwood is a metaphysician in the same sense that Melville and Hawthorne and Dostoevsky are metaphysicians. These writers show us the depths beneath ordinary experience which we seldom visit, and as Blackwood shows us, for good reason.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
The title is a little misleading, since it hints at creaky old victorian tales about spectres haunting the houses where they died. Anyone stumbling blindly into this volume will therefore be shocked by "The Willows" and "The Wendigo", two of the best horror stories ever written. Most people today don't find the idea of ghosts terribly scary because they are so easy to understand (spirits of the dead). "The Willows" is frightening because the forces involved are almost impossible to understand! And "The Wendigo" will scare you away from wintry forest landscapes (and probably most of Canada) for a good long while!
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