Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense Hardcover – April 2, 2019
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"Rising smoothly above the acres of anthologies of 19th- and early-20th-century weird and supernatural fiction, author Morton and anthologist Klinger combine brilliant stories by obscure writers with obscure stories by famous writers to create an outstanding work that serves equally as scholarship and entertainment. This is a work of art, a pleasure to read, and a serious and welcome contribution to the study of the ghost story in English.", Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A terrific new volume of neglected spooky tales.", Black Gate
"There are few things as comfortably rewarding as settling into a collection of ghost stories. What elevates this compilation are the details provided by Morton and Klinger which add edifying and entertaining elements. Providing historical perspective along with explanations of allusions and deciphering of antiquated speech/language, they enhance the appreciation of the fine authors whose works are included in the book.", Diabolique
About the Author
Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author, anthologist, and the editor of the acclaimed Ghosts: A Haunted History. She is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, a recipient of the Black Quill Award, and winner of the 2012 Grand Prize from the Halloween Book Festival. A lifelong Californian, she lives in North Hills, California, and can be found online at www.lisamorton.com.
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The ghost story – standard fare of sleepovers and camping trips, and was probably one of the first stories told when man started communicating. From the day humans learned of death, they have looked for ways to understand it, and to hope that it isn’t really the end. The thought of loved ones coming back to silently (or not so silently) visit us provides some with hope, while scares the hell out of others. Many have claimed to see these specters of the dead (myself included), while many turn to science to disprove such claims. Regardless, the ghost story will be around in various forms for as long as humans have the capability to tell them.
What we have forgotten is that some of the best ghost stories were written centuries ago, lost to either time, or just forgotten among the plethora of other stories the author may have written. For example, we all know of Dickens’ most famous ghost story, “A Christmas Carol”, but how many can recall reading (or even hearing about), “No. 1 Branch Line: The Signalman”? Not many, I’m willing to bet; and that’s a shame.
Apparently Lisa Morton and Leslie Klinger thought so as well, because they took it upon themselves to put together this collection of eighteen eerie, creepy, atmospheric tales of the dead coming back – sometimes to help, sometimes to hinder, sometimes to pass on wisdom, or just to scare the bejeezus out of someone. Lisa, and Leslie, did a fantastic job of finding these treasures, and managed to get just the right mix of terror, heartache, and yes, even humor (thank you Mark Twain).
I’d love to write a review of every story, but due to the nature of the stories, I would be doing the authors, and the readers a serious injustice. These gems are meant to be savored and enjoyed, with no knowledge of what to expect.
You’re going to want to read this in the daytime, with the lights on; and preferably not in a house inhabited by the spirit of a woman who died in your reading room before you moved in. Just saying.
Where better to begin than the classic ghost story? This volume collects seventeen of the earliest published tales, as well as opening with an example of the kind of haunting poetic ballad where the sub-genre used to mostly hang its spectral hat.
Many of these were familiar to me, even if I hadn’t read them in years. Others, somehow, I’d entirely missed, and was glad to finally catch up on. We’ve got Poe’s “Ligeia,” of course … works by M.R. James and Wilkie Collins, Dickens himself. We’ve got stories by Edith Wharton, Olivia Howard Dunbar, Georgia Wood Pangborn, Charlotte Riddell, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, further proving the shouldn’t-have-to-be-proved-anyway point that ladies have ALWAYS been doing this as long and just as well as the gents.
In fact, it’s Phelps’ “Since I Died” that takes the prize for my top pick of the book; wonderfully written, can’t believe I’d never seen it before, some fantastic use of first- and second-person perspective, fabulous descriptions, really hits home with the chilling emotional resonance.
Readers only accustomed to contemporary fast-paced hard-hitting fiction might find these oldies a bit on the slow and rambling/meandering side, but they make up for it with mood, atmosphere, stylishly beautiful turns of phrase, and artfulness the likes of which it’s rare to see these days.
The introduction, and helpful footnotes included throughout, serve to provide a more scholarly academic touch. The history of ghost stories, mediums, and the Spiritualism movement add an extra dimension, making for a satisfying educational experience as well as an entertaining one.