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100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories [Paperback]

Stefan R. Dziemianowicz , Robert H. Weinberg , Martin H. Greenberg
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2003 100 Stories
Be afraid, be very afraid: really scary things can come in small packages, and these 100 frightening little tales offer big chills and thrills. They represent more than 150 year's worth of writing, and include the greats: H.P. Lovecraft ("The Terrible Old Man"), Ambrose Bierce ("The Stranger"), Lafcadio Hearn ("A Dead Secret"), Oscar Wilde ("The Sphinx Without a Secret"), and J. Sheridan Le Fanu ("The Ghost and the Bone-Setter"). Best of all, a variety of human emotions and behavior come to the fore, from avarice (August Derleth's "Pacific 421") to revenge (Thorp McCluskey's "Black Gold"), from jealousy (Steve Rasnic Tem's "Daddy") to honor (Edith Nesbit's "John Charrington's Wedding") to love (Darrell Schwietzer's "Clocks"). Using a minimum of elements, each ghost story in this collection will entertain, captivate, and evoke a powerful response in readers.
So be warned: you might not want to read these while you're all alone in the house...

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great compilation Nov. 4 2003
Format:Paperback
Let's get the stinkers out of the way first. Oscar Wilde's "The Sphinx Without a Secret" is a story without a ghost, or even a fright. Very disappointing from such a talented writer. That is by far the worst story, so let's not dwell on it.
"The Sixth Tree" shows promise but suffers from a predictable ending, though it does offer a good little moral about man's misplaced reliance on science and, by extension, his own intelligence.
The best story was a much harder call, but I nominate "The Night Caller" by G. L. Raisor. The first line sets a wonderfully malignant tone: "Sherry Elder's descent into madness began on a Thursday." The rest of the story is a fast-paced masterpiece of implied doom and ominous overtones. The word "ghost" isn't mentioned, nor is the identity of the "ghost" stated, but the author makes it clear, regardless. The story is so effective because the reader is free to make his own conclusion.
But there are other fine stories. "The Coat" is menacing, "Mandolin" touching and endearing though it, like Wilde's story, doesn't have a ghost. "The Metronome" is pure vengeance from a murdered child, and Fred Chappell's "Miss Prue" deserves mention for its breathtaking descriptive prose, such as these gems: "His eyes were like cinders in the deep sockets. He seemed to belong more to the cool gray autumn wind than to the world of animal flesh." "His voice was windblown ash in a desert land." "She flicked her hand at the question as if it were a tedious housefly." "His voice was like the sound of wind in a ragged thornbush." Great stuff!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Collection of Short Short Ghost Stories Feb. 19 2013
By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is the perfect collection of very short ghost stories to stuff in your backpack for a weekend campout--or unobtrusively stuff in someone else's suitcase when they are planning to stay in a creepy old house. The collection suffers a little from the constraint of finding 100 short stories in the same genre, but not too much. This is the right length for a good ghost story with punch.

My favorites:

Barry Malzberg's "Away" tells of a ghost who returns again and again to give an unheeded warning.

Alfred Tooke's "The Ghosts at Haddon-le-Green" shows how frightening a ghost can be in the natural habitat of the cemetery at night.

Fred Chapell's "Miss Prue" invites us to an older woman's Thursday tea with her longtime fiancé. An appointment he has always kept.

Saki's "The Soul of Laploshka" reminds us that the dead may not rest unless our debts are paid to them in the appropriate way.

H. P. Lovecraft's "The Terrible Old Man" tells the story of an old man, alone with his bottles and hidden gold coins.

It's a good collection that will entertain and occasionally frighten. And it is often available used and at a discount.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great compilation Nov. 4 2003
By Eric D Christ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let's get the stinkers out of the way first. Oscar Wilde's "The Sphinx Without a Secret" is a story without a ghost, or even a fright. Very disappointing from such a talented writer. That is by far the worst story, so let's not dwell on it.
"The Sixth Tree" shows promise but suffers from a predictable ending, though it does offer a good little moral about man's misplaced reliance on science and, by extension, his own intelligence.
The best story was a much harder call, but I nominate "The Night Caller" by G. L. Raisor. The first line sets a wonderfully malignant tone: "Sherry Elder's descent into madness began on a Thursday." The rest of the story is a fast-paced masterpiece of implied doom and ominous overtones. The word "ghost" isn't mentioned, nor is the identity of the "ghost" stated, but the author makes it clear, regardless. The story is so effective because the reader is free to make his own conclusion.
But there are other fine stories. "The Coat" is menacing, "Mandolin" touching and endearing though it, like Wilde's story, doesn't have a ghost. "The Metronome" is pure vengeance from a murdered child, and Fred Chappell's "Miss Prue" deserves mention for its breathtaking descriptive prose, such as these gems: "His eyes were like cinders in the deep sockets. He seemed to belong more to the cool gray autumn wind than to the world of animal flesh." "His voice was windblown ash in a desert land." "She flicked her hand at the question as if it were a tedious housefly." "His voice was like the sound of wind in a ragged thornbush." Great stuff!
Finally, "Summerland" is effective, due to its cynical tone toward séances and spiritualism, in a subtle and understated way, and implies (again, without coming out and stating it) the truth about where our souls go. Or, more specifically, the soul of a man who rents out a decrepit house for the price of a mansion.
The editors have compiled a treasury of ghost stories, old and new, gothic to modern. No horror library is complete without it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read with predictable spirits Jan. 14 2007
By Diane Schirf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Like other tales, ghost stories set a tone that may be terrifying, mournful, moralistic, thought provoking, whimsical, or even humorous. In this anthology, ghosts appear for a variety of reasons. In "Across the Moors" by William Fryer Harvey, the anonymous ghost seems to wish only to tell someone about the experience that "served as the turning point in my life." Predictably, others seek revenge, even against the descendants of those who harmed them. In many stories, the presence returns because it is not at peace in some way or it wishes to warn the living. A handful of ghosts relive their deaths, so to speak. A few ghosts are not even aware that they are dead. Another twist features inexorable, repeating events of a ghastly nature instead of the beings themselves.

Interestingly, ghosts rarely transcend their humanity. Unlike Jacob Marley, whose vision beyond the grave is clearly greater than his living one was and who warns Ebenezer Scrooge against making the same errors he did, these ghosts remain true to their human nature and outlook. The family of "The House of Shadows" by Mary Elizabeth Counselman continues to live as they always have, unchanged. In "How He Left the Hotel" by Louisa Baldwin, a dead man walks whose habits and paths are no different from those he followed when he was alive. Vicious killers become vicious ghosts; malicious people become malicious ghosts, like the engineer of "The Light Was Green" by John Rawson Speer. "A Grammatical Ghost" (Elia W. Peattie) is as fastidious in the afterlife as she was in life. Few if any of these spirits behave any differently than we expect them to, given what we are told and can see of their lives and values. There are few surprises here.

I bought 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg and 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories at the same time because they seemed to make natural companions for long winter nights. I read the second almost a year after reading the first and found it disappointing in comparison.

Perhaps it is their very nature that makes ghost stories less effective than tales of horror. Ghosts are personal, connected in some way to the specific people and places that they haunt. I have nothing to fear from Jacob Marley or from any of the motley crew that roams the pages of this collection. I have killed no one, cheated on no one, and sent no one to the gallows, nor do my home or work place seem to attract spirits. I do not collect morbid objects like "Mordecai's Pipe" (A. V. Milyer). Some of the ghosts' actions seem horrifying, but I felt detached from them, perhaps because they are fictional ghosts acting out against fictional people in ways that are not entirely unexpected.

In comparison, horror stories, like those of Poe, rely on the darkness of the mind and its imaginative ability--how terrifying can the soul's darkness be? It is difficult to translate that sense to ghost stories, which, ironically, seem more tangible. Horror can extend as far as the mind can, but in the end ghosts are merely dead people--mostly predictable dead people. Without a spectacular ending twist, part of the suspense and the element of the unknown is lost.

Still, although there are more misses and fewer hits here than in the horror anthology, this is an entertaining book, worth curling up with on a dark and stormy night.

Diane L. Schirf

Saturday, 13 January 2007.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories June 25 2011
By Mrs. Charles Dickens - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For those that love the old fashioned GHOST stories of long ago I highly recommend this book.
Read it in a dark rainy night. You'll savour every ghastly little story.

Enjoy! your reading.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Collection of Short Short Ghost Stories Dec 6 2009
By John M. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the perfect collection of very short ghost stories to stuff in your backpack for a weekend campout--or unobtrusively stuff in someone else's suitcase when they are planning to stay in a creepy old house. The collection suffers a little from the constraint of finding 100 short stories in the same genre, but not too much. This is the right length for a good ghost story with punch.

My favorites:

Barry Malzberg's "Away" tells of a ghost who returns again and again to give an unheeded warning.

Alfred Tooke's "The Ghosts at Haddon-le-Green" shows how frightening a ghost can be in the natural habitat of the cemetery at night.

Fred Chapell's "Miss Prue" invites us to an older woman's Thursday tea with her longtime fiancé. An appointment he has always kept.

Saki's "The Soul of Laploshka" reminds us that the dead may not rest unless our debts are paid to them in the appropriate way.

H. P. Lovecraft's "The Terrible Old Man" tells the story of an old man, alone with his bottles and hidden gold coins.

It's a good collection that will entertain and occasionally frighten. And it is often available used and at a discount.
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