20th Century Ghosts Paperback – Sep 16 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
After the release of Hill's acclaimed novel Heart-Shaped Box, this collection of his short fiction, originally published in Britain two years ago made its way to the United States. Hill, the son of horror master Stephen King, runs a diverse gamut that includes some unapologetic chillers along the lines of the book's title story. Yet the essence of his material could best be described as a hybrid that connects the ironic twists from episodes of The Twilight Zone with the angst and vulnerability of childhood and adolescence. David LeDoux, whose previous audiobook credits include Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus! and Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, demonstrates an especially keen knack for capturing the cadence of teen and young adult male speech patterns, with equal parts deadpan cool and quivering tension. Hill's novella Voluntary Committal provides a sublime experience of jarring suspense and compelling family drama. Admittedly, a few of the briefer works may leave listeners longing for more fully developed story lines, but Hill consistently manages to evoke emotional responses and provoke unsettling questions, which makes for a worthwhile experience.
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“Alternately sad, scary, strange and at times even sweet, these tales will haunt you long after you’ve read them.” (Parade (a "Parade Pick"))
“[A] lovely, earnest collection of short fiction.” (Village Voice)
“[O]ne of the best [horror] collections of the year. Hill is a relative newcomer who consistently creates creepy, very disturbing stories.” (Locus)
“Each tale is unique, and the collection proves that Hill’s talent is not limited to horror, but extends well into the mainstream.” (Denver Rocky Mountain News)
“[An] inventive collection . . . brave and astute.” (New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice))
“[A] new take on the fantasy-horror genre...Highly recommended.” (The Sun Herald (Sydney, Australia))
“The selections range from the mundane to the surreal, with a strong emphasis on the kind of horror tale perfected by Ray Bradbury, Peter Straub and Stephen King.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“This solid, inventive, scary collection of stories reveals a writer who has thought hard about the problematics of horror.” (New York Times on 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS)
“Each of these chilling tales arrests you from the opening sentence and leads you — trustingly, thanks to the simple mastery of the story-teller — into a place of gulping fear.” (Daily Mail (London) on 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS)
“Subtle and disturbing in equal measure.” (Coventry Telegraph on 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS)
“Irresistible stories.” (Evening Herald (Ireland))
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Top Customer Reviews
But dammit, he delivers!
Although Heart Shaped Box, his aforementioned first novel, was published earlier this year, technically this compilation was his first published book. It was issued by PS Publishing, a small press in the UK over 2 years ago (thanks Peter!!!) and pulls together many of Joe's works that had been printed in magazines and anthologies.
These 16 stories (although only 15 are listed on the title page - you have to find the last one) include mention of ghosts, nasty people, dysfunctional families, perhaps idiot savants, killers and more.
Whether he is writing in the first or third person he finds a way to suck you into a story so that you can't get out until it's over. He's included tales about horror writers that scare you on their own, ghosts that stick around, inflatable kids and the impact left upon those that knew them once they're gone, kids that turn into giant, killing insects, the legacy of having a vampire hunter as a father, collectors of the odd and more.
You can tell that Joe was developing his style or voice as he wrote these works. One or two come to what you'd expect was the obvious ending... Some throw in a twist that you weren't expecting... But what stands out more than anything is the relationships between the characters in each story. Regardless of the premise, they're believable!Read more ›