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Modern Ghost Stories Review: The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories

Updated on August 4, 2012
Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Buy The Mammoth Book Of Modern Ghost Stories On Amazon

Buy Ghost Stories On Amazon

You love a ghost story? Who doesn't love a ghost story? It feels so good to be creeped out and thoroughly chilled to the core, as you work your way through a book of ghostly short stories. And all of it without noticing how late the hour is getting, you know what I mean? What's the worst thing in the world: well, it may be a pretty long list, but somewhere in it for me there's this: realising that the hour is late, you've been sitting reading ghost stories in the semi-dark, and it's now time to get up from the safety of the sofa and go round checking on locks and electrical appliances prior to retiring to bed for the night.

Nooo! What if one of the ghosties gets me! (In my household these unsavoury characters are referred to as the bum-biting ghosties, for no apparent reason, except perhaps to reduce their ability to strike terror into the heart of the afflicted through mockery. Does it work? Hell no! They're still terrifying!)

But anyway, that's the whole point of a ghost story collection: to terrify the bejeesus out of you to the point where you're reduced from a sane, sentient, sensible adult, to someone incapable of locking the front door at night for fear of ghoulies and ghosties and bump-type activity. The question being: how does The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories fare when judged by these exacting standards?

Pretty well, I must admit, although I have a few quibbles with the collection as a whole. For a start, for a book titled The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories, the chronological range of the collection is a bit odd, going right back to the beginning of the twentieth century. I guess that is dependent on a technical definition of what modern means, but to an untutored reader it's still a bit of a surprise. That said, many of the stories within are a ton of fun. My personal favourites are John Buchan's 'The Grove of Ashtaroth' and the Arthur Conan Doyle story 'Playing With Fire', with a special mention for the Elizabeth Bowen story 'Pink May'. The latter, with a fierce bitch session between a female ghost and a female hauntee, is both funny and chilling, one of my favourite ghosty tales ever.

Is The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories worth the price of admission? I'd certainly say so, for any fan of the traditional chills 'n' thrills ghost story. It's a big, thick, chunky, meaty tome, with plenty of value for money, and a good level of quality control: not a duff tale in there, I would say. Do you fancy a few scares and a shiver of apprehension along with your nightcap? I know I do, and this book may well be the one to go for if that's what you're looking for. Enjoy, and happy haunting!


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