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30 review for The Folio Book of Horror Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carmine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. About horror and weird travels into the darkness "There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern." "...When I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lig About horror and weird travels into the darkness "There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern." "...When I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleaming from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance to anything on earth." "Instead, a harsch voice simply began speaking. "This is nine! This is ten! We have killed your friends! Every friend is now dead! This is six!" Mike listened with growing horror, not at what the voice was saying but at its rasping empitness. It was not a machine-generated voice, but it wasn't human voice, either. It was the voice of the room. The presence pouring out of the walls and the floor..." A collection, smart in dimension but thick in substance, of short stories written by great authors in the horror genre. Despite the presence of King, Lovecraft and Poe (all of them commercial and ridondant in collective imagination), ordinary readers like me will find underrated names such as Oliver - Flowers of the sea, an amazing piece about scary visions and acceptance of mental disease - and Machen with his The white people. Ligotti, Jackson and Blackwood, best known for other works, in this book find their place with ambiguos and unresolved stories (Vastarien, The bus and Ancient lights, respectively). The fall of the House of Usher 5★ The Yellow Wallpaper 4★ Count Magnus 4★ The white people 5★ Ancient Lights 4★ The music of Erich Zann 4★ Smoke Ghost 3.5★ Brenda 3★ The bus 5★ Again 4★ Vastarien 4.5★ Call home 4★ 1408 4★ Flowers of the sea 5★ Hippocampus 3★ (too much difficult for my - bad - english skills)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Finny

    A brilliant collection of stories, with only a couple duds. While it's not quite the overview of the genre that Campbell touts it as in the foreword—there's a 20 year gap between 1922 and 1941, despite the genre having a decidedly distinct flavour in those tense interwar years; there's also a distinct lack of Clive Barker and William Hope Hodgeson—it is a wonderful collection of horror stories, with picks so strong that lesser known authors like Reggie Oliver and Margaret St. Clair manage to hol A brilliant collection of stories, with only a couple duds. While it's not quite the overview of the genre that Campbell touts it as in the foreword—there's a 20 year gap between 1922 and 1941, despite the genre having a decidedly distinct flavour in those tense interwar years; there's also a distinct lack of Clive Barker and William Hope Hodgeson—it is a wonderful collection of horror stories, with picks so strong that lesser known authors like Reggie Oliver and Margaret St. Clair manage to hold their own against legends like Lovecraft and Poe. *** The Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allen Poe A classic for a reason. Grand guignol horror storytelling that progresses from an intimate tale of madness to an operatic tale of supernatural terror, complete with mysterious lakes, collapsing buildings, and the dead coming back for revenge. The story's initial conceit of an impossible crack in a centuries old structure is perfectly uncanny, and so perfectly Poe. 10/10 The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman Another classic. Not much needs to be said about this one. A woman in a room goes crazy. Brilliant. 9/10 Count Magnus - M.R. James An extremely aggressive ghost story. It almost feels like something Lovecraft would write if he was more spiritually than scientifically inclined, taking the ghost concept and turning it into an unstoppable force of nature, in an almost (but not quite) cosmic horror kind of way. 9/10 The White People - Arthur Machen Deeply disappointing. I've long heard about this story—it's Guillermo Del Toro's favourite horror story, and was a significant influence on Lovecraft—I just found it all a little... dull. The ideas here are cool. The split narrative—half scholars of paranormal phenomena discussing the text, half the text itself—is cool, and the philosophical/metaphysical discussions at the start of the story are interesting, but the main body of the story never quite clicks. There are some interesting aspects—I feel that there's an angle of child abuse being ever so delicately touched on in this story, but I can't find any mention of it online, so I seem to be the only one—and it's undeniably well written, but it just went on a bit too long and got a bit too repetitive. There was also no payoff, which I understand is kind of the point, but it still left the whole thing feeling a bit too loose. That all said, the scene with the well was haunting. 5/10 Ancient Lights - Algernon Blackwood A fun story of faerie mischief, with an ever so sligthly sinister undercurrent. I really appreciate this story's use of English folklore, and Blackwood really gets across the expansive nature of the forests and fields of England. There's a love for the British countryside here that comes through in Blackwood's lush, romantic descriptions of the landscape and flora. I honestly found that element more appealing than the story's horror elements. 7.5/10 The Music of Erich Zann - H.P. Lovecraft A story Lovecraft considered among his best, The Music of Erich Zann is set in a mysterious pan-European city that feels like a mix of Paris, Venice, and London. Telling the story of a student who becomes obsessed with a mysterious cellist who, each night, wields his instrument like a weapon against some encroaching darkness. Beautiful prose and a mystical atmosphere. Rightfully considered among Lovecraft's best. 10/10 Smoke Ghost - Fritz Lieber Horrifying in the truest sense of the word. A ghost—or god—either created or maintained by the grim smokestacks and iron infrastructure of an industrial town turns his attention toward the story's protagonist, tormenting him ruthlessly, and driving him toward the edge of his sanity. This was one of the most unexpectedly incredible stories in the collection. I'd only heard of Fritz Leiber as a fantasy writer—his Gray Mouser stories being wildly influential—but he clearly knocks it out of the park with whatever genre he turns his hand to. 10/10 Brenda - Margaret St. Clair Weird. This story chronicles a couple days in the life of a tomboyish young girl, who seems to be pretty insane already, and her encounters with a mysterious humanoid creature. There are a few interesting things going on here—not the least of which is that it feels like we're experiencing something horrifying from the perspective of a character who seems destined to grow up into the villain of a horror story herself, even without this encounter. There's a brilliant, intangible sinister quality to this one. Another pleasant surprise. 9/10 The Bus - Shirley Jackson I'm a huge fan of Shirley Jackson's novels, but this story didn't work for me at all. The characterisation is weak, the prose is bland, and the story is completely predictable. There are a few bits of interesting imagery, but overall there's not much to discuss here. Not abysmal, but definitely more bad than good. 4/10 Again - Ramsay Campbell This one contains my least favourite trope: Naked Old Women Are Creepy. They are not. The one in this story manages to be scary for other reasons, but she's never creepy. She's a threat. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Campbell is clearly a talented writer, but his work always feels a little too desperate to be edgy. It's not bad, it's the kind of thing I read when i'm in the mood for trashy paperback pulp, but this story definitely feels weak—especially surrounded, as it is in this book, by a bunch of classics and near-classics. Still, it's definitely a good story overall. 7/10 Vastarien - Thomas Ligotti Essentially Lovecraft as literary fiction. The prose is overwraught, the story is a modern update of stories we've read before, and it has that insufferable post-postmodern aloofness. But I still kind of vibed with this one. The imagery is so vivid and dreamy, it really conjures a sense of place. I'm still not particularly sold on Ligotti being a modern master, but Vastarien is definitely a very good story. 7.5/10 Call Home - Dennis Etchinson Absolutely abysmal. One of those exceptionally lazy horror stories that could be solved by even the slightest bit of common sense from the main character. And the pedophilia angle is so predictable and so entirely unshocking. Badly written, and absolutely, deeply, spectacularly stupid. Not only the worst short story in the collection, but one of the worst short stories I've ever read. 1/10 1408 - Stephen King Good King. A classic. Spookier than I remember, with an ending I really enjoy. A great little campfire tale. Not much else to say. 8/10 Flowers of the Sea - Reggie Oliver Capitalising on perfect trifecta of unpleasant concepts—the breakdown of a once perfect marriage, mental degradation, and one that would be a spoiler to mention—Flowers of the Sea weaves a tale that's simultaneously delicately depressing and aggressively grim. The prose is pretty—elegant and evocative without ever losing sight of that pulp honesty that really sells a good horror story—and the story itself is heartbreaking, horrifying, and weird. The use of telepathy as a metaphor for a perfectly matched romantic relationship is genius, and what Oliver does with that concept is deeply disturbing. Maybe my favourite piece in the entire collection. 10/10 Hippocampus - Adam Nevill a story that's cool in concept but which doesn't stick the landing on its execution. I appreciate the gore, and the core concept is cool—i like the idea of a story where the author just clinically describes the aftermath of a murder, leaving it to the reader to figure out what happened—but the writing isn't quite good enough to make it work. And, personally, I feel like it lacks the ambiguity or darkness the idea requires. Not terrible, but not great. 5/10 *** Overall, I really love this collection. Not everything here is amazing, but there are enough great stories that the good outweighs the bad. And even the bad stories—with the exception of Call Home—have some element or imagery that's at least interesting. A great little anthology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karas Jim

    Beautifully illustrated edition, filled with exquisite artistic paintings which depict several key moments of the stories that are included in it. I enjoyed all of the stories and consider them all solid -and at the same time- bold picks. Three, however, were the ones that amazed me and earned my full appreciation: 1. The White People by Arthur Machen. It fuses two aspects that i enjoy a lot in horror narratives; several scholars and initiated-wannabes exchange philosophical and cosmic views about Beautifully illustrated edition, filled with exquisite artistic paintings which depict several key moments of the stories that are included in it. I enjoyed all of the stories and consider them all solid -and at the same time- bold picks. Three, however, were the ones that amazed me and earned my full appreciation: 1. The White People by Arthur Machen. It fuses two aspects that i enjoy a lot in horror narratives; several scholars and initiated-wannabes exchange philosophical and cosmic views about the world, while the narrative is also expanded by the spontaneously and boundlessly written first-person tale of a possibly mentally deranged young child who has what could amount as a constant contact with supernatural and unknown entities. 2. Brenda, by Margaret St. Clair. A heart-gripping horror story that touches on racism, superstition and fear of the other. 3. Smoke Ghost, by Fritz Leiber. Powerful and invasive, this is a narrative of the urban monster of smoke, steel and manufacture, incredibly telling of its writer's age and living condition.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Kerr

    Cracking new collection of horror stories in - of course - a deliciously well presented Folio edition. Count Magnus by M.R. James is the standout for sheer horror manifested, but 1408 by King is equally unsettling, as is some lesser known works by key authors , particular Ancient Lights by Blackwood

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    Great collection of horror stories in a beautiful, handmade book. Highly recommended. The illustrations are also wonderful.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Slocombe

    The scariest stories in this book are basically about furnishings! 'The Yellow Wallpaper ' continues to be one of the best things ever written and '1408' is extremely creepy. . Nearly all the stories in this collection are really good and I was frequently scared to go to bed after reading.  The only story I didn't enjoy was 'The White People' which was monumentally boring and rambling. I don't understand why it was included, it's probably the worst short story I've ever read. (I've deducted a who The scariest stories in this book are basically about furnishings! 'The Yellow Wallpaper ' continues to be one of the best things ever written and '1408' is extremely creepy. . Nearly all the stories in this collection are really good and I was frequently scared to go to bed after reading.  The only story I didn't enjoy was 'The White People' which was monumentally boring and rambling. I don't understand why it was included, it's probably the worst short story I've ever read. (I've deducted a whole star just for it.) . I also really enjoyed 'Smoke Ghost' as I often wonder why ghosts are always olden days people. Where are the houses haunted by the ghosts of 90's lads in lacoste trackies?! (That's not at all what the smoke ghost is, it's much creepier.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    A fantastic looking book with fantastic stories told by different authors throughout the years, it spans from Shirley Jackson to Stephen King all the way up to Adam Nevill. I don't have the book in front of me right now so can reel off the authors and titles but there were a few gems in there and I'll definitely be looking into some of the authors I've not heard before. A fantastic looking book with fantastic stories told by different authors throughout the years, it spans from Shirley Jackson to Stephen King all the way up to Adam Nevill. I don't have the book in front of me right now so can reel off the authors and titles but there were a few gems in there and I'll definitely be looking into some of the authors I've not heard before.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shan

    3.5 Stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    M.P. Conn

    What a ride!!!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn Habberley

  11. 4 out of 5

    James Ternovoy

  12. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Calvert

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ayush Kumar

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zaki

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dity

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michele Grimson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh Nicole

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicole McClure

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eleri Jay

  22. 4 out of 5

    Arno

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sean Kennedy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Don

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alice Doherty

  26. 5 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hopkins

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex Barton

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Kawalec

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Scriven

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