Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor)

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Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor)

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Susmita Chatto
Reviewed by Susmita Chatto
Summary: A varied collection of ghost stories, just right for chilly autumn nights and Hallowe'en - but guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine any time!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1781250945

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This collection of classic ghost stories covers all kinds of chilling tales. There are physical ghosts, emotional ghosts, ghosts that are never seen but merely sensed, and even the odd entity that just seems ghostly, even though it might be an ordinary everyday thing - but still makes you feel as if you’ve, well, seen a ghost. Each story is preceded with some information on the author. The stories are from are from several different periods and the settings range from winter nights in England to sultry summers in India. This combines to make for an excellent overview of all kinds of spooky sagas.

I have been interested in ghost stories as a genre for a long time, but mostly read full length novels rather than seeking out shorter tales. This book gave me a terrific overview of the genre as a whole, as there are so many ways in which a ghostly tale can be written, and designed to create the maximum fear factor. The first story in the collection stayed with me for a long time. It is E Nesbit’s The Shadow and it almost made me fear my own: …something follows me about ..I always feel that I shall see the thing next minute – but I never do.. Of all the stories, this had the most chilling ending.

It made for a terrific opener and led nicely into other favourites including Ruth Rendell’s The Haunting of Shawley Rectory which manages to combine a modern writing style with the feel of a house that has been haunted since time began, and M R James The Haunted Doll’s House which moves us smoothly into what feels like a borderline fantasy realm.

Some of these short stories are rather long; it is worth looking at the story length before starting, as it can spoil the effect of a chiller if you are interrupted by arriving at the station where you need to disembark and go to a very unghostly, brightly lit workplace! The longer ones are just as gripping so it would be as well to keep them uninterrupted. I do not think the book loses anything if the stories are not read in order, but I would suggest reading the first one first as it is such a good opener.

As I worked my way through the stories, I realised it wasn’t just a collection of ghost stories in which to be absorbed for the sake of entertainment. For an enquiring mind, it also makes for a terrific study of fear, and who or what can arouse it. I had started reading with the idea that perhaps if the unknown in ghost stories could be addressed, the fear factor would be gone. There is always a ghostbuster around who wants to find a scientific explanation for a clock that winds itself, for example. But sometimes, even the provision of an explanation can't solve everything...

The beauty with many of these stories is that far from trying to hide anything from the reader, many have a narrative style which puts each option out there for you to understand – and with plenty of red herrings to mix it all up too! The paradoxes of human fear are widely explored in this collection – which I recommend you don’t save for reading in the dead of night… but do read it!

If you'd like something similar we can recommend:

Tales of Death and Dementia by Edgar Allan Poe and Gris Grimly

Buy Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tales from the Dead of Night: Thirteen Classic Ghost Stories by Cecily Gayford (editor) at Amazon.com.


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