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Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by…
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Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories

by Audrey Niffenegger (Editor)

Other authors: Ray Bradbury (Contributor), A.M. Burrage (Contributor), A.S. Byatt (Contributor), Rebecca Curtis (Contributor), Neil Gaiman (Contributor)11 more, Amy Giacalone (Contributor), M.R. James (Contributor), Rudyard Kipling (Contributor), Kelly Link (Contributor), Audrey Niffenegger (Cover artist), Audrey Niffenegger (Contributor), Oliver Onions (Contributor), Edgar Allan Poe (Contributor), Saki (Contributor), Edith Wharton (Contributor), P.G. Wodehouse (Contributor)

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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It's somewhat rare that I pick up a book of short stories, and about equally uncommon to select a horror title, but this was a kind of fun deviation. Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife, has assembled this collection, which proved to be a fitting read the week after Halloween (I had meant to read it earlier in October, but a couple other titles got in the way). Standouts include Poe's classic "The Black Cat," eye-openingly horrifying to modern-day sensibilities, and the traditionally creepy "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" (Gaiman). There is something here to give everyone the shivers. ( )
  ryner | Nov 25, 2017 |
A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I love Audrey Niffenegger's earlier work so I thought this one would be a slam-dunk. Who doesn't love a good ghost story?

The collection is a bit on the ecclecic side, ranging from modern day to classic with a twist of contemporary. The stories are more on the traditional side of a ghost story versus the creepy kind that keep you up at night. All-in-all, a fun read, perfect for this time of year. I do wish the author had included more of her work because I think her writing speaks for itself. That being said, I enjoyed her introductions to each story and the illustrations, they were a perfect companion to the featured stories. ( )
  GirlWellRead | Feb 25, 2017 |
Basically, this is a collection of the ghost stories that Audrey Niffenegger thinks you ought to read. With a few exceptions, I agreed with her. I'd read the bulk of the selections included, but welcomed the chance to re-read, as there are quite a few excellent stories featured. Each also has a charming black-and-white illustration by Niffenegger.

**** The Black Cat - Edgar Allen Poe
I think I might have to give this one the Most Unpleasant Narrator of All Time award.
It's true, animal abusers tend to be psychopaths.
Here, Poe gives us a disturbing glimpse into the mind of a man who shows no remorse for his deeds and is eager to blame outside factors for his own decisions. The story, published in 1843, still has the ability to shock, even today.

**** Secret Life, With Cats - Audrey Niffenegger
Unsatisfied housewife decides to volunteer at the local no-kill shelter, to bring some meaning to her life. While there, she also makes a friend with a fellow volunteer, who ends up leaving her a modest property in her will. And then, things get weird. This is one that I suspect will stick with me.

**** Pomegranate Seed - Edith Wharton
A woman is very much in love with her new husband, a widower. But as time goes on, it seems that another woman may have become a factor in their relationship. Who are the mysterious letters that arrive in the house at odd intervals from? And why does her husband find them so upsetting?
(a re-read)

***** The Beckoning Fair One - Oliver Onions
What really makes this story is how what's terrifying about the ghost is how its influence affects the mind and moods of the characters... Over and above shadows and bumps in the night, it's the depression and despair that accompany its presence.
A writer rents out a suite in a decrepit and long-empty home. Sinking his savings into renovations, he's eager to show the apartment off to his lady-friend, whom he anticipates will be delighted by what he's done with the old place. However, her reaction is quite the opposite. Even though everything is freshly painted and lovely, she hates it. Moreover, she seems terribly prone to accidents whenever she comes to visit. Meanwhile, the tenant can't seem to get a lick of work accomplished there, and the more he tries to buckle down and get his latest novel written, the more he seems convinced that it's no good, and that he's a failure.
And that's just the beginning of the horror...
(Just as a note, I think what really brought this up to 5 stars for me is the character of Elsie [the friend of the narrator]. She's just so bold and real - 'substantial' in more ways than one. She's one that's going to stick with me.)
(a re-read)

***** The Mezzotint - M.R. James
A print curator comes across an 'interesting' picture on offer. At first it seems to be an unremarkable, amateur work - but something about it is strange: it seems to be slightly different each time it's viewed. The image may hold the clue to a terrible crime...
Classically old-fashioned - and wonderfully spooky!
(a re-read)

**** Honeysuckle cottage - P.G. Wodehouse
OK, the whole love-and-marriage as the dreaded ball'n'chain for bachelors is a bit passe, as a joke. However, this is still wonderfully written, and yeah, quite funny.
A successful romance novelist passes away - and her will requires that her nephew move into her charming cottage. The nephew is also a writer - but one who churns out ultra-masculine mystery-thrillers, and has nothing but disdain for his aunt's body of work. However, her house may have an insidious effect on his perspective - and his writing.

***** Click-clack the Rattlebag / Neil Gaiman
"Super-creepy short tale, with the feel of the stories kids tell each other at sleepover parties… Reminded me just a little bit of Kelly Link’s ‘The Specialist’s Hat.’ (Another super-creepy tale.)"
(a re-read)

**** They - Rudyard Kipling
"It unfolds as a man, driving aimlessly in his motorcar, comes across an estate tenanted by a lonely blind woman… and, it seems, several children, who are strangely elusive. The setting is vivid and lush, the language evocative – it’s more of a musing of life and loss than the ghost story it might seem to be. However, the ending is peculiar and rather unsatisfying – I’m not sure what to make of it." Of course I had 'The Jungle Book' and 'Rikki Tikki Tavi' as a child, but I'd never read this Kipling tale before. It unfolds as a man, driving aimlessly in his motorcar, comes across an estate tenanted by a lonely blind woman... and, it seems, several children, who are strangely elusive. The setting is vivid and lush, the language evocative - it's more of a musing of life and loss than the ghost story it might seem to be. However, the ending is peculiar and rather unsatisfying - I'm not sure what to make of it.
What I didn't understand, in the context of the text, is why the narrator feels, suddenly, that he must never return. One analyst explained it so: "Even if the dead is very young and much beloved, one must turn one’s back on that road and return to the living world to which one belongs." Having learned that Kipling wrote this after the death of his young daughter, it makes sense in that he's trying to convince himself to move on - I guess it also makes sense that as a reader, I didn't find the effort fully compelling.
(a re-read)

**** Playmates - A.M. Burrage
Adopted by a man with no understanding of children's emotional needs, a lonely girl in a big old house finds some very unconventional playmates. Are they imaginary friends, created to stave off her isolation - or something else? Although technically a ghost story, this piece is more wistful than scary.
(a re-read)

*** The July Ghost - A.S. Byatt
It's very... A.S. Byatt-y. An academic type discovers that he (and only he) can see the ghost of his landlady's deceased son, and is drawn into an awkward relationship predicated on grief and loss.

**** Laura - Saki
Technically, this isn't a ghost story, but a tale of reincarnation. On her deathbed, a woman muses lightheartedly about how she maybe hasn't been the most angelic sort (considering her enjoyment of plaguing her insufferable husband), and will probably come back as a 'lower' type of creature. The way things play out is quite amusing.

***** The Open Window - Saki
Another hilarious piece from the master humorist.
Due to a 'blind' introduction proffered by his sister, a man goes calling on a total stranger. A niece tells a tale of family tragedy - and the fact that the reader can predict what's coming doesn't make it any less funny.

*****The Specialist's Hat - Kelly Link
available free on Link's site: http://www.kellylink.net/fiction/link...
"Creepy! Creepy, creepy, creeeeeepy! If you buy, and move into a haunted house, you PROBABLY should check the babysitter's references, and maybe her ID, too, before you leave your young children with her. Better yet, just get the hell out of that house before it's too late."
(Already read this one a few times... it's been well-anthologised.)

*** Tiny Ghosts - Amy Giacalone
An unassuming-but-content older couple find themselves no-longer-so-content when their home is invaded by a horde of 'tiny ghosts' who plague them by acting like they own the place. In addition, they're quite free with their criticism. The story calls them 'ghosts' but they're more like Mary Norton's 'Borrowers' - if the Borrowers didn't bother hiding, and were obnoxious, to boot.

** The Pink House - Rebecca Curtis
At a writers' retreat, one woman tells her dinner guests a ghost story involving her ex-boyfriend. The listeners are less than impressed, and quite openly insulting. This is a very strange piece - I felt like it might possibly work if it was only one segment of a 'Canterbury-Tales-like' cycle, but on its own it was inconclusive and a bit pointless-feeling.

***** August 2026 : There Will Come Soft Rains - Ray Bradbury
One of the finest stories ever written. :-)


Many thanks to Knopf and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I started reading this book thinking that I would get goose bumps and have to sleep with the light on and jump at all the unusual sounds one hears throughout the night. But I was pleasantly surprised to find out not all ghost stories are creepy. Some, in fact, are quite funny. Although Audrey Niffenegger's name is on the cover, this book contains quite a treasure of eclectic writers from Edgar Allen Poe to Neil Gaiman.

Some readers may have read some of the stories before, but for me, they were all brand new. I really can't think of one story that I didn't enjoy. Of course I enjoyed some more than others, but each was good in its own way. The book starts off with a bang with "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe. And true to Poe's style, this story is disturbing. One of my other favorite stories is "Honeysuckle Cottage" by P.G. Wodehouse. If you're familiar with Jeeves and Wooster, then you'll love this story. It's hilarious! The creepiest story, in my opinion, is "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" by Neil Gaiman. This story sent chills up my spine.

I really liked the illustrations and introduction that each story has. Niffenegger did a great job capturing the spirit of each story with an accurate and sometimes creepy drawing. The introductions give a bit of background to either the story or the author, or sometimes both, that helps the reader understand the story's background.

This collection of ghost stories is something that I think even the faint of heart will enjoy. Though most aren't necessarily that creepy, some will make you want to turn all the lights on.

Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2015/10/review-ghostly-collection-of-ghost.html... ( )
1 vote mt256 | Nov 2, 2015 |
3.5 a collection of ghost stories ranging from a few new ones back to Poe and Bradbury. Poe's story was one of my favorites though I had read it before. Another favorite was Honeysuckle Cottage, just loved the quirkiness of that one. Garman.so story provided a little shiver but for the most part none of these were very scary but all were good. Interesting so see what stories are chosen for a widespread collection like this one. A little something for everyone.

ARC from NetGalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Oct 23, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
***** 5 out of 5 stars
Review by Mark Palm
Haunting Tales.

When reading an anthology my first most basic criteria is, how good are the stories, does the anthology have a theme, how well do the stories fit? If the anthology is edited by a writer, however, I look for something else as well; how the stories reflect the taste and style of the author. I have read some that were great, and some that were not, but it’s always interesting to see an author reflected in their choices. Judging from Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Audrey Niffenegger clearly knows what she is doing. Her choice of stories are spot-on, and vary a great deal, from established names to the relatively unknown, and they date from Poe, M.R. James and Rudyard Kipling, all the way up to Kelly Link and Neil Gaiman. Her introductions are concise, and her illustrations are a revelation, invoking classic artists like Edward Gorey and Gustave Klimt.

When it comes to the individual stories, I liked some better than others, but that is to be expected. I may face a scolding for saying this, but Poe’s The Black Cat was the only story I didn’t care for. I think Mr. Poe is generally overrated, and his tale added little to this collection, but reading The Mezzotint, by M.R. James, was wonderful. It’s not on the par with his classic “Oh Whistle, and I’ll Come To You My Lad”, but it still shows why he is a master of the form. They by Rudyard Kipling is a true classic, but is rather scarce on chills. Two offerings by Saki, and Edith Wharton’s Pomegranate Seed are very effective, and certainly show why their authors are justly renowned. Ms. Niffenegger’s contribution, Secret Life with Cats is full of black humor and horror, while Playmates, by A.M. Burrage is full of shadowy spectres. My two favorite stories were The Pink House by Rebecca Curtis, which was full of subtle creepiness, and Click-Clack the Rattlebag, a surgically precise piece of horror fiction by Neil Gaiman. This wonderful collection is brought to an appropriate end with August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, a beautiful and sad story by the master, Ray Bradbury, about a haunted house of the future that updates Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” All in all Ms. Niffenegger showed that her editing skills, and her illustration skills, are every bit as good as her writing ones. She a rare triple-threat, and I look forward to her next work, whatever the medium.

Full reviews available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Niffenegger, AudreyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burrage, A.M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Byatt, A.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curtis, RebeccaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Giacalone, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, M.R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kipling, RudyardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Link, KellyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niffenegger, AudreyCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niffenegger, AudreyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Onions, OliverContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Poe, Edgar AllanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
SakiContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wharton, EdithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wodehouse, P.G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Collected and introduced by the bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry—including her own fabulous new illustrations for each piece, and a new story by Niffenegger—this is a unique and haunting anthology of some of the best ghost stories of all time.

From Edgar Allen Poe to Kelly Link, M.R. James to Neil Gaiman, H. H. Munro to Audrey Niffenegger herself, Ghostly reveals the evolution of the ghost story genre with tales going back to the eighteenth century and into the modern era, ranging across styles from Gothic Horror to Victorian, with a particular bent toward stories about haunting—haunted children, animals, houses. Every story is introduced by Audrey Niffenegger, an acclaimed master of the craft, with some words on its background and why she chose to include it. Niffenegger’s own story is, “A Secret Life With Cats.”

Perfect for the classic and contemporary ghost story aficionado, this is a delightful volume, beautifully illustrated. Ghostly showcases the best of the best in the field, including Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, A.S. Byatt, Ray Bradbury, and so many more.
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"Collected and introduced by the bestselling author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry--including her own fabulous new illustrations for each piece, and a new story by Niffenegger--this is a unique and haunting anthology of some of the best ghost stories of all time. From Edgar Allen Poe to Kelly Link, M.R. James to Neil Gaiman, H. H. Munro to Audrey Niffenegger herself, Ghostly reveals the evolution of the ghost story genre with tales going back to the eighteenth century and into the modern era, ranging across styles from Gothic Horror to Victorian, with a particular bent toward stories about haunting--haunted children, animals, houses. Every story is introduced by Audrey Niffenegger, an acclaimed master of the craft, with some words on its background and why she chose to include it. Niffenegger's own story is, "A Secret Life With Cats." Perfect for the classic and contemporary ghost story aficionado, this is a delightful volume, beautifully illustrated. Ghostly showcases the best of the best in the field, including Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, A.S. Byatt, Ray Bradbury, and so many more"--… (more)

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