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[Spooky and pretty cover is spooky and pretty]
“Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl? Of the many permutations of the macabre or bizarre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. “Spookiness is, after all, the real purpose of the ghost story,” Dahl writes. “It should give you the creeps and disturb your thoughts.” For this superbly disquieting collection, Dahl offers 14 of his hand-selected favorites.”
So kinda good and kinda bad, I didn’t pay attention to this book right away [that’s what I get for being distracted by pretty covers and author names] and thought that this was a book of ghost stories written by Roald Dahl, not that it was a book of ghost stores collected by Roald Dahl.
In fact, apparently he went through and read ‘some 749 supernatural tales at the British Museum Library’ to try and narrow down spooky enough ghost stories for this book.
Now, I like Dahl and all [based on his writings] but I was kinda shocked and disappointed at the beginning of the book [ie his introduction] because at first he goes into this great conversation about how he noticed that so many of his favorite and best ghost stories are/were written by women, as well as children’s books. And that the both of these kinds of stories are very important to us as humans and thus that women writers of these are also important. But then also he goes into detail about how women aren’t good at much else; such as being composers, poets, or artists/sculptures. That made me pretty mad, being as 1. It’s not true and 2. I could think of great examples of all these. Then I remembered however that Dahl was already in his 70’s when he compiled these stories so it’s possibly just an old generation sort of thing. But then looking online turns out sexism was sort of a regular thing with him. Blegh.
So the book has multiple stories. Some, are pretty long stories while there are others that are only a page or two long. Short and sweet and spooky, I guess.
The stories are;
W.S. by L. P. Hartley
Harry by Rosemary Timperly
The Corner Shop by Cynthia Asquith
In the Tube by E. F. Benson
Christmas Meeting by Rosemary Timperly
Elias and the Draug by Jonas Lie
Playmates by A. M. Burrage
Ringing the Changes by Robert Aickman
The Telephone by Mary Treadgold
The Ghost of a Hand by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
The Sweeper by A. M. Burrage
Afterward by Edith Wharton
On the Brighton Road by Richard Middleton
The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford
One thing that is super apparent is that most of these stories are old. I mean like, some of them use close to Victorian style slang/writing/dialect. I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be for some reason? He’s older and went researching through hundreds of stories even older than him but I guess that’s a good warning before diving into this book.
Just like with most compendium/story collections, some of the stories were just ‘meh.’ Others, were okay – and there were a few that were really good.
Did I get spooked out? Nahhhhh. But there were some good ones in there.
I think my favorites were/are Playmates and Ringing the Changes. Ringing the Changes was really the only one that made me feel any sort of dread though, and in general it was a great story.
Have I read better ghost story compendiums? Definitely. I’d say if you happen to find this for free or cheap, sure, give it a read. Or if you just really like Dahl. But otherwise, there are better collections out there.
I give Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories 3/5 Spooky Disembodied Hands
“Such ordinary things make me afraid. Sunshine. Sharp shadows on grass. White roses. Children with red hair. And the name – Harry. Such an ordinary name.”