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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 September 2010
The earliest story is from 1773 but I was, frankly, gob-smacked by how modern the language was to a long-time horror reader. In common with all the stories in this book, there is nothing to make you stumble in the reading. For this alone, I have bought a bucket load of Wordsworth titles. While most of these texts are available at Project Gutenberg, the convenience of a paperback for a couple of quid is hard to beat.

The first few stories, our 18th century example included, are mundane to modern eyes. They may well be the first examples of suddenly slamming doors and strange spirits glimpsed from the corner of your eyes, but that doesn't mean they were good. They're not bad but a typical story progresses from "We saw something strange" to "We mostly escaped by the skin of our teeth" with much rapidity.

By Poe's "Berenice" (1835) things pick up considerably. This was the first time I every actually read this story in its entirety, despite writing a pastiche a while back. It's an extraordinary tale, and very well told. Still creepy as.

In short order, and directly after we have Dickens (fair), Le Fanu (gorgeous), Nathaniel Hawthorne (excellent) and Elizabeth Gaskell's "The Old Nurse's Tale" which is an archetypal ghost story, familiar to anyone who has read any such in the past fifty years, but it was written in 1852.

It's a bit of a conceit that the the stories are presented in date order. I think they could have fared better if listed differently. The middle era is loaded with epic writers whose words are beautiful on the eye.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the classic work that should have show-cased this collection. It is an astounding study in post-natal madness.

On top of that are stories by Robert Louis Stevenson, M.R. James, E.F. Benson and Ambrose Bierce.

Aside from the first couple of clunkers this is a captivating collection. If you are, as I am, an aspiring writer, you will find a bounty of rich language in these stories.
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on 25 July 2011
I must say that it is becoming harder to scare an audience nowadays, and horror is very subjective, however, I found some of these "vintage" stories very frightening indeed! This volume collects -

Anna Letitia Aiken - Sir Bertrand: A Fragment
Nathan Drake and Anonymous - Captive of the Banditti
Anonymous - Extracts from Gosschen's Diary: No. 1
Charles Robert Maturin - The Parricide's Tale
Anonymous - The Spectre Bride
Sir Walter Scott - The Tapestried Chamber
Edgar Allan Poe - Berenice
Charles Dickens - A Madman's Manuscript
J.S. le Fanu - Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter
Nathaniel Hawthorne - Ethan Brand
Elizabeth Gaskell - The Old Nurse's Story
Robert Louis Stevenson - The Body-Snatcher
Charlotte Perkins Gilman - The Yellow Wallpaper
Ambrose Bierce - The Death of Halpin Frayser
M.R. James - Canon Alberic's Scrapbook
Ralph Adams Cram - No. 252 Rue M. le Prince
S. Carleton - The Lame Priest
Mary Wilkins Freeman - Luella Miller
Richard Middleton - The Bird in the Garden
E.F. Benson - The Room in the Tower

The stories follow, I believe, a chronology and become more frightening along the way - particularly from "The Lame Priest" onwards. I think the one which is particularly stand-out is "The Yellow Wallpaper" which is subtle yet terrifying.

Overall, I think this is a tough read a times, as the styles can vary between stories but stick with the sometimes slow, descriptive yet captivating plots they will surprise you along the way!
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on 31 May 2004
My goodness....horror at its finest!! some of the best horror writing is found in this book....ever.....trust me on this! 30 kids in a year 5 class can't be wrong when they ask me to read this over and over again! i recommend reading this in a big armchair, a single light source, windows open and the phone off the hook! you will want to keep reading this over and over again!
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All the dark themes are well covered in this quality historical anthology: early tales of Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, Spectral creatures, Damned souls, Demonic suitors, Vulnerable maidens, Haunted rooms, and more. The selection of tales is nicely balanced and they are all highly readable. Indeed, some historical stories seem more imaginative than 20th century schlock-and-horror: for example, one absorbing gothic tale involves an evil portrait that leaves blood on the hands of any people who lift it, and which also keeps returning overnight to the wall it was removed from. Very simple idea, yet it is adroitly handled in an edge-of-your-seat manner.

This is just the entertaining book to take on holidays. Better still, save these stories for a dark lonely winter's night!!!
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on 29 July 2010
Some great little tales for early bedtimes after a busy day. None of these is scary enough to keep you awake worrying what's outside the door, but they will hold your attention and expand your imagination very nicely. Recommended.
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on 15 April 2015
Cant stop praising it, can't stop reading it, the best collection ever!
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on 2 April 2015
Great copy..as advertised
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on 27 January 2015
another good read.
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on 6 December 2015
bit old fashioned
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on 4 March 2015
great
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