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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first collection of supernatural stories
'20th Century Ghosts' is the first collection of short stories by the young American writer Joe Hill. I came to it after reading his second book, and first novel, 'Heart-Shaped Box', which I thought was a competent piece of genre fiction but rather underwhelming. This collection of stories is better.

There are nods in the direction of Stephen King, Kafka and...
Published on 8 May 2012 by Paul Bowes

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good As His Dad
Not up to his dad's standards. He probably uses a pseudonym to avoid bring compared to his dad but being a huge Stephen King fan I can't help it. I enjoyed Joe Hill's novels better than this collection of short stories.
Published 2 months ago by Joanne Hill


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first collection of supernatural stories, 8 May 2012
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Paperback)
'20th Century Ghosts' is the first collection of short stories by the young American writer Joe Hill. I came to it after reading his second book, and first novel, 'Heart-Shaped Box', which I thought was a competent piece of genre fiction but rather underwhelming. This collection of stories is better.

There are nods in the direction of Stephen King, Kafka and Lovecraft, but already here Hill is mainly his own man. If I was reminded by the end of any other writer, it was Robert Aickman. Hill's best stories have a similar slow and downbeat quality and the same looming sense of something inexplicable and relentless behind the unremarkable appearances of everyday things. In spite of the title, a couple of the stories here lack any real element of the supernatural or the horrific; they might have appeared without embarrassment in any collection of modern American fiction concerned with the deep currents that run under relationships between married couples, between parents and their children, and between children in the absence of adults.

This is a good collection of modern writing in the genre, and recommended to anybody who demands something more than clichéd gore-and-shocks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent variety of themes and beautifully written., 16 Sep 2014
By 
JK "J. K." (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
A collection of 15 short stories, originally published in 2007, from the pen of Joe Hill. I read the book five or six years ago and, while I didn't appreciate all of the stories, I was genuinely blown away by the scope of the subject matter and quality of writing.

What Hill does here is what his father has done for longer than I care to remember; he brings people and places to life and twists ordinary situations into the surreal. This is a blend of emotion/fantasy/horror and though visceral in places it's also subtle and understated. Nothing here scared me, nothing here was how I expected it would be, this isn't traditional horror writing though some of the characters and themes are undoubtedly 'horrible'. This is a showcase of how contemporary horror has moved on and how well it can be written.

The stories are now being released as Kindle 'singles'. I don't know how many will be released in that form but possibly all of them. They're cheap to download and a nice place to start if you haven't experienced this author before. I'd recommend you to download the whole book. At least then you have other stories to delve into if you're not enjoying the single.

Be prepared for a lot of 'weirdness' 20th Century Ghosts is neither straightforward nor is it usual storytelling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent variety of different stories, well written and well worth a read, 3 Dec 2012
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This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Paperback)
I bought this book expecting it to be more horror oriented, however the stories here cover a far broader spectrum from coming of age drama to ghost stories. I was not left disappointed, I felt that each story was worth a read and there was no real filler. My favourite of the stories was "Voluntary Committal", the last in the book and probably the longest.

Overall, I am happy that I read this book and will be seeking out more of Joe Hill's work in the future. Anyone looking for a collection of well written stories covering a variety of themes would not go wrong in choosing this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lingering, 2 Feb 2012
This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Paperback)
I don't often read short story's, as they tend to have open ending which I don't much like, but having read Heart shaped box thought I would give these a go.
I found most really engaging apart perhaps '20th century ghost, which I didn't really feel went anywhere, and I didn't like 'In the rundown' due to the graphic nature of the story line, it was a bit too much for me, and I found I had to skim it just to get it over with, but the rest where really enjoyable, creepy without being obvious, and moving without the sentimentality.
I finished a couple of days ago and the story's are still popping into my head every now and again, a sign of a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Meat on its bones., 25 Nov 2014
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This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
I approached this book with some caution as my only experience of Joe Hill was when I picked up Heart Shaped Box and then left it aside unfinished. But all in all I found this collection of fifteen short stories to be well written and interesting. Who knows, on the basis of my enjoyment of these I might just go back and pick up Heart Shaped Box again and give it another GO.

I prefer novels but this collection has some solid meat on its bones. The stories were short, but not too short, and I found them imaginative and entertaining. Only four of these tales were ghost stories in the proper sense and most, but not all of the rest, were straightforward horror, both real life and supernatural. A few others were somewhat surreal, one being definitely Kafkaesque.

In other hands we’d probably have some of these stories stretched out to novel length – some have that potential - but the impulse to do so, if ever it existed, was sensibly quashed. They’re tighter and tauter as they are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Master At Work, 31 July 2013
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This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
I began reading this one too-got, sticky summer's night, just after I had given up on the idea of sleeping at all. I started around 1am, and at 8am, realised that I simply couldn't put it down. I gladly sacrificed sleep and read right through until evening...each story compelling, fascinating, and as perfectly haunting in its own right as I had dared to hope, when I started the collection. I would be lying if I said I hadn't felt a frisson of familiarity, there are genetics here from one of the finest writers of all time, of course, but Joe Hill has his own voice, his own unique style, and is already a master of his chosen genre. I personally hope he will be as prolific a writer as his father.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the purchase, 15 April 2013
By 
C. Davies "Wordrabbit" (Blackpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
I was told about this by a friend of mine. And I have to thank him for it. 2 exceptional stories, with the rest still on the better side of good. 'Pop Art' is by far my fav, just fabulous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorougly enjoying, 31 Mar 2013
By 
john (liverpool) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Paperback)
A high standard quality with a confident narrative make 20th Century Ghosts an excellent read. Strange how Joe Hill had a collection of short fiction published before a novel, but well worth the price. Very good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent collection!, 24 Feb 2013
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This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
Its easy to say 'Like Father, Like Son' and to be honest it's true in this case. I grew up reading the greatest Horror/supernatural stories, from the great writers! In my teens, I discovered Stephen King (before his books were murdered into movies), and found myself gripped by well thought out story lines, where the author knew the ending before he started writing, and led us on a journey there patiently and with as many shocks and scares as possible!

This collection of Short Stories, could easily come from Stephen King's mind, so it's not surprising that they do come from his son Joe Hill. Each story could easily be an episode of The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt or Tales of the Unexpected!

My only gripe about the book is that there is only one ghost story, and that is the best story of the book. Don't get me wrong, I loved all the stories, they are weird and wonderful, that make you think about the human psyche, Not a single story disappoints in the collection, which in itself is unique!

The first story (not including the hidden story), 20th Century Ghost is an amazing story which left me speechless and I sat on the underground for ages thinking about what I had just read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best stories collection I've read this year, 29 July 2012
This review is from: 20th Century Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
I've read the Heart shaped box and wasn't impressed (maybe due to the Czech translation) so I didn't expect much from Joe Hill. Then I got the Neil Gaiman's and Al Sarrantonio's collection of stories and at the end of it I found a weird looking one called Stairs (check out the format, so funny and spot on). It was so good that I decided to give Joe another chance. What a good decision. The 20th CG is the best short stories collection I've read this year. There is not a single piece that I didn't like. Not all of the stories are horror, some of them are close to mainstream, but it doesn't matter, what matters is the author's voice, strong and engaging. From Roald Dahl's type of story in Last breath to Voluntary Committal, more King style, over to my favorite Best new Horror with story inside a story, this was a real joy. The talent passed from father to son, no question about it. I am a big Stephen King fan and one day I would love to read about Joe's beginnings under his big father's tutoring eye. I am looking forward reading The horns, author's second novel and this time it will be in English.
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