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on 19 November 2011
There are some great stories in this, both from some big names in the field (King, Campbell, Lindqvist - his first story for the English market, and truly creepy and then horrific) but more excitingly for me from some writers unknown to me. I'll certainly be checking out more stuff by Dennis Etchison, Robert Shearman, and Anglea Slatter.
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on 9 August 2015
Reading the largely favourable reviews of this volume, while I wouldn't dismiss the content as "total rubbish," I can't help feeling that some people must be easily satisfied. The overall impression I received was that a number of writers, distinguished in their fields, were asked to come up with a "real" horror story and, accordingly, did so, according to their lights. The result is plenty of stuff of an obviously horrific nature (Stephen King's offering is a clear example) but which too often simply fails to really horrify; "trying too hard" would be, I suspect, the appropriate description, or "not leaving enough to the reader's imagination."

The only story which I found satisfyingly gripping from beginning to end was Elizabeth Hand's, entirely lacking, as it is, in the OTT quality of so many of the others and not, thankfully, too dialogue-driven. Her wonderfully atmospheric account of the central character's visit to, and investigations in, Cornwall was masterly (or should I say "mistressly"?) and prompted in me a desire to read some of her other short stories.
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on 11 March 2014
i read a lot of anthologies as a respite between novels and ive found those edited by stephen jones usually suit my tastes. other reviews have given very eloquent and detailed descriptions of each story so im going to try to keep this to a review based on how much i enjoyed (or disliked) each tale.

stephen king can toy with pretty much any of my emotions with seemingly little effort, but he is truely the only person who has ever scared me in any form of media. (yes, it was 'the shinning' and i wasnt even reading at night!). he can do very little wrong in my eyes (apart from his novel 'cell', sorry), but this offering (...little green god etc) didnt much 'sound' like king to me so was a little disappointing. it is however reminiscent of the old school 'pan' horror collections i sneaked from my elder sister when way too young (resulting in a few nightmares and a hatred of the word 'stump'!) with a sense of wry humour under the panicy, gag-worthy ending.
king aside, id call this a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
for me the good came in the form of :-
'roots and all' by brian hodge which i really enjoyed, loving the understated style of his writting. quite a poignant story with folksy touches i always find draw me in. i promptly searched for more by him and look forward to another dose.
'tell me ill see you again' by d etchison has a similar feel with beautifully descriptive and evocative passages.
'getting it wrong' from ramsey campbell i have admit to loving this mans work. yes this may not be the most original story but there is something in his rather disconnected style that unfailingly has me feeling wrong footed, discomfitted and on guard from the outset. my chest feels a little tight, my stomache a bit fluttery and i cannot explain why. his novel 'midnight sun' which i read many years ago had me in a 'right dither' and just thinking of it instantly makes me feel tense all this time later. just as certain music can resonate within one in a very particular way, so the 'harmonics' of campbells writing twang my inner tuning fork and for this i will always be grateful!
'the man in the ditch' - l tuttle i thought a tidy piece with a low unsettling undercurrent and fitting end.
'sad dark thing' - mm smith the only story in this collection i have previously read elsewhere and is a favourite. love the idea, love the way he writes, love the end, love the sad dark feeling throughout!
'near zennor' - e hand i also really enjoyed this, especially the childhood scenes and the claustrophobic episode in the burial mound. shame it was obvious who 'erthy' was the instant she appeared and the ending was something of a let down, i would have prefered to be left with something a bit unsettling and not so 'normal'.
okay, so now for the 'bad'.
'a childs problem' by reggie oliver this one is a favourite of many reviewers and i respect their opinions in a 'horses for courses' fashion. i appreciate this is written in the fine old traditional manner of early horror but its a style iv always struggled with, finding it too 'wordy' and long-winded for my liking. it seemed to drag endlessly and i admit to giving up quite early on. had i persevered perhaps my opinion would be different.
'charcloth, firesteel and flint' - cr kiernan was much the same. just couldnt get into it and gave up, but many reviewers favourite.
'ghosts with teeth' - yet another that didnt agree with me
the 'ugly' came in the form of
'alice ... plastic sheet' by robert sherman. this little unpleasantness brought a smile, a grimace and a smirk to my face in turn. original, weird and left me wanting to go and wash my hands. ugly doesnt mean bad!
' of...karlsen' by lindqvist is serious old school on its best nasty form. not scary but most unattractive, another case of ugly not being a bad thing.
'the coffin makers daughter' - a slatter a period tale (not my thing) but i liked the idea and the unpleasant ever present coffin maker himself. i admit to finding anything to do with teeth distasteful so this one worked for me and tho not a frightener it deffinately left me nauseous!
and finally and unfortunately the 'okay' which is possibly the horror genres equivalent of 'nice'.
r matheson (yes i know hes brilliant) left me with 'last words' that i had forgotten before beginning this review. sorry!
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on 22 August 2014
Plenty of scares here to keep fans of horror happy. The introduction laments how the genre has struggled to assert itself in this age rife with 'horror lite' fiction. This selection does more than a decent job of biting back. Favourite story? The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer. The author, John Ajvide Lindqvist, states in his notes how it was an unsettling experience writing the story and a relief to finish. I can see why - it's a dark but memorable tale.
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on 14 January 2014
Some of the stories were ok, the rest of them were not. All were forgotten instantly. All in all, wouldn't recommend it.
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on 31 January 2014
A varied collection with some chilling stories and some that are just intriguing. Everyone will have a different favourite - mine was 'Near Zennor' by Elizabeth Hand, who was new to me. The Stephen King opener was up to his earlier short story standard and there are plenty of others. Well worth the tiny amount I paid.
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on 19 September 2013
To be fair to this anthology, it served its purpose by entertaining me for a few days. The stories were well written - as you'd expect from the authors, but none of them are particularly memorable. I suppose my yardstick for a good book is knowing that I'll re-read it. That won't be the case with this one.
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on 11 July 2013
I have been disparaging of some of Mr Jones previous compilations but for me this book hit the mark.

A great combination of visceral and psychological horror. Plenty to think about after you've read this book.

Lindquist was the best story for me but there were none I'd rate below good.

A great effort.
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on 2 November 2013
Although not the best collection of horror fiction I have ever read, "A Book of Horrors" is by no means bad. There are some gems to be found. What all the stories have in common is that they are traditional tales of horror. Well worth a read.
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on 21 March 2013
I've always been a fan of horror collections, but one with such a variety of literary styles, and a dark contemporary feel throughout is a rare find, and I enjoyed each and every story in the book. If you want a fresher spin on horror, this is the book for you.
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