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on 24 February 2013
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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on 25 October 2014
A good collection fit for the son of Stephen King. I would not call this book "a book of ghost stories", it is certainly more than that.

I gave it four stars because some stories just didn't falk, I couldn't understand what they were trying to communicate to me (The Widow's Breakfast and the Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead). On the other hand, there are absolutely fantastic quality stories as well.

I was particularly touched by the one about inflatable people, so strange and beautiful. To me this is what stayed after I closed the book.

Another superb story is about a boy building alternative universes with empty cardboard boxes. It is not only very well written, it is sad and full of love at the same time. Deeply emotional without being sweet and cloying.

Give it a try, see what the stories will tell you.
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on 25 November 2014
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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on 14 October 2015
some stories were really well written but some left me wondering what it was about, Joe Hill has a very unusual writing style that is sometimes a little difficult to follow, however i did enjoy most of the stories.
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on 31 July 2013
I began reading this one too-hot, 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 (Stephen King's son has inherited the writing gene!) 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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on 21 May 2014
Read all his stuff, being a longtime Kingophile. Enjoyed all his work, but this one is the best, even although it is short fiction. Up there with Bradbury, Barker and even Dad. Lots of high points, and great changes of pace and style throughout. My favourite is a cross between Lovecraft and House of Leaves..I'll let you guess which one that is!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 September 2014
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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on 3 December 2012
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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'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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on 11 October 2014
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.
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