First of all let me state that the star rating is nothing to do with the book itself, which is brilliant. The two stars are because I'm beginning to think I was sent a print-on-demand copy without being told (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27994314 / http://www.amazon.co.uk/b?ie=UTF8&node=4780051031).
The inner text isn't too bad (though not as clear as the second copy I bought direct from Penguin) but the cover is awful: the lettering is blurry and Penguin's black colouring is a washed-out grey
I bought it about a year ago but until I read the story on the BBC I knew nothing about it. I could be wrong and maybe it was just a faulty copy but I don't think I'll be buying new books from Amazon until it's made clearer whether you're buying a properly printed book or not. (I found reviews of one book - from amazon.com admittedly - warning buyers of the poor print-on-demand quality: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Classic-Crews-Harry-Reader/dp/0671865277/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415341536&sr=1-1&keywords=classic+crews+harry+crews)
This is the second volume of Penguin Classics' Complete Ghost Stories of M R James. All of the stories included work as good entertaining ghost stories, and the volume also includes James's essays on the ghost story format, plus his translation of twelve medieval Latin ghost stories. The best of his stories are included in the first volume, "Count Magnus and other ghost stories", so for a good introduction to James, I would recommend the "Count Magnus" volume first. But otherwise, "The Haunted Doll's House" makes a good continuation volume - none of the stories are a disappointment, but also none of them rise to the type of greatness of "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad" in the first volume. I'd recommend buying both, and reading them through late into a winter's night!
This volume of ghost stories by the master of the genre, when considered in conjuction with the sister volume Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories forms the most comprehensive edition of M.R. James' stories that is widely available. Combining the stories from James' last two ghost story books ("A Thin Ghost" and "A Warning to the Curious") along with other more rarely seen stories. These include the semi-autobiographical story "A Vignette" and "The Fenstanton Witch", both of which have the classic M.R. James flavour. That said, these stories like the rest of the tales in this book rarely match the masterful suspense and dread found in the earlier stories collected in "Count Magnus".
The book is presented with twelve medieval ghost stories presented by James in Latin (with translations) and a collection of essays by James, sourced from book introductions and articles. The annotations help the reader with some of the more obscure references and quotations, but do not attempt critical analysis or provide in depth historical information to the settings.
There are lots of different editions of M.R. James's ghost stories available. These Penguin ones do work out among the most expensive considering two volumes are involved, but they are worthwhile for the bonus stories and essays not found in the others, and for the annotations for the interested reader.