Review: Ghost Stories

Hauntingly beautiful and delightfully spooky, Ghost Stories is a curated collection of classic short stories filled with spectres and nightmarish visitations. Though the subject matter is ethereal and intangible, Ghost Stories is leaves a substantial impression. 

Editors Lisa Morton and Leslie Klinger selected time-honored tales of the dead visiting the world of the living and brushing them with cold fingers of fear. Among these more classic ghost stories, however, are sprinkled stories that touch delicately on spiritual things, probing the concept of life after death and the desires of those who have gone to the grave. Some selections are even light-hearted and humorous, poking fun at the idea of paranormal visitors. 

Morton and Klinger weave together a seamless collection of beautiful works, each a classic in its own right. They traverse the ghastly halls from Poe’s truly horrifying Ligeia to Phelps’ evocative Since I Died to Twain’s laughable Ghost Story. Hawthorne’s Grey Champion and Machen’s The Bowmen transcend the usual rules of ghost stories and tell of unseen spirits warring on behalf of downtrodden men. 

Many readers today love truly ghastly stories of possessed children, demonic abusers, and disturbed serial killers. These terrors are too awful, too close to home, because many of them find parallels in real life. Other stories, like the once-popular movies Paranormal Activity, relish the concept of other-worldly visits, just for fear they inspire. There is no substance, no purpose in these dramas. They are hollow thrillers, at best. 

The tales presented in Ghost Stories have nothing to do with such modern horror. Each piece is a literary work of art, a verbal morsel bursting with poetic flavor. More than that, the stories generally reflect on more serious underlying themes: What is death? Do the dead still have desires and wishes? Can they communicate them to us? Though we often long deeply for our lost loved ones to return to us, would we wish them back at all costs? Would we wish even the macabre resurrection of Ligeia? 

These questions and others underpin the fantastic fabric of the Ghost Stories, rooting it to something meaningful, something substantial… something that is a part of what it means to be alive.

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