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Here are the depths of fear and darkness, the furthest limits of agony in mind and body... Born in the eighteenth century, the horror story produced a literature of terror filled with werewolves and vampires, and which borrowed many elements from its sister genre, the ghost story. Many famous writers were tempted by it, including Maupassant, Poe, Gautier, Conan Doyle, L.P. H Here are the depths of fear and darkness, the furthest limits of agony in mind and body... Born in the eighteenth century, the horror story produced a literature of terror filled with werewolves and vampires, and which borrowed many elements from its sister genre, the ghost story. Many famous writers were tempted by it, including Maupassant, Poe, Gautier, Conan Doyle, L.P. Hartley and Ray Bradbury. In this excellent anthology Charles Cuddon has selected the best stories of all, spanning the whole period. The Monk of horror, or The Conclave of corpses, by Anonymous -- The Astrologer's prediction, or The Maniac's fate, by Anonymous -- The expedition to Hell, by James Hogg -- Mateo Falcone, by Prosper Merimee -- The Case of M. Valdemar, by Edgar Allan Poe -- Le Grande Breteche, by Honore de Balzac -- The romance of certain old clothes, by Henry James -- Who knows?, by Guy de Maupassant -- The body snatcher, by Robert Louis Stevenson -- The death of Olivier Becaille, by Emile Zola -- The boarded window, by Ambrose Bierce -- Lost hearts, by M. R. James -- The sea-raiders, by H. G. Wells -- The derelict, by William Hope Hodgson -- Thurnley Abbey, by Perceval Landon -- The fourth man, by John Russell -- In the penal colony, by Franz Kafka -- The waxwork, by A. M. Burrage -- Mrs. Amworth, by E. F. Benson -- The reptile, by Augustus Muir -- Mr. Meldrum's Mania, by John Metcalfe -- The beast with five fingers, by William Fryer Harvey -- Dry September, by William Faulkner -- Couching at the door, by D. K. Broster -- The two bottles of relish, by Lord Dunsany -- The man who liked Dickens, by Evelyn Waugh -- Taboo, by Geoffrey Household -- The thought, by L. P. Hartley -- Comrade death, by Gerald Kersh -- Leningen versus the ants, by Carl Stephenson -- The brink of darkness, by Yvor Winters -- Activity time, by Monica Dickens -- Earth to Earth, by Robert Graves -- The dwarf, by Ray Bradbury -- The Portabello Road, by Muriel Spark -- No flies on Frank, by John Lennon -- Sister Coxall's revenge, by Dawn Muscillo -- Thou shalt not suffer a witch..., by Dorothy K. Haynes -- The terrapin, by Patricia Highsmith -- Man from the south, by Roald Dahl -- Uneasy home-coming, by Will F. Jenkins -- The Aquarist, by J. N. Allan -- An interview with M. Chakko, by Vilas Sarang Cover illustration: Steve Crisp.


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Here are the depths of fear and darkness, the furthest limits of agony in mind and body... Born in the eighteenth century, the horror story produced a literature of terror filled with werewolves and vampires, and which borrowed many elements from its sister genre, the ghost story. Many famous writers were tempted by it, including Maupassant, Poe, Gautier, Conan Doyle, L.P. H Here are the depths of fear and darkness, the furthest limits of agony in mind and body... Born in the eighteenth century, the horror story produced a literature of terror filled with werewolves and vampires, and which borrowed many elements from its sister genre, the ghost story. Many famous writers were tempted by it, including Maupassant, Poe, Gautier, Conan Doyle, L.P. Hartley and Ray Bradbury. In this excellent anthology Charles Cuddon has selected the best stories of all, spanning the whole period. The Monk of horror, or The Conclave of corpses, by Anonymous -- The Astrologer's prediction, or The Maniac's fate, by Anonymous -- The expedition to Hell, by James Hogg -- Mateo Falcone, by Prosper Merimee -- The Case of M. Valdemar, by Edgar Allan Poe -- Le Grande Breteche, by Honore de Balzac -- The romance of certain old clothes, by Henry James -- Who knows?, by Guy de Maupassant -- The body snatcher, by Robert Louis Stevenson -- The death of Olivier Becaille, by Emile Zola -- The boarded window, by Ambrose Bierce -- Lost hearts, by M. R. James -- The sea-raiders, by H. G. Wells -- The derelict, by William Hope Hodgson -- Thurnley Abbey, by Perceval Landon -- The fourth man, by John Russell -- In the penal colony, by Franz Kafka -- The waxwork, by A. M. Burrage -- Mrs. Amworth, by E. F. Benson -- The reptile, by Augustus Muir -- Mr. Meldrum's Mania, by John Metcalfe -- The beast with five fingers, by William Fryer Harvey -- Dry September, by William Faulkner -- Couching at the door, by D. K. Broster -- The two bottles of relish, by Lord Dunsany -- The man who liked Dickens, by Evelyn Waugh -- Taboo, by Geoffrey Household -- The thought, by L. P. Hartley -- Comrade death, by Gerald Kersh -- Leningen versus the ants, by Carl Stephenson -- The brink of darkness, by Yvor Winters -- Activity time, by Monica Dickens -- Earth to Earth, by Robert Graves -- The dwarf, by Ray Bradbury -- The Portabello Road, by Muriel Spark -- No flies on Frank, by John Lennon -- Sister Coxall's revenge, by Dawn Muscillo -- Thou shalt not suffer a witch..., by Dorothy K. Haynes -- The terrapin, by Patricia Highsmith -- Man from the south, by Roald Dahl -- Uneasy home-coming, by Will F. Jenkins -- The Aquarist, by J. N. Allan -- An interview with M. Chakko, by Vilas Sarang Cover illustration: Steve Crisp.

30 review for The Penguin Book of Horror Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    PLACEHOLDER REVIEW: mopping up a few stories from my "To Read" list, I recently had added "The Death of Olivier Bécaille" by Émile Zola. As I don't own a book with it. I'm sticking the review here. Firstly, I read "The Death of Olivier Bécaille" ("La mort d'Olivier Bécaille" from 1884) under the alternate title of "Buried Alive" that' scanned in Google Books. I would suggest hunting that one up, as the common online versions that get traded around (under the "Death of" title) are missing a whoppi PLACEHOLDER REVIEW: mopping up a few stories from my "To Read" list, I recently had added "The Death of Olivier Bécaille" by Émile Zola. As I don't own a book with it. I'm sticking the review here. Firstly, I read "The Death of Olivier Bécaille" ("La mort d'Olivier Bécaille" from 1884) under the alternate title of "Buried Alive" that' scanned in Google Books. I would suggest hunting that one up, as the common online versions that get traded around (under the "Death of" title) are missing a whopping great piece in the first chapter (and it's obvious, as there's a half-finished line, and then a sentence ending mid-word). A man details awakening in a cataleptic seizure, on which his wife presumes he is dead, and following the usual funerary arrangements, he is buried alive! This is interesting because it's Zola - the noted arch-Naturalist - turning his pen towards a very Edgar Allan Poe-type topic. And he does a good job, indulging the subject's conté cruel possibilities while never going OTT in his dry descriptions. A wonderful bit where he recounts a persistent dream of being with a trainload of people trapped in a tunnel, sealed in at both sides inexplicably. There's even a surprisingly effective coda where (view spoiler)[the man, having escaped his death trap through realistic means, realizes his wife has more opportunities without him, and so uses his near-death rebirth as an excuse to reinvent his life. (hide spoiler)] . A solid read

  2. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. THE PENGUIN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES is a stonking compedium of no less than 43 short tales, generally with a classic author bent. The quality of tales ranges from a few poor efforts to many good ones, and just as many very good ones. There's even a classic or two in the mix. THE MONK OF HORROR is an old anonymous effort, more of an anecdote than a real story. It contains some memorably ghastly imagery of a cavern filled with living corpses and skeletons bursting through a flood. THE ASTROLOGER'S P THE PENGUIN BOOK OF HORROR STORIES is a stonking compedium of no less than 43 short tales, generally with a classic author bent. The quality of tales ranges from a few poor efforts to many good ones, and just as many very good ones. There's even a classic or two in the mix. THE MONK OF HORROR is an old anonymous effort, more of an anecdote than a real story. It contains some memorably ghastly imagery of a cavern filled with living corpses and skeletons bursting through a flood. THE ASTROLOGER'S PREDICTION is another old anonymous story of psychological disturbance and mouldering corpses with a solidly horrific conclusion. James Hogg's THE EXPEDITION TO HELL does what it says on the tin, but in a unique, dream-like fashion that's much more mature and metaphysical than expected. THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR is, of course, the Poe classic and needs little discussion here. It's a classic slice of body horror and one of the best tales in the book to boot. Honore de Balzac's LA GRAND BRETECHE is more traditional but nonetheless very tense, a story of someone being buried alive pre-dating Poe. Henry James is one of my least favourite 19th century writers, but THE ROMANCE OF CERTAIN OLD CLOTHES is a stately ghost story that really works and is at least as good as THE TURN OF THE SCREW. Guy de Maupassant is something of a grand master of the bizarre and WHO KNOWS?, about sentient furniture, fits the bill nicely. Robert Louis Stevenson's THE BODY SNATCHER is another classic tale of the Resurrection Men and their grave-robbing antics, memorably filmed with Boris Karloff in the 1940s. I was also delighted to see one of my all-time favourite authors, Emile Zola, make the cut; THE DEATH OF OLIVIER BECAILLE is a Poe-infused tale of a man being buried alive, but works because it focuses on characterisation over action. THE BOARDED WINDOW by Ambrose Bierce is a creepy little effort with far more emphasis than a hundred blood-and-cuts modern tales. LOST HEARTS, by M.R. James, is a highly creepy effort involving a couple of ghostly gypsy children, a little on the short side but otherwise excellent. Then we have another favourite: H.G. Wells and his THE SEA-RAIDERS; a fantastic monster effort pre-dating a popular theme later utilised in the likes of Wyndham's THE KRAKEN WAKES and many DR WHO stories. One of the all-time masters of the horror genre was William Hope Hodgson, still remembered today for his classic Carnacki stories. He also wrote a fair few seafaring horrors, of which THE DERELICT is a mini-masterpiece. It's about a ghost ship full of a creeping fungus, and is brilliantly written. Perceval Landon's THURNLEY ABBEY is more traditional, but it benefits from having an extraordinarily gruesome apparition. THE FOURTH MAN by John Russell is a simple lost-at-sea story in which characters on a life raft fall out in an extreme way. Franz Kafka's IN THE PENAL COLONY is more of a psychological thriller than a horror story, although the torture content qualifies its inclusion. It's the most highbrow story you'll find in this anthology. By contrast, A.M. Burrage's THE WAXWORK left me cold, a typical night-in-the-wax-museum effort. Thankfully E.F. Benson pulls it out of the bag with MRS. AMWORTH, a vampire story that is deceptively simple and delightfully shuddersome in equal measure. Augustus Muir's THE REPTILE is a trivial story about a guy locked in a room with a snake, but it has Holmesian flourishes to enjoy. MR MELDRUM'S MANIA is by John Metcalfe and another highlight of this time. A man begins to believe he has an invisible snout growing from his face. The tale is unlike anything else I've ever read, and it's surprisingly plausible throughout. THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, by W.F. Harvey, is another classic about a severed hand running amok, and hugely influential to this day. DRY SEPTEMBER is William Faulkner's scathing and bitter story of injustice and inhumanity, an uncomfortable read indeed. D.K. Broster comes up with COUCHING AT THE DOOR, a genteel Victorian story in which the ugly head of devil worship rears its head. It's interesting, but not a classic for me. THE TWO BOTTLES OF RELISH sees Lord Dunsany at the top of his game and is about the disappearance of a young girl in a village. It's wry, witty, and affectionately told. The ending is predictable but the build-up is excellent. Evelyn Waugh's THE MAN WHO LIKES DICKENS is a tale of psychological obsession in the heart of the Amazon and subtly ghastly. Geoffrey Household's TABOO offers standard werewolf antics, while L.P. Hartley's THE THOUGHT is all about a sinner complete with fire-and-brimstone climax. Gerald Kersh goes down the wartime thriller route for COMRADE DEATH, a story which is horrifying and engrossing in equal measure. And then we have LEININGEN VERSUS THE ANTS, Carl Stephenson's magnum opus and my personal favourite of this collection. It's simple stuff about a Brazilian plantation owner battling a swarm of flesh-eating ants, and incredibly exciting throughout. THE BRINK OF DARKNESS, by Yvor Winters, is a haunted house story that's all about what you don't see or hear, and all the more effective because of that. Monica Dickens contributes ACTIVITY TIME, a slight and mildly disturbing piece of psychological writing, while Robert Graves comes up with EARTH TO EARTH, a blackly comic tale of ordinary life and the macabre. THE DWARF is by Ray Bradbury and once again features a carnival setting; the revenge story is simplistic but the writing is powerful and intelligent. Muriel Spark's THE PORTOBELLO ROAD is an ambitious character piece chronicling how the passage of a decade affects friendship in a murderous way. Not scary, but enthralling. NO FLIES ON FRANK is a piece by John Lennon and thus is here purely for curiosity value rather than quality. Next up is a piece called SISTER COXALL'S REVENGE by Dawn Muscillo. It's brief in the extreme, but the mental institution makes a good setting. THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH... is by Dorothy K. Haynes and a relentlessly disturbing tale of witchcraft and gore. Not what you'd expect at all. Patricia Highsmith's THE TERRAPIN is all about abuse and thoroughly disturbing as a result, especially for animal lovers. Meanwhile, Roald Dahl's MAN FROM THE SOUTH is a dark, dark gambling-themed effort with a blacker than black streak of humour. A trio of middling stories round out the anthology. Will F. Jenkins's UNEASY HOME-COMING is more social commentary than horror although fairly suspenseful. THE AQUARIST is by J.N. Allan is about one man's obsession with his giant aquarium, an intriguing piece spoilt by some passages of purple prose. Finally, Vilas Sarang's AN INTERVIEW WITH M. CHAKKO seems to take Wells's ISLAND OF DR MOREAU as inspiration but is even weirder, if that's possible; an offbeat story of body horror that's guaranteed to repel some readers due to the oddly sexual subject matter.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom Ruffles

    Despite the title, nowadays most of the stories included in this mammoth compilation would I suspect be classified as uncanny rather than horror. This is because the definition of horror has evolved over the last thirty years, largely under the influence of increasingly-explicit filmic depictions. That editor J A Cuddon’s view of the form was somewhat dated even as he drew up his list is suggested by his observation that while it also applies to novellas and novels, the horror story is usually r Despite the title, nowadays most of the stories included in this mammoth compilation would I suspect be classified as uncanny rather than horror. This is because the definition of horror has evolved over the last thirty years, largely under the influence of increasingly-explicit filmic depictions. That editor J A Cuddon’s view of the form was somewhat dated even as he drew up his list is suggested by his observation that while it also applies to novellas and novels, the horror story is usually regarded as a subset of the short story. It is a surprising assertion, given that this collection post-dates the beginnings of the careers of such horror novelists as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Peter Straub. Cuddon later mentions King and other novelists who have written horror, but he sees the main impetus of horror literature residing in the short form. Cuddon begins his introduction (much of which one suspects was lifted from his post-graduate thesis on evil and the devil in mediaeval and Renaissance literature) by indicating the range of stories subsumed under the horror label, and does indicate an understanding of what could have been included of recent vintage, of all lengths, mentioning among other writers Anthony Burgess and J. G. Ballard. Mostly however he is intent to give an erudite, if simplistic, overview of horrific themes in literature from Classical times to the twentieth century. He usefully charts the movement of horror from being an external force, Hell as a distinct location and Satan acting on the helpless individual, to horror as in internal locus, occurring wherever we happen to be. In that sense, as he points out, William Hogarth more ably depicted Hell than did Gustave Doré. Cuddon’s definition of horror is reasonable enough: it “shocks or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing.” That covers an enormous territory, and even a book of this size can only be a sample, but in the selection you sense a desire to rescue the ‘horror’ story from pulp for literature. It is significant that he contrasts Sartre’s Huis Clos favourably with Grand Guignol, which he considers “uncouth”, and therefore unworthy, despite its power to induce repulsion and loathing. He is wary of much recent writing, which he finds “crude or even somewhat obvious”, and has excluded this strand. But it does raise the question of how representative the book is of horror as it existed in 1984. The length of the introduction too suggests a need to justify the stories selected as proper literature. That Cuddon felt some degree of disdain for more populist authors is perhaps indicated by the number included who possesses a good literary pedigree, hence the inclusion of such heavyweights as Honoré de Balzac, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, William Faulkner, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Graves and Muriel Spark. The stories are generally literary too – the use of the word “prick” for penis in one seems extremely transgressive in the context. This all serves to give Cuddon’s choices a certain gravitas, and he may have wanted to draw a distinction between them and the sort of writing associated with the mass-market Fontana and Pan series. At their best though they themselves achieved a high standard, though the quality of the Pan books declined noticeably, and in fact there is a surprising amount of overlap with Cuddon’s selection. Looking through the thirty volumes of Pan Book of Horror Stories, the following can be found in both: Muriel Spark‘s ‘The Portobello Road‘ appears in the first Pan book; the second volume includes Geoffrey Household’s ‘Taboo’ and Carl Stephenson’s ‘Leiningen Versus the Ants’; the third has ‘Two Bottles of Relish’ by Lord Dunsany and ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar’ by Edgar Allan Poe (hardly a story that needed anthologising in the first place); the sixth has John Lennon’s sub par ‘No Flies on Frank’ (another that does not need anthologising, though for a different reason); the ninth has Dorothy K. Haynes’ ‘Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch…’, the twelfth has Patricia Highsmith’s ‘The Terrapin’ Fewer appear in the Fontana series, but still, the second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories has Poe’s ‘The Facts in The Case Of M. Valdemar’ yet again, and Perceval Landon’s ‘Thurnley Abbey’; and number fifteen has Monica Dickens' 'Activity Time'. That’s quite a few stories that had appeared in hugely popular mass-market paperback form not long before Cuddon drew up his contents: of the 43 stories in the Penguin collection, almost a quarter were readily available in either the Pan or the Fontana series, and no doubt others he picked had also appeared in widely-circulated anthologies. He was aware that many of his choices had appeared elsewhere and provided justifications for further exposure, such as they were worth reprinting (not much of a reason), they were necessary for ‘balance and variety’ (were no others less anthologised but as good available for the requisite balance and variety?), and the authors chosen were necessary to make the book “regionally and chronologically representative” (again, were no others available?). Haste in putting the book together does not appear on the list. Perhaps in such instances he took an elitist view that he was rescuing samples of literature from a pulp ghetto (a supposition supported by an annoying refusal to translate the foreign quotations which sprinkle his introduction). What is clear by his own account is that he read a large number of stories, knew of a number of writers who deserved to be rescued from obscurity, and decided to leave out a number of famous authors in order to make space for those less well known. Yet despite these assurances he still included ‘The Facts in The Case Of M. Valdemar’. Cuddon acknowledges that there will be little here that is unfamiliar to the connoisseur, but that his target audience is a more general one. Reading a Pan paperback doesn’t make you a “connoisseur”, and this airiness sells any reader who has some familiarity with the genre short. Still, despite a certain narrowness of vision in choosing the stories, it is a high-quality anthology that deserves to be read by anyone wanting to delve into the form’s heritage. It contains 600 pages of pure pleasure, and here can be seen the foundations for whatever mutations of the horror story came afterwards. One cannot help thinking, though, that it could have been even more interesting with a little extra thought.

  4. 5 out of 5

    TrumanCoyote

    The editor definitely casts his skein a bit broad, with curious results. The early anonymous stuff was hardly worth trudging through, and I definitely could've done without Faulkner's contribution and that silly "Comrade Death" thing. On the other hand, there were a few marvelous items that would not ordinarily have been included under the "horror" aegis: "Activity Time" by Monica Dickens, "The Portobello Road" by Muriel Spark, and "The Terrapin" by Patricia Highsmith, all of them gems (with nar The editor definitely casts his skein a bit broad, with curious results. The early anonymous stuff was hardly worth trudging through, and I definitely could've done without Faulkner's contribution and that silly "Comrade Death" thing. On the other hand, there were a few marvelous items that would not ordinarily have been included under the "horror" aegis: "Activity Time" by Monica Dickens, "The Portobello Road" by Muriel Spark, and "The Terrapin" by Patricia Highsmith, all of them gems (with nary a monster to be seen, and the only ghost being the narrator herself in the second one). Oh yeah, and the Waugh story was nicely mordant, and the D K Broster ("Couching at the Door") was deliciously droll as well. On the whole, a walloping great (and lengthy!) read, and definitely a tome to bring along with you to that proverbial desert isle (assuming of course that you couldn't get hold of a copy of "How To Build a Raft"). :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carolee

    A very thoughtful gift from my brother-in-law & wife for Christmas ('03 or '04) and completed May '05 ... I even left myself a reminder note on the inside cover for recall later. There's over 600 pages (40+ stories). Fabulous anthology ... it has an esteemed place on my bookshelf. Cover to cover goosebumps. A very thoughtful gift from my brother-in-law & wife for Christmas ('03 or '04) and completed May '05 ... I even left myself a reminder note on the inside cover for recall later. There's over 600 pages (40+ stories). Fabulous anthology ... it has an esteemed place on my bookshelf. Cover to cover goosebumps.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charles Chlipala

    Someone gave my dad this book and he had it a self. My dad was no reader. I took this book as a keepsake when he died. This book was published in the 1980s and is a collection of short stories mostly from the late 19th century to the mid 1950s. I would say most were out of copyright when republished. So the cost for reproduction was cheap. This was the type of book you would find at the bargain table at B Daltons or Waldenbooks. Many stories were very very dated.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Some of them weren't really what I would consider 'horror' but I read it for Halloween and wasn't disappointed Some of them weren't really what I would consider 'horror' but I read it for Halloween and wasn't disappointed

  8. 5 out of 5

    The rockabilly werewolf from Mars

    Fairly average horror anthology, with one of the worst introductions I have ever read. After subjecting the reader to seemingly endless descriptions of medieval era books about hell, the editor then goes into a pretentious and rambling rant about how most horror fiction isn't "literary" enough for his tastes. If that's so, then why are you editing a horror anthology? The fact that most of the modern (post 1940s) stories aren't very good doesn't really reflect well on his qualifications in the ho Fairly average horror anthology, with one of the worst introductions I have ever read. After subjecting the reader to seemingly endless descriptions of medieval era books about hell, the editor then goes into a pretentious and rambling rant about how most horror fiction isn't "literary" enough for his tastes. If that's so, then why are you editing a horror anthology? The fact that most of the modern (post 1940s) stories aren't very good doesn't really reflect well on his qualifications in the horror genre. Even if they are well known, it's enjoyable to read, say, The Dwarf after having just suffered through mediocre rubbish like No Flies On Frank (a truly awful story that makes it on to my "worst horror stories ever" list. There is a very good reason why John Lennon is known as a musician rather than a horror writer). Also, why is it that every anthology of horror fiction that covers the 19th century has to have a Henry James story in it? I get that his work is significant to the history of the genre, but the majority of his stories - although they sometimes have interesting premises - are rather tedious (and I'm someone who generally enjoys 19th century writing). Unfortunately, the story of his printed here lacks the original (for the time) ideas of pieces like The Jolly Corner and is thus something of a bore. Another peculiar editorial decision was the inclusion of The Portabello Road; not because there's anything wrong with the story itself, but rather because the editor brought up the hoary 'not all ghost stories are horror stories' debate in the introduction, and then included a story that practically embodies the concept of the non-horror ghost story. On a more positive note, there were some fairly interesting stories that I had not previously read, most notably Mr. Meldrum's Mania, The Brink Of Darkness, and The Thought; and the two anonymous pieces are at least interesting curiosities, if not necessarily great writing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    This 1984 collection has some gems and a certain breadth but suffers from a weak almost nerdy academic introduction filled with fact but weak on interpretation. A Wikipedia article before its time. The definition of horror is very wide. The brutal realism of Prosper Merimee's primitive and vengeful 'Mateo Falcone' sits alongside a pulp tale of derring-do (the oft-anthologised 'Leiningen Versus The Ants') and a sardonic and satirical horror tale like Robert Graves' 'Earth to Earth'. But yet there This 1984 collection has some gems and a certain breadth but suffers from a weak almost nerdy academic introduction filled with fact but weak on interpretation. A Wikipedia article before its time. The definition of horror is very wide. The brutal realism of Prosper Merimee's primitive and vengeful 'Mateo Falcone' sits alongside a pulp tale of derring-do (the oft-anthologised 'Leiningen Versus The Ants') and a sardonic and satirical horror tale like Robert Graves' 'Earth to Earth'. But yet there is little true cosmic horror - no H P Lovecraft or Arthur Machen. What are the five star stories in a three-star collection made for collection completists? Apart from decent works by Hogg, Merimee (as above), Poe, Henry James, Maupassant, R L Stevenson, Zola, Kafka ... * William Hope Hodgson's decidedly creepy 'The Derelict': the nearest the collection gets to Lovecraftian uneasiness; * Lord Dunsany's dark little masterpiece of criminal psychopathy, "The Two Bottles of Relish"; * Evelyn Waugh's desperate tale of entrapment and obsession, "The Man Who Liked Dickens"; * Geoffrey Household's disturbing tale of mental unbalance, "Taboo" - a twist on the werewolf legend; * Muriel Spark's magnificently cold and English ghost story, "The Portobello Road" * Roald Dahl's typically sick "Man from the South". A decent enough collection but not one that will keep one awake at night. And that is what horror should do ...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dufresne

    "The Penguin Book of Horror Stories" edited by J. A. Cuddon was a great read. I am definitely one for the horror genre and this book really delivered that scared feeling while reading. The book, consisting of about forty plus short stories, each specific and horrifying was really entertaining and an all around "edge-of-your-seat" suspense really boosted the book's fantastically scary concept. From the distraught adventures of one kid, to horrifying experiences of a doctor, this book will keep yo "The Penguin Book of Horror Stories" edited by J. A. Cuddon was a great read. I am definitely one for the horror genre and this book really delivered that scared feeling while reading. The book, consisting of about forty plus short stories, each specific and horrifying was really entertaining and an all around "edge-of-your-seat" suspense really boosted the book's fantastically scary concept. From the distraught adventures of one kid, to horrifying experiences of a doctor, this book will keep you up at night, letting the dark side of your imagination roam your mind. My personal taste however, requires more current stories to really entertain me. Some of the shorts in this book were from ages ago and I found them very boring. Classic tales from the dark ages, just aren't my thing, and this book incorporates a few and slowed my pace of reading. I would recommend the book to a few of my friends looking for a few good short horror stories to read for fun. I probably won't read the book again because of the older stories. They really ruined it for me and were not my favorite to read at all. J. A. Cuddon's selection of short stories was at best a "B" in my opinion. But, that is just my taste in horror. I like more current ideas of the scary genre. Though while reading, I was imagining in my head, some pretty grueling scenes in a movie, if it was a movie. Concluding, I enjoyed the collection of stories and I think four out of five stars is really the perfect rating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Henderson

    According to the OED the word horror was used in the sense of a "loathing fear, feeling terror or repugnance", as early as the fourteenth century with one example cited from no less than Chaucer in "The Parson's Tale" from his inestimable Canterbury Tales. So the notion has been around a long time and in use by a broad range of authors. This anthology provides just such a broad range of writers both famous and those not so well-known. Writers include expected representatives like Poe, Henry Jame According to the OED the word horror was used in the sense of a "loathing fear, feeling terror or repugnance", as early as the fourteenth century with one example cited from no less than Chaucer in "The Parson's Tale" from his inestimable Canterbury Tales. So the notion has been around a long time and in use by a broad range of authors. This anthology provides just such a broad range of writers both famous and those not so well-known. Writers include expected representatives like Poe, Henry James, Balzac, Maupassant, Stevenson, and Bierce, among others. But there are those unexpected and unknown to this reader like Percival Landon D. K. Broster, and Monica Dickens. Those authors are surprisingly few and those who are famous also include twentieth century contributors like Bradbury, William Faulkner, Patricia Highsmith and Roald Dahl. This is a quality collection of some of the best examples of the horror story genre that I would recommend to both beginners and experienced readers of terror-filled and haunting tales.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Themightyx

    Lots of nifty treasures tucked in its pages, lots of ordinary horror, some plain bad horror, and a very few really strange stories. My particular favorites were: - "The Sea Raiders," by H.G. Wells - "The Derelict," by William Hope Hodgson - "The Fourth Man," by John Russell - "In the Penal Colony," by Franz Kafka (this one was of note because I read "The Trial," and "In the Penal Colony" sounded very much like a proto-"The Trial," only from the government's side of the story, which is no less absurd Lots of nifty treasures tucked in its pages, lots of ordinary horror, some plain bad horror, and a very few really strange stories. My particular favorites were: - "The Sea Raiders," by H.G. Wells - "The Derelict," by William Hope Hodgson - "The Fourth Man," by John Russell - "In the Penal Colony," by Franz Kafka (this one was of note because I read "The Trial," and "In the Penal Colony" sounded very much like a proto-"The Trial," only from the government's side of the story, which is no less absurd or cruel for their justifications) - "The Two Bottles of Relish," by Lord Dunsany (one of H.P. Lovecraft's main influences) Good for a wide sampling of different types of horror.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Butler

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ulrik Nielsen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Oliver

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  17. 5 out of 5

    William Oarlock

  18. 5 out of 5

    MJ Como

  19. 4 out of 5

    Frankenoise

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  21. 5 out of 5

    Janice Stowe

  22. 5 out of 5

    Azucena

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gerard Doherty

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emerald

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean McBride

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zach

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven Mace

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hoffmann

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