Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dark Descent (Collection)” as Want to Read:
The Dark Descent (Collection)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dark Descent (The Dark Descent )

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,495 ratings  ·  43 reviews
This highly acclaimed anthology traces the evolution of horror, from Nathaniel Hawthorn and Edgar Allan Poe to Stephen King. Adopted by colleges across the country to be used in literature courses, The Dark Descent showcases some of the finest horror fiction ever written.


pt. 1. - The color of evil.

The reach / Stephen King --
Evening primrose / John Collier --
Paperback, 1011 pages
Published January 15th 1997 by Tor Books (first published 1987)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dark Descent, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dark Descent

Baby Teeth by Dan RabartsFresh Fear by William   CookRead the End First by Suzanne RobbZippered Flesh by Weldon BurgeDead Harvest by Mark Parker
Best Horror Anthologies
58th out of 342 books — 630 voters
The Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeThe Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins GilmanThe Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley JacksonScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin SchwartzVital Signs by Emily Walker
Most Terrifying Short Stories
111th out of 270 books — 399 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Paul Bryant
Contains one of PB's All Time Greats :

"The Summer People" by Shirley Jackson (1950)

Old Shirl has got matter-of-fact horror down, she owns matter-of-fact horror, and it's a thing of wonder. Perfectly bland boring people do these ordinary things and it all plods on and plods on and you're looking at your watch and scratching your left ventricle until you realise this routine stuff is now involving immense cruelty and death. Come round to tea any day, Shirley Jackson.
♍ichael Ƒierce

One of the best anthologies I have ever read!

Has some of my favorite short stories of all time all in one volume!

The Whimper of Whipped Dogs by Harlan Ellison, The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner, and Dread by Clive Barker (though I hated the stupid downer of a movie that completely missed the feel and point of the original short story).

Includes many other classic short stories, many of which I like or almost like as much as the ones I mentioned - but I can't qui
I am SO looking forward to this tome. I found it in a outlet store for $6 and grabbed it as fast as I could. Stories from some of my favorites (Harlan Ellison's "Whimper of Whipped Dogs" plus a couple from Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, HP Lovecraft and one from Philip K. Dick) as well as from people who I need to read/read more of (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Clive Barker, I think Robert Bloch is also in here). If this is as good as it claims to be, I will be using it when I teach my Horror Short Fict ...more
I technically should put this book on my “Abandoned” or “Hiatus” shelf, because I didn’t finish it. But I feel I’ve read everything I’m going to from this book (at least, for the time being), so we’ll call it “Read.”

I started out by reading from the beginning (as is the tradition with books, I hear). I went through the introduction and found that the guy who threw this anthology together had a massive boner for Stephen King. I’ve read Pet Sematary and Salem’s Lot, and from those books I’ve decid
An excellent collection of shorts/novellas from a wide range of authors. You will find some of the usual suspects-King, Poe, Lovecraft but for me the strength of the collection was the inclusion of so many authors I have heard of but never read. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Thomas M. Disch, Theodore Sturgeon, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert Hitchens, Henry James, Oliver Onions, Joyce Carol Oates and authors you wouldn't normally associate with horror fiction Fritz Leiber, William Faulkner, Gene Wol ...more
If I may quote Forrest Gump for a moment, I'd like to say that The Dark Descent is like a box of chocolates. Not so much because you "never know what you're gonna get" - because these stories are almost uniformly well written - but because the best way to consume it is a few pieces (stories) at a time, so they don't get overwhelming and start tasting all the same (or make you sick).

The editor, David Hartwell, has divided the story collection into what he calls three "streams": 1) moral allegoric
If you have any interest in horror fiction, The Dark Descent is essential. In fact, if you're new to horror, don't bother with anything else. This compilation will not only introduce some of the best works in short fiction of the last hundred years, but it will do so with a clarity of vision that actually allows you to survey how far we have come and what remains to be explored. Each work in this anthology represents an incredible peak in style and expression that has never been topped regardles ...more
One of the best summaries of Horror about, in my opinion. Not all stories are necessarily the author's best nor best known, yet as a primer to give a reader something to work at, this is about as good as it gets.
The ultimate collection of horror stories ever printed.
I found this to be an excellent anthology chronicling Hartwell's take on the evolution of the horror tale. However, rather than laying out the tales in chronological fashion, Hartwell instead breaks the anthology into three separate sections delineating the three main types of horror tale as they have developed since the 19th century. There are several well known benchmark classics as well as hard to find gems that outline his conception of the horror genre.

A warning to the casual reader, thoug
Mar 25, 2008 Aaron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who appreciates horror
What's most interesting to me are the entries in this collection by author's who are not well known for writing horror (William Faulkner! Charles Dickens!). I haven't even finished reading the whole book yet and I feel strongly that it deserves a five star rating. This book is absolutely essential to anyone interested in the genre of horror. If there were going to be a college course on horror, I would highly recommend this book as the text.

If I have a complaint, it would be that the work printe
May 05, 2013 Jj rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jj by: Indianapolis Public Library
I hate horror movies, so I sometimes knee-jerkily shy away from horror writing, but when I saw the authors whose stories were included in this book I took it anyway. This book has all kinds of famous stories in it (The Fall of the House of Usher) and it also has authors I never would have thought wrote "horror" (Edith Nesbit?!). If you think of horror as blood-and-guts, dumb-blonde-girls-getting-slashed-by-creepy-masked-men, these stories won't fit into your idea of horror. These are psychologic ...more
A (large) collection of horror stories, illustrating the “evolution of horror” since the early 19th century. Hartwell identifies several categories of horror stories, such as horror as moral allegory or illustrating the ambiguity of reality. He includes several authors that I was initially surprised to find here, like Edith Wharton and Flannery O’Connor, but they all made sense. Like any collection like this, I thought it was hit and kind of miss, but no duds. There were so many that were good, ...more
Theresa Glover
I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this book; it is a great collection of a wide variety of horror writers. I think it was a nefarious combination of coming up to stories I've read before, a lack of time, my (lack of) attention span and the fact that it was huge. Lugging around school books doesn't exactly allow for much room (or arm/back strength) for (not so light) reading. It was a book I preferred to leave at home, but that I read in compulsive bursts when I picked it up. I'd earmar ...more
Quando passo un momento brutto e gli incubi notturni si fanno più insistenti, non c'è niente di meglio del genere horror per rimettere a posto gli animi. Peccato che con tutto lo splatter sullo schermo negli ultimi anni, parlare di horror sembri sminuire un romanzo. Questa raccolta di racconti del genere,oltre un secolo di inchiostro illustre su queste pagine, dimostra quanta maestria ci sia nell'opera di chi scrive. Poe, Hawrthone, Dickens, Lovecraft sono solo alcune delle menti geniali, e a tr ...more
Daniel Sadicario
All the stories/authors are great, but this, to me, shows off the fact that Shirley Jackson is the true god of horror.
Steven Schreier
There may not be a finer collection of horror fiction available, a must have for readers of the macabre.
A.F. Henley
The stories that I did read in this collection were all fantastic. This rating is based on the ones I chose to read.
This anthology contains the usual suspects: King, Barker and Oates, as well as the old classics: Pierce, Wharton, James. There were also some lovely new acquaintances (for me), and since a proper review is impossible considering I've been reading this over a six month period and I barely remember what I did yesterday, I'll just list my favorites: Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner, How love came to Professor Guildea by Robert Hichens, Seaton's aunt by Walter de la Mare, The summer people by Shirley Ja ...more
Absolutely superb collection!
I didn't even get halfway through it. Some of the stories were just downright BORING. I stopped reading once I got to "The Yellow Wallpaper."
The only good stories I liked were "The Monkey" by Stephen King; "If Damon Comes" by Charles L. Grant; "The New Mother" by Lucy Clifford; "The Crowd" by Ray Bradbury; "Vandy, Vandy" by Manly Wade Wellman; and "Bright Segment" by Theodore Stergeon. All the rest I found either extremely boring and way too discriptive, or completely disgusting.
Apr 02, 2008 Bogydog rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Your mom.
Shelves: books-i-ve-loved
I doubt any of my friends have any interest in this, but if you 're looking for a primer on some of the world's greatest short horror stories, this is the best I've found. The choices are crazy-smart, and it'll catch you up so you'll sound smart at your next horror short story function. I'll be there... actually, it'll just be me. I throw them in my attic. What'll you be wearing so I can recognize you? I'll be the one covered in jizz.
I still cannot sleep. This book was complied of some of the scariest stories from lots of different authors, including Stephen King. I will say that some of the stories were a little dry and took too long to get to the scary parts, but that could just be my lack of patience.

I would recommend this book to anybody looking for a great (super long!) read and one that will make you get out your old nightlight.
A very good collection spanning the genre from classics (such as Poe and Hawthorne), to contemporary authors (King and Barker), and everything in between.

While certainly not comprehensive, this broad collection is a great addition to any horror collection, or for anyone wanting to get acquainted with the genre.

I only wish the order of stories was chronological, to see the progression of horror.
Mike Lester
This may be, along with Kirby Macauley's anthology Dark Forces, one of the most important collections in the genre to be published in the last fifty years. Almost every story included is a knockout. The edition I have is the hardcover first printing, and let me tell you it's an unwieldy sucker. From what I understand, the subsequent paperback edition was divided into three volumes. Highly recommended.
Riju Ganguly
This top-notch collection of stories cover a very large ground in the landscape of horror. There are (too) well-known stories from the old masters and a few pleasantly unpleasant shocks in terms of omissions, there are classics as-well-as bizarre choices from the present big-guys. Overall, a massive collection that has something for all. Recommended.
John Bruni
I actually read most of these stories before, which is why I was able to breeze through a 1000+ page book so quickly. It's an excellent selection from the history of the genre. Maybe it's a bit too much, but it's definitely a quality anthology. Of the tales I hadn't read before, I think my favorite is Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People."
5/20/13: "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" (1943) by Robert Bloch
5/25/13: "The Autopsy" (1980) by Michael Shea
5/28/13: "The Rats in the Walls" (1923) by H.P. Lovecraft (mult. re-read)
6/2/13: "The Ash-Tree" (1904) by M.R. James
6/16/13: "The Willows" (1907) by Algernon Blackwood
Chris Pederson
read some of the stories for book club, will have to come back and finish.
Oct 20, 2013 Carolyn added it
Shelves: a-good-one-yes
I loved the variety in this anthology. From Shirley Jackson to Lovecraft. This is a fear fest. Or should I say, fear feast. Some anthologies seem to be thrown together carelessly. The editors of Dark Descent were very careful. I liked it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
For the love of H...: The Dark Descent 30 47 Nov 08, 2014 07:30AM  
Weird fiction: The Dark Descent - Buddy Read! 3 5 Aug 03, 2014 12:55PM  
  • Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural
  • Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural
  • Dark Forces: New Stories of Suspense and Supernatural Horror
  • The Best Horror of the Year Volume Two
  • Alone With the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction, 1961-1991
  • Prime Evil: New Stories by the Masters of Modern Horror
  • The Museum of Horrors
  • October Dreams: A Celebration of Halloween
  • Dark Delicacies (Dark Delicacies, #1)
  • 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
  • The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales
  • Dark Masques
  • The Dracula Book of Great Vampire Stories
  • American Supernatural Tales
  • Duel: Terror Stories
  • American Gothic Tales
  • My Favorite Horror Story
  • Best New Horror 19 (The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, #19)
David Geddes Hartwell (born July 10, 1941) is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has worked for Signet (1971-1973), Berkley Putnam (1973-1978), Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint, 1978-1983, and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor (where he spearheaded Tor's Canadian publishing initiative, and was also influential in bringing many Australian ...more
More about David G. Hartwell...
The Hard SF Renaissance The World Treasury of Science Fiction The Sword & Sorcery Anthology Year's Best SF 14 Year's Best SF 11 (Year's Best SF (Science Fiction))

Share This Book