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The Haunted Dolls' House and Other Ghost Stories (The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James #2)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  571 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Stories by a visionary master of supernatural fiction

In volume two of the only annotated edition of M. R. James's complete writings currently available, Penguin Classics brings together tales from James's final two works, A Thin Ghost and Others and A Warning to the Curious. In these stories, James continues his fearsome transformation of the ghost story from its ninetee
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics
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The Haunted Dolls' House by M. R. James is a collection of pleasantly creepy short stories. Just the sort to read on a brisk October evening when the days are drawing closer, ever closer to Halloween. His stories then to be set in a picturesque little village in England--or Sweden or France. He also likes a good university or abbey or church as the backdrop. His characters tend to be gentlemanly scholars or just plain gentlemen who come across an obscure bit of knowledge with a supernatural conn ...more
Tiny Pants
Full disclosure: I totally bought this book because of the cover. They had them standing, facing outward, on top of a shelf at Half-Price Books, and I was already on quite the spree so I thought, "Why not?" The design of this whole series is quite attractive, but I think this cover in its simplicity and starkness is the best one (yay Penguin design!).

Story-wise: Lately I am finding myself quite into what I think of as light horror. It's like the soft rock of horror. Minimal suspense, minimal blo
David Stephens
Jan 16, 2013 David Stephens rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
This second collection of ghost stories from the early twentieth century master M.R. James pulls works from his later catalog. It has often been suggested that James' later stories fall well short of his best work, and despite editor S.T. Joshi's claims to the contrary, this largely seems to be true.

James doesn't stray far from his traditional scenarios with these stories. They still mostly deal with a narrator (who irritatingly keeps interrupting throughout certain stories) who has heard rumors
Orrin Grey
Aug 26, 2011 Orrin Grey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The two Penguin editions of James' ghost stories are divided up among his better (and better-known) ones, which are largely in the previous volume and his lesser works in this one. But lesser works by M.R. James are mostly still pretty great.

The main claim to fame in this volume are several short stories that weren't published by James in his collections, and which are therefore not contained in the Collected Ghost Stories. Sadly, most of these aren't anything particularly great, though "The Fen
Apr 12, 2010 Kim rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I think that it is hard to find really good ghost stories. These are great! If you like Victorian fiction, you should love these.
Dr. Ansh
Dec 18, 2016 Dr. Ansh rated it did not like it
It was a small book with three short stories (that were supposed to be scary) that I picked up randomly from the local bookshop. I am already a bit wary of Horror genre and it's difficult to convince myself that you can actually get scared by "reading Horror stories".
The stories with complicated prose were an utter disappointment and reading them actually felt like a task. Hopefully someday I might pick up a book from Horror genre again and actually get scared.
Russell Grant
For the past few years I've been buying numerous Penguin classics based purely on the covers and have been delighted with the books. This is the first one that left me flat. I understand it's an old book, but being "old" hasn't stopped me from loving "Tarzan", "Sherlock Holmes" and "Dracula". The problem with this one is not that nearly all but one of the stories is about a character getting an object that ends up being haunted which isn't the most thrilling plot in the world for a story. The re ...more
Sep 12, 2013 Shelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classics
I've never been a fan of short stories and this book sadly hasn't done much to sway me. I found a whole stack of Pengiun 60's books in a charity shop and i'm off to Paris tomorrow so decided to get a couple for the journey, i didn't want a long book that would need my complete attention or take up space in my bag. So i bought this one and The pit and the pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe which i plan to read on the trip. Out of the three stories Stevenson's The Body Snatchers is defiantly the best. It ...more
Chris Matney
May 21, 2013 Chris Matney rated it really liked it
This is the second volume of the Penguin Classics covering the work of M.R. James. The stories in this volume include those from A Thin Ghost and Others and a Warning to the Curious.

Overall, these stories didn't catch my attention as much as the first volume - although a few in particular will remain in my memory for quite awhile to come. My favorite stories included: Two Doctors, The Haunted Doll's House and The Uncommon Prayer-book. Again, much of the magic of James' stories was the experiment
Araventhy Nanthanan
Mar 06, 2012 Araventhy Nanthanan rated it really liked it
You know how quite a lot horror stories are graphic and sometimes inventive in it's goriness? This wasn't like that. This was surprisingly freaky in terms of scariness. It had ghosts, evil spirits, black magic, revenge, accidental had everything usual. What made it work though, was the author's distinctive writing style. It was witty but still able to convey the horror of the characters, so much so that when the main character of each short story, regardless of the fact that you've o ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ghost-stories
Boy, do I love Mr. M. R. James. Kindred spirits in spirits, one might say. This volume is his b-sides, and he doesn't hit them all out of the ballpark, but that's part of the reason why I love James. Like Woody Allen's yearly movie, the consistency of production for an artist is almost the most admirable characteristic, not for its own sake, like brushing your teeth, but because it demonstrates that through this medium, ghost stories, James saw, interpreted, and explained the world around him.

Apr 15, 2014 Coenraad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book in the Penguin 60s series is unusual as it contains three stories by two different authors. The first and third stories are by M. R. James, while the middle story is by Robert Louis Stevenson. All three are fairly mild ghost stories, quite gentle when compared to the horrors described by Poppy Z. Brite in another little book in this series. They provide a fascinating look into the life in England during the Victorian era.

James en Stevenson se spookstories beeld die Victoriaanse era van
The Haunted Doll's House: 2/5
Doesn't quite raise the goosebumps this one! It's more a strange tale; there's no real horror or fear, no threat or consequence. Not entirely boring, but nothing particularly special, either.

The Body Snatcher, R. L. Stevenson: 4/5
Ok now that is pretty creepy! Quite macabre subject matter and horrifying in its unanswered questions.

The Rose Garden: 3/5
This was a bit of a weird one, and an ending I didn't entirely get. I feel like it could have definitely been creepier
May 31, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
A creepy set of little short stories by a man who seemed to enjoy describing the appearances of houses and churches. I actually had to look this M.R. James up to see if he was an architect. He really does go on about the buildings. And, he uses funny antiquated words that aren't even in my dictionary.

But all of that aside, his stories were great. Fear is always just out of sight. You feel it but can't quite see it. Imagine the comfort of your pillow in your cozy bed. Now imagine stretching in be
Jul 31, 2009 Starfish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: supernatural
This is one of those books that make me wish goodreads let you do half points, because it's more 3.5 than 3. Good! Not very spooky, but interesting and there's a few that I'm sure I've read before and others that I know I've never read. The title story was probably my favourite of the collection.

The Haunted Doll's House is part of a Penguin Collection of horror that includes Lois the Witch by Gaskell, The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins and Bram Stoker's Lair of the White Worm, all of which I'v
I picked this up for Halloween at the secondhand bookstore. For a collection of traditional, scary stories all set in the mid-1800's (for the most part) and all with men for main characters (and the villains too--come to that), it was fairly enjoyable. Probably not the most page-turning of volumes, but "Casting the Runes", "Lost Hearts", and "A Warning to the Curious" were probably my favorites, and according to other reviews here, these are M.R. James' less-fantastic stories, so I might not be ...more
Davonna Juroe
Aug 10, 2016 Davonna Juroe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I love this early 20th century tale (published in 1923). James' work always borders a bit on the bizarre. This short story follows a collector who finds a peculiar Gothic doll house that repeatedly reenacts a murder scene.

Definitely fits in the Weird Horror genre. An old English treat, and even better is an independent film maker adapted this into a short about a year ago:
Aaron Francione
Oct 02, 2016 Aaron Francione rated it it was amazing
For those interested in M.R. James, I enjoyed these Penguin classics editions for their notes and appendices by the authority of weird fiction, S.T. Joshi. While I've heard the criticism of James creating formulaic ghost stories, I would argue that he consciously helped write the modern formula. The stories in this vol. are slightly inferior on the whole to Count Magnus and others, but there are some really unsettling moments in this collection as well.
May 02, 2014 N N rated it liked it
Most of the stories in these later collections of James' ghost tales are indeed inferior to the earlier ones, just as majority opinion has it. Many stories are set in the (relatively distant) past. It would be interesting to speculate why period ghost stories are generally less effective than modern ones. Perhaps because history itself is a ghostly realm, so what's one ghost more or less?
Jun 18, 2015 sanne_reads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad" ***
Casting the Runes ****
The Haunted Dolls' House ****
Lost Hearts ***
Count Magnus ***
Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book ***
The Treasure of Abbot Thomas ***,5
Mr Humpreys and His Inheritance ***
A Warning to the Curious ****
Richard Donne
Some interesting stories, but a little overrated for my taste. Two of the short stories in this collection really work: A Warning To The Curious, and Casting The Runes. The rest are a little underwhelming.
John A.
Aug 31, 2013 John A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
MR James is my favorite writer of Ghost Stories.This is a great book to read all alone in a cabin in the woods with the wind blowing outside and rain slashing at the windows.The book though is 308 pages not 57 pages as listed at the top.
Jun 11, 2009 Babis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not own this book, but I love M. R. James and I really love the artwork on the front cover. If you rub your eyes in the dark you get to see this mysterious black and yellow eye at the corner of your (closed) eye... very atmospheric....
Jason Mock
Oct 22, 2012 Jason Mock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gbc
The stories are atmospheric and spooky but the writing style, although at times humorous,
tends to be a weird "reporting" of events that happened to someone other than the narrator,
which, to this reader at least, took the shock-value and immediate scariness out of them.
Nov 25, 2012 William rated it really liked it
Ghost stories told by a kindly narrator with a dark sense of humour. Very enjoyable, although the footnotes got a little tiresome. Sometimes they had important information, even revealing the 'punchline' of the story through translations of Latin phrases, and sometimes they were obvious.
Richard Larson
Oct 30, 2012 Richard Larson rated it it was amazing
I just reread many of these stories as hurricane Sandy blistered past my windows. Good storm reading. Good reading any time, really. A giant among giants in the development of the ghost story.
J.L. Flores
Jul 10, 2016 J.L. Flores rated it really liked it
Recomiendo a M R James a todos los que quieren entrar en una atmósfera ominosa, pero sin perder elegancia, y sobre todo, elegancia literaria.

Valdemar tiene una bonita colección con sus relatos.
Sep 07, 2015 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure why I didn't like his other collection. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for prissy Brits then. But I loved these, although Count Magnus was the one I liked least.
Jan 10, 2016 Peter rated it really liked it
Seems like he was kind of running out of ideas towards the end, but there are still plenty of excellent ghost stories here. Not as good as the "Count Magnus" collection, but still worth getting.
Oct 18, 2010 skein rated it liked it
"You begin in a deeply Victorian manner," I said. "Is this to continue?"

Oh, MR James, I could not love you more. No one else is like you.
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Montague Rhodes James, who used the publication name M.R. James, was a noted British mediaeval scholar & provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–18) & of Eton College (1918–36). He's best remembered for his ghost stories which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature. One of James' most important achievements was to redefine the ghost story for the new century by di ...more
More about M.R. James...

Other Books in the Series

The Complete Ghost Stories of M.R. James (2 books)
  • Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories

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