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20th Century Ghosts

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  15,424 ratings  ·  1,251 reviews
A collection of short stories.

Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon one afternoon in 1945....

Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy...more
Hardcover, First American Edition, 316 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by William Morrow & Company (first published January 1st 2005)
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Wil Wheaton
Absolutely wonderful book. This is a collection of stores that will have you crying, checking for monsters under the bed, and wondering how the hell Joe Hill came up with that.

Comparisons to Joe's dad will be unavoidable, especially from those of us who read Night Shift and Skeleton Crew at a certain age ... and though I believe Joe has more than earned the right to be far, far out of his father's shadow, I say with love that the comparisons are well-deserved. This is a sensational collection, a...more
Short story collections can be hit or miss. Some stories may be wonderful, others may be clunkers. Every story in “20th Century Ghosts” is wonderful, some are even superlative. While Hill is a horror writer, not all of the stories in this book are horror. And, some of the ones that deal with the typical subjects of horror are not horrific. To me, the best stories in this collection are:

“20th Century Ghost”, a touching story about a haunted movie theater.

“Abraham’s Boys”, a tale about teen-age re...more
I love Fall. Football has returned to the airwaves. The leaves are changing colors, and there’s a cold snap in the…oh, who am I kidding. This is Texas. If we’re lucky, it will only be 85 degrees with 95% humidity as you’re reading this. Still, I really do like the idea of Fall, though, and if I have to make my own chill, well, then, so be it. The best way I know of to bring a chill to the air is to break out the scary stories. Luckily for us, one of the finest collections of contemporary horror...more
Bill  Kerwin

Seldom does a collection of weird stories feature a style so accomplished, a range of tone and mood so broad, or a generosity so profound. Hill, the son of Stephen King, inherits his father's empathy for the ordeals of childhood as well as his artfulness in constructing a tale, but he also possesses a warmth and an elegance all his own. At times his stories are chilling and gripping like the horror fiction of King ("The Black Phone"), but at other times they are gentle and elegiac like Bradbury...more
Wyatt Packard
Joe Hill presents himself with this collection as both a wonderful writer and as a story teller that possess that special touch. His works are sly and subtle, while some also manage to be so incredibly creepy and even touching. The stories vary in tone and subject manner, sometimes making it difficult to ascertain exactly what Hill is trying to accomplish in each of the tales presented. However, I give the author a great amount of credit for allowing a mode of thinking on the reader's part, maki...more
Wow. What better word to start this review? Joe Hill has a true gift for the short story.

All short story collections are somewhat hit and miss with me. Some stories are great, some good, some okay, and some meh. That's pretty much the standard with even my favorite short story authors: Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin. But I'm definitely putting Joe Hill on that list now. His stories vary as well between excellent and meh, but even the "meh" category stories are written with his sub...more
This was the most awful grueling book to get through. The stories had great starts (some of them anyways) but then just ended with no warning, and not even at a place that really made much sense. Some of these stories I think could have made an excellent book on their own had they been fully completed. It was very difficult to make my way through these stories. I kept hoping they would get better or I'd find one really great story in the mess. Some really grabbed my interest in the begining but...more
Best New Horror - Okay. I would have liked to see the story expanded and continued.
20th Century Ghost - Really good. A nice, but still creepy, "love" story for horror buffs.
Pop Art - The best short story that I have ever read. Can't go into too many details without giving away spoilers.
You Will Hear the Locust Sing - Nice story with a 1950s "giant monster" movie feel.
Abraham's Boys - Nice "continuing" tale of Van Helsing from Dracula. Good ending.
Better Than Home - Eh, sucked.
The Black Phone - A...more
Paul Eckert
I read Heart-Shaped Box first, and while I thought that book was just okay, 20th Century Ghosts seemed to fulfill the potential I suspected he had.

Don't take the title too literally - these are not all creepy stories about spirits that go bump in the night. Often the ghost theme is very subtle, or is expressed in nuance. And despite how different the individual stories are, they feel like they belong together in this collection.

All of these stories are really, really good. Some are charged wit...more
William Thomas
Whereas just a week or so ago I was writing a love letter to Joe Hill, now I am stripping his posters off of my wall, selling all of his CD's to Disc Replay, and selling his action figures and other memorabilia on ebay. Because I think it was just a crush on you from that one book and nothing really lasting. Or maybe this was just too soon for me, reading it on the heels of something I thought to be so perfect. Any way I slice it though, it just isn't the same. Sigh.

Now, I know that people, when...more
Alex Telander
20TH CENTURY GHOSTS BY JOE HILL: The first time you pick up the hardcover copy of 20th Century Ghosts, you know you’re in for a treat. The book is cloth-bound in darkest black, sans dust jacket, with a sticker on the front listing the title and author, along with a haunting black and white photograph. As one opens the cover, one is greeted by a dried blood-red inlay, followed by the white pages of writing. It is almost as if one is opening a black and bloody wound to read what Joe Hill has to of...more
In his introduction, Christopher Golden (who, by the way, collaborated on The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King with Stanley Wiater, if you're interested) said that Joe Hill is a master of subtlety in the way that he tells stories. And it's true. His stories all have a soft, surreal feel, and they spoke to me in a different way than most other short stories I've ever read, including his father's. These stories feel like they are told from the outside in, spira...more
Unsolved Mystery
This is a collection of short stories. Not just ghost stories.

You'll find monsters, love, friendship, beasts, rednecks (You read right, I said rednecks), vampires, baseball, super powers, haunted trees, zombies, and cardboard forts, etc, etc.


And yes, there are ghosts. =)

This is full of everything to appease anyone.

Best New Horror:
Editor Eddie Carroll works at America's Best New Horror. He receives stories, reads them, then decides on whether to put them in his magazine.
He wants to...more
Late to the game on this one - which is fine because I could never keep up with the endless swell of everything old I want to read AND everything new I want to read. I'd read 3 stories by Joe Hill before, in various collections, and was immediately struck by his authorial strengths. Here we have a collection of most of his early short fiction in one package - proving that he is not just a horror author but a non-genre lit author as well.

"Best New Horror" is, simply put, a masterpiece - not just...more
This could very well end up one of my favorite new reads of the year. I know, we're only 2 months in, but it was really that good! I recently read Heart-Shaped Box and could tell I was going to like Hill's style. My problem with HSB was that I found it to be too much of the same thing over and over. This collection of short stories, and one novella, seemed the perfect outlet for Hill's talent. He grabs you quick, and even though many of the stories are left with a relatively "unfinished" feeling...more
Stefan Yates
Overall – I normally do expect improvement from someone’s first to second book. The stories here are an interesting mix of horror, the super-natural and some that are neither of these. I enjoyed most of the stories in the collection but there were some that were a little weird for my tastes. Of course, some stories are better than others but this is true of almost every collection of short stories that I have read. I didn’t like this as well as Heart-Shaped Box, however, since this is his first...more
The Flooze
“Modern horror is not often subtle. Most of those who practice the art of the unsettling far too often go for the jugular, forgetting that the best predators are stealthy. Nothing wrong with going for the jugular, of course, but writers of genuine skill and talent have more than one trick in their bags…Joe Hill is one stealthy bastard.”

So says Christopher Golden in his introduction to 20th Century Ghosts. And he’s correct.

I’ve read the first two installments of Hill’s Locke & Key series. H...more
20th Century Ghosts is an eclectic array of stories - some of which could not correctly be called horror - that combined stand as testament to the seemingly limitless expanse of Joe Hill's imagination.

My grading may seem harsh after such a grandiose statement to open a review, but I have such extraordinarily high expectations of Mr Hill after first reading NOS42, then the Locke & Key series and Heart Shaped Box, that I could not help but be disappointed by some of the tales contained within...more
Barks & Bites
I bought this in hardcover, something I rarely do but I had a gift certificate to B&N and I really enjoyed Joe Hill's book Heart Shaped Box. I can only read in snippets so this book of short stories should be a perfect fit.

Best New Horror is the first story in the collection and is about a horror anthology editor who is very burned out after reading more than his share of the same-old, worn out, lame horror stories. I could really relate to this one after my short-lived stint as a reviewer f...more
A very solid collection of shorts from Mr. Hill. A few of my favorites in this collection were not, in fact, horror at all. Ghostly movie theaters, cardboard labyrinths, creepy masks, classic movie sets, last breaths and red bolt superhero blankies. I wish a few of these were longer, but then I guess that is what good short stories are supposed to do(?) Well written and executed, as I would expect from Joe Hill. 4 Stars. Highly Recommended.
A collection from the author of Heart-Shaped Box. Some horror, as you would expect, but also just a lot of fiction with a touch of the supernatural.

Damn but that's a good book. I knew for sure during the opening story, "Best New Horror," in which our narrator is an anthology editor who gives us a one-page synopsis of a novella manuscript he receives, and the compressed summary made me forget where I was. Right on through the weird and metafictional "Pop Art" (bad! Pun! Alert!) and the amazing li...more
Will Byrnes
The crab apple does not fall far from the poisoned tree. While the sensibility is his own, it is eminently clear that Joe Hill has been gifted with DNA predisposed to horror greatness.

Before Heart-Shaped Box, Hill wrote short stories. Maybe he still does.
I was immediately taken with his ability to draw the reader in. For most of the stories here, I quickly felt that I could settle back in my chair and let Hill lead me wherever he wanted. He engages quickly and strongly. He is having a lot of fu...more
Devoured this in one day!

"Best New Horror" was a great quick adrenaline rush. Loved it, because whenever I read or watch a scary story, I always wonder how I would do in that situation.
"20th Century Ghost" was also a great story. I liked how everyone who met the ghost ended up doing something movie-related.
"Pop Art" was beautiful and poignant in a strange dreamy sort of way. I was almost misted over when it ended.
"You Will Hear the Locust Sing" really, really grossed me out. From the recollectio...more
Dean liapis
Damnit. Really wanted to like this more than I did. Already read two of his novels (the ok "Horns" and the much better "Heart Shaped Box"), so I was really excited for this collection, especially since I found the novels to be good but uneven. I figured with a smaller scope, maybe he would smash all that goodness into the shorter stories without the pressure of having to sustain the excitement throughout an entire novel.

Well, I was wrong. First of all, I feel like 90% of the stories were great i...more
I didn't enjoy all of the stories in this book, but the ones I did - I loved.

20th century ghost - the titular story of this collection was beautifully written. A haunting, ephemeral story that was quite sad, it was a great read.

Pop Art - this story wasn't scary but was horrifying in the way that only casual human cruelty can be.

The Black Phone - this made me think of Hill's other book NOS4A2 and was a great, creepy read.

The Cape - I read this on the bus and though HOLY SHIT when I got to the...more
I read each story, and then reviewed them separately:

Best New Horror- Wow!! Talk about starting off with a bang. This story is slightly too short, and made me want more of an ending. Did he make it? I sure hope so. You didn't expect to find what you did, but it came out of no where, and hit you in the face.

20th Century Ghost- a lovely story that makes you want to see a ghost at your local movie theater, and chat about the movies they've seen. I bet she's seen a lot, more than just the movies pla...more
Allison Dickson
I can't remember a short story collection I've enjoyed more since Stephen King's Everything's Eventual. This is an utterly brilliant and weird and downright creepy batch of stories, some so memorable that I think they changed me a little and made me want to be a better writer. Those stories include the following:

"Pop Art:" so deliciously committed to its weirdness that Hill doesn't bother to explain why the main character's best friend is inflatable, like something you would buy from a gag shop....more
Bobby Bermea
Since I'm not a paid reviewer on this site and since the cat's long since out of the bag, just for fun, I'm going to go ahead and compare Joe Hill to Stephen King, being fully cognizant that they are each their own individual artist. What I am absolutely NOT doing is trying to decide who's "better". I couldn't care less. I love Stephen King and right now, I'm headed towards loving Joe Hill as well.

But how often is it that the son of an icon seems as absolutely BAD ASS as his dad? But blessedly...more
Dark Recesses
20th CENTURY GHOSTS by Joe Hill
Review by Nickolas Cook

In the life of a reader, short story collections that gestalt so immediately, resonate so deeply, are a rarity. Joe Hill’s “20th Century Ghosts” is one of those exceptional books.
I haven’t been so moved by a chain of stories since my wonder years of discovering Ray Bradbury’s poetic prose. There were times that I had to place the book aside to examine my reaction to its latest offering. And that is the power of this man’s voice. He ca...more
When I was four or five stories in, I had this plan to list the stories in my review and give “beginning” during” and “after” impressions. Around the fifth or sixth stories all thinking about what kind of review I would give went out the window.

The stories add up on you. They’re not connected in a traditional sense, but thread, an impression, an image will leak from one to the next---and it may or may not have any kind of similar meaning. This could have been distracting, something to “look for”...more
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his father's mask 2 84 Oct 28, 2013 07:20AM  
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Joseph Hillstrom King (born 1972) is an American writer of fiction, writing under the pen name of Joe Hill.

Hill is the the second child of authors Stephen King and Tabitha King. His younger brother Owen King is also a writer. He has three children.

Hill's first book, the limited edition collection 20th Century Ghosts published in 2005 by PS Publishing, showcases fourteen of his short stories and wo...more
More about Joe Hill...
Heart-Shaped Box Horns NOS4A2 Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft (Locke & Key, #1) Locke & Key, Vol. 2: Head Games

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“Who knows what may lie around the next corner? There may be a window somewhere ahead. It may look out on a field of sunflowers.” 36 likes
“I didn't know the inner me was hungry," I said to Art.
"That's because it already starved to death. ”
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