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The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  87 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
I aim to startle as well as please," Muriel Spark has said, and in these eight marvelous ghost stories she manages to do both to the highest degree. As with all matters in the hands of Dame Muriel her spooks are entirely original. A ghost in her pantheon can be plaintive or a bit vengeful, or perhaps may not even be aware of being a ghost at all. One in fact is the ghost o ...more
Paperback, 135 pages
Published October 17th 2003 by New Directions (first published January 21st 2003)
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Eight of Muriel Spark's stories, all with ghosts. The first four are all very good, (The Girl I Left Behind Me, The Hanging Judge, The Seraph and the Zambesi, The Leaf-Sweeper) but the last four are even better. (The House of the Famous Poet, Another Pair of Hands, The Executor, The Portobello Road)

Spark has a way of hooking you from the first sentence. After only a few lines the story is set up, characters fully formed, and you as a reader are completely invested in the outcome. This is no sma
Jan 14, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it
‘The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark’ is a slightly misleading title. The stories contained in this book are not ghost stories in the (M. R.) Jamesian sense; they do not (apart from one) feature vengeful revenants destroying the equanimity of an otherwise ordered world, and some do not contain ghosts at all. What these tales do have in common is a supernatural element that just seems to be an organic development of the plot, but that’s about as far as it goes. This is an entertaining and varied co ...more
Maureen Lo
Aug 16, 2016 Maureen Lo rated it really liked it
1st and last story - my favourite.
Jul 14, 2007 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
I love these—I gave them four stars and not five because they seem like minor works in the context of her overall writing. I’m also not a huge fan of the collection compiled from the retrospect of an author’s life including works spanning dozens of years. A great story collection is to me like a great rock album (each of PJ Harvey’s or the obvious White Album etc by the Beatles), with a theme reverberating in each of the individual pieces, a set of concerns and obsessions that repeat and reveal ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, short-stories, uk
Not sure that the stories in here quite deserved to be collected in a separate 'ghost stories' collection. Several weren't even really ghost stories.

I love Muriel Spark's writing but I was a bit underwhelmed by most of these. Portobello Road was pretty good, but what made the entire book worth it for me was 'the House of the Famous Poet' (apparently based on a real event in Spark's life) which I thought was tremendous and harrowing in that sly Muriel Spark way.
Sep 03, 2013 Dustin rated it liked it
Shelves: modern, anthology, horror
Two and a half stars, rounding up to three.
I liked exactly half of the stories. I liked the first story, though (view spoiler). The next three stories I didn't really like, though I can't really say why. The stories aren't bad, just sort of boring.
The last three stories in the collection were enjoyable. The next to last story, The Executor, I'd have to say is the most traditional ghost story in the collection, and I think wou
Kay Wright
Nov 07, 2015 Kay Wright rated it liked it
A short story fan, a Muriel fan, it's almost Halloween, what better slim volume to devour in 24hours. The stories are old fashioned. well, it is Muriel Spark, and pretty creepy. Perfect.
Lora Urquhart-rudisill
May 27, 2016 Lora Urquhart-rudisill rated it did not like it
They weren't scary enough!! And also some words I've never even heard of well at least it was a fast read !!! On to my next book
May 03, 2010 Tammy rated it really liked it
This collection of "ghost stories" isn't watching-a-horror-film-through-your-fingers scary but is reminiscent of a ghost story told around a campfire.
But the writing is superb: "He looked as if he would murder me and he did." To be able to craft a single sentence that fine.
There are some amazing stories in this collection - The Girl I Left Behind Me, The Executor, and The Portobello Road.
Dec 11, 2013 Christopher rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Thin, trite, predictable short stories with supernatural or magic realism elements. The prose is clean and precise, but the resolution in each case is foreshadowed much too clearly or never really strays from the initial premise. Along the way, there’s an image or two of mild interest, and I almost liked “The House of the Famous Poet” for that.
Jan 23, 2010 Gina rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I picked this up on a whim, intrigued by the price (50 cents) and the fact that it was so short. I liked this book well enough, but I guess it just wasn't really my cup of tea. Most ghost stories leave me a little bored, but I liked her style of writing enough that I picked up another of her books at the library.
Everett Darling
Dec 14, 2009 Everett Darling rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
An ascerbic sense of humor coupled with a vivid imagination make Muriel Spark a writer worth reading. Still wrapped up in the abstract funeral concept. One day I will get my very own, and I will take it without complaint.
Eric Bruen
Jun 15, 2011 Eric Bruen rated it it was amazing
Wonderful stories, greedily read them all in one sitting including the two I'd read before. Spark is a fantastic story teller, her characterisation is very sharp and these startling tales were all so pleasurable to read.
Apr 09, 2010 Janean rated it liked it
Not scary but wry. Not magical, but matter-of-fact. I'm still coming to grips with Spark's style. She doesn't quite connect with me, yet I keep reading her stories.
Sep 10, 2007 Evan rated it really liked it
Read this for the short story "Portobello Road." Pristine, deep, twisted, and beautiful. It's as good as anything Hemingway ever wrote and twice as charming.
May 11, 2009 Matthew rated it it was amazing
I think I'm in love with the ghost of Muriel Spark. After all, she was hilarious, strange, morbid, and quite the looker.
Dec 12, 2009 Corey rated it really liked it
More Twilight Zoney than flat-out scary and beautifully written like everything by Spark.
Moira Russell
Mar 13, 2013 Moira Russell marked it as to-read
Shelves: ebook, on-the-kindle
Is this on Kindle? Nooo, of fucking course not.
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Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eli
More about Muriel Spark...

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