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American Supernatural Tales

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  610 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
As Stephen King will attest , the popularity of the occult in American literature has only grown since the days of Edgar Allan Poe. American Supernatural Tales celebrates the richness of this tradition with chilling contributions from some of the nation’s brightest literary lights, including Poe himself, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published April 24th 2008 by Penguin Classics (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin

This is a well-chosen anthology. If it is inconsistent in quality, the problem is not to be found in Joshi's choices, but in the decline of supernatural fiction during the latter part of the 20th century.

The older stuff is the best. Irving's "German Student" is nothing more than a campfire story for boy scouts, and not really a very good one at that. The Hawthorne tale about Randolph's portrait is better, but not exactly gripping. Then comes Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," and--not havi
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
Excellent group of tales to be read. I enjoyed myself so much reading these. I should look for some more of these type of books.
Nov 19, 2014 Benni rated it liked it

American Supernatural Tales collects twenty-six short stories by American authors organized in chronological order, from Washington Irving’s 1824 tale, “The Adventure of the German Student,” to Caitlín R. Kiernan’s 2000 tale, “In the Water Works (Birmingham, Alabama 1888). This collection was edited by S. T. Joshi, and the 2013 reissue of this book as part of the Penguin Horror series also includes an introduction by Guillermo Del Toro.

In the intro
Jun 20, 2008 Cait rated it liked it
A good primer for me, so uncultured in American Literature (really: I'd never read anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne, HP Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, etc, etc). A lot of the stories are merely so-so, with two notable exceptions:
Shirley Jackson's the Visit and T.E.D. Klein's The Events at Poroth Farm. The former's a subtle but psychologically f'ed up "why is this scary" story - I hate conversations where characters appear not to hear each other at all, so CREEPY! The latter scared the shitting shit
Jul 21, 2016 Zach rated it liked it
Some great stories and some mediocre ones average out to an acceptable but disappointing overview of the American supernatural tradition. Includes an extensive historical introduction and biographical notes for each author, which is nice, but which all reflect Joshi's usual partisan blind spots, which is less nice.

Joshi opens by noting that the supernatural genre emerges in the 18th century as science delineated what is natural and what is beyond rational bounds (there's that liminality again).
Sara Dee
This was my scifi/fantasy/horror book club pick for October.

It was a fun read, but it did have some downsides...

First of all, I've realized that I am not a huge fan of most American authors, especially when it comes to horror. Some I love of course, but it's just like with horror movies...we aren't up to par with other parts of the world and their horror.

I also did not like the fact that the little blurbs were before the stories, most of them gave spoilers. I would have liked it A LOT more if th
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Gorgeous, gorgeous edition. I'd have bought the Lovecraft volume too, except I have all those stories already. So much pretty printed paper.

Anthology - American Horror Stories

Jun 26, 2008 Micah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: a lot of people
Recommended to Micah by: no one.
Very good collection for those looking to get a good hold on American horror stories from throughout the history of the whole country. I found some of the stories in the last third of the book not up to the level of the rest of the collection but everything was solid to say the least. I read this around Halloween and it did a good job getting me in the right mood for that celebration.
Jan 26, 2015 JW rated it really liked it
If this collection proves one thing, it's that the use of full, grammatical sentences has fallen out of favour in the last forty years of supernatural storytelling.

Otherwise, a frighteningly good, thoroughly enjoyable collection worthy of its place on a horror fan's bookshelf.

Ali Sadonis
Oct 18, 2014 Ali Sadonis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great anthology! I really enjoyed it. There were only a few stories that really didn't grab me, but even those were still well written and fit in this book. My favorite story over all was " the Events at Poroth Farm" bt T.E.D. Klein. That story had me in the edge of my seat!
This collection covers the American Supernatural Tale from Washington Irving to Caitlín Kiernan (a contemporary author). It has an excellent introduction, nice biographical summaries of each author, and proceeds in chronological order. I discovered a few new authors in this collection (Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Lieber, Richard Mathewson, T.E.D. Klein, and Dennis Etchison), many of whom published in pulps like Weird Tales or its successors and wrote for The Twilight Zone. And I read or reread a ...more
American Supernatural Tales was my 'All Hallows Read' for the year; it was the ideal read for the Halloween season as it contains 26 stories of horror. Now that I've finished this volume, I can definitely say that I prefer the older stuff (Poe, Irving, etc.). I was surprised to find works by authors I already love to read, like Shirley Jackson and works/authors that I hadn't read before (like T.E.D. Klein). I also came to the realization that I'm not a fan of the later horror that's mostly gor ...more
Nov 18, 2016 Sohail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good collection of short stories. Most of them are great stories, all with supernatural elements. Not all of them are horror fiction, though. If you are looking for horror, you are going to find several great ones in here, but be prepared for a collection that is full of supernatural occurrences that are not necessarily scary.
This month was anthology month, and what better choice than the collection of horror stories that I got from my secret santa? It felt quite perfect, actually. Guillermo del Toro is curating a horror series that I have been obsessed with from afar since my boyfriend told me about it late last year. I am a sucker for good designs (half my beer choices are based on the name and the label, I'll be honest), and I've always sort of had a thing about covers. So when my secret santa bought me the ...more
Nov 19, 2016 Mckinley rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, short-story
Anthology quite mixed in type an quality.
Jul 17, 2014 Jean-Luc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a solid book, literally, and I'm quite happy Meg picked it up for me. The explanation for said solidness is in the preface by Guillermo del Toro. Hell, the preface itself is worth its weight in gold for nostalgia's sake. del Toro's explanation of why film adaptations of HPL's work do not go well is the best I've seen.

The stories are collected by ST Joshi, a hardcore atheist who has made weird literature his life's work. He's got good taste, that's for damn sure. It's called American Supe
Apr 30, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is proving to be a solid collection of classic American horror. The editor S.T. Joshi is renowned for his expertise as an editor of classic collections of supernatural and horror literature. This volume is in effect a history lesson of the genre in American literature that begins with Washington Irving (1824), Hawthorne (1838) and Poe (1939). The stories which are ordered chronologically move through the 1900s and leave off with a story by Caitlin Kiernan in the year 2000.

At present I am in
Monique Snyman
Apr 27, 2014 Monique Snyman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anthologies and collections are always hard to review, because I know a lot of people expect me to review each story individually, but I like to review a book in the whole. So bear with me as I take American Supernatural Tales and give you the lowdown as to why you should (or shouldn’t) get your hands on it.

The moment I got my hands on the book, I was in awe at how wonderful it looked. I mean, it’s a hardback and it’s pink and gruesome, and oh my God it has that whole creepy/beautiful factor dow
Dave H
Dec 04, 2015 Dave H rated it liked it
An interesting collection by the big-names of American ‘supernatural’ literature. Three particularly excellent stories I encountered for the first time were: Clark Ashton Smith’s ‘The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis’, Shirley Jackson’s ‘A Visit’ (aka ‘The Lovely House’) and T.E.D. Klein’s ‘The Events at Poroth Farm.’ I was particularly struck by Jackson’s work, a genuinely chilling and thought provoking tale by an immensely talented writer in the short-form (which is more than can be said for many of the ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Ronald rated it really liked it
Supernatural horror is a great and old stream of the fantastic. In this book, S.T. Joshi gives an account of the development of supernatural horror in the United States. His introduction is followed by American supernatural tales, placed in chronological order.

In his introduction, Joshi identifies important figures in the genre, such as Poe and Lovecraft. He also discusses how literary writers made occasional forays into the genre, and such work was even published in the literary magazines. Joyc
Pam Winkler
Aug 13, 2016 Pam Winkler rated it it was ok
I read this because I really liked the 'The Madness of Cthulhu" and enjoyed it. This was overall pretty mediocre. Some good stories, more that were just pretty ok. I think the thing that annoys the most is that it feels biased. S. T. Joshi had a pretty snarky comment about Steven King; "...the majority of King's writing is indeed marred by clumsy prose; hackneyed conceptions derived from film, comics and other media; and a rather dreary prolificity..." Yes, I'm sure the prolificity of his work ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Matt rated it really liked it
Pretty awesome. There are naturally a few stories that are a little bit "meh," (Washington Irving's was probably my least favorite, which was a bummer considering how much I love Sleepy Hollow), and I wasn't totally sure how Stephen King's Night Surf was supernatural in any way - it seemed like it took place in the universe of the Stand, but it never mentioned anything that wouldn't qualify as science fiction.

But some of them were truly awesome. There's my favorite H.P. Lovecraft story, the Cal
Sep 13, 2016 Christian rated it really liked it
This was a fairly uneven collection of stories, and, I have to agree with some of the other writers, that the more modern stories were definitely less enjoyable. I particulary liked The Events at Poroth Farm by TED Klein, The Late Shift by Dennis Etchison and The Hollow Man by Norman Partridge. I thought the choice of Night Surf for Stephen King was bizarre since it's really more of a post-apocalyptic story than a supernatural one. Still a good story, but I feel like there were much better ...more
Sep 14, 2016 Tripp rated it really liked it
Good collection by a great editor
Kirk Macleod
Nov 03, 2014 Kirk Macleod rated it really liked it
The final book in the collection, American Supernatural Tales, edited by S.T. Joshi, is a really fun way to round out the collection. Using short stories involving the supernatural from as far back as the early 1800s with Washington Irving (the fellow who wrote both Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and moving right up to recent Bram Stoker ward winners like Stephen King and Caitlin R. Kiernan, the title works to introduce reads to some really great stuff as well as showing how the ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Susannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This is an extremely comprehensive short story collection, and chronology of the development of American Supernatural Fiction. All the giants are there: Poe, Lovecraft, Bierce, Jackson, Matheson, King. Reading this collection definitely makes me want to seek out more of the work of the writers involved, even if S. T. Joshi is a bit rude about King's merits as a writer in the Introduction.
I have long been a fan of ghost stories and short story horror tales, so I very much enjoyed reading this. I
Kat Dietrich
Aug 11, 2016 Kat Dietrich rated it liked it
American Supernatural Tales is a compilation of short stories by some of America's most well-known authors, edited by S.T. Joshi

While I can't say that I enjoyed them all, there were a few I did not get through, and a few I loved! Some authors I had not heard of, and others are very prolific.

A few of my favorites:

Old Garfield's Heart by Robert E. Harvard...a western horror story about a man with a borrowed heart. Wonderfully unique.

Black Bargain by Robert Bloch....a disenchanted pharmacist meets
Rachel Whelen
Dec 29, 2015 Rachel Whelen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great collection of stories. I loved some, hated others and discovered some new authors I definitely want to read more from. The stories are arranged in chronological order of publication date, first being published in 1824 all the way up to the year 2000. I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of the short story. It was interesting how the stories changed and evolved over the years, as well as seeing the influence the classic writers have over their modern counterparts. My particular ...more
This is an excellent collection of horror tales ranging from the days of Washington Irving to modern day writers. Joshi has selected the cream of the crop for this anthology, some of which can be hard to locate nowadays especially in ebook format. Some of the offerings within include classics like:

The Fall of the House of Usher by Poe
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
Night Surf by Stephen King
Long Distance Call by Richard Matheson
The Vanishing American by Charles Beaumont
The Yellow Sign by Ro
Jaime Contreras
Oct 07, 2016 Jaime Contreras rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror, anthology
The American horror tale has a long history and cultural impact on world literature. In this comprehensive collection, ther are selections from as early as Washington irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, and Edgar Allen to early 20th century writers like Robert Chambers, Henry James, H. P. Lovecraft, August Deleth, Robert Howard, and Robert Bloch to late-20th centrury masters like Firtz Leiber, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, and Charles Beaumont and finally, current ...more
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Sunand Tryambak Joshi (b. 22 June 1958 in Pune, India) is an Indian American literary scholar, and a leading figure in the study of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and other authors. Besides what some critics consider to be the definitive biography of Lovecraft (H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, 1996), Joshi has written about Ambrose Bierce, H. L. Mencken, Lord Dunsany, and M.R. James, and has edited collections ...more
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