I am completely blown away by this collection of short stories. The stories in "20th Century Ghosts" enfold a striking variety of subject matter, toneI am completely blown away by this collection of short stories. The stories in "20th Century Ghosts" enfold a striking variety of subject matter, tone, structure, and characters, though every tale is told with the same subtle, skillful flair, a unifying voice. Joe Hill possesses a velvet touch when it comes to his descriptions and dialogue. He seems both sly and sincere in his presentation here, an unusual but highly effective combination of tones. The stories here are brief glimpses of broader pictures, and Hill does not cram excessive details into the delicate containers he has arranged. Upon finishing each story, I was left with the feeling that those strange events continued to unfold even after Hill set aside his lens.
While I honestly believe that all the stories resonated distinctly and belonged in this collection, some stood out to me more than others. "Best New Horror" is a fantastic opener to the collection and sets the ominous, but strangely playful tone. "20th Century Ghost" is technically a ghost story, but delves far more into human loneliness and regret than ghostly scares. "Pop Art" is a stunning and surprising story whose premise had me raising a skeptical eyebrow at first, but ultimately affected me so deeply that the titular character has been lingering in my thoughts ever since. "Better than Home" is another surprisingly sentimental tale, and "The Black Phone" is a heart-pumping, suspenseful waiting game that culminates in an explosive conclusion. "The Cape" is another story with an eye-popping, brutally satisfying ending, and "My Father's Mask" is a supremely creepy and unsettling nightmare torn from the far corner of the reader's subconscious. "Voluntary Committal" is a fitting finale to the collection, and embarks on a strange and wholly unique journey into a very different corner of dread.
All told, "20th Century Ghosts" delighted me with the sheer variety of the works within. Each story ignited my imagination and made me not only excited to keep reading, but to brainstorm and daydream about brief, creepy, dream-like stories of my own. ...more
Even though I have long been fascinated by coincidences and interested in the causes (if any) behind them, I was hoping for a little more from this boEven though I have long been fascinated by coincidences and interested in the causes (if any) behind them, I was hoping for a little more from this book. A discussion on the possible sources of coincidences could be riveting, but this book was not so much an exploration of contrasting, thought-provoking ideas as it was a fluffy piece written in the style of Chicken Soup for the Soul. That's perfectly fine, I suppose, if that's what you're looking for. Most of the stories were uplifting enough, but told in the same bland, rudimentary tone, and in my opinion the book suffers from a lack of variety and complexity. However, when embraced as lighter fare, the book is pleasant and inoffensive enough, even to someone who isn't particularly religious or convinced that all coincidences are divine, like me. A new friend lent this book to me, and I was content to finish it in one plane ride. ...more