Samantha's Reviews > 20th Century Ghosts

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
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's review
Oct 11, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: research-gothic

Did I like this book? No, no, and no. I picked it up 1) because Neil Gaiman was singing Joe Hill's praises all up and down his blog and his twitter and 2) it promised the sort of Gothic-uncanny stories with a polished ambiguity that might be a good fit for the final chapter of my dissertation. Boy, was I wrong. After finishing this book, I certainly learnt that sometimes authors we admire don't make good book recommendations. Moreover, I was subjected to the same senseless violence that I could have gotten by watching any B-rate horror flick, subjected to it until I really just threw the book onto my bookshelf in utter disgust. The plots range from "kid turns into a bug, desiring the destruction of the patriarchal order in a whiny, tweenie 'I want to murder my parents' sort of way" to "editor discovers that the monster under the bed is really real OR the monster in my head not only exists, it's the ax-murderer waiting to kill me and a bunch of other people too." The title story "20th Century Ghosts" reminded me too much of Daphne du Maurier's "Kiss Me Again, Stranger," only Hill's version was not anywhere near as creepy. While the plots DO admittedly put the book into solidly into Gothic canon, there is really nothing "uncanny" or "ambiguous" about any of the stories in this collection. It is, rather, very horrific, graphic, and every monster is right in your face. As a person who prefers the psychological thrills of The Birds or The Haunting of Hill House to the gore of Stephen King, I was completely unimpressed.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Javier Rodriguez Um maybe finish reading it the first story was gory yes but the last was very romantic.

Samantha No, thanks. I'd rather read someone who does the genre well, like Stefan Grabinsky.

Samantha Also I just noticed that you accused me of not finishing the book. I didn't mention all of the stories in my review, but I did finish it. I didn't find any of them romantic, and the one "sympathetic" story stuffed amidst the gory ones bordered on a sort of racism that reminded me a little too much of anti-semitism. I avoided writing about that in my review because who am I to say that that was Mr. Hill's intent. Suffice it to say I will not be buying any of his books again. There are far too many other good books out there that I want to read!!

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