Dhuaine's Reviews > Collected Ghost Stories

Collected Ghost Stories by M.R. James
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Nov 29, 2009

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bookshelves: supernatural, horror, mix
Read in November, 2009

This book is an anthology of 30 stories by M.R. James, who is considered one of top ghost story writers ever. The omnibus covers majority of James's published stories; there are only several that have been omitted.
The stories look short (about 15 pages per each), but horrid typesetting (that could as well stem from the very character of the stories themselves) makes them feel as if they were at least twice longer. The pages contain basically wall of text - the longest paragraph I've encountered spanned two whole pages. All the stories are told from main wrapping POV - that's the reason for these awful blocks of text. They contain everything from descriptions to whole dialogues quoted by the main narrator. Combine it with various weird dialects in such dialogues (i.e. country dialect, which gave me a lot of trouble - it's okay to decipher what old people are saying if it's a couple of sentences, but not about one quarter of the book) and you'll get something that is very hard to read and understand without getting lost in massive black column that covers entire page.

Normally I don't pay much attention to such things, but in this case the way the text was organized killed half the joy for me.
The stories themselves aren't very scary - they can give off uneasy feeling, but in my opinion they were a bit too repetitive. They took too long to fire off and they were ending right after the climax, not developing enough to truly scare anyone (me). It's probably best to read them in right setting - for example, an open living-room at night, when the curtains are not yet drawn and all the doors are open, and by the light of a candle. There's just not much of an atmosphere when one is locked in their brightly lit bedroom.
That said, much of these stories' appeal is in the style of writing, not content-related spookiness.
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