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Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,060 ratings  ·  65 reviews
When this longtime Modern Library favorite--filled with fifty-two stories of heart-stopping suspense--was first published in 1944, one of its biggest fans was critic Edmund Wilson, who in The New Yorker applauded what he termed a sudden revival of the appetite for tales of horror. Represented in the anthology are such distinguished spell weavers as Edgar Allen Poe ("The ...more
Hardcover, 1056 pages
Published October 18th 1994 by Modern Library (first published 1944)
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  1,060 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Jonathan Janz
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Why have only about 1,200 people added this one?

Folks, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural is essential reading for any horror, suspense, thriller, or mystery fan. There are several stories in here that would, by themselves, would make the purchase price a steal. I could talk about the real shiners in this collection, but I'll instead rattle off some of the writers I encountered here for the first time back in my early twenties:

Algernon Blackwood
M.R. James
E.F. Benson
Oliver Onions
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
A previous reviewer called this collection a beast and they were right. This collection of terror/supernatural stories is over 1000 pages. I read the vast majority of them but I'll be honest, it one of them began to bore me or was just flat out bad, I would just cut my losses and move on. I had a long journey ahead of me and couldn't get hung up on duds.

It's a very strong collection of (relatively) short scary stories. As with all anthologies, there were some strong and some weak but the good
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I first read this book years ago, but I've since read through the majority of the stories several times each. A great collection--the old-time, atmospheric tales are my personal favorites!! A great book to have on your shelves. :)
Lark Benobi
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, 2017
This anthology was my favorite book of all time from the age of 10 until the age of 12. I spent the weekend re-reading it. There are many favorite stories here that almost everyone has heard of and read: The Most Dangerous Game, Leiningen Versus the Ants, Shredni Vashtar, The Open Window, The Monkey's Paw.. Many here are still widely read because they were anthologized here first.

For the most part the stories still thrilled me. Even so I could not get over how many of them used the framing
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I actually have an original, 1944 edition that was passed down to me by my father when I was just entering into my teens. Many of the great classic authors grace these pages, from Faulkner, Hemingway, Hawthorne, Dickens, and Forster to Poe, Wells, and Kipling, among many others. My only disappointment is that I can no longer read through the book without worrying that I will break the binding! Perhaps I should be looking for a newer copy...
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of "horror," and of supernatural fiction
As the above description notes, the tales in this anthology (by 27 19th and 20th century authors, mostly British or American --Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, M. R. James, Rudyard Kipling, Guy de Maupassant, H. P. Lovecraft, E. F. Benson, and Algernon Blackwood are each represented twice) depict both naturalistic and supernatural themes; the two are separated into two distinct sections: 20 "Tales of [naturally-caused] Terror," and 32 "Tales of the Supernatural" [which are not necessarily ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So, this came up in my to-read list and, yes, I do not actually own a copy of this classic collection. I've got my The Dark Descent and my Dark Forces and my Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature and Black Water 2: More Tales of the Fantastic and the recent, very nice American Fantastic Tales Boxed Set. Heck, I've even got a first edition of Summers' The Supernatural Omnibus (and I'm not a book collector in that way at all). This is one of those cornerstone anthologies and it's possible ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories, horror
Basically a collection of the acknowledged classics of the ghost and/or thriller genres. A more classics-oriented approach (or mainstream, one might even say) than the VanderMeer’s The Weird, but that makes the two of them excellent companions. Arranged, supposedly, into a natural and a supernatural section, and since I greatly prefer supernatural to non-supernatural horror, it gets most of the filler out of the way in the beginning. Some of the choices are rather inexplicable - “Pollock and the ...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
This was a good book. The first half were stories of high suspense and the second half, scary tales involving the supernatural.

Actually not all the stories were scary or suspenseful. Some of the suspenseful stories, are more accurately described as horror stories, like "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner or Geoffrey Housefold's "Taboo". And of course it would not be a complete analogy without some Edgar Allen Poe.

One of the most suspenseful stories is by Carl Stephenson titled, "Leiningen and
Review: Murderous spouses, ancient curses, talking corpses, seductive ghostsover a thousand pages long, presenting 52 stories from 33 authors, this collection is massive and dated, halfway a historical fragment and halfway a resource, fascinating but deep enough to drown in. It's so vast that it's almost impossible to review: no single opinion can reflect so many stories. There are a few classics here, just as many minor offerings from famous authors, and plenty of forgettable selections. Half ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural: This book had many, many weak stories in it that I'd just as soon not have to Wade through. There were a few goodies, though, and I note them here.

La Grande Breteche, Honore de Balzac
Shades of "The Cask of Amontillado" EAP

The Black Cat, EAP
An alcoholic takes out the black mood of his debauchery on his pets and his sweet-tempered wife. But there's always the KARMIC court, where the court of humans would fail.

The Facts in the Case of M.Valdemar, EAP
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you never read another horror anthology, if you even hate horror, you should read this one anthology just to make sure you round out your literary background. The one essential classic anthology that has NEVER been bettered since it was first published. Cannot really be compared to anything else.

If you are a horror buff, then you owe it to yourself to read this to find out where it all came from and what the best can be.
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful words, not very gory. It makes you realize the difference between schlock writers and true artists who can convey a mood with a few well chosen phrases. I loved it - one of the few books I won't lend out to friends. I can't afford to lose it! I've also ordered books by some of the best authors in the anthology.
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
Lots of good authors and great stories, but this book confirmed for me that Lovecraft is still the best when it comes to horror.
Simon Workman
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic (in multiple senses) collection of horror, both supernatural and psychological. This Modern Library anthology is a classic for a reason; and while not every story is five stars, a surprisingly high number of them are. I like how this isn't all ghost stories, but has a good mix of different takes on horror, terror, the supernatural, and the mysterious. It stretches from the early/mid-nineteenth century (Balzac, Poe, Hawthorne) to its original publication date (1944), and includes some ...more
Hal Johnson
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ever since I read this anthology (which is one of the best of its kind), I’ve been imaging a counterfactual scenario: What if Phyllis Fraser and Herbert A. Wise had put out a sequel, say ten or fifteen years later? What stories would they include?

So of course then I had to fantasy-edit my own hypothetical anthology. The rules are that the stories must be consonant in tone with those in the original, and have been published in the 1950s or earlier. The original anthology had 52 stories and one
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
In some respects, perhaps this collection is not the best thing to read in before retiring to sleep; but I found it admirably suited to the purpose, and did not have any more disturbing dreams than I usually have. All of the stories are wonderfully creepy, and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading of them.

The edition I possess (and read) is a reprint (dated 1972) of a work that was published in 1944; that did not not make the stories included any the less valuable, although it did exclude any stories
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a big book of old-timey stories about ghosts and other bizarre supernatural stuff, including a few classics like The Most Dangerous Game and The Monkey's Paw. Most of these stories are more strange than scary, but I found them all pretty fascinating. One that stands out in my memory: Lukundoo by Edward Lucas White. (Whoa! That story!)

Giving this five stars because it's a great collection of all sorts of dark weirdness.
Riju Ganguly
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This anthology is the best among all the collections available in the market which claims about having most of the best ghost & horror stories inside their covers. Simply the list of contents would be enough to make lovers of ghost stories gasp in delight, and when you combine the contents with a very-very reasonable price, you have to run for it! Most highly recommended.
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Thanks be to Google. I think I've identified this title as an anthology much-beloved in my childhood. This is old fashioned psychological horror, creepy and disturbing rather than gory. I loved The Great God Pan, Casting the Runes and Sredni Vashtar. Now to pay my respects to Amazon!
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who love horror and are short on time
This is a fantastic collection of suspense/horror stories from the twentieth century. If you like horror and suspense, and you just don't have all day to sit around reading books, get this collection of tales.
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ghost-stories
Favorite stories:
Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come To You, My Lad
The Beckoning Fair One
What Was It?
The Horla
The Screaming Skull
The Dunwich Horror
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Has a good mix of short stories from the well recognized authors, and some that may surprise you.
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly unremarkable, but enough successful stories to keep me reading. Split into two sections: first, tales of terror, and second, tales of the supernatural. Which often ruins the suspense a little, as what section you're in determines whether the conclusion will be natural or supernatural. Also, given that I've been dipping in and out of this for six months, some of the earlier stories are a little fuzzy in my memory, but, as best I can, here are some of the ones that stuck out for me:

Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book, an anthology of what are generally considered the all-time best short stories of the horror/supernatural genre, provided some of the most riveting reading of my childhood and adolescence. I was a voracious reader tackling adult concepts with a hunger for new insights, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural was the catalyst for considerable synaptogenesis during that period. I read it again recently as a 50-something adult. It was quite ...more
Mark Isaak
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with nearly all anthologies, it has some stories which I liked more than others. Many of the stories have the same basic plot: A supernatural being is gradually discovered, and it does bad stuff; the beings, the discovery, and the stuff vary artfully, but the formula still becomes tired. Still, the best of the stories are good enough and famous enough that just a few of them -- particularly Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw", Saki's "The Open Window", and Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" -- justify ...more
Richard Subber
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Indeed, these are great tales. The usual suspects are here: Poe, H. G. Wells, Lovecraft, Saki, Maupassant. A few tantalizing names are: Edith Wharton, Kipling, Hawthorne, Isak Dinesen... My taste for horror and supernatural stuff is episodic, a little of it goes a long way for me. In that respect, this is a perfect volume -- a reader can dip into it for a taste, then put it aside for a bit, and then go back for more. Indeed, one reader's horror is another reader's trifle. Nevertheless, try ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an old, but solid selection of short stories that manages to avoid limiting itself to well known titles or strictly horror stories.
A Shaskan
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Although there are some very good stories here, there are also some stories that are for various reasons virtually unreadable. Had the following stories been excised, this anthology would have been good indeed:

"Leiningen versus the Ants." A remarkably stupid story. Its main character is virtually an unwitting parody of himself.

"Rappacini's Daugher." Although I generally like this author, I thought this work weak and repetitive.

"The Trial for Murder." Forgettable, although (probably through
The rockabilly werewolf from Mars
As a rule, short stories are more interesting than novels, because it is difficult to maintain the atmosphere necessary for the horror genre at novel lengths (of course, there are many interesting novels, but there are far more interesting short stories). Thus, anthologies are essential for all serious readers of horror (and any other sort of fiction, for that matter). Most of the stories here are probably familiar to any reasonably well-read reader of horror (or at least, they should be), but ...more
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“Poor sleepers should endeavor to compose themselves. Tampering with empty space, stirring up echoes in pitch-black pits of darkness is scarcely sedative.

("Out Of The Deep")”
“On the hearth, in front of a back-brand to give substance, blazed a fire of thorns, that crackled 'like the laughter of the fool.'

Nineteen persons were gathered here. Of these, five women, wearing gowns of various bright hues, sat in chairs along the wall; girls shy and not shy filled the window-bench; four men, including Charley Jake the hedge-carpenter, Elijah New the parish-clerk, and John Pitcher, a neighboring dairyman, the shepherd's father-in-law, lolled in the settle; a young man and maid, who were blushing over tentative pourparlers on a life companionship, sat beneath the corner-cupboard; and an elderly engaged man of fifty or upward moved restlessly about from spots where his betrothed was not to the spot where she was. Enjoyment was pretty general, and so much the more prevailed in being unhampered by conventional restrictions. Absolute confidence in each other's good opinion begat perfect ease, while the finishing stroke of manner, amounting to a truly princely serenity, was lent to the majority by the absence of any expression or trait denoting that they wished to get on in the world, enlarge their minds, or do any eclipsing thing whatever - which nowadays so generally nips the bloom and bonhomie of all except the two extremes of the social scale.

("The Three Strangers")”
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