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Best Ghost Stories of J. S. LeFanu

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,603 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Compilation of fifteen stories and one essay by J. S. (Joseph Sheridan) LeFanu as selected by editor E. F. Bleiler. Stories include: "Squire Toby's Will", "Schalken the Painter", "Madam Crowl's Ghost", "The Haunted Baronet", "Green Tea", "The Familiar", "Mr. Justice Harbottle", "Carmilla", "The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh", "An Account of Same Disturbances in Aungier ...more
Paperback, 467 pages
Published 1964 by Dover Publications Inc.
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  1,603 ratings  ·  38 reviews


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Werner
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of supernatural fiction, esp. ghost stories
Distinguished Edwardian ghost story author M. R. James referred to his Victorian predecessor Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) as "the Master" of the sub-genre, an assessment echoed by many fans since then. E. F. Bleiler, one of the few serious 20th-century literary scholars to specialize in (instead of despise) the literature of the supernatural, assembled this collection of Le Fanu's "best," in his estimation, in 1964, and this edition is an unabridged Dover reprint. There are 16 selections ...more
X
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written short stories, but many of them started to seem similar and a bit predictable after an entire book of them.

A special note for anyone who finds himself stuck in a le Fanu short story: never trust the deformed hunchbacks; don't make deals with strange people who you meet in the woods; and if you had a dream that seemed real, it probably is.
Liz Yon)
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LeFanu writes a mean ghost story. Bear in mind that he wrote during the Victorian era when the ghost story was nearly formulaic in its composition: spectral ladies in white, rattling of chains and moaning in the night, churchyard phantoms and haunted estates. All the things that we now think of as cliche (but which I still secretly enjoy if well done). LeFanu partook of some of these same devices, but he broke literary ground in the genre, too. "Carmilla", one of the earliest vampire stories ...more
Martha
Aug 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: completionist classic horror readers
I'm torn on rating this one. While it contains most of LeFanu's best stories, there are some major clunkers in here also. Most notably, 'The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh' has the exact same ending as the much better story 'The Haunted Baronet'. Stories like 'Ardagh' wouldn't interest any readers except the completionist ones.
It's true that LeFanu is one of the masters of gothic horror stories. I'd recommend starting with the collection In a Glass Darkly if you're new to him.
Starfish
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book would have got a 3.5 except it contains Carmilla which gets a 5. As well as being one of the earliest, its also got to be one of the best vampire stories out there. But yes, the other Fanu stories compiled here are good, but the way they're arranged it takes a while to get into them. I think the first few stories are quite weak, and it's not until you hit 'Green Tea' that things start to get creepy.

There's another weird thing about this anthology. Fanu's recycled some of his earlier
...more
Lauren
Apr 12, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghosts, own, anthology
1) Squire Toby's Will
2) Schalken the Painter
3) Madam Crowl's Ghost
4) The Haunted Baronet
5) Green Tea
6) The Familiar
7) Mr. Justice Harbottle
9) Carmilla
10) The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh
11) An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street
12) The Dead Sexton
13) Ghost Stories of the Tiled House
14) The White Cat of Drumgunniol
15) An Authentic Narrative of a Haunted House [non-fiction]
16) Sir Dominick's Bargain
17) Ultor de Lacy
Christian
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic, delicious, delirious collection of classical ghost stories. That is, you may not have heard of these stories unless you're abreast of Irish literature, but they are written in a charming, colorful colloquial vein. They're amusing, they're creepy, and they are a delight at every level.
Lian
Apr 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of traditional Victorian ghost stories, legands and fairy tales about "the good about the mystical people of Ireland who have made a pact with the devil. I enjoyed the traditional Victorian tales best but overall an interesting collection of myth, mysteries and legends.

Well worth a read if you have an interest in fairy folk and tales of the supernatural.
Randolph
Editor Bleiler gives us ghost stories and only ghost stories, no gothic mysteries or natural explanations here, by the first great master of the English ghost story. Mostly good, some great, there is one "essay" and an excerpted chapter from The House by the Churchyard. Culled from The Purcell Papers, In a Glass Darkly, and Madame Crowl's Ghost, the bizarre and aimless Haunted Baronet novella is also included.

Despite its purported health benefits, one should moderate the consumption of Green
...more
Riju Ganguly
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps it is sacrilegious to mark a work by Le Fanu with anything less than 5 stars, but there were stories in this collection that had compelled me to run away from this book time-and-again. The contents of this collection are:

(*) Introduction by E.F. Bleiler

1) Squire Toby's Will
2) Schalken the Painter
3) Madam Crowl's Ghost
4) The Haunted Baronet
5) Green Tea
6) The Familiar
7) Mr. Justice Harbottle
9) Carmilla
10) The Fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh
11) An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in
...more
Susan
Oct 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
LeFanu wrote some wonderful ghost stories (Green Tea, The Familiar, Madam Crowl's Ghost and others)where everyday details/observations and psychological insight enhance the reported supernatural events. Some of the other tales included here are less successful ("The Haunted Baronet"), repeat key details/scenes from other stories and would be of more interest to a scholar of LeFanu than the casual reader. If this collection had omitted those less successful stories, I would have given it 4 or 5 ...more
Kenneth
Sep 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This volume is probably the best single collection of J. Sheridan LeFanu's shorter supernatural fiction. It includes his short novel, "Carmilla" - one of the all time great vampire stories. LeFanu was an Anglo-Irish writer of the mid-19th century. The stories collected in this volume also include hauntings of various kinds and one where a man sells his soul to the Devil. Some are set in LeFanu's native Ireland, others in northern England and elsewhere.
Florence Iapicca
One of my favorite horror authors. LeFanu wrote during a time where the horrors were vague so as not to offend innocent readers. However, his stories are graphic, colorful and still have that Victorian creepiness that is so fitting to a ghost story. If you love ghost stories, you need to read this.
Jessica
Dec 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2015
The stories were ok for the most part. Near the end it got kind of repetitive. But I enjoyed it overall and was surprised at how bloody some of them were and some of the more, ahem, modern themes. I can say I am glad I read this book, though some of the prose was harder to get through.
Carly
I haven't read all of these stories yet, but Carmilla is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. No one expects to pick up a nineteenth century piece of literature and find a dark, creepy, lesbian vampire romance. I can't recommend it enough!
Camille
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so very, very gothic, it's not even funny. "Carmilla" is one of the backbone stories of this vampire preoccupation, too. Good fun.
Shana
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Creepy Victorian ghost stories -- great for the days you're home sick in bed.
nina
Aug 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le Fanu is a lot of fun. He is arguably the scariest Victorian writer (not that that's very scary).
Darcy
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked how he wrote these ghost stories from the point of view of careful scientific investigation of the origins--usually the moral causes--of the hauntings.
James Venn
The thing is Victorian fiction can seem slow, and a little tame. Nonetheless, well crafted gothic ghost stories. Would have made nice Christmas reading.
Ashley
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gothic ghost-story telling at its finest.
Kelly
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Read in college for my Victorian Literature class. Specifically, "Carmilla."
Mary
Jul 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are 3 volumes with this title, free from Google. I liked the simplest tales, such as Schalken the Painter, but the Ultor de Lacey story started well but disintegrated at the end to elements of fortunetelling, resurrection, mysterious storms and an ancestor's ghost.
Jason
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a supurb collection of supernatural tales from an early master of the genre.
Jack
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LeFanu reworked the 18th Century Gothic into a solidly Victorian form. His stories "Carmilla" and "Mr Justice Harbottle" are essential.
Cynthia
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic gothic horror.
Jeanne
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I normally do not like to read ghost stories, especially those that emphasize terrorizing people. I came across the author Joseph Sheridan LeFanu when reading another fiction book, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers. I wanted to know why Sayers seemed to feel that Sheridan LeFanu was a better writer of ghost stories than Wilkie Collins.

These stories are well written with the sensibilities of Victorian England. They appeal to the senses, but if read with an intellectual focus, are satisfying. I
...more
Jeff Hobbs
Read so far:

Squire Toby's will--
Schalken the painter--
Madam Crowl's ghost--3
The haunted baronet--
Green tea--1
The familiar--
Mr. Justice Harbottle--
Carmilla--
The fortunes of Sir Robert Ardagh--
An account of some strange disturbances in Aungier Street--
The dead sexton--
Ghost stories of the tiled house--
The white cat of Drumgunniol--
An authentic narrative of a haunted house--
Sir Dominick's bargain--
Ultor de Lacy--
Alicia Riley
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eric Guignard
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love these stories, to revisit Sheridan LeFanu. Beautifully written, ornate, imaginative, and horrific, all penned over a century ago, and still engrossing today.
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Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. M.R. James described Le Fanu as "absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories". Three of his best-known works are Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the ...more

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