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Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,293 ratings  ·  491 reviews
Who better to investigate the literary spirit world than that supreme connoisseur of the unexpected, Roald Dahl? Of the many permutations of the macabre, Dahl was always especially fascinated by the classic ghost story. For this superbly disquieting collection, he selected fourteen of his favorite tales by such authors as E.F. Benson, Rosemary Timperley, and Edith Wharton

Paperback, 249 pages
Published 1985 by Penguin UK (first published 1983)
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▫️Ron S You might want to reread the introduction. It's only a few pages, and should clear up your question easily.

He was choosing 24 stories (out of 749 even…more
You might want to reread the introduction. It's only a few pages, and should clear up your question easily.

He was choosing 24 stories (out of 749 eventually read) for a TV series, and he noticed a trend that most of the stories he liked were written by women. By "most" this meant - most of his early reading on the subject. Then he comments that male authors had as many good stories - and as the reading progressed, more of the stories he favored (11F/13M).
He was limited to 14 stories for this collection - and of the 24 he preferred, most of them were written by men.

The commentary was initially intended to point out that women are the most widely read children's book writers - and that if you look a little closer, they are often not given enough credit for being among the most read ghost story writers as well. (less)

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May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ghost-story
This is a great collection and one I reread all the time as I own it. Some of the best ghost stories I've ever read are here. If you don't want to be unduly alarmed and chagrined, do not read Dahl's preface. In it he details how he went about finding all these great stories, which is interesting until he gets to the fun part in which he denigrates women writers. He is surprised to find that women do ghosts well. He also gives them a shout out for writing great children's books, but seems to thin ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Every year on Halloween night, I permit myself one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It is a great indulgence for me, an annual event, and I savor the moment, taking very small bites to prolong the experience.

This collection of ghost stories, that I bought last year after the creepy season ended, felt like a similar indulgence to me. I was going to savor Roald Dahls' writing one story at a time, one story for 14 nights of October, leading up to Halloween night. . .

But, as soon as I opened it up, I ex
Fiona MacDonald
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I was seriously impressed by this collection of ghost stories. I would estimate that 10 out of 14 were genuinely frightening and it took me a while to focus on the present day after being taken into the past. Also the calibre of these stories was exceptional (as Dahl states in his introduction) 'The Telephone', 'The Upper Berth' and 'The Ghost of a Hand' were particular favourites that really scared me. The wonderful introduction by Roald Dahl really accenuates each story and the history behind ...more
Kathryn McCary
Funny, although ten out of the 14 stories in this book are ones I like, at least to some degree, I'd really rather read them in some other collection. I think it may be Dahl's rambling, discursive and inconclusive introduction. He rides an utterly irrelevant hobby horse (children's writers don't get no respect) and indulges in a peculiar--and not well supported--comparison of the merit of men and women both as writers in general (men are better) and as ghost story writers (women are better). His ...more
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sitting on my TBR since 2011. Yes, I have finally gotten around to it. It was full of creepers by plenty of forgotten authors such as A.M. Barrage, F. Marion Crawford, And Rosemary Timperley.

Dahl did a wonderful job selecting these stories.

If you can, find a copy and savour the scare.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A novelist receives strange and disturbing post cards from an unknown fan ; lonely children speak to and about what their parents or guardians dismiss as imaginary friends until contrary evidence materializes ; an impoverished writer visits an antique shop finding different surroundings and tenants at night to those during the daytime ; a strange hand haunts a mansion and it's inhabitants ; strange telephone calls from the dead ; a mystery figure sweeps up leaves at night ; all who sleep on cabi ...more
merina rey
Jul 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
Maybe I’m desensitized... but wow this sucked 😱
I would say no fault to Roald Dahl because he obviously didn’t write any of these but I mean he compiled them in a book and just wow. I came so close to DNFing this. It was torture. I tortured myself.
The only thing scary in regards to this book was the feeling like I wasn’t going to make it out alive. I was for sure I would succumb to terriblebookitis.
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a really depressing book. In his weirdly sexist preface, an author I greatly respect says that he has read through 749 ghost stories to select these 14 as the very pinnacle of the genre. And, let's ruin all the intrigue from the start, they kinda suck. So either these 14 really are the best stories the genre has to offer, which is at least as depressing as your girlfriend breaking up with you on your anniversary to date Roald Dahl's son, or one really good writer, who succeeded in creati ...more
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of supernatural fiction/ghost stories
To elaborate on the background given in the description above, Dahl's extensive reading of ghost stories in the late 1950s and early 60s was originally undertaken to select quality specimens for adaptation in a projected TV series (which was never made). He was previously unread in this type of literature, and found that most of it failed to deliver the genuinely scary quality he expected; but some stories made the grade with him, and here he collects 14 of the best of these. Despite his avowed ...more
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever had tea at a fancy hotel? The waiter serves you these beautiful little scones, miniature sandwiches, tiny, tiny biscuits, and chocolate-covered strawberries on a gorgeous tiered tray, with pots of lemon curd and strawberry jam and pats of butter on the side, and a hot pot of tea. If you're lucky, there's a cellist in the corner of the room and a beautiful garden outside the window.

I have only had this experience twice, but both times I adored how the atmosphere felt so distinguishe
May 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-read
A disappointing read. I grabbed the book at a book trade thinking it had been written by Dahl, which it hadn't. Rather, it was a compilation of 20-some "horror" stories which he considered the best of the best.

Unfortunately, in this case I'm inclined to respectfully disagree with Mr. Dahl. Only a small handful of the short stories were of any interest, and not one left me with the disturbed or off feeling a really good spooky story brings. Most were happily and fully resolved without any need t
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
After the introduction (where Dahl is shocked - shocked - to find that women write better ghost stories than men, and spends another page ruminating why would this be? when women fail at every other form of art (painting, sculpting, music) - after that charming introduction, the stories begin. (The title is misleading: Dahl is not the author.)

It's a mixed bag. Some are coldly shocking ("Elias and the Draug", "Ringing the Changes"), some predictable ("Playmates"). Some are brilliant and cruel ("A
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Edith Wharton writes a damn good ghost story.
May 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
The stories weren't as scary as i thought they were to be, i found this to be more suitable for preteens rather than adults. There is an interesting intro where Dahl explains why women are better suited as writers for children books and his overall take on how difficult it is to write a book for children. Not my favourite book by him, but it was nice to see him do something different ...more
Missy (myweereads)
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The crazy eyes staring at me beneath the matted white fringe of hair frightened me. Mad people are terrifying. One can pity them, but one is still afraid.”

Roald Dahl’s Book Of Ghost Stories is a collection of what he thought were the best ghost stories written. It begins with an introduction on the art of writing a good ghost story. What I like about this collection is that it still manages to creep the reader out. Ive seen that some readers have found the tales to be dated however I think it’s
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorts
A fine collection of ghost stories, and I enjoyed the chance to sample several authors I've heard of but never read before. As usual, some were just okay, some were good, and a couple were quite good. The first story, "W.S.," by L.P Hartley, "The Corner Shop," by Cynthia Asquith, and "Playmates" and "The Sweeper," by A.M. Burrage were my favorites. Dahl's introduction, in which he explains how he came to collect these stories and shares his ideas on the artistic abilities of women (they can't co ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First, they're not by Roald Dahl. They're curated by Roald Dahl. This is very different and not at all clear from the cover.

Second, they are not horror stories. They are ghost stories (at least the first two, which is all I made it through). Like you hear at the campfire. About the girl whose mother answers the door and it turns out her daughter died 20 years ago last night or whatever. Much narrower genre.

Third, they are old ghost stories. And that means that you definitely, definitely, have a
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A creepy collection of old-fashioned stories that favours creaky old English houses and the as-told-to style common in the late 19th century.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Melissa by: Grandad
This was an interesting little collection, given to me by my grandad. I have some fond, vivid memories of visiting my grandparents as a kid, and sneaking off to read from the upstairs closet - Roald Dahl, Stephen King, stuff that scared me stiff in the best sort of way, while my grandad turned a blind eye approvingly. So, I had fairly high expectations when he gave me Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories, and I think the compendium largely met them. It's hard to be sure, because more than a decade ...more
Lisa Ard
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Is it terrible to say the best part of this book is the introduction? But then, I am a Roald Dahl fan. And, the stories within this compilation are not by Dahl. Rather they are the best of some 700+ ghost stories Roald Dahl read. There are several that are magnificent and a few that....well, could be shorter. For the reader looking for a selection of short stories to frighten and entertain, this is a good volume to pick up.
▫️Ron S
The premise sounds like one that could not possibly disappoint, but it is also not quite presented truthfully. The idea is that Dahl read 450 ghost stories in preparation for creating screenplays for a season's worth of them for an anthology TV show. The forward, and publishers, tell you that this book prints the best 14 stories out of those 450 - as chosen by Dahl. I think the dishonesty in that idea is that they were the best stories - - I think, rather, they were chosen by him as the best sto ...more
Gillian Kaney
Jul 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Hmmm very mixed bunch of stories, some were sleep inducingly dull but there were a few good ones. Annoyingly I couldn't keep updating my progress as Good Reads states that there are 249 pages but in my copy there were actually 308 pages.

I think this would have been so much better if it had been stories that Dahl had wrote himself rather than it just being 14 ghost stories that he had chose to feature. His children's stories are so much darker than anything found within this book. So yeah pretty
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF but also DOA. Dahl’s intro put me in foul temper from page 1, and the old-timey atmospherics of the stories that followed didn’t exactly dispel the mood. There might be good stuff in here but I can’t even finish this thought because I’ve lost interest in saying useful things about bleh bleh bleblebleh....
Some of these actually gave me the creeps so that's cool ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun collection of classic ghost stories with some real chillers mixed into the bunch.
Danni The Girl
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reading
3.5 rounded up to 4. Review to come
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was the best ghost stories anthology I’ve ever read. Highly recommend!
Claire O'Sullivan
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Read with Mariana’s Bookgroup. A great read - I thoroughly enjoyed this - though it did actually give me a nightmare ! Clever and easy to read.
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good collection of shivery stories. The two I don't like are the two that fall outside of the others' time period (roughly 1885 - 1959), and really wouldn't be missed. (The one from the 1960s in particular, since it features an attitude I've seen in other books from that time, best characterized as, "Women, huh? What ARE they thinking?"). These are otherwise ghost stories written to spook and chill but not horrify--except for the last, which is the only well-known classic: "The Upper Berth," one ...more
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a huge disappointment for me :(. I was so eager to get stuck in and read a series of ghost stories that would either have me scared sherbetless, or at least have me thinking what the fudge. Maybe it's because I have been brought up with the masters of ghost stories such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz that I was really left wanting. The shortest story in the whole book was the one I enjoyed the most - really sad. I plodded through the stories and the flowery language and at stages had to re ...more
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Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940's with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors.

Dahl's first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as A Piece of Cake. The story, about his wartime adv

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