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20th Century Ghosts

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  32,702 ratings  ·  2,476 reviews
A collection of short stories.

Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon one afternoon in 1945....

Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy
Hardcover, First American Edition, 316 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2005)
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Susan Dorne "My Father's Mask" and "Voluntary Commital" were my favorites.…more"My Father's Mask" and "Voluntary Commital" were my favorites.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,702 ratings  ·  2,476 reviews

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Bill Kerwin

Seldom does a collection of weird stories feature a style so accomplished, a range of tone and mood so broad, or a generosity so profound. Hill, the son of Stephen King, inherits his father's empathy for the ordeals of childhood as well as his artfulness in constructing a tale, but he also possesses a warmth and an elegance all his own.

At times his stories are chilling and gripping like the horror fiction of King ("The Black Phone"), but at other times they are gentle and elegiac like Bradbury
Wil Wheaton
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Absolutely wonderful book. This is a collection of stores that will have you crying, checking for monsters under the bed, and wondering how the hell Joe Hill came up with that.

Comparisons to Joe's dad will be unavoidable, especially from those of us who read Night Shift and Skeleton Crew at a certain age ... and though I believe Joe has more than earned the right to be far, far out of his father's shadow, I say with love that the comparisons are well-deserved. This is a sensational collection, a
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Read with some friends over at Horror Aficionados. I have to say I was expecting some true horror stores but I wasn’t feeling half of them. I’m giving it 3 stars for the ones I did like though.

BEST NEW HORRORwas the creepiest one and I loved it!

The other ones I liked were

Pop Art
You Will Hear The Locust Sing (was okay)
The Black Phone
Last Breath

And the added Typewriter store in the ad section

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: ghosts, short-stories
"Best New Horror" - Fun concept and well executed for most of the story, but my interest tanked when the editor finally tracks down the author. Maybe I was supposed to laugh at the cliche-ness? 4 stars for the 1st half, 2 for the second = 3

"20th Century Ghosts" - There was a delicacy to this haunted movie theater story that I appreciated, although I felt it ran too long (or rather, too wordy) for what it was. 3 stars

"Dead-wood" - Instances of ghostly trees. You know, Joe, it would be okay to wri
Will Byrnes
Dec 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The crab apple does not fall far from the poisoned tree. While the sensibility is his own, it is eminently clear that Joe Hill has been gifted with DNA predisposed to horror greatness.

Before Heart-Shaped Box, Hill wrote short stories. Maybe he still does.
I was immediately taken with his ability to draw the reader in. For most of the stories here, I quickly felt that I could settle back in my chair and let Hill lead me wherever he wanted. He engages quickly and strongly. He is having a lot of fu
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, buddy-read
I really enjoyed this compilation of short stories by Joe Hill! They are not all horror so know that going in when you read this.

Overall, I would give this compliation 4 stars!

I've broken down all the short stories below and what I liked about them. Some were "okay" and not a favorite but the writing was still good.
Joe Hill has a fantastic imagination and his writing is top notch in my books!

Best New Horror – 5 stars!
This was one of my favorite short stories. I loved the take on the producer try
4.5 stars!

My favorite stories were:

Pop Art
20th Century Ghost
Better Than Home
My Father's Mask
Voluntary Committal

My thought on this collection cannot possibly make a dent in all of reviews already written about this book. Suffice it to say: I loved it and it gets my highest recommendation.
Nandakishore Varma
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I read NOS4A2, I had pegged Joe Hill as a horror writer of the calibre of his celebrated father. When I started this book, I expected much of the same fare: however, I was pleasantly surprised. “20th Century Ghosts” is less about ghosts than other sorts of boogeymen: more subtle, more scary, and all definitely weird.

It starts off with a traditional story (“Best New Horror”) about a horror anthology editor trapped in something like one of his own tales: despite the story-within-the-story str
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, short-stories
Joe Hill makes me feel like I'm seven again. More specifically, I'm seven and he is the nine-year-old kid down the street hanging out with me in my tree fort telling me scary stories and urban legends that he swears are true. His voice is hushed, as if he is letting me in on a little known secret and I'm not quite sure whether to believe him but I'm mesmerized and a little afraid.

Joe Hill gets the underdog and the misunderstood. He also writes childhood well, but it is when writing that mislabel
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I did it
I finished
the only story I couldn't make it through was the cockroach one.
I much prefer his full length novels
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
More often than not, Joe Hill characterizes the child’s life within these stories. I think that’s where our imaginations and fears are strongest, and when things scare us the most. When we are grown, most of that is gone…until we pick up a certain book. Shit, I love the way Hill writes. It is so utterly readable. He makes me believe in ghosts and the supernatural, but even more in the power of a simple story. I say that because not even half of the stories included here are meant to be frighteni ...more
Dec 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
This was the most awful grueling book to get through. The stories had great starts (some of them anyways) but then just ended with no warning, and not even at a place that really made much sense. Some of these stories I think could have made an excellent book on their own had they been fully completed. It was very difficult to make my way through these stories. I kept hoping they would get better or I'd find one really great story in the mess. Some really grabbed my interest in the begining but ...more
Paul O'Neill
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic collection of stories, tightly written (like a certain family member). Short stories aren’t usually my thing but between this and his more recent collection of four novellas, Strange Weather, Joe Hill has maybe changed my mind.

Some stories were better than others but there wasn’t a single dudd in this collection. My favourites were Pop Art (boy makes friends with Art, a balloon), Better Than Home (a nice Father-Son story) and the longer story at the end of the book, Voluntary Commit
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, horror
Short story collections can be hit or miss. Some stories may be wonderful, others may be clunkers. Every story in “20th Century Ghosts” is wonderful, some are even superlative. While Hill is a horror writer, not all of the stories in this book are horror. And, some of the ones that deal with the typical subjects of horror are not horrific. To me, the best stories in this collection are:

“20th Century Ghost”, a touching story about a haunted movie theater.

“Abraham’s Boys”, a tale about teen-age re
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-shelf, horror
Oddly enough, this collection was something of a hit or miss with me. When the stories hit, they hit hard and wonderfully and had me chortling with glee. Best Horror Story was easily my favorite. I really liked a number of the others, as well.

What really got me, though, were the stories that, while emotionally engaging and had me chomping at the bit for more, just STOPPED. Anyone who has read these particular stories will know what I mean. Some of the best ended right where we should have gotten
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first ever Joe Hill book. Well, it is a collection of short stories to be exact.

For the single titles of the stories, please refer to my status updates, where you can also see the individual ratings.
As you can see, not every story was a winner for me but the majority was great. And among those with a low(er) rating, I noticed that the writing itself was always of high quality. One simply didn't belong in a horror collection in my opinion and one or two other(s) seemed too short, like
For a long time, this book was my “white whale”. Up to recently, I had three of Joe Hill’s novels (Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, NOS4A2) in hardcover and although 20th Century Ghosts was easily accessible in paperback or for download on my Kindle, I felt I needed to match my existing format and seek out the rare hardbound edition.

With every second-hand bookstore I entered, this illusive short story collection was front and centre in my mind. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find it. A few months ago I
Jun 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
The title seems false and the stories are lame. 0 of 10 stars
Loved it!!! Loved it!!!! Loved it!!!!!

These stories have got to be the best in any collection I have ever read. Hill's imagination is a wild ride I would stand in line for all day. I can't get enough from this man! Spooky, scary, frightening and just down right crazy... I love it all.
Edward Lorn
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of literary horror
I first heard of Joe Hill after winning a bundle of used hardcovers on Ebay. Among the books in the lot were several King, some limited edition Laymon, a Straub or two, and two first editions by an author of which I had never heard. Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts were in fantastic condition, and seemed to have never been read. I threw these two books on my shelf and forgot all about them. Later that year, I found a book at my local BAM entitled Horns. The premise piqued my interest, so ...more
May 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What better word to start this review? Joe Hill has a true gift for the short story.

All short story collections are somewhat hit and miss with me. Some stories are great, some good, some okay, and some meh. That's pretty much the standard with even my favorite short story authors: Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin. But I'm definitely putting Joe Hill on that list now. His stories vary as well between excellent and meh, but even the "meh" category stories are written with his sub
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love Fall. Football has returned to the airwaves. The leaves are changing colors, and there’s a cold snap in the…oh, who am I kidding. This is Texas. If we’re lucky, it will only be 85 degrees with 95% humidity as you’re reading this. Still, I really do like the idea of Fall, though, and if I have to make my own chill, well, then, so be it. The best way I know of to bring a chill to the air is to break out the scary stories. Luckily for us, one of the finest collections of contemporary hor ...more
Jamie Stewart
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a reread for me and it will always be something special to me. It earned a place on my bookshelf as the best short story collection I had ever read. I often found such collections jarring in the past because of the ever changing tones and paces that can happen when reading collections. However, when I read this book for the first time I was engrossed and found every tale just as engaging as the next. That was then and this is now.

I dropped my rating by one star because while their are
joyce g
What a marvel..Pop Art!
Jim Ef
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
People say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In this case, the apple fell very near indeed, but it got on the ground, grew its own roots and now it stands a proud tree. As you can imagine that is quite an achievement, when the tree that you fell from is named Stephen King.

Before I write my thoughts on this book, I need to tell some very important things. First that not all the stories on this collection, are horror stories. Sure if you must put it in only one category, that would be the
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of short stories, coming of age tales, and horror stories
*Re-Read (audio) in 2015 (originally read in 2010)*

4.5 stars
This is a great story collection, which is interesting, because I was pretty disappointed by author Joe Hill's first two novels, Heart-Shaped Box and Horns . I thought they both started very strong and then fizzled about half-way through. Maybe Hill is better writing in the short form?

The theme running most of these stories are kids coming of age through unexplained events and phenomenon that will stay with them forever, even as
Thomas Gaffney
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, short-stories
Best New Horror - Okay. I would have liked to see the story expanded and continued.
20th Century Ghost - Really good. A nice, but still creepy, "love" story for horror buffs.
Pop Art - The best short story that I have ever read. Can't go into too many details without giving away spoilers.
You Will Hear the Locust Sing - Nice story with a 1950s "giant monster" movie feel.
Abraham's Boys - Nice "continuing" tale of Van Helsing from Dracula. Good ending.
Better Than Home - Eh, sucked.
The Black Phone - A
Pre - Read

This better scare the $#!T out of me, Ben , otherwise

BR starts today!

Post Read

Heads up: Not so pleasant review. Read or lower down your pitchforks and skedaddle.

A collection of short stories where GRs and readers categorised them as horror.
H O R R O R.
If you look up the meaning, it would say: An intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear.
The title itself, The 20th Century Ghost should evoke goosebumps and scary images but after reading each one of them, they didn't even remote
A great short story collection. Check out my status updates for my opinions on each story.
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh how I love a collection of short stories! Joe Hill delivers yet again, these stories are creepy, bizarre and wonderful.
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Horror Aficionados : 20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill 141 50 Sep 02, 2019 05:46PM  
Literary Horror: Oct 2018 Group Read: 20th Century Ghosts 25 31 Oct 31, 2018 08:53PM  
The Geek Girls Bo...: October 2018 book! 1 19 Sep 25, 2018 11:17AM  
What really happened in my fathers mask ? 1 17 Aug 06, 2018 01:40AM  
"My Father's Mask' question 1 13 Mar 09, 2018 07:18AM  

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Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.

He writes short stories too. Some of them were gathered together in

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