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A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales
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A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  241 ratings  ·  68 reviews
According to Chinese tradition, those who die hungry or unjustly come back to haunt the living. Some are appeased with food. But not all ghosts are successfully mollified. In this chilling collection of stories, Ying Chang Compestine takes readers on a journey through time and across different parts of China. From the building of the Great Wall in 200 BCE to the modern day ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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3.69  · 
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 ·  241 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: chinese-books
3/5 stars

The stories weren't as scary as I was expecting and some of them lacked depth but I did enjoy learning about my culture - the traditions, history, and food.

would I recommend this book?
Yes I would if you want to learn more about the Chinese culture or enjoy stories about ghosts.

Content and Age Recommendation
-the topic of stories
-some of the descriptions can be gruesome
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it
While I found these stories shallow and somewhat unmemorable when compared to classic Chinese ghost stories, this book redeemed itself with the historical information at the end of each tale, and the recipes scattered throughout. Having grown up during China's Cultural Revolution, a time of famine, the author has a strong connection with food and the stories are divided into appetizers, main courses, and desserts. After each comes the good bit, factual information about the Great Wall, hungry gh ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, short-stories
Each tale is a ghost story and cautionary fable that centers around food and Chinese culture. Each tale has a short explanation of the important cultural aspect and a recipe. A very light and easy read I'd consider middle grade and up. I really enjoyed it.
This is a strong short story collection, featuring diverse yet related short stories, each beautifully written.

The eight short stories are organized into appetizers, main courses, and desserts. The titles are for the food being served that course, such as “Tea Eggs” or “Long-life Noodles.” The food mentioned in the title also appears somewhere in the story as a key part of the plot. It’s a gorgeous way to organize the short stories and makes them also feel like diverse parts of a whole.

The short
Bonnie Morse
Somehow I missed that this was a YA book. No doubt it would have been more effectively creepy if I were in middle school, but it was still a fun afternoon read. Not being overly familiar with Chinese culture and tradition stories, they were all new in some way and usually kept me guessing.

The best part is how each story is followed by a brief explanation of the history, beliefs, and cultural significance of the plot points, and the recipe for the authentic Chinese dish the story is named after.
Prince William Public Library System
If you like history, horror, and learning about Chinese culture, I encourage A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts. In Chinese legend, people who die hungry become particularly vicious spirits. Each story is named after a Chinese dish, and tells a story involving it (dumplings, beef stew, etc.) There's also a recipe following each story. This is a creepy series of stories. Some stories are better than others, which is to be expected, but I really like books that illuminate the history of gruesome horror l ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was entertaining and easy to read, the fact that its a series of short stories makes it a lot more interesting and appealing. I really like how it's set in appetizers, main course, desserts, a small detail but adds a nice touch.

Overall the short stories were well written and interesting to read, even includes recipes in the book.

I would recommend this book to teenagers who enjoy and thrilling story.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book because it was intriguing and like watching a thriller and also introduced me into the idea of hungry ghosts and a whole new type of ghost stories. For someone that wants to read a scary story but doesn’t want to be extremely frightened I definitely would recommend this book.
May 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, diversity
You can read my full, illustrated review here:

There are many types of Chinese ghosts, including the spirits of deceased loved ones who may bring blessing and good fortune if properly honored, vengeful specters searching for those who wronged them in life, playful and troublesome spooks, and Hungry Ghosts, unhappy spirits with insatiable appetites. During the seventh month of the Chinese calendar, known as Ghost Month, the gates to hell are open and these
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bring out my memories about some of those folktales about the Chinese cultures. Some of them are based on facts and are very sad. Some of them just to 'scare' the children so they won't do anything 'bad'.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The way the content page was set was very creative and I loved how the chapters were named after Chinese dishes.My favourite story was the Egg stirred fried rice because I thought that was the most creepiest.The others weren't exactly scary,just a bit about murder and death.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Actually , I would like to tell that The Revolution which is also written by Ying Chang Compestine ,was a great book. A BANQUET FOR HUNGRY GHOSTS is also an FABULOUS one. Hats off to Ying.
Katie B.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book needs more attention. A great collection of ghost stories set during the cultural revolution in China and juxtaposed with recipes! I'm a sucker for recipes in books!
Leela W.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This was the perfect book to put me into the Halloween spirit. The mix of Recipes, illustrations, fun stories, and Chinese culture made for such a nice read.
Casee Maxfield
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's well written, but more a kid's book. I didn't finish.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: teens
The recipes were interesting...
Carmie Thomas
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
An entertaining collection of ghostly tales, each followed by a bit of history and a recipe related to the story. My favorite was the first story of the book, "Steamed Dumplings," which was actually very creepy. "Egg Stir-Fried Rice" was another favorite.
Annika Brock
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you enjoyed reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as a kid but felt that those tales weren't quite traumatizing enough, then this is the book for you.
Maricar Dizon
post from Books Are My Lovers

Contrary to what the title suggests, this collection of short stories is more gore than frightening. The stories are arranged like a full course meal, the title of each story is the name of the delicacy, with recipes every end of the story. It is ironic though, because you will never think of that food the same way again after reading the stories corresponding to each recipe.

The writing style of the author is okay. Not splendidly beautiful but not also very hard to r
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 6-8grade, horror
The publisher did not oversell this title when they decided on "A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales" as the subtitle of Compestine's newest offering. Eight nightmare inducing stories are great for reading alone and sharing at any haunting hour.

It is truly rare to read stories set in modern day China for children and I appreciate the authenticity in Compestine's writing, backed up by researches and her own life experience. It must be noted, however, that since these are stories mainly
Emilia P
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
So, I like really scary stories, and these were not really scary stories -- especially if you peeked at the picture accompanying each story, you could figure out pretty easily what would happen. But the idea of incorporating tales of hungry ghosts (restless spirits stuck in our world) and tales of modern or near-modern China, and Chinese food, which, yes!, is so incredibly central to Chinese culture! It was pretty brilliant, and hauntingly, if not terrifyingly executed. I will say the monkey's b ...more
jiawei Ong
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Before I die, I would eat a nice, full, delicious feast, so I can rest in peace. In A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales, Ying Chang Compestine has created eigth creepy stories that will give nightmares. The way she composes each piece is magnificent, because each story ends with a full recipe, along with historical notes that explain the key points in the story. This book is set up as a meal plan with appetizers, main courses, and desserts. All this flows ...more
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Chinese folklore is full of ghosts, and the worst ghosts are hungry ones. These ghosts must be appeased with food offerings, but if these hungry ghosts are murder victims, they’ll not be held at bay for long by this. These horror stories, set in China from the time of the building of the Great Wall to the present day, all feature hungry ghosts and the ways they haunt the living.

Written for young adults, readers of all ages can enjoy these stories. Compestine, who grew up in China, brings life t
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm not so sure I did like this novel. It's a collection of short horror stories, seeped in Chinese lore and myth. All very familiar and yet new. The most shockingly weird and yet fun thing about the book, is the recipes placed after each chapter. You just read about hungry ghosts and is a dumpling recipe! Someone had their guts ripped out? Guess is the recipe for the stew he liked!

The characters in the stories, mostly made me think of China in a bad light. We've all g
This compilation is a decent introduction to the hungry ghost belief in the Chinese culture. The value of the book lies at the end of the stories, where the history / culture is explained and expounded. It isn't scary for adults, but it's intended for young readers, so....

Being that the buffet of stories deals with the ghouls and spirits that are free to roam the earth during the Hungry Ghost month, when the gates of hell are opened, it is no surprise that the drive of each story centers around
Josianne Fitzgerald
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
I don't usually read ghost stories, but the author is coming to visit next week, so I took a chance with this one. Shouldn't have -- had nightmares! The stories aren't scary, but they are gruesome. In my dreams, the butcher down the block chased me with a cleaver all night into the waiting arms of an old crone in a white qipao. This is going to go down very well with our bloodthirsty middle school students, I'm sure!

Each of the 8 stories is followed by notes on the cultural aspects of the story
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As I've dabbled again in recent YA fiction, what a delight to come across this book! The ghost stories themselves are akin to the Alvin Schwartz "Scary Stories" series that never stay on the shelves of a school library, but she also skillfully includes unabashed insight into life in modern China, Chinese history and culture, and of course, food. The recipes are enticing and easy to make with commonly found ingredients. Five stars for a YA collection of ghost stories. (Sorry, Alvin, I think Ying ...more
Jenny Staller
I really enjoyed the arrangement of this book: stories were organized as a meal, beginning with appetizer stories, going on to the main course, and ending with dessert. Each story contained the narrative itself, a historical note about customs or information mentioned in the narrative, and then a recipe for the title dish. While I thought that the actual writing of the stories was a bit stiff, I think they would appeal to students because they are short, clear, and full of gore and spookiness. T ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Don't miss these stories! The Chinese take their ghosts seriously but their ghosts are different from American ghosts. There is much more lurid, gory detail than I would have expected in these stories, but my Chinese friend says they are a wonderful window into Chinese culture. Compestine does a wonderful job of providing historical context and comments on contemporary issues. The recipes are wonderful, too.
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Ying Chang Compestine was born and raised in China. The spokesperson for Nestle Maggi Taste of Asia products and a national authority on Chinese cuisine and culture, she is the author of three cookbooks for adults, eight picture books for children, and one young adult novel. She lives in California with her family.