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The Pan Book of Horror Stories

(Pan Book of Horror Stories #1)

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Specially selected for Pan, here are 22 terrifying tales of horror by such famous authors as Peter Fleming, C.S. Forester, Bram Stoker, Angus Wilson, Noel Langley, Jack Finney and L.P. Hartley.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Pan Publishing (first published 1959)
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Paul Bryant
Dec 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like their tales with liberal doses of outrageous camp
From 1958 to 1988 The Pan Book of Horror Stories was the annual British gorefest. It started out here, the very first of the 30, with a most unscary black cat on the cover, and with some kind of literary aspirations. Within a few years it fell, nay, it swandived, into the filthiest of sewers, it became caked with disgust and it revelled in relentless cruelty.


There seem to be hardly any reviews of this nasty stuff, so here I boldly go. The favourites from this first rather feeble volume are
Andrew Lennon
I liked a couple of these stories, but overall most of them were very dated and very boring.
I read a short story in between reading books so I've been reading these off and on for months.
Sadly I disliked more than I liked.
Two stars only because of the few stories that were actually ok.

All reviews can be found at
Nandakishore Mridula
These are the books which fed my burgeoning appetite for horror in my late teens and early twenties. Almost all the stories in this collection frightened me when I read them first - I daresay they would have lesser impact now that my palate has been jaded.

"The Copper Bowl", "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket", "W.S." and "Oh, Mirror, Mirror" are some of the stories which I still remember.
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The First Pan Book of Horror Stories has a lot to answer for. It was the first horror anthology I ever read, some fourteen years ago now, I guess. I was hooked from the start and I went back and re-read it straight away. It inspired me to seek out the sequels, along with a whole many other anthologies besides, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Looking back at it now, I see that it’s a bit of a varied collection, and some of the stories are weak. But the ones that stay with you a
Petra X is in CitizenM, Boston, coolest hotel ever
Growing up I never remember my mother reading anything but one of this endless (more than 30 vol.) series. So I read them too. Good bedtime reading if you like this sort of thing.
Stephen McQuiggan
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth it for Nigel Kneale alone.
Jul 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
One of my early exposures to horror fiction and it hooked me. This is the first place I found "Contents of the Dead Man's pocket" by Jack Finney and I thought it was just the perfect horror storie. There's a lot of good stuff here though, including "Flies" and others. ...more
Classic horror stories that seem a bit outdated now. Favorites were 'W.S.' by LP Hartley, 'Behind the Yellow Door' by Flavia Richardson, 'The Squaw' by Bram Stoker, 'Flies' by Anthony Vercoe and 'The Kill' by Peter Fleming. ...more
Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michael C. Laney
Although I only read a few volumes at that time, the Pan Books of Horror Stories made a big impact on me in my adolescence. For a short time I loved these gruesome tales with their shocking twist endings. Around the same time I ate up most of the Edgar Allan Poe stories. A little later I went off horror for a while because I was suffering from OCD and depression and had too many horrible ideas already in my head to want to add any more. It would be a number of years before my taste for horror re ...more
Andrew Garvey
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The 2010 re-issue of the 1959 anthology classic, this is a cracking collection of late-nineteenth and early-to-mid twentieth century horror short stories. It also has a useful new introduction setting this edition and the rest of the series in historical context. Sadly, Pan apparently abandoned the idea of re-issuing any of the other 29 volumes. Oh, well. Off to the second hand booksellers it is.

In the meantime, here’s a brief overview of each of the 22 stories in this first, groundbreaking volu
Mark Hodder
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I think I had about twenty of the thirty volumes that make up this series. I clearly recall being bowled over by a tale involving a man whose skull had been invaded by spiders. I don’t know which anthology that story is in. Not this one. It doesn’t matter, because what is in here is fantastic. Of the twenty-two tales, only one hit a bum note, it being THE HOUSE OF HORROR by Seabury Quinn. It’s one of his Jules de Grandin yarns (many of which I’ve read elsewhere) and just felt a little out of pla ...more
This is a republish of an anthology, first published in 1959. I had overlooked this fact at first, so some of the stories I was annoyed with for not being original, may actually have been so back in the day ;) But overall this wasn't a great collection. The first half was very unsurprising to any horror buff, the second had some nice stories: Oh mirror mirror, A serenade to baboons, The squab. But for the rest I didn't find any good story flow. I would probably have liked this when I was younger ...more
An old horror anthology with few scares and mostly one-pun endings. A few are memorable for setting or style, but you could see them coming a mile away: the torture method of a Machu mandarin in "The Copper Bowl" , the werewolf curse in "The Kill"....The best ones were "the Horror of the Museum" which is basically Vincent Price in print and "the House of Horror", which reminded me of Poe's Dupin stories. ...more
Sarah Jones
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was first published in 1958 and from reading the stories you can tell. Every story though is very well written and kept me captivated but as for horror stories it would take a lot more to scare me.
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Some eerie stories by Muriel Spark, AL Barker and LP Hartley, but most of them would be best described as, er, less than tasteful. Lots of cheerful torturing and maiming.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF - fifty pages. All have horrible things happening to women gleefully and one also extremely racist. 1959 not a classic year
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very good selection of horror stories.
Oct 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me tell you of a dirty little secret, reissued from the UK’s pulp past. This book is a glorious reissue of the first in a series of thirty horror books that delimited and defined many a British horror reader for over twenty-five years.

On its original issue it was seen as something garish and unpleasant, its horrific tales too gruesome and unsettling for many. When you ask many of the present day genre writers – Stephen Jones, Clive Barker, Mark Morris, Phillip Pullman – it is this series the
A confession: I will basically read any anthology of ghostly or horrible or weird stories that I find in front of me as long as it contains at least one or two works by familiar authors which I haven’t read before. I picked up this on a whim from Foyles and it’s actually a reissue of the 1959 edition of what would become the longest running horror anthology in the world. Much as I expected, the stories are pretty much split evenly between really interesting and really bad.

I suppose what they ha
Eddie Jardine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would put these stories into three categories: the scary, the gross and the is-that-it!? My rating is four stars as I think the stories vary in quality. Looking back at the contents page now there are even a couple from the selection of twenty-two that I cannot really recall. There are a couple that haven't aged too well in regards to the approach to disfigurement, disability and mental health.
However, I had not read any of the individual authors works before so it was a good introduction to
Jonas Wilmann
(2,5 stars) This is the first one in the Pan series, first released in 1959 and re-released in 2010. It's a pretty uneven collection of horror stories. There are a few brilliant ones (Submerged by A.L. Barker, The Squaw by Bram Stoker and Flies by Anthony Vercoe), some in between ones and a lot of really awful ones! These latter are flawed foremost by predictability and an almost mind numbing text book approach to horror. There's, obviously, a reason why many of the names in this collection are ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, 2020
Out of print anthology series from 1959 but found four books in a secondhand shop. 22 stories in volume one - four real gooduns - a few middlers - but mostly badduns, so only two stars I’m afraid. Still, great fun to read!

The Copper Pot - a rat is part of a novel torture method

Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets - a man sees his life’s work fly out the window and he goes out after it

The Squaw - the black cat from the book’s front cover seeks revenge against an American dude

Raspberry Jam - a young
Dominique Lamssies
I read the American edition of this book, which has all the same stories in it.

I give Van Thal credit because the book contains at least one horror story for every kind of taste you could have when it comes to horror. There's psychological, ghosts, slasher, animals, cosmic and everything in between. If you ever want to break out of your comfort zone within horror and try a new subgenre, this is the way to go because all the stories are high quality.

But if you are very set in your ways when it co
Oct 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, I understand that 6 decades ago people were easier to scare, but I certainly wouldn't describe ANY of the stories in this anthology as "spine chilling".

Some were definitely thought provoking - The Contents Of The Dead Mans Pockets especially so - but none of them really even gave me the creeps, let alone frightened me.

I enjoyed reading them nonetheless and would probably read other volumes of this series, albeit with lower expectations.
P.S. Gifford
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this series when i was around eleven or twelve. They shocked the hell out of me...and I loved it. As the series continued the shock factor seemed to be increased. Whereas some of the stories seem included for gore/shock value alone some of the most memorable stories i have ever read are in this series.
A great collection of old horror stories that all end with fantastic twists. I found myself thinking 'this isn't horror' in places but it's different to the horror I normally read. It's extravagant and often gory but most of the stories sent a chill running down my spine and made me question reality. ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Great collection of well written creepy and dark short stories. A few with a sharp sinister edge, some macabre. No worries, you seasoned horrors fans will deem this child's play. Every light in the house won't need to be turned on. Entertaining but by no means 'horror' heavy. Great stories to read by a camp fire while deep in the woods. ...more
Jeanette Greaves
Very much a book of its time (sixty years ago). The racism, classism and sexism is quite breathtaking at times. In terms of the stories, you can see the bones of mid twentieth century horror laid out, ready to be fleshed. The last story, The Nightmare, is the one that holds up best to the test of time.
Ruby Grade
This requires the reader to use their imagination to gauge the horror that is supposed to be happening in these short stories. They do not reach the full dread and macabre say as someone like Edgar Allen Poe or the likes of Stephen King but read more like polite descriptions of horrible occurrences. These short stories are still fun to read however.
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Herbert Maurice van Thal (1904-1983), known as Bertie van Thal, was a British bookseller, publisher, agent, biographer, and anthologist.

Other books in the series

Pan Book of Horror Stories (1 - 10 of 30 books)
  • The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Third Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Fourth Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Fifth Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Sixth Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Seventh Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Eighth Pan Book of Horror Stories
  • The Ninth Pan Book of Horror Stories
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