Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-24 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 47 user ratings

"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 ("Afterward", "The Telephone").

The star rating seems a bit unfair in regards to anthologies.
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"I am sad to give such a low rating to a Roald Dahl book, it seriously pains me people! I love Roald Dahl and I love me a good ghost story so I thought this would be a great mix. Alas, it's almost a disaster. I should have read something about the book before I cracked it open. When I figured out he didn't actually write the stories I was bummed but thought that if he hand selected these out of 749 that he read, there had to be something good. As he explains he was trying to find stories for a show pilot which, by how he describes it, reminds me of Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone mushed together. Oh man they are not even scary in the least. So there is one that is a little creepy but that's it. Not impressed. I'm glad he didn't write them since I had to give such a low rating. Sniff, I best move on now. " said.

"I haven't had much interest in these kind of horror books that makes your 'spine tickle', but I thought this book was fairly good, and I liked that this book wasn't just about one story, but 14 stories that were written by different authors.
I especially liked chapters 1,2 5 and 7. They all had(sort of)different themes, but they somehow 'touched me' into liking them. I really liked the character 'Harry' in chapter 2, because he was somehow rememberable than most of the other characters, and I didn't really see someone like Harry, who saved his sister with his own life, in a ghost story. It was different. In a creepy, but in a weirdly fascinating way.
The only thing I didn't like was that there wasn't all that much action in the book. Sure, there were some stories that had some action, but I had expected to read some kind of a chase between some kind of a monster and a human. Ah well.
Like all books, there were some boring parts in the book. Such as the first chapter. This story was kind of obvious to read. I mean, it was really easy to predict what was going to happen. And Chapter 8, in which I really didn't get what the story was about. And it wasn't all that I'd expect from a ghost story. I felt it was more like a script for a drama, or a musical. Or something like that.
Mostly, I thought the book was fascinating to read. All these stories, and these twists and turns on every step of the book. Wow.
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"I found the introduction to be interesting. Dahl talked about how he chose the storied that went into this anthology. He said he first narrowed it down to 24, then to the number that is in there now--about a baker's dozen or so. He talked about what, in his opinion, distinguished a good story from a bad one. He also said that he had to give the authors props, as he tried to write a ghost story once, but failed. At the same time, the result was "The Landlady," which is easily one of the creepiest stories I have ever read.

But man, was he sexist! No, I wasn't surprised. I've heard rumors about his attitude toward women before. He spent half the introduction saying how women were generally inferior writers, and there are NO women who even approach the genius of the Great Male Writers of his education. I almost want to go back in time and hand him a copy of "A Room of One's Own," by Virginia Woolf, specifically, the essay called "Shakespeare's Sister" and insist that he read it. So, given his biases, he was shocked--SHOCKED, I tell you--that women writers were just as good, if not better, horror and ghost story writers as men. Especially since these women had succeeded where he had failed (see above). So of all the stories, nearly half of them are written by female authors.

So, in spite of this antiquated attitude, Dahl has impeccable taste in short stories. Refreshingly, I had not read most of them; F. Marion Crawford's "The Upper Berth" was the only one that I had seen before, and that story almost always bears repeating. I especially liked Edith Wharton's story; her prose is both economical and highly descriptive, especially when conveying the overarching sense of dread that is often so important in stories like this.
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" I really should stop reading creepy stuff at night. I liked this collection of stories though. " said.

" All these stories were riveting - some of them genuinely frightening and some of them just pleasantly ghostly. I flew through this book and enjoyed every selection. Totally a great Halloween read!! " said.

" A really fun read. Not tooooo spooky--these are ghost stories, not necessarily "scary" stories, so some have less of a punch than others. Fun to read each night in October! " said.

""What's a ghost? Unfinished business, is what," claims the elderly Rosa Diamond in Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses." This statement could serve as the epigraph to Roald Dahl's unsettling compilation of tales culled from such authors as L.P. Hartley, A.M. Burrage, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and Edith Wharton. The stories he chooses are less horrifying than they are melancholic and sad, demonstrating characters wrestling with guilt, loneliness, and the burden of mortality. My personal favorites were "W.S.," about an author receiving increasingly ominous postcards from an obsessed reader (or is he something else?), "The Ghost of a Hand," a creepy tale of a disembodied hand haunting the premises and chambers of an old house, Edith Wharton's "Afterward," a carefully crafted story of crime, punishment, and ethical responsibility, and particularly "Harry," about a young adopted girl who has either invented an imaginary friend who speaks to her from the rosebushes or made a more personal connection from her forgotten past. Highly recommended!

The only drawback is Dahl's execrable introduction to the stories, a broad brush and patronizingly opinionated series of misguided reflections on gender and fiction: "But to go back to women as writers. For about a hundred and thirty years they have been producing good novels, even some great ones. But they don't seem to be able to write plays or top-rate short stories. I don't think a woman has ever written a classic play. And as for short stories--no, not really. By this I mean great short stories. The greatest twenty-five short stories ever written (if it were possible to agree on which they were) might conceivably include one by Katherine Mansfield, one by Willa Cather and one by Shirley Jackson. But that would be all." Ugh.
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June 2018 New Book:

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