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The Pan Book of Horror Stories

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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. Stories of the uncanny jostle with tales of the macabre. Stories of subtle beastliness - like Raspberry Jam; of sickening horror - like The Fly or His Beautiful Hands; and of utter c 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. Stories of the uncanny jostle with tales of the macabre. Stories of subtle beastliness - like Raspberry Jam; of sickening horror - like The Fly or His Beautiful Hands; and of utter chilling terror - like The Horror in the Museum! The perfect bedside book - for those with nerves of steel.


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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. Stories of the uncanny jostle with tales of the macabre. Stories of subtle beastliness - like Raspberry Jam; of sickening horror - like The Fly or His Beautiful Hands; and of utter c 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. Stories of the uncanny jostle with tales of the macabre. Stories of subtle beastliness - like Raspberry Jam; of sickening horror - like The Fly or His Beautiful Hands; and of utter chilling terror - like The Horror in the Museum! The perfect bedside book - for those with nerves of steel.

30 review for The Pan Book of Horror Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    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. Yay! 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 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. Yay! 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 : AL Barker, ‘Submerged’. Young lad had secret solo river swim sessions. Woman bursts on to the riverbank during one such, pursued by a man. She falls in the river and is drowned. The man is later arrested for murder. Beautifully written. Oscar Cook, 'His Beautiful Hands' A manicurist extracts deliberately protracted revenge on a man who wronged her mother. Incest, rotting fingers and a deformed baby also loom large. Never let it be said that Oscar Cook, whoever he was, did things by halves. George Fielding Eliot, ‘The Copper Bowl’ Exquisite boy’s-own tale of torture - the hero tied up - his sweetheart tied down - the evil Chinese intend to extract the vital information from him - never! never I say! I laugh in the fact of death! oh but what's this? A rat! - placed on his sweetheart's naked stomach and quickly covered by the copper bowl... and a hot coal placed on the upturned bowl - what will the rat, driven mad by heat, then do? Nooo... anyway, the idea turned up later in American Psycho, so clearly it must be a good one. Jack Finney, ‘Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket’ Companion piece to Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” (one of the all time great short stories). This guy lives way up on the 16th floor in a NYC apartment, and is writing a crucial work-related document, a window is opened, wind blows document out of the window where it comes to rest on the small ledge which runs under the windows, but about 15 feet away. He steps outside to retrieve it and the nightmare begins. Great contrast between inside (normal) and outside (hell). Apparently Stephen King ripped off this idea for one of his stories. Nigel Kneale, ‘Oh, Mirror, Mirror’ Creepometer reading : 77 Lunatic aunt keeps pretty blonde girl relative prisoner and convinces her she’s ugly. Great study of insanity. Anthony Vercoe – 'Flies' A starving tramp breaks into a vacant Elizabethan house in Holborn, and is transported back in time to the height of the Great Plague. He finds a rotting corpse, and big blowflies attack him. Oh well, you had to be there. Angus Wilson - 'Raspberry Jam' Two batty old lesbian alcoholics have an inappropriate friendship with a boy. This is a good one! I guess these horror anthologies are like a time capsule of the fears and obsessions of the age. If so people in 1958 were scared of hulking retired surgeons with a Nazi past and a big library. And now on to volume two!

  2. 4 out of 5

    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 http://lennonslair.blogspot.co.uk/ 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 http://lennonslair.blogspot.co.uk/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    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. 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    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 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 are the ones to look for, and on that note alone I give this a five star rating. Altogether, I found three stories here less than average. Joan Aiken’s JUGGED HARE, which opens the collection, is short and to the point, but doesn’t really have time to get going. I found the characters interesting but the horror less so. THE LIBRARY, by Hester Holland, is an old-fashioned “housekeeper arrives at weird house and finds horror” type story, and never engaged with me at all. There are a couple of good ideas here, but the finale is very predictable. THE MISTAKE, by Fielden Hughes, is a Poe-like story about an asylum inmate troubled by a frightening dream, and very tame and dated by today’s standards. Next are the stories that are fairly entertaining, although not ones I’d want to revisit. Peter Fleming’s THE KILL is moderately enjoyable, mixing family curses and werewolves, but never lifts above the norm for the genre. I liked the writing style the best. C. S. Forester’s THE PHYSIOLOGY OF FEAR is one that explores the horrors of the Nazi death camps, and makes for gruelling reading, but the subject matter is such that I couldn’t necessarily ‘enjoy’ reading it. L. P. Hartley’s W. S. conjures up a nice sense of foreboding in its story of postcards from a sinister enemy and is a fun little effort. OH, MIRROR, MIRROR is Quatermass author Nigel Kneale’s contribution, about the horrible life of a young girl, worthy because of the great twist ending. THE LADY WHO DIDN’T WASTE WORDS is by Hamilton Macallister. It’s short and ambiguous, about a weird train passenger. Plenty of unusual stuff going on here. Chris Massie’s A FRAGMENT OF FACT is the usual spooky-house-on-the-moor stuff which has a few moments of excellence amid the typical ingredients. Flavia Richardson’s BEHIND THE YELLOW DOOR has a predictable plot but some gruelling surgical horror behind it that makes for extremely macabre reading. Angus Wilson’s RASPBERRY JAM is about a couple of grotesque old ladies and has a moment of inconsequential violence that turned my stomach more than anything in the rest of the book. Finally are the stories that really hit home: A. L. Barker’s SUBMERGED, a simple story about an idyllic recreation spot, chilled me to the bone through eloquent language and late-term horror. Oscar Cook, my favourite ‘grotesque’ author despite the sparsity of his surviving stories (only half a dozen or so remain), delivers HIS BEAUTIFUL HANDS, a loathsome and disgusting read which has a great sense of time and place attached to it. George Fielding Eliot’s THE COPPER BOWL is a historical yarn in which a French soldier is subject to a new form of torture by a Chinese warlord. It’s pretty sick and downbeat with it. Noel Langley’s SERENADE FOR BABOONS sees a British doctor in South Africa caught up in witch-doctery and really hits home. I love reading about Africa in fiction and this one brings the nation’s belief in magic and curses to life. Seabury Quinn’s THE HOUSE OF HORROR is a pure pulp outing, taken from the pages of WEIRD TALES. It’s extremely ghastly and hard-going, and the author wrings maximum torment out of the disturbing shenanigans. Full of action and excitement, this. Muriel Spark’s THE PORTOBELLO ROAD is something else entirely: a character study dealing with themes of alienation, loneliness, obsession and friendship. It’s no horror story, at least not by my definition, but the grasp of characterisation shown by the author makes for an enthralling read, if it is a little overlong. Anthony Vercoe’s FLIES is another sickening one about bluebottles, providing visceral shock after visceral shock and a good example of charnel-house nastiness. Alan Wyke’s NIGHTMARE, which closes the collection, is another psychology outing, this time a study of persecution. I found it utterly believable and no less frightening than a fictional vampire, for example. That leaves two twin highlights for me, both top-notch stories among my very favourite from the genre. They’re also very different in tone. Jack Finney – the guy who wrote INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS – contributes CONTENTS OF THE DEAD MAN’S POCKET, a brilliantly conceived anecdote about a guy walking on an apartment ledge hundreds of feet up in the air. It’s the tensest thing I’ve read, and worked especially well for me as I suffer from vertigo. Utterly realistic, this had my stomach in knots throughout. Stephen King’s a big fan of this one, and even wrote a variation on the story, although it’s not on par with this. My other favourite is the Lovecraftian HORROR IN THE MUSEUM, by Hazel Heald, with Lovecraft’s help. Jam-packed with hideous nightmare creatures, plenty of suspense and slithering horror, this makes use of Lovecraft’s creations in an original, thoroughly entertaining way and is one of my favourite Cthulhu stories of all time. A real highlight, this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Petra-X is down to 75 books awaiting reviews

    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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen McQuiggan

    Worth it for Nigel Kneale alone.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    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. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    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. 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aussiescribbler Aussiescribbler

    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 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 returned. Now I'm starting in at the first volume with the intention of reading them all. Here are my thoughts on the stories which make up that classic first collection : Joan Aiken - Jugged Hare This is a subtly creepy tale of menace, something to whet the appetite for the more explicit horrors that come in later stories. A.L. Barker - Submerged Another subtle psychological story of lingering unease. Oscar Cook - His Beautiful Hands The Grand Guignol really kicks in with this deliciously vile story. George Fielding Eliot - The Copper Bowl A simple historical tale about a fiendish form of torture which has probably been used in reality. I first encountered it in the movie Terror at Orgy Castle (1972) (the watching of which is also a form of torture). Jack Finney - Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket Jack Finney was the author of the much-filmed novel Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This story deals with a very different form of terror - one to which I am particularly susceptible - fear of heights. Once again, a simple story, but one that might well have you hanging onto the arm of your chair as you read it. Peter Fleming - The Kill A very well-written, if a little predictable, werewolf story written by Ian Fleming's younger brother. Like so many of the stories in these books, this would make a perfect segment in one of those multi-story horror movies. C.S. Forester - The Physiology of Fear A tale of sadistic Nazi experiments by the author of the Midshipman Hornblower books. You may well guess the ending, but its jet-black sense of irony is something special anyway. L.P. Hartley - W.S. Like Stephen King's Misery (well the movie anyway, I've never read the book), this is a writer's nightmare, and when that writer writes as beautifully as Hartley it is a joy to read. This one really had me intrigued from the first paragraph. Hazel Heald - The Horror in the Museum "This Hazel Heald woman must have been a real H.P. Lovecraft fan," I said to myself as I read this story, with its references to ancient Gods and tentacled creatures including Cthulu. Later I discovered that it was ghost-written by Lovecraft for Heald. It's a classic. Once again I would love to see it filmed, even if the descriptions Lovecraft gives of his infernal beasties allow us to conjure up something more horrific than even the most imaginative special effects could probably do justice. Hester Holland - The Library Another very simple story, but effectively creepy because of its details. Fielden Hughes - The Mistake Not one of my favourites. The central idea is good, but I thought it could have been presented a bit more powerfully. Nigel Kneale - Oh, Mirror, Mirror This second-person narrative, that is one which places you as a character within the story who is being addressed by the narrator, is one of the most unusual, and disturbing, in the book. It is a intimate depiction of an all too believable evil. Nigel Kneale is most famous as the creator of the Quatermass television series and movies. Noel Langley - Serenade for Baboons This fine story is reminiscent of the old E.C. Comics stories of horrible people meeting an even more horrible fate. Hamilton McAllister - The Lady Who Didn't Waste Words This is a really strange one. It doesn't provide any answer to its central mystery, but has a delicious sense of black comedy. Chris Massie - A Fragment of Fact Another strange one. Definitely imaginative, but a mystery with no solution. Seabury Quinn - The House of Horror I'm pretty jaded when it comes to horror, but this one conjures up an idea so hideously depraved that it shocked even me. Flavia Richardson - Behind the Yellow Door Another gruesome classic with a very memorable final line. Muriel Spark - Portobello Road A well-written ghost story told from the point of view of the ghost by Muriel Spark, author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Bram Stoker - The Squaw Another classic story from the author of Dracula. It's not hard to foresee the gruesome climax to this story, but that is what gives it its suspense, and it is all presented with black humour, a ear for dialogue (or rather monologue, as the main character seldom shuts up) and indelibly gruesome images. Anthony Vercoe - Flies The central concept is a common one in horror stories, but Vercoe makes something unforgettable out of it by conjuring up a skin-crawling sense of disgust. Angus Wilson - Raspberry Jam One of the very best stories in the collection. The child's view of the adult world, the complex and believable characters and the shocking, but believable, ending, make this a mini-masterpiece of the macabre. Alan Wykes - Nightmare A fine example of the paranoia story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Garvey

    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 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 volume. ‘Jugged Hare’ is OK. A subtle, decent opening story. ‘Submerged’ feels overlong, and a little too much like an exercise in creative writing. ‘His Beautiful Hands’ is the first of several truly great stories in this collection. It’s also wonderfully gruesome. ‘The Copper Bowl’ is based around some truly gleeful stereotyping about the cruelties of a nineteenth century Chinese villain. Great fun. ‘Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets’ is tense and well-written but let down by a disappointing ending. ‘The Kill’ builds slowly (too slowly at times) to a fine ending in just a sentence. ‘Physiology of Fear’ is good but an extremely predictable ending leaves it on a flat note. ‘WS’ is atmospheric, creepy, mysterious and ambiguous. Very good. ‘Horror in the Museum’is another v good one, either ghostwritten or heavily influenced by and/or edited by HP Lovecraft, and it clearly shows. ‘The Library’ feels long at just 11 pages but does have a good ending ‘The Mistake’ comes across a little too Edgar Allan Poe-Lite. Nothing special, really. ‘Oh Mirror, Mirror’ is understated but has a very unsettling fairy tale-ish concept. ‘Serene for Baboons’is a strong tale of superstition, African animal horror and things the white man doesn't understand. ‘The Lady who Didn't Waste Words’ is nicely creepy but peaks at completely wrong time, smack in the middle. ‘A Fragment of Fact’ is unusual and mysterious. Good one. ‘The House of Horror’ features some now-classic horror themes – a demented old man, a secluded house and medical horror. Not bad. ‘Behind the Yellow Door’ continues the body horror theme in a fairly nasty way. ‘The Portobello Road’ is a fine ghost story of loss and regret and the British Empire. It feels long-winded but is always interesting. ‘The Squaw’ is a tolerable Bram Stoker short. And I’m really not a Stoker fan. ‘Flies’ is a disgustingly good story about a spooky infestation of the little beasts. ‘Raspberry Jam’ takes it’s time but builds tension brilliantly towards a horribly cruel ending. A fantastic short story. In ‘Nightmare’ a kindly doctor tries to help a sad, angry man haunted by self-hatred. Intriguing and with a strong end, it’s a great way to finish the collection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hodder

    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 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 place in this otherwise sterling collection. Highlights were THE COPPER BOWL by George Fielding Eliot (gruesome!), FLIES by Anthony Vercoe, and the brilliant THE PORTOBELLO ROAD by Muriel Spark. It’s four decades or so since I last read this anthology. I didn’t remember any of the stories, they all felt fresh and new to me, and I had a blast. I can’t wait to start on volume two.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tanja

    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 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, but I've read too many great short horror stories, to enjoy this collection that much.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dimitri

    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. 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Jones

    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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Runalong

    DNF - fifty pages. All have horrible things happening to women gleefully and one also extremely racist. 1959 not a classic year

  17. 5 out of 5

    André

    A very good selection of horror stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    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 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 they remember that affected them when younger. So: in this reissue, with a new introduction by Johnny Mains, we have a new edition of a book that otherwise stays the same, even down to the original cover of a black cat’s face on a black background( related to the Bram Stoker tale in the book) and the 3’6 price label in the bottom right corner of the cover. We have twenty-two tales, from some familiar names – as well as the aforementioned Bram Stoker, there’s also Jack Finney, Nigel Kneale, C.S. Forester, and Seabury Quinn – to others which are less so these days – Hester Holland, L.P. Hartley, Hamilton Macallister, anyone? Though the names may not necessarily be familiar, titles like ‘Contents of the Dead Man’s Pockets’ (Jack Finney), ‘The Library’ (Hester Holland) and ‘The Horror in the Museum’ (Hazel Heald) pretty much tell you what to expect. Some have been reprinted through the years – Bram Stoker’s’ The Squaw’, for example, though this is one of his lesser known tales (and involves no vampires!)– and yet there are many other near-unknown tales that deserve a revivification. In fact, it is the fact that many of these are less known that made this a treat for me. As perhaps you might expect from a British book of the 1950’s, it often reads with that British sense of the stiff upper lip, of facing adversity under pressure, intermingled with a feeling of distress and tension, though it must be said that not all are British. (There are two stories reprinted by permission from the great Arkham House, for example, which give a decidedly Weird Tales feel to parts of the collection.) And yet there is that thing that can only really be described as a sense of unease. Although there is, unlike other books later in the series, no profanity, comparatively little grue and a surprisingly substantial amount of psychological subtlety, there are scenes of torture, gross awfulness and violence. We also have adultery, jealousy and the odd bit of nastiness. Though time may have diluted the chills a little, it is a wonderfully nostalgic read. Two things struck me most on rereading. The first is that how important the settings are. Many are quintessentially English, from gloomy rooms and desolate buildings and the back streets of London to the quiet country lanes and softly flowing little rivers, all are here. It is these quietly beautiful and imposing environs that accentuate the weirdness within, and this makes the tales eerily effective. Secondly, it was also surprising to find that many of the stories still hold up after all this time. Particular favourites of mine were Nigel Kneale’s Oh, Mirror, Mirror, until recently very hard to get hold of, and Oscar Cook’s His Beautiful Hands, a grisly tale of decaying flesh. In a similar way, C.S. Forster’s The Physiology of Fear has a 1950’s take on the Nazi concentration camps that fuses both horror and guilt. By contrast, Angus Wilson’s Strawberry Jam is unsettlingly icky. It was great to read one of Seabury Quinn’s Jules de Grandin tales again, in The House of Horror, though it is clear that some aspects of the character and culture have dated – the funnily translated phrases from French into English, the use of the term 'negro' as acceptable. Despite this, this is an undervalued and near-forgotten series that deserves a wider reading. On the other hand, there are exceptions that have dated quite badly: George Fielding Eliot’s The Copper Bowl is a derring-do tale of Chinese torture that reads like a bad pulp tale of the 1930’s. Had it not been for the unforgettable portrayal of a rat, burrowing beneath the skin of a torture victim, this one would not have been memorable at all. Similarly, Muriel Spark’s tale The Portobello Road involves the word ‘nig’. Though it can be argued that these tales were a product of their time, and the tale is partly set in South Africa, contemporary readers may find such parlance shocking. On the whole though, there are more hits than misses. There are tales that unsettle (LP Hartley’s W.S.), tales that make you look at normal things in a different way and tales that are just a little messy. If you fancy reading the origins of a series that became influential, if you appreciate a gently delicious shudder on an autumnal evening, then this is a great read. Recommended perhaps for that Halloween read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    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 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 have in common is that they all aim to be horror stories rather than ghost stories; this is to say that any sense of atmosphere is too frequently forgone in favour of shock value. Perhaps this is what people did before they made the Saw movies, but many of these were simply too lurid for my taste, being little more than a guessing game between author and reader as to when and how the kill would come. Sometimes they surprise with their ingenuity and sometimes they don’t, but given that I prefer my chills in the noble tradition of the Victorian ghost story (as perfected by M.R. James) most of the incidents described failed to raise more than a chuckle in this reader. But as I said, there are a few highlights. ‘Oh, Mirror, Mirror’ by the great TV writer Nigel Kneale is a compelling exercise in a kind of mesmeric fairytale style, while ‘The Portobello Road’ by Muriel Spark and ‘Raspberry Jam’ by Angus Wilson boast a more subtle and powerful social message than many of the other works here. There’s also fun to be had with the brutally silly ‘The Squaw’ by Bram Stoker, and ‘The Horror in the Museum’ by Hazel Heald (a pseudonym for Lovecraft himself).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Jardine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Synopsis: Some really good writing involved and some truly terrible. The better ones: The contents of the Dead man’s pocket, by Jack Finney Tale of a man who gets stuck on a window ledge and eventually falls. The Psychology of Fear by C.S. Forester Story about Nazi torture and claim that non whites do not fear because they are sub human The Portobello Road by Muriel Spark A tale from the perspective of a ghost The Squaw by Bram Stoker A cat gets its revenge on a loudmouthed American tourist who inadver Synopsis: Some really good writing involved and some truly terrible. The better ones: The contents of the Dead man’s pocket, by Jack Finney Tale of a man who gets stuck on a window ledge and eventually falls. The Psychology of Fear by C.S. Forester Story about Nazi torture and claim that non whites do not fear because they are sub human The Portobello Road by Muriel Spark A tale from the perspective of a ghost The Squaw by Bram Stoker A cat gets its revenge on a loudmouthed American tourist who inadvertently killed its kitten, in a tourist torture chamber. Terrible writing included: The House of Horror by Seabury Quinn and Raspberry Jam by Angus WIlson What was good about it: I Like short Stories because of the variety they offer. They are succinct and efficient. Most of these were well written and quick to read. The “horror” was more suspense and very mild supernatural or macabre ideas. I would expect this for a book compiled in the late 1950’s What didn’t I enjoy about it: The two stories listed were utterly awful. The descriptions were long and clumsy. Raspberry Jam had paragraphs that spanned pages and read like the mad gossip. The House of Horror is possibly the floweriest most adjective and simile packed rubbish I have EVER read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    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 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 who I would like to read more of. I found Peter Fleming's 'The Kill' stayed with me to the point where I hesitated turning off the light and made wonderful use of framing the backstory. In both 'W.S.' by L.P. Hartley and 'The Library' by Hester Holland I found that I knew what was going to happen but it still felt compelling. Jack Finney's 'Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket' and A.L. Barker's 'Submerged' both jangled my nerves around getting stuck in places where no one can help and did not end in the way I fully expected. I think I most enjoyed 'The Portobello Road' by Muriel Spark and 'The Squaw' by Bram Stoker as although they were both very different in content they both seemed to conclude that we get what we deserve, whether it takes a couple of hours or the rest of our lives.

  22. 5 out of 5

    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 (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 not remembered as masters of horror, and it becomes ever so clearer when you get to Bram Stokers stellar contribution. Still I give it 2,5 stars because of the few brilliant stories and some of the mediocre ones that still managed to entertain - Seabury Quinns The house of horror for example. But if you seek a really good collection of classic horror stories I'd recommend Hamlyn's: The best ghost stories.

  23. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 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 boy suffers for his questionable relationship with two fruity ladies These four were all great. Unlikely to find them printed anywhere else, especially Raspberry Jam, with its infamous ending. Hoping for a higher number of gooduns in the next book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    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 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 comes to horror (as I am) and know what you like, that makes this anthology uneven. A few stories are AMAZING! The rest, yeah, not so much.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manda

    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. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    P.S. Gifford

    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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jettica

    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. 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    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. 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    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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