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Spanning two hundred years of horror, this new collection features seventeen macabre gems, including two original tales and many others that have never or seldom been reprinted. Table of Contents Foreword by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle Aunty Green by John Blackburn Miss Mack by Michael McDowell School Crossing by Francis King A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh Th Spanning two hundred years of horror, this new collection features seventeen macabre gems, including two original tales and many others that have never or seldom been reprinted. Table of Contents Foreword by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle Aunty Green by John Blackburn Miss Mack by Michael McDowell School Crossing by Francis King A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory The Frozen Man by John Trevena California Burning by Michael Blumlein Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest The Ghost of Charlotte Cray by Florence Marryat The Grim White Woman by M. G. Lewis The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin Furnished Apartments by Forrest Reid Something Happened by Hugh Fleetwood The Tarn by Hugh Walpole The Gentleman All in Black by Gerald Kersh


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Spanning two hundred years of horror, this new collection features seventeen macabre gems, including two original tales and many others that have never or seldom been reprinted. Table of Contents Foreword by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle Aunty Green by John Blackburn Miss Mack by Michael McDowell School Crossing by Francis King A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh Th Spanning two hundred years of horror, this new collection features seventeen macabre gems, including two original tales and many others that have never or seldom been reprinted. Table of Contents Foreword by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle Aunty Green by John Blackburn Miss Mack by Michael McDowell School Crossing by Francis King A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory The Frozen Man by John Trevena California Burning by Michael Blumlein Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest The Ghost of Charlotte Cray by Florence Marryat The Grim White Woman by M. G. Lewis The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin Furnished Apartments by Forrest Reid Something Happened by Hugh Fleetwood The Tarn by Hugh Walpole The Gentleman All in Black by Gerald Kersh

30 review for The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One

  1. 4 out of 5

    Char

    The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One is one of my favorite collections of this year, and that's saying a lot because I've read some STELLAR collections in 2016. This is one of the rare times that every. single. story. worked. The stand-outs to me were: Miss Mack by Michael McDowell. It's McDowell. How could it not be good? This starts out as such a nice story about a friendship between two women and then it takes a sharp turn into darkness. Permanent darkness. Furnished Apartments The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume One is one of my favorite collections of this year, and that's saying a lot because I've read some STELLAR collections in 2016. This is one of the rare times that every. single. story. worked. The stand-outs to me were: Miss Mack by Michael McDowell. It's McDowell. How could it not be good? This starts out as such a nice story about a friendship between two women and then it takes a sharp turn into darkness. Permanent darkness. Furnished Apartments by Forest Reid (I would be remiss if I did not mention the excellent intro to this little known author's story. This, and the story itself made me want to immediately read more of Reid's work.) This is a creepy little story about (surprise!) a furnished apartment for rent. A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh Most known these days for his novel, "The Beetle", Richard Marsh wrote over 80 books and 300 short stories. This particular tale is a delicious story of revenge featuring some creepy crawlies. I absolutely loved it. The Progress of Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory Stephen Gregory is another favorite author of mine. He's not as prolific as I wish he would be. Valancourt somehow dug up this nasty tale, (which, once again, features a bird), originally published in the Illustrated London News back in 1982. I am so glad they did! I have read everything I could get my hands on from Mr. Gregory. Without Valancourt, I would never have had the opportunity to read this gem. California Burning by Michael Blumlein Michael Blumlein is another author introduced to me via Valancourt Books. They published his collection: The Brains of Rats which contains one of the most disturbing short stories I've ever read. Once again, Blumlein knocked my socks off with this story of a man whose bones would not burn. The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin A beautifully written tale and one I found to send chills up my spine. Not only because of the spookiness of the story, but because of the amazing prose. I've never even heard of this guy before, but now I want to read everything he's written. The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest Probably most well known in horror circles for his novel The Prestige , Christopher Priest's contribution to this collection was superb. It reminded me a bit of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love and makes me wonder if she ever read The Head and the Hand. It's a rather weird tale, but I loved it. Plus it made me REALLY want to read The Prestige which has been sitting on my Kindle for well over a year. I could go on and on, because as I said every story in this collection worked for me. I can't write a review that's a long as the book though, so just a few more things. The intros to these stories were excellent. Many of them talk about how these authors were prolific back in their day and now have been forgotten. I love that Valancourt is dedicated to bringing these authors back into the public eye. I'm going to do my best to read more of the authors that appealed most to me, like Priest and Birkin. This collection receives my highest recommendation! Every single story is thought provoking and even the introductions to the tales are well written and informative. Plus, these aren't a bunch of stories that you've already read in countless other collections and anthologies. Valancourt worked hard to bring you enticing pieces that will likely be unfamiliar to most contemporary horror readers. All I can say to that is BRAVO! (And MORE, PLEASE!!) Get your own copy here: The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories *A free copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Yes--this one gets all the stars! THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume One, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle is an anthology of some of the more "obscure" atmospheric gems--most of which I was completely unfamiliar with. I can say with all honesty that there was not a single story in this collection that was not a worthwhile read. Since I felt that nearly all of these deserved five star--or close to--ratings, I will only highlight a few of my personal favorites. --"Furnished Apart Yes--this one gets all the stars! THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume One, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle is an anthology of some of the more "obscure" atmospheric gems--most of which I was completely unfamiliar with. I can say with all honesty that there was not a single story in this collection that was not a worthwhile read. Since I felt that nearly all of these deserved five star--or close to--ratings, I will only highlight a few of my personal favorites. --"Furnished Apartments", by Forrest Reid: While the subject matter may be obvious, the telling of the tale stood out among hundreds of similar themed stories. "Houses are like sponges. They absorb . . . And when they're saturated they begin to give out." --"The Terror on Tobit", by Charles Birkin: an atmospheric piece that sucks you into its terror immediately. --"California Burning", by Michael Blumlein: What do you do when something refuses to go away. . . naturally? ". . . On some level, we're all strangers to each other . . . " --"Miss Mack", by Michael McDowell: It is my opinion that anything written by this author is worthy of re-reads. This story leads you in slowly, down a path of occult terror you won't be able to forget . . . --"The Tarn", by Hugh Walpole: The language and emotion that this story brings out makes it seem almost possible . . . --"The Head and the Hand", by Christopher Priest: There's not a lot I can say about this one--specifically--without spoiling the reading experience. However, I was mesmerized from the start, and left open-mouthed in disbelief at its conclusion! --"The Progress of John Arthur Crabble", by Stephen Gregory: If forced to pick only one story from among all of these gems as a particular favorite, this would be it. Gregory's prose is simply captivating, and his use of nature to emphasize character traits is always enlightening to me. He uses his words to paint a very clear picture in the reader's mind. ". . . Most striking of all was his bulging forehead which protruded over his eyes, shadowing them. They retreated into his head like two dangerous eels in an underwater crevice." Positively one of the best anthologies I've read in years, and I can easily see myself re-reading this collection for many years to come. Highest recommendation!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    http://www.oddlyweirdfiction.com/2016... I absolutely love this small indie publisher, and Valancourt's done it again with Volume One of The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, which, as the dustjacket blurb says, is a "new collection of tales spanning two centuries of horror," and is a mix of stories that range from "frightening to horrific to weird to darkly funny." It is exactly as described, and given how much fun I had with this book, I can only imagine the great time James and Ryan must have http://www.oddlyweirdfiction.com/2016... I absolutely love this small indie publisher, and Valancourt's done it again with Volume One of The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, which, as the dustjacket blurb says, is a "new collection of tales spanning two centuries of horror," and is a mix of stories that range from "frightening to horrific to weird to darkly funny." It is exactly as described, and given how much fun I had with this book, I can only imagine the great time James and Ryan must have had in choosing the stories that went into it. As an added bonus, at the beginning of each chapter there are informative notes about each story, the author, and the titles that Valancourt has published by each writer making an appearance in this book. This book is tailor made for someone like me who thrives on vintage chills. Some of these stories I'd classify as true horror, some are more on the psychological side, there are ghostly tales, and one even made me laugh out loud. While I get that not everyone appreciates or shares my old-fashioned horror-reading sensibilities, and that horror is indeed in the eye of the beholder, for me this collection was just about perfect. I'm a VERY picky reader, so that says a lot. Please bring out a Volume Two! I loved this book!!!!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    I read the second volume first, and strangely, felt that had more interesting tales. However, this collection is also pretty enjoyable, if you are willing to stretch your definition of "horror" a bit. Because there are quite a few tales in this collection which do not fall into the genre as it is defined currently - they could be rather called a set of weird tales, intended to create a sense of unease rather than outright horror. My favorite of the lot is Miss Mack by Michael McDowell - a perfect I read the second volume first, and strangely, felt that had more interesting tales. However, this collection is also pretty enjoyable, if you are willing to stretch your definition of "horror" a bit. Because there are quite a few tales in this collection which do not fall into the genre as it is defined currently - they could be rather called a set of weird tales, intended to create a sense of unease rather than outright horror. My favorite of the lot is Miss Mack by Michael McDowell - a perfect Halloween tale with an extremely creepy ending. The sense of no escape in the tale is suffocating. Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor and The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest are also outright horror and highly effective: the former very traditional with the final unexpected punch and the latter, truly disturbing in the tradition of splatter movies (don't read it if you are squeamish). School Crossing by Francis King is a disturbing fantasy which does not quite cross over into horror. It is extremely well-written and a highly enjoyable read. Furnished Apartments by Forrest Reid is in the same vein, with the horror just outside the reader's view, but it is only mildly unease-inducing. California Burning by Michael Blumlein is a unique tale, about a man whose bones refuse to burn. It's weird, funny and poignant in turns. Something Happened by Hugh Fleetwood is also unusual - we know there is something wrong somewhere, but we don't get to it. Out of the remaining, Aunty Green by John Blackburn, A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh, The Frozen Man by John Trevena, Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley, The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin and The Tarn by Hugh Walpole are all traditional horror tales, more or less - all competently written, but they won't have you peeking beneath your bed at night. The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory is a queer little fantasy; The Ghost of Charlotte Cray by Florence Marryat is more humorous than frightening; and The Gentleman All in Black by Gerald Kersh reads like a dark fable. The most unique offering in the book is The Grim White Woman by M. G. Lewis, a truly Gothic tale in verse, expectedly full of dramatic hyperbole. I enjoyed it!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert Vanneste

    3.50 . An entertaining read for the most part .

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob Twinem

    Yet another wonderful compilation from Valancourt Books and what a delight this is. Putting together a number of unknown (to me anyway) authors with each story including an introduction about the writer and what is to follow. So what stood out?" California Burning" by Michael Blumlein...A rather dark comic view on the inability of a crematorium to safely dispose of some human remains came with a subliminal message...we all hold secrets and we are all not what we seem. Of course having read this Yet another wonderful compilation from Valancourt Books and what a delight this is. Putting together a number of unknown (to me anyway) authors with each story including an introduction about the writer and what is to follow. So what stood out?" California Burning" by Michael Blumlein...A rather dark comic view on the inability of a crematorium to safely dispose of some human remains came with a subliminal message...we all hold secrets and we are all not what we seem. Of course having read this tale I was intrigued to learn a little more about the author and the fact that he was also a physician by profession certainly added some intrigue to his writing. I shall be checking out "The Brains of Rats" by Michael Blumlein in the very near future (what a wonderful macabre title!)   "The Frozen Man" by John Trevena was very Lovecraftian (Mountains of Madness) in both its content and execution. An expedition sent out on a journey of investigation to the North as...."some Germans were passing through the country further north, trapping and shooting all the furs they could find, thereby infringing upon the rights of the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay." I love this type of story with the cold and desolation creating its own terror and the madness that must surely happen!   "The Ghost of Charlotte Cray" a sublime and classic ghost story. Sigismund Braggett, publisher, caught between the love of two women; Emily Primrose and the divine Miss Cray. Braggett had hoped that the two women might meet but this idea faded to nothing (or did it!) when the body of Charlotte Cray was discovered at her lodgings in Hammersmith.   "The Gentleman all in Black" by Gerald Kersh is a familiar Faustian theme of selling one's soul to the devil. It's a short snappy tale to end, and brings to a conclusion a very varied and exciting compilation. Valancourt Books are amazing; They are bringing back into print and helping us discover rare and special books and by so doing introducing us to some amazing authors and their works. A special thanks to them for supplying me with a gratis copy for a fair and honest review and that is what I have written.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly B

    This recently released set of horror short stories was the perfect read to get me in the mood for Halloween. Contributing authors include the great (but sadly now almost forgotten) Bernard Taylor, Michael McDowell, Michael Blumlein, Mary Cholmondeley, and many more. You can't go wrong with any of these stories, but my favorite was The Head and the Hand, where a performer perhaps gives his audience more than they bargained for, and begs the question of how far one will go to achieve fame and fortu This recently released set of horror short stories was the perfect read to get me in the mood for Halloween. Contributing authors include the great (but sadly now almost forgotten) Bernard Taylor, Michael McDowell, Michael Blumlein, Mary Cholmondeley, and many more. You can't go wrong with any of these stories, but my favorite was The Head and the Hand, where a performer perhaps gives his audience more than they bargained for, and begs the question of how far one will go to achieve fame and fortune. I also really enjoyed Miss Mack, Let Loose, The Grim White Woman, and The Terror on Tobit. You'll want to take your time reading these tales, to savor them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lostaccount

    An enjoyable collection of stories by writers I'd mostly never heard of. Made some good discoveries, like Francis King, and Gerald Kersh, whom I read had success while alive but died in poverty after writing over 300 stories and 19 novels. An enjoyable collection of stories by writers I'd mostly never heard of. Made some good discoveries, like Francis King, and Gerald Kersh, whom I read had success while alive but died in poverty after writing over 300 stories and 19 novels.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Beautiful colelction of shorts from quite a broad range of authors. The horror here is often rather subtle. There's not much gore involved, which is fine by me, and the imagery on the whole rather conservative and not to much "out there". I enjoyed every story, especially the first half of the collection. High quality stuff from a dedicated high quality press! Beautiful colelction of shorts from quite a broad range of authors. The horror here is often rather subtle. There's not much gore involved, which is fine by me, and the imagery on the whole rather conservative and not to much "out there". I enjoyed every story, especially the first half of the collection. High quality stuff from a dedicated high quality press!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Generally most books in the varied-collection-of-horror-stories-from-all-about subgenre suffer from the same disease: they must compare to Roald Dahl's immaculate (if self-named) Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories. That is perhaps the ultimate collection of all-about tales, for even when a story duds within its pages, the greatness of the others holds it up and makes you want to appreciate it. Being the sort of person who had read far too many (and yet, never enough) of these all-about collectio Generally most books in the varied-collection-of-horror-stories-from-all-about subgenre suffer from the same disease: they must compare to Roald Dahl's immaculate (if self-named) Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories. That is perhaps the ultimate collection of all-about tales, for even when a story duds within its pages, the greatness of the others holds it up and makes you want to appreciate it. Being the sort of person who had read far too many (and yet, never enough) of these all-about collections, I can say with some amateur enthusiast authority that Valancourt's equally self-named The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories (Volume One) is one of the few that truly gets into the same league. It does not top the former, but it at least walks somewhere beside it. Before I continue, I must say that this book is a two-birds-one-stone number. While it is a solid horror and horror-esque collection in its own right, it is also (perhaps primarily) a reader to showcase offerings from Valancourt's impressive catalog of books. This shows in a few cases, such as the middling "Aunty Green" launching the book, an odd choice until you consider the wide swath of John Blackburn novels that Valancourt publishes and publicizes in the introduction. Now we come to the bane of every review ever written about such a collection, how to talk about the meat of the meal when the meat is a sample plate of bite-sized pieces? Do I bullet-point a rundown of each story giving my thoughts, or skip across the top of the pond and only dive in at a particularly tempting morsel of salmon? Neither suffices for the dual-purpose of informing yet entertaining the reader. Neither is pleasant to the reviewer. I will endeavor to compromise, and make the worst of both worlds. Perhaps my favorite of the collection is Michael McDowell's "Miss Mack", a story who saves its weird horror to the last quarter but uses it so strangely and outsized that it only adds to the lingering emotional impact of a tale that is mostly forgotten but could be considered one of the premier weird fiction examinations of the suffering of homosexuals in the mid-20th-century Deep South. It accomplishes its feat by not talking about it and almost leading the reader to find it humorous when a butch, chubby, soda-swilling single-at-her-age-? woman is cast into an eternal darkness to die of starvation and suffer loneliness separated from her young, pretty just-a-friend-? companion. If I can accomplish one thing in this review, it is to tell you to read this story and to see what I mean. Likewise, several of the delights are those that are about other things. Hugh Fleetwood's post-modernly titled "Something Happened" is pretty openly a story about divine powers with a surrogate, if less murdery, Cain and Abel, with very nearly a nod to "Waiting for Godot". Forrest Reid's "Furnished Apartment" might be a story about the sexual abuse of young, helpless people hidden inside of an Aickman-esque strange tale. "California Burning," by Michael Blumlein, is a strange sort of humorous story that about dealing with a parent's death and finding the stranger you thought you knew very well. Do not get me wrong, there are many stories in here that are classic horror romps. Charles Birkin's "The Terror on Tobit" is pretty much just a straight creature feature. "Let Loose" (Mary Cholmondeley) features a killer hand let loose from a tomb. And Christopher Priest's "The Head and the Hand" is a grisly story of a man who self-amputates for fame and fortune. The latter is probably my second favorite in the whole thing. Perhaps the weakest story in the bunch, besides "Aunty Green", is Florence Marryat's "The Ghost of Charlotte Cray." And it's alright. Just nothing much to it, really. Others not mentioned vary from really good to fairly good. Well, maybe not "The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe" by Stephen Gregory. That one was...minor. Of all of them, the one I have the hardest time putting my thumb upon is John Trevena's "The Frozen Man," partially because his style of writing took me a moment to get into and partially because it feels like a effectless vignette, a mere description of an odd moment, rather than a proper story. I suspect I did not do it justice in my reading of it. So it goes, sometimes. Buy this one, Space Pilgrims, and enjoy. No doubt everyone will have their own favorites. And if anyone prefers "Aunty Green," feel free to tell me why.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    Finally finished this collection I started last October, and it's rare that I would give a collection that features stories from assorted authors five stars, but this one easily earns the high rating. It's spectacularly edited, and Valancourt Books is rapidly becoming my favorite indie publisher—I have yet to be disappointed by any of their books. Standout stories were definitely John Blackburn's Aunty Green, Michael McDowell's Miss Mack, Stephen Gregory's The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe, Mic Finally finished this collection I started last October, and it's rare that I would give a collection that features stories from assorted authors five stars, but this one easily earns the high rating. It's spectacularly edited, and Valancourt Books is rapidly becoming my favorite indie publisher—I have yet to be disappointed by any of their books. Standout stories were definitely John Blackburn's Aunty Green, Michael McDowell's Miss Mack, Stephen Gregory's The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe, Michael Blumlein's California Burning and Hugh Walpole's The Tarn. I eagerly await starting Volume 2 later this month...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Morse

    The best story in this book, imo, is the one I bought it for, Miss Mack, by Michael McDowell. Unusual for its time (circa 1986), it features an unattractive (fat, greasy hair, face like a pig) woman lead who swoops into town and seizes the affections of pretty Janice, fellow schoolteacher, away from their lazy, entitled principal who expect to marry her one day, when he gets around to it. Because what else has Janice to do but wait for him to ask? Until Miss Mack comes to town and shows her what The best story in this book, imo, is the one I bought it for, Miss Mack, by Michael McDowell. Unusual for its time (circa 1986), it features an unattractive (fat, greasy hair, face like a pig) woman lead who swoops into town and seizes the affections of pretty Janice, fellow schoolteacher, away from their lazy, entitled principal who expect to marry her one day, when he gets around to it. Because what else has Janice to do but wait for him to ask? Until Miss Mack comes to town and shows her what a good time a single girl can really have, even in tiny Babylon, Alabama. But Principal Hill isn’t the type to just sit back and let independent adult women live their own lives. Less exciting but also wonderful is Francis King’s School Crossing, a compelling, beautifully written story which can't help feeling in some way intimately familiar. That may be another way of saying it was predictable, probably even when it was new in 1979. But I still deeply enjoyed the reading and managed to be surprised at the ending though I saw it coming from page two. The actual lowest point is the introduction to the story, where the editor, in praising all that the author has left unsaid, lists elements that are hardly mysteries and caused me to think too much about “the subtle riddles” rather than letting it happen. Don’t make that mistake. The story doesn’t need all the hype. A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh is another very good story, this one about a peculiar meeting in a late 1890s men’s club between a nervous outsider and a stranger with a coat full of reptiles. Again, it gets a little predictable, but that’s to be expected with a work that’s over 125 years old. Obviously, we’ve seen most of the fun horror tricks before, from more recent authors. But the over-the-top aspects keep you questioning what you think you know, and it features a very nice pre-Lovecraft use of squid. I also give high marks to Michael Blumlein’s California Burning, which had the potential to be triggery and difficult, as it’s about a man’s attempt to have his father cremated while, in the background of his grief, wildfires ravage the state. As a side note, I’ve had (what I now know to be) his short story collection The Brains of Rats on my Amazon wishlist for years because it names the above mentioned Michael McDowell as co-author. Turns out McDowell wrote the introduction to that book, and after reading this story from the physician-turned-writer Blumlein, I’m even more anxious to read it. One of the few (maybe only) works by a woman to be included, Mary Cholmondeley’s Let Loose, the story of a painter who accidentally releases an unknown malevolence while copying a fresco in a long-sealed crypt, is bold and imaginative with a creative, unexpected ending. Unfortunately it relies too heavily on the actions of the painter’s dog for me to recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone. The Terror on Torbit by Charles Birkin is another favorite, also somewhat Lovecraftian, taking place on Torbit Island, which everyone knows “belongs to the sea”. The others were a mix of are-you-kidding-me predictable and what-the-shit-are-you-on-about over-blown confusion, some worth finishing just to see if I guessed right (The Gentleman All In Black; The Ghost of Charlotte Cray), and others so obviously destined from page one to go only one way that it was difficult to push through (Out of Sorts; The Tarn). But the good ones are worth the price of the book, and as for the others, ymmv.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna From Gustine

    I love Valancourt Press. They are a small publisher that specializes in long-forgotten and neglected authors of gothic, horror and weird fiction. They also publish gay interest books, again with little-known authors just waiting to be rediscovered. Their catalogue spans the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This is their first book of short stories. I love how they start each story with a short bio of the author, a summary of their work, and which books or other works are available through Valancour I love Valancourt Press. They are a small publisher that specializes in long-forgotten and neglected authors of gothic, horror and weird fiction. They also publish gay interest books, again with little-known authors just waiting to be rediscovered. Their catalogue spans the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This is their first book of short stories. I love how they start each story with a short bio of the author, a summary of their work, and which books or other works are available through Valancourt. Love these people! Anyway, too many stories to summarize. So, here are two that stood out. My favorite, surprisingly, was one of the more modern ones. California Burning by Michael Blumlein is about a man who can't get his dead father's bones to turn to ash during cremation. I found it unexpectedly moving. Most disturbing? Oh, without a doubt, The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest. Let's say it's about a man who has a very popular show that he performs for audiences. It involves himself and I can't say any more. It's not graphic or gross in description, but less actually creates more of an impact. It's the kind of story you might find in the Black Mirror anthology....shudder!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Circa Girl

    Valancourt seemed to approach every intro to a stort story as an opportunity to reference what they had on catalog and introduce the reader to authors that have dropped under the radar, and I have to say, it worked its magic. I'm in awe of all the underrated (for our time) authors they are reviving the out of print works of and the quality of this set of tales. I will definitely be looking into the Valancourt roster for my tbr pile. Now for my brief thoughts on the individual stories: Aunty Green Valancourt seemed to approach every intro to a stort story as an opportunity to reference what they had on catalog and introduce the reader to authors that have dropped under the radar, and I have to say, it worked its magic. I'm in awe of all the underrated (for our time) authors they are reviving the out of print works of and the quality of this set of tales. I will definitely be looking into the Valancourt roster for my tbr pile. Now for my brief thoughts on the individual stories: Aunty Green by John Blackburn - My favorite of the bunch. It's very concise, but it left me very conflicted and dying with suspense. An orphaned boy gets placed with a new family, but his new maternal figure, referred to as "Aunty Green" is not as harmless and genteel a guardian as she appears. There's a lot of malice on top of malice with an extra helping of malic and no one comes out pure as snow in the end. Miss Mack by Michael McDowell - Another favorite. An eccentric, tomboyish woman comes to a small town and becomes best friends with the pretty, meek teacher. You think you know where this is going but the paranormal aspect completely blindsides you. It also really captures the heart of the characters for the short page space they get. Hell isn't always other people - isolation and too much time on your hands can be just as bad. School Crossing by Francis King - A man invests in a nice car to deal with an undefinable mid-life crisis and starts seeing things that aren't there. The secret callousness of the protagonist is intriguing, even if the ending didn't really make much sense. Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh- A revenge plot works a little too well. You have to suspend your disbelief that even the best laid plan could carry out as much happens in one little smoking room, but it's a fun jaunt. The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory - I loved this one! A severely developmentally disabled boy appears to have special healing powers for other vulnerable creatures, but there's more to his wholesome works than meets the eye. The twist ending will have you going back through the pages to appreciate little hints here and there of what was really going one. The Frozen Man by John Trevana- The longest story of the set, but the atmospheric rendering is worth it. I have a soft spot for horror in sub-zero settings and this didn't disappoint. Two men and a native assistant are assigned from their outpost to investigate a trapping/hunting boundary line being crossed and things go very wrong. California Burning by Michael Blumlein - A man has a hell of a time trying to have his father's body properly cremated. I wouldn't have categorized this as horror, but more of a sci-suspense with some comedy and slice of life thrown in. That being addressed, I did laugh and feel deeply for the protagonist as he struggles to cope with his father's implied secret life and his grief all while California goes through a forest fire bedlam. Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley - A college student gets special access to a remote clergical tomb for an academic paper and accidently releases something malevolent. I realized about 1/3 of the way in that I had already read this story in a gothic anthology I reviewed a year or two back, but it flows so well that I didn't want to skip it. It's beautifully told and morose in just the right way. Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor - A jaded wife plays the long con to teach her husband not to cheat. I figured out where this was going pretty early on, but its still a very clever, darkly funny turn of events. It felt very Creepshow/EC Horror comics to me in tone, which is never a bad thing. The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest - A man has a very unusual, self-destructive claim to stardom. This is not one for the squeamish. It gets dark, and highlights the bloodlust and depravity of what can pass for entertainment and fame. I was blown away by it. The Ghost of Charlotte Cray by Florence Marryat - A man finds himself in the awkward circumstance of having an aggressive admirer he's led on too far as well as a new wife. I don't typically find ghost stories all that scary or interesting, but this one is genuinely creepy. Getting chided beyond the grave is stressful! The Grim White Woman by M. G. Lewis - Cliffnote: Shallow dude fucks around and gets found. This is a long poem, but its amazing in its mastery of style and rhyme to tell a morbid parable. The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin - Two tourists insist on spending their last night on a remote island that is said to be cursed. This one stays nice and ambiguous, which I think is the absolute best method for monsters. I have so many questions. Gah! Furnished Apartments by Forrest Reid - A meek young man has an uncomfortable first night in his new apartment. I'm going to level with you....I'm not sure what actually happened, but damn if it wasn't a compelling journey. I love the character's narrative style and frank observation of the bizarre people he has to deal with at his potential new home. Something Happened by Hugh Fleetwood. A slow-witted servant insists that a new guest is not what he seems. This was the weak point of the set for me. Not that it wasn't written beautifully, it was, but because I think this one veered more into fantasy or magical realism than horror. It also doesn't really go anywhere with its premise. The Tarn by Hugh Walpole. An embittered, failed author has to stomach a visit from his conceited rival. A powerful revenge story and observation of the evils a fragile ego can unleash. The Gentleman All in Black by Gerald Kersh - A homeless beggar claims he worked for man who took the devil as a client once. Slight predictable but I enjoyed the back and forth negotiation between old nick himself and wall street wolf. It's fun.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    The gents at Valancourt prove their worth once again! I am impressed and astonished with the superior quality of their releases and reissues. Not a dud in this collection! As a small-press publisher, Valancourt Books holds equal rank with such legends as Ash Tree Press and Tartarus Press.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    This is a thoroughly engaging collection of macabre tales, some old, some new and all quite twisted and offbeat. I recommend it highly to those who love dark literature!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marie-Therese

    4.5 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David Haynes

    High quality short stories without a single weak link. Some of the authors I knew and already loved but some were completely new to me. I will be picking up the second volume of stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    rebecca

    An enjoyable selection of under appreciated horror stories.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I'm not a fan of most short stories collections. This was really good. A must read. I'm not a fan of most short stories collections. This was really good. A must read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    The best thing about this collection is the scope it takes in terms of time and eras. For example, the story "California Burning" by Michael Blumlein was published as recently as 2009 and is preceded by a story from 1912 and followed by one from the 1890s. But despite the gulf in time between the stories they're all of a similar level of quality and uniqueness and the book as a whole has a certain running coherence. Often Victorian-era ghost and horror tales can "run together" but most of the ol The best thing about this collection is the scope it takes in terms of time and eras. For example, the story "California Burning" by Michael Blumlein was published as recently as 2009 and is preceded by a story from 1912 and followed by one from the 1890s. But despite the gulf in time between the stories they're all of a similar level of quality and uniqueness and the book as a whole has a certain running coherence. Often Victorian-era ghost and horror tales can "run together" but most of the older stories featured here take very creative approaches toward horror. Also there's many of what I would consider "lost gems," which I was surprised I'd never read or even heard of before. Some of the standouts were "The Frozen Man," "California Burning," "The Terror on Tobit" and "Something Happened." Other stories like "Furnished Apartments" and "Let Loose" aren't entirely unexampled in their themes and effects but are still better than most horror stories, the latter being singularly Jamesian decades before M. R. James himself wrote. That's not to say everything here is stellar; there's a few stories that are mild fare or are too familiar, these stories (or at least their themes/general outline) have been done better by more skilled authors. Aunty Green by John Blackburn - This is a great little story, several eerie touches throughout, but it is primarily the style I liked. A man who has grown wealthy intends to get revenge on his cruel foster aunt, in an exact replica of their old home. Miss Mack by Michael McDowell - This is a good tale, especially considering it's the first story McDowell published. If you've ever been lost in the woods (something which is hard to do now) this one will give you a chill. A man becomes jealous when the woman he intends to marry starts spending all of her time with a female co-worker, and he has a mysterious plan to deal with it. School Crossing by Francis King - This is another of those stories that is effective for what it doesn't explain and also the disparate weird elements that give a strange mood of persecution to the protagonist. A man, bitter with aging and family life, continues to experience a strange hallucination. A Psychological Experiment by Richard Marsh - I haven't read one of these fireside, Victorian-era type stories in a while. I like the daring of this story, it takes some chances which pay off. Not among my favorites, although I appreciated the "creepy crawly" aspect. The Progress of John Arthur Crabbe by Stephen Gregory - I've enjoyed two of Gregory's novels, this is a very brief story about a boy with healing powers, with a surprising twist. The Frozen Man by John Trevena - This might be my personal favorite here, it has a wonderful setting and tone reminiscent of Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" or "The Wendigo." There's an powerful, eerie scene where the characters make camp as the sun sets, the Northern Lights paint the snow red and their fear grows -- so well-written. Trevena, better-known as Ernest George Henham is another author I've read before, thanks to Valancourt. A trio of men set out across a desolate arctic waste after hearing a rumor of game nearby, when one of their party begins acting very strangely. California Burning by Michael Blumlein - This is the longest story of the bunch, and also one of the best. Blumlein touches on themes of grief, paranoia and self-doubt, not without some very funny moments along the way. There's just enough hints in this story to keep you guessing and an ending that I thought was perfect in what it gives and holds back. A man has a dilemma when his deceased father's bones refuse to burn and his mother refuses to have him buried. Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley - The introduction to this story calls it, "an early vampire story of sorts" and fortunately for anyone who is sick of vampire tales, the emphasis here is on "of sorts." Yeah, there's nothing too surprising here for fans of Victorian ghost tales, but there's still a nice mood and a few interesting surprises. The setting and "set up" of the story is very much in the vein of M. R. James' antiquarian horror, but this was written decades before James. A young man travels to a small village to study a fresco in a crypt and unleashes a malevolent force. Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor - This isn't a bad story, but it becomes fairly predictable and just isn't my sort of horror story. A woman takes revenge on the latest woman her husband intends to have an affair with. The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest - I appreciate the cold, clinical nastiness of this one, a sort of conte cruel. A man known for performances of the most grotesque kind, prepares to return to the stage. The Ghost of Charlotte Cray by Florence Marryat - This is a fairly typical Victorian ghost tale, it's not especially creepy, but has a nice mounting suspense at the end. A man finds himself haunted by a woman he led on but didn't marry. The Grim White Woman by M. G. Lewis - A poem about a woman using a terrible spirit to get revenge. The Terror on Tobit by Charles Birkin - I like any horror stories set on an isolated island, this brought to mind Buchan's "Scule Skerry" or Hartley's "Podolo." The setting evokes an eerie mood all by itself, but add in some supernatural hints and it works quite well. Two young Englishwomen vacationing on the Isles of Sicily want to spend the night on a deserted island, even though they're warned against it by the locals. Furnished Apartments by Forrest Reid - This is a previously unpublished story with enough uncanny moments and unresolved ambiguities to make it better than the average ghost tale. Probably would have been more effective if it was cut down a bit. A man recounts his single, fateful night in a boarding house which gave him an unaccountably bad impression. Something Happened by Hugh Fleetwood - This is truly one of the strangest stories of the bunch, the tone reminded me of Aickman's work. This is also one of my favorites, not because it's especially horrific, but it has an unpredictable strangeness that feels very fresh. A group of housekeepers taking care of a wealthy man's isolated vacation home receive a strange guest. The Tarn by Hugh Walpole - I'd read this one previously, didn't think it was an especially original story. A man receives a clever vengeance after he drowns an enemy. The Gentleman All in Black by Gerald Kersh - A very brief tale of a deal with the Devil.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Greg Gbur

    I’ve been following Valancourt Books almost since they started publishing books back in 2005 (and of course I’ve written a number of book intros for them). It has been really exciting to see them expand from their origins in reprinting very rare Victorian (and earlier) novels, to reprinting 20th century classics, to printing original anthologies. This past October, they released a wonderful new anthology, The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories (VBHS). Read the whole review. I’ve been following Valancourt Books almost since they started publishing books back in 2005 (and of course I’ve written a number of book intros for them). It has been really exciting to see them expand from their origins in reprinting very rare Victorian (and earlier) novels, to reprinting 20th century classics, to printing original anthologies. This past October, they released a wonderful new anthology, The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories (VBHS). Read the whole review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ross McClintock

    This was a pretty well curated story collection by Valancourt Books, one of my favorite publishers. This includes tales from different time frames, the early 1800s until as recently as the 80s. Some of the highlights of this collection are from some of my favorite authors, Miss Mack by Michael McDowell, Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor, The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest. The stories range from subtle dread to outright ironic twists. Some of the stories can flag a bit, but it helps knowin This was a pretty well curated story collection by Valancourt Books, one of my favorite publishers. This includes tales from different time frames, the early 1800s until as recently as the 80s. Some of the highlights of this collection are from some of my favorite authors, Miss Mack by Michael McDowell, Out of Sorts by Bernard Taylor, The Head and the Hand by Christopher Priest. The stories range from subtle dread to outright ironic twists. Some of the stories can flag a bit, but it helps knowing that there's another great tale around the corner

  24. 5 out of 5

    J.T. Glover

    This is a promising start to a new anthology series treating both famed and lesser known authors. Many of the authors of these tales were mostly or entirely unfamiliar to me, and I'm even more eager than usual to seek out other work written by the authors herein. Check out this book if you like horror stories, enjoy pleasing variation in your tales, and want to find something new to read. There's something here for almost any horror reader's taste. This is a promising start to a new anthology series treating both famed and lesser known authors. Many of the authors of these tales were mostly or entirely unfamiliar to me, and I'm even more eager than usual to seek out other work written by the authors herein. Check out this book if you like horror stories, enjoy pleasing variation in your tales, and want to find something new to read. There's something here for almost any horror reader's taste.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    This was a book full of subtle horrors , where the impact always came later, much-much later than one expects it to come. I especially liked the chilling and ambiguous endings of 'Aunty Green' and 'Miss Mack'. Those who prefer their horror in grim, human (?), and chilling dosage, would greatly appreciate this volume. This was a book full of subtle horrors , where the impact always came later, much-much later than one expects it to come. I especially liked the chilling and ambiguous endings of 'Aunty Green' and 'Miss Mack'. Those who prefer their horror in grim, human (?), and chilling dosage, would greatly appreciate this volume.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume 1 is a fun read. I don't think I've ever read anything by these authors before. I found quite a few I would like to read more of. I didn't care for some of the stories, and some kind of went over my head, but it's a very enjoyable collection. The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume 1 is a fun read. I don't think I've ever read anything by these authors before. I found quite a few I would like to read more of. I didn't care for some of the stories, and some kind of went over my head, but it's a very enjoyable collection.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rothermel

    I did not skip any stories. They were all new to me, and of very high quality. Thoughtful editorial notes enriched and contextualized the stories. I highly recommend it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    Michael McDowell...so, so good.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wyrd Witch

    Many, many reviewers in the horror community adore Valancourt Books. It’s not hard to see why. The publisher prides itself on giving back to us, selecting books that have long been forgotten or set aside, and republishing them for our grubby skeletal hands to pry from shelves and read again. With their extensive catalog, I had no idea where to start, really. Should I go for the Paperbacks from Hell series? Or should I just pick a random book to start with? Even then, from which period? Victorian Many, many reviewers in the horror community adore Valancourt Books. It’s not hard to see why. The publisher prides itself on giving back to us, selecting books that have long been forgotten or set aside, and republishing them for our grubby skeletal hands to pry from shelves and read again. With their extensive catalog, I had no idea where to start, really. Should I go for the Paperbacks from Hell series? Or should I just pick a random book to start with? Even then, from which period? Victorian era? Georgian? The early twentieth century? The seventies? I finally chose Valancourt’s highly-rated anthology series, first with Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories and then their normal Horror Stories line. I personally adored the Victorian Christmas ghost stories and how educational it was for me. So, how was their “garden-variety” horror story line going to go? Turns out, it’s a bigger mixed-bag than I expected. Read the rest of the review here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Cangiano

    A solid collection of weird, ghostly and horrific tales and the perfect way to get into the mood for the Halloween season. Valancourt has done a great job of pulling 17 horror tales from its stable of authors for this first book in this otherwise unthemed anthology collection. As with every such anthology, not every tale is going to work for every reader (though there were a surprising few that didn’t work for me - 2, I think). The highlights of the collection for me were Michael McDowell’s deli A solid collection of weird, ghostly and horrific tales and the perfect way to get into the mood for the Halloween season. Valancourt has done a great job of pulling 17 horror tales from its stable of authors for this first book in this otherwise unthemed anthology collection. As with every such anthology, not every tale is going to work for every reader (though there were a surprising few that didn’t work for me - 2, I think). The highlights of the collection for me were Michael McDowell’s delightfully mean-spirited Miss Mack; Francis King’s School Crossing (which leaves so much between the lines to speculate about); Bernard Taylor’s Out of Sorts; Christopher Priest Gran Guignol-esque The Head and the Hand; Matthew Gregory Lewis’ The Grim White Woman; Charles Birkin’s creature feature The Terror on Tobit; Forest Reid’s Furnished Apartments; High Walpole’s The Tarn; and the closing nugget of horror that is Gerald Kersh’s The Gentleman All in Black. Highly recommended. I would give it 4-4.5 stars, though as always your mileage may vary.

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