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The Mammoth Book of Short Horror Novels

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In this exciting anthology spanning more than a century, Stephen King leads a roster of ten great novelists of horror, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Lucius Shepard, Russell Kirk, A.C. Benson, T.E.D. Klein, John Metcalf, Oliver Onions, and David Case.


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In this exciting anthology spanning more than a century, Stephen King leads a roster of ten great novelists of horror, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Algernon Blackwood, Lucius Shepard, Russell Kirk, A.C. Benson, T.E.D. Klein, John Metcalf, Oliver Onions, and David Case.

30 review for The Mammoth Book of Short Horror Novels

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ronald

    I recently got this book from the public library. Thus far I've read _Nadelman's God_ by T.E.D. Kline which is a quite interesting mix of horror and humor. I'm now on _Fengriffen_ by David Case, which I've heard great things about. I've read the story "The Monkey" by Stephen King before. I consider it a novelette, not a novella, though. Table of Contents: The Monkey by Stephen King The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding by Russell Kirk The Damned by Algernon Blackwood I recently got this book from the public library. Thus far I've read _Nadelman's God_ by T.E.D. Kline which is a quite interesting mix of horror and humor. I'm now on _Fengriffen_ by David Case, which I've heard great things about. I've read the story "The Monkey" by Stephen King before. I consider it a novelette, not a novella, though. Table of Contents: The Monkey by Stephen King The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle There's a Long, Long Trail A-Winding by Russell Kirk The Damned by Algernon Blackwood Fengriffen by David Case The Uttermost Farthing by A.C. Benson The Rope in the Rafters by Oliver Onions Nadelman's God by T.E.D. Kline The Feasting Dead by John Metcalfe How the Wind Spoke at Madaket by Lucius Shepard update 4/3: Finished reading _Fengriffin_ by David Case. This Gothic novella was adapted into the early '70s movie as And Now The Screaming Starts! The first person narrator is a medical doctor, specializing in the then new science of psychology. The narrator is asked by Fengriffin to treat his wife Catherine, who is pregnant. Fengriffin's wife seems to be in what we nowadays call 'depression'. However, Catherine says that a supernatural curse is the cause of her problems. Our narrator, though, does not believe in the supernatural. It turns out that Catherine was right. This Gothic novella is excellently constructed and has marvelous passages. Started reading _There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding_ by Russell Kirk. update 4/5 Russell Kirk was a professor of history and a conservative political philosopher. He also wrote supernatural fiction, such as this novella _There's A Long, Long Trail A-Winding_, which won a World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. The main character, Frank, is a petty thief who has been in and out of jail. He is of strong build, but hates violence. Frank is seeking shelter from the harsh winter, and enters a uninhabited, but nice house in an abandoned town. Frank learns some things about the former inhabitants of the house from the family pictures and a letter he discovered. The letter refers to a terrible event, and a person who lived with the family, also named Frank, and then breaks off. The next morning, Frank awakes, with the inhabitants of house around him. Frank has gone back in time. Prisoners escaped from the nearby prison, and some prisoners with weapons break into the house. At this point, Frank is faced with a choice: he sees a clear means for him to escape, or he can fight against the home invaders. He chooses the latter course, and kills, in defense of the family, the home invaders. But Frank is mortally wounded. Frank comes back to the present time. Frank is back in the abandoned house and Frank sees his gravestone near the house which says "...who saved us and died for us..." An emotionally moving story. The story, with its elements of Roman Catholic theology and violence leading to redemption, reminded me of the fiction of Flannery O'Connor. I plan to read next _The Damned_ by Algernon Blackwood. update 4/13 After reading about the first ten pages of _The Damned_ by Algernon Blackwood, I gave up. Nothing seemed to happen in the story. His other work is much better. Read _How the Wind Spoke at Madaket_ by Lucius Shepard. An air elemental wreaks death and destruction. The air elemental, though, acts different when around two characters, one, a writer, the other, a bag lady--the air elemental acts like a pet around them. The writer and the bag lady also happen to be psychic. These two psychics try to distract the air elemental in order to let others flee. "The Uttermost Farthing" by A.C. Benson. The editor of this volume says that this story was not published during A.C. Benson's lifetime, but in 1926. This story turned out much better than I expected. I'm a bit wary about fiction published before 1930 (like the Algernon Blackwood story I mentioned) because literary minimalism is more to my taste. Wikipedia says of literary minimalism : ... is characterized by an economy with words and a focus on surface description. Minimalist writers eschew adverbs and prefer allowing context to dictate meaning. Readers are expected to take an active role in the creation of a story, to "choose sides" based on oblique hints and innuendo, rather than reacting to directions from the writer. A.C. Benson's story is occult/evil spirit horror, a style of horror fiction that resonates with me. The narrator is a middle aged writer, who befriends an older man, name Bendyshe. Bendyshe is a successful businessman, has a likable personality, and is held in high regard by others. To the narrator's surprise, Bendyshe also is interested in the paranormal. Bendyshe thinks his house is haunted, and asks our narrator to stay with him for a while as an objective, outside observer. There are, indeed, paranormal happenings in the house. The narrator learns of a previous inhabitant of the house, who, it was rumored, experimented in the occult. This previous inhabitant kept a book of his occult researches hidden. Bendyshe thinks that the evil spirits in the house are trying to protect the book from being found and destroyed. Bendyshe, the narrator, and a Vicar seek this book to destroy it. It was refreshing to see A.C. Benson trying to do something different with the haunted house story. In his story, one of the characters even remarks, on certain ghost stories, why would spirits want to re-enact tragic and horrible events? A.C. Benson, in his story, eschews this cliche. Alas, even a great writer such as Robert Aickman resorted to the cliche of ghosts reenacting events ("The Station Waiting Room"). Also, the hero of this story, Bendyshe, is an a-typical hero, at least for the fiction of the time. Bendyshe, is a senior citizen who takes the most active role, even is a somewhat of an action hero. So two more novellas to go. update 4/19: Actually three novellas to go. All done, had to return the book to the library. _The Parasite_ was written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle. The novella is written in the format of a journal or diary. The narrator is a professor of medicine. A fellow professor is a parapsychology researcher. (This novella was written in the late 19th Century, when some prominent academics such as William James and Henry Sidgwick investigated parapsychology, so the backdrop of this novella is not that out of the ordinary.) The narrator becomes involved in a parapsychology experiment, starting as a skeptic, ending up as a believer. The test subject is a woman who at first shows powers of hypnosis and suggestion. After these hypnotic experiments, the test subject falls in love with the narrator, but the narrator spurns her, so the psychic get back at him by psychically controlling what he says and does, to the narrator's detriment. The psychic is in poor physical health, so sometimes her psychic power wanes. I rate this story ok. The Feasting Dead by John Metcalfe. I found this novella somewhat amusing, not due to the content, but due to the overwrought, melodramatic prose style. John Metcalfe was a British writer but this story was published by August Derleth, founder of Arkham House. The narrator is a widower, and he lets his young son periodically stay with another family who are friends with the widower. The narrator's young son becomes friends with a oafish handyman. The son's visitations are cancelled. The oafish handyman then appears to the narrator. The narrator has a bad vibe about this guy, but the son is overjoyed, so the narrator lets the handyman hang around. This handyman has a terrible influence on the son. The health of the narrator's son is increasingly deteriorating. This handyman is like a psychic vampire, draining the son's vitality. The Rope in the Rafters by Oliver Onions. I do admit that Oliver Onions had one of the better prose styles, but I was underwhelmed by this story. Perhaps this is a too conventional ghost story. The narrator is staying at a place which has a rope hanging from the rafters, and the place has a macabre history: a smuggler used to operate from here, and when the authorities was closing in on him, the smuggler killed himself with that rope. Our narrator senses the presence of the ghost of this smuggler; there is even a smell. And then somebody dies by suicide with this very rope. A lot of words just for this plot? Some concluding thoughts: This book contains horror novellas, from the late 19th Century to the 1980s. The saying, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there" comes to mind. Of the pre-World War II novellas, the only one I liked was The Uttermost Farthing by A.C. Benson. The Algernon Blackwood novella didn't even hold my interest. The post-World War II novellas were generally superior. Encountering the novella _Fengriffin_ was like unearthing a hidden treasure. I'm rating this book 4 stars for a good amount of the fiction here ranges from 3.5 to 5 stars.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Medusa

    Aside from Stephen King's short story "The Monkey" which actually really creeped me out, the other stories were long-winded and written with such high-brow language that I couldn't connect to the story or the characters. For many of the authors, it took three paragraphs to summarise something that only needed about three sentences max. Stephen King is an author from those times that was made to last generations, and he's honestly one of few. Aside from Stephen King's short story "The Monkey" which actually really creeped me out, the other stories were long-winded and written with such high-brow language that I couldn't connect to the story or the characters. For many of the authors, it took three paragraphs to summarise something that only needed about three sentences max. Stephen King is an author from those times that was made to last generations, and he's honestly one of few.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brock

    The editing in this book is horrendous. One story, halfway through, became the end of the previous story. Spelling is a bit off as well. A few stories were good, most are just difficult to read or enjoy. Kind of boring. Best is King, 2nd is Shepard at the end.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kat Spencer

    I liked maybe two of the stories in it.. Thoroughly disappointed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The rockabilly werewolf from Mars

    Some of the stories here are excellent (Fengriffen, The Feasting Dead, and The Rope In The Rafters are my top three), while others are terrible (the Kirk story, in particular. I don't see why people call this story a classic, I was bored out of my mind reading it, and I've found it in at least three anthologies. I've never found a single story by him that struck me as scary or even interesting). Incidentally, I can't help but wonder why the cover is the same as that of The Hephaestus Plague, as Some of the stories here are excellent (Fengriffen, The Feasting Dead, and The Rope In The Rafters are my top three), while others are terrible (the Kirk story, in particular. I don't see why people call this story a classic, I was bored out of my mind reading it, and I've found it in at least three anthologies. I've never found a single story by him that struck me as scary or even interesting). Incidentally, I can't help but wonder why the cover is the same as that of The Hephaestus Plague, as the two books have nothing to do with each other beyond them both being horror. As for the stories: The Monkey: A cursed toy causes death to people around it. Not bad, but not my favourite of King's stories. The Parasite: Psychic vampirism in the victorian era. Solid, but not particularly exciting story; still worth a read. There's A Long Long Trail A Winding: A hobo takes refuge in a seemingly haunted house, the ghosts (of a rich family That used to live there) aren't particularly interesting or frightening, some random escaped prisoners break into the house (view spoiler)[ it turns out the hobo was a ghost all along (hide spoiler)] . Vaguely preachy, overly sentimental, not remotely frightening, ultimately boring. The Damned: A man comes to stay at an old house where the place's dark history has a malignant effect on the current occupants. A nicely atmospheric haunted house story, somewhat familiar, but with some good scenes; there's a moment involving a tree that struck me as being particularly unsettling. Fengriffen: an old house, a woman suffering from a strange illness, a family curse, a madman living in the woods, a neglected cemetery, a demonic presence: all ingredients for a fine gothic horror story. The best story in the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hugo

    Unfair to rate this book, as I only bought it as the simplest (and most affordable) way to read David Case's Fengriffen, which I greatly enjoyed. Case is an unfairly forgotten author of horror fiction, and Fengriffen is a quietly hysterical story in the gothic vein - crumbling mansion, stormy nights, curses and villainy, and a supernatural element that remains elusive until the brilliant climax. Well worth the price of admission in itself, and possibly the only contender for an actual 'short nov Unfair to rate this book, as I only bought it as the simplest (and most affordable) way to read David Case's Fengriffen, which I greatly enjoyed. Case is an unfairly forgotten author of horror fiction, and Fengriffen is a quietly hysterical story in the gothic vein - crumbling mansion, stormy nights, curses and villainy, and a supernatural element that remains elusive until the brilliant climax. Well worth the price of admission in itself, and possibly the only contender for an actual 'short novel' in the book - Stephen King's contribution is only 30 pages long, for crying out loud.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liana

    Haven't finished it. Pretty good so far although a few of the stories are heavily written and require much patience. Haven't finished it. Pretty good so far although a few of the stories are heavily written and require much patience.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  10. 5 out of 5

    William Worsham

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary Jo

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vrinda

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rohit

  16. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  17. 4 out of 5

    Awallens

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ren

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike Burns

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  22. 5 out of 5

    Day Littrell

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sally Bisbee

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stan Bobbitt

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Cody

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lamprini

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tanveer Alam

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pablo Diaz

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