Tag Archives: Horror

The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women edited by Marie O’Regan

Overview
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Title: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women
Author: Marie O’Regan, Kim Lakin-Smith, Sarah Pinborough, Kelley Armstrong, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Sarah Langan, Elizabeth Massie, Alex Bell, Alison Littlewood, Nina Allan, Lisa Tuttle, Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, Mary Cholmondeley, Marion Arnott, Lilith Saintcrow, Nancy Kilpatrick, Muriel Gray, Cynthia Asquith, Amelia B. Edwards, Elizabeth Gaskell, Gail Z. Martin, Edith Wharton & Gaie Sebold
Series: Mammoth Books
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror, Short story collections
Dates read: 29th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She was a sickly child, prone to unaccountable fits and agues, and her parents were convinced on more than one night that she would not live to see the dawn.

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Synopsis

25 chilling short stories by outstanding female writers

Women have always written exceptional stories of horror and the supernatural. This anthology aims to showcase the very best of these, from Amelia B. Edwards’s ‘The Phantom Coach’, published in 1864, through past luminaries such as Edith Wharton and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, to modern talents including Muriel Gray, Sarah Pinborough and Lilith Saintcrow.

From tales of ghostly children to visitations by departed loved ones, and from heart-rending stories to the profoundly unsettling depiction of extreme malevolence, what each of these stories has in common is the effect of a slight chilling of the skin, a feeling of something not quite present, but nevertheless there.

If anything, this showcase anthology proves that sometimes the female of the species can also be the most terrifying…

Thoughts

This is a fantastic collection. One which I thoroughly enjoyed but learnt fairly quickly that I shouldn’t be reading this late at night… after all, some of these ghost stories are actually kind of scary. And reading them late at night with the wind blowing through the house while you’re home alone… not the best decision making of my life. To be fair, it’s also not the worst…. But that’s a whole other story.

I love that all of these ghost stories are written by women. I definitely believe that we need a collection of women-only writers more often. Or at least, I need to buy more to put on my shelves… although not all of these stories had strong women as the voice, they still felt more relatable than many of the stories that I read by men. I suppose shared experience and all that nonsense.

As a kid, I was never into ghost stories or tales of things that go bump in the night. Although I’ve gotten more into the genre over the past few years, it’s still sometimes not the most powerful driver for me. This collection though is swaying me more and more towards those horror stories.

<- The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 2Field of the Dead ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

Overview
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Title: The Old Nurse’s Story
Author: Elizabeth Gaskell
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan) & Gothic Short Stories (David Blair)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1852
5th sentence, 74th page: Miss Furnivall was an old lady not far from eighty, I should think, but I do not know.

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Synopsis

A chilling tale of the horrors of the past, as told by the children’s mother’s old nurse.

Thoughts

I really loved the cadence and flow of this story. It had this amazing flow throughout that pulled me in and made me incredibly happy. I also loved the way that the storyline unfolded. It was very easy to follow, but also intricate enough that it was impossible to look away from the pages of the book.

There is something quite scary about children ghosts, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. But, the child that is luring the children to their death is not what I would have expected. It gives this sinister feeling to the idea that there is now an orphan left unattached and vulnerable. Something which is kind of tragic and filled with a great backstory.

The Old Nurse’s Story is a wonderful tale that sweeps you away and immerses you in a reality that will take you away from daily life for a short while. It’s gothic and intense. A wonderful story that I look forward to journeying on again in the future.

<- The Phantom CoachAmong the Shoals Forever ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards

Overview
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Title: The Phantom Coach
Author: Amelia B. Edwards
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 21st November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1864
5th sentence, 74th page: The words that I was about to utter died upon my lips, and a strange horror – a dreadful horror – came upon me.

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Synopsis

It’s dark, snowing and deathly cold. Queque the Phantom Coach and the journey that strikes fear into the heart of man.

Thoughts

Phantom coaches seem to be a bit of a theme in ghost stories. I suppose there should be cars in some more modern-day stories. But I’ve only ever read tales which feature a phantom coach. Which is probably why I’ve never found the idea of a horse and carriage, or a coach to be all that romantic.

This short story had a whole heap of mystery occurring throughout. There is a mysterious house with a mysterious master to begin with. Then there is the phantom coach travelling the roads late at night. It gives this whole story a serious mystical feeling that left me sitting in my very well-lit room, thinking about what I’d just read. I love stories that I think about for long after I’ve turned that final page.

I really enjoyed the setting of this story. I felt like the catching of the phantom coach was a bit of a repetitive trope. But the setting… it was beautifully described and brilliantly put. It swept me away so that when I turned that final page, it took me a moment to return to reality.

<- God Grant That She Lye StillThe Old Nurse’s Story ->

Image source: Goodreads

God Grant That She Lye Still by Cynthia Asquith

Overview
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Title: God Grant That She Lye Still
Author: Cynthia Asquith
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 20th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1931
5th sentence, 74th page: I thought I should never see anything more beautiful, but I did the next time I saw her, for the variety of her beauty was unending.

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Synopsis

He’s found the woman he loves – but she’s put upon by a mysterious affliction. One that could just be the death of her.

Thoughts

I really struggled with this short story. I’m not sure if it was the story, or the fact that there was a whipper snipper going on out the front of my house. Either way, I reread certain passages and just generally had trouble reading this.

This story made me think of Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde. They had that same feeling of possession and mystery that these classics both have. Plus, the language was actually really similar. Pleasantly so.

I gave this short story such a low rating because I just didn’t get into it. Having said that, I did enjoy the process of reading it. I just wouldn’t want to try again.

<- Front Row RiderThe Phantom Coach ->

Image source: Goodreads

Let Loose by Mary Cholmondeley

Overview
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Title: Let Loose
Author: Mary Cholmondeley
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror, Vampires
Dates read: 14th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1902
5th sentence, 74th page: The moon in its various quarterings has always exerted a marked influence on what I may call the sub-dominant, namely, the poetic side of my nature.

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Synopsis

He always wears unexpectedly high collars, but the reason behind his decision making all has to do with an open crypt. And a series of mistakes.

Thoughts

In the incredibly intense journey that The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women has so far taken me on, this is less terrifying. Not to say that it wasn’t still a little bit spine-tingling. But it just wasn’t as can’t sleep at night as many of the other stories.

I liked the interesting setup within this story – after all, it was a tale within a tale. I didn’t really like the guy who told either tale. After all, one married the sister, and the whole thing was just… icky feeling. But I did like the format of the story. And the writing style. I just didn’t love the actual storyline.

I’m pretty sure that this story was about vampires. Or at least, releasing the evil beings from the tomb. It’s a reminder to maybe just let the dead sleep and leave them in peace.

<- ReturnAnother One in from the Cold ->

Image source: Goodreads

Return by Yvonne Navarro

Overview
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Title: Return
Author: Yvonne Navarro
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 13th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: My coach says I’m goo enough for the pros.

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Synopsis

Mara has Returned.

Thoughts

Return deals with death a little bit differently from some of the other stories in the The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women collection. Death in this is treated as a way of finding peace and an ending to some pretty horrible things in the living world. It was seriously tragic, but I liked how death was a nice ending.

I love that throughout this story Mara says absolutely nothing. All of the drama and horribleness unfolds as she just… sits there. The moments that are revealed are spine-tingling and horrifying. And the fact that it all unfolds around a girl who just sits there and watches… it somehow made everything all that much better.

Outside of death and peace, this is all about facing up to the consequences of one’s actions. The fact that the consequences are horrible and twisted… well, it’s a good reminder that every action has consequences.

<- Freeze OutLet Loose ->

Image source: Goodreads

Freeze Out by Nancy Holder

Overview
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Title: Freeze Out
Author: Nancy Holder
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 12th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Cody found himself remembering walking into the Lazy Daisy Flower Shop on the night of the prom to pick up Tiffany’s corsage.

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Synopsis

It’s their mother’s funeral and their father has dementia. But he might not be as clueless as he thought he was…

Thoughts

Freeze Out is filled with very many creepy twists and turns. It was hard to gain a grasp on who the bad guy and the culprit in this story was. And where the ghost aspect of the ghost story would com in. Every time I felt like I had a grasp on the story, something would change and I would be swept down another turn that I just wasn’t expecting.

The “bad guy” in this story really wasn’t who I expected. Rather, towards the end, when everything was revealed, and the darkness lifted from the family… I was kind of surprised and also content to finally turn that final page.

Freeze Out was very well written and a phenomenal short story. However, it was also difficult to read and experience. Difficult in the fact that it gave me the heebie jeebies right the way through. And, although I enjoyed this, it also left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

<- The Third PersonReturn ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Third Person by Lisa Tuttle

Overview
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Title: The Third Person
Author: Lisa Tuttle
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Dates read: 10th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “I have to meet Andrew at Ikea in thirty-five minutes, but that should be plenty of time for a coffee,” Rachel said, with a hug and kiss Imogen was not quick enough to avoid.

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Synopsis

Imogen has always been the third person in her friends’ marriage. Now she’s the third person in an affair, but could things be far more sinister than even she realised?

Thoughts

I’m writing this review the morning after I read this story. And I can tell you, that of all the ghost stories that I’ve been reading recently, this is the one that made it really hard to sleep last night. After all, the final scene is of a knife and someone running in the help that they can defend themselves… it was seriously open-ended and made me stop to think about who has access to my house.

This whole story left a bitter taste in my mouth. From beginning to end. Not only because it features an affair, but all of those other little moments and hints throughout… I can’t imagine being a third person / wheel in someone else’s life, and this just made it all that much more… creepy. There were just way too many stalkerish vibes throughout this story.

All in all, this was seriously creepy and uncomfortable. But it’s also a bit of a reminder of some of the dangers and pitfalls of being a woman. Yup, sometimes it just seriously sucks…

<- Seeing NancyFreeze Out ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Corsage by Lauren Myracle

Overview
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Title: The Corsage
Author: Lauren Myracle
In: Prom Nights from Hell (Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe & Lauren Myracle)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 10th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher:Harper Collins
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: The corsage curled, as if the petals were shrinking in on themselves.

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Synopsis

A girl who is desperate for her forever boy to ask her to prom finds a corsage that will grant three wishes. But what follows creates a prom night from hell.

Thoughts

This was a seriously creepy and tragic prom story. Like goosebumps and looking over your shoulder (which in my case meant looking at a blank wall) type creepy. And yet, it was somehow kind of sweet and most definitely heartbreaking. More the kind of prom that I want to read about than the happy, sappy happily ever after crap. Which we won’t go too much into what that actually says about me…

The Corsage is a prom story about first loves and first heartbreaks. With a pretty major twist – it’s not the kind of heartbreak that you would expect. Or at least, it wasn’t what I would have expected in this collection. I had honestly anticipated a lot more happiness and cheerful endings. I’m so happy that Myracle proved me wrong.

Like a lot of stories that feature wish fulfillment in some way, this story acted as a great reminder that what you wish for may not be what you actually want and need. And sometimes making a wish can be the worst possible thing to do. It leaves this story sitting in my pile of not-so-happily-ever-after stories. And definitely one of my favourite novellas…

<- The Exterminator’s DaughterMadison Avery and the Dim Reaper ->

Image source: Harper Collins

Seeing Nancy by Nina Allan

Overview
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Title: Seeing Nancy
Author: Nina Allan
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Horror
Dates read: 9th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: He solved that particular problem by himself.

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Synopsis

Things have started going down in their marriage, ever since they moved into the new house. And then this crime writer meets a young girl named Nancy and the past comes to the present.

Thoughts

I thought that this was going to be one of those stories that had a happy ending and wasn’t completely deranged and creepy at the end. Right up until that final moment, I even thought that my wish might come true. But I was so very, very wrong and there is a great, strong image imprinted onto my mind at the end of this story.

The entirety of this short story is written in first person, letting the weirdness unfold as you travel alongside the characters in this story. It was very well written and a very enjoyable journey. It just didn’t have a nice feeling at the end of all of the tragedy that was uncovered. And, honestly, there are soooo many unanswered questions, ones that I really don’t want to leave up to my imagination, because that takes me to weird places.

Not only was this story a bit disturbing and difficult to get through. Particularly as Roy’s story unfolded. There was so much more about the story that was tragic. But him being lost somehow was the worst thing…

<- ScairtThe Third Person ->

Image source: Goodreads