Tag Archives: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women

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.

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

A Silver Music by Gaie Sebold

Overview
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Title: A Silver Music
Author: Gaie Sebold
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, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: The lettering of a human hand, be it hasty scrawl or copperplate or the awkward, childlike printing of the barely literature, connected one to the writer.

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Synopsis

A ghost story that will draw you in and entrance you.

Thoughts

It took me a little while to get into this story and really figure out what was even going on. And even then, it was most certainly not my favourite short story in the whole collection.

I struggled with this. Actually, I thought it might be because I wasn’t really paying attention, but I tried rereading this about three times before I just pushed my way through.

Definitely not my favourite short story, but maybe I’ll have to give it another shot in the future.

<- AfterwardThe Mammoth Book of Golden Age Detective Stories ->

Image source: Goodreads

Afterward by Edith Wharton

Overview
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Title: Afterward
Author: Edith Wharton
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 24th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 1910
5th sentence, 74th page: What was it?

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Synopsis

They wanted to move into a haunted house. But what they didn’t realise is that they wouldn’t realise that they had been haunted until Afterward. Long, long Afterward.

Thoughts

Afterward is all about the power of hindsight. Or at least, that’s what I noticed about this. Every moment is hindsight on the one before and focuses on the ways in which knowing something afterward can be wonderful. But in the moment, in kind of sucks.

This couple face a whole number of issues in their endeavor to live in a haunted house. And honestly… anyone who wants to live in a haunted house is, well, kind of an idiot. Why would you want to live in a haunted house? It seems horrifying and… just not a great idea…

This was a fun and intriguing story. I didn’t get entirely swept away by it, which is why it has a slightly lower rating than other stories, but I definitely had a good time reading it. And as the second to last story in the The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women collection, it has a great sense of winding down from all the horror of the other stories.

<- Among the Shoals ForeverA Silver Music ->

Image source: Goodreads

Among the Shoals Forever by Gail Z. Martin

Overview
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Title: Among the Shoals Forever
Author: Gail Z. Martin
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Ghosts, Pirates, Vampires
Dates read: 23rd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: All the while, I kept my senses keen to magic.

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Synopsis

Set in New Orleans, a trio of pirates work for a vampire who needs them to take down a necromancer.

Thoughts

This was a wonderfully intense and brilliant short story. I couldn’t look away, and it took me a little while to get the ghost story angle. Actually, I probably enjoyed it so much because it didn’t have such a horror aspect to the story. Sometimes its nice to not have horror in every single ghost story.

I love that this story feature Voodoo (or whichever spelling of it is required here), vampires, pirates, and necromancers. This story pretty much had everything in it that I needed for my happiness and literary desire. I loved the mish mash of different paranormal creatures marching across the pages as justice and freedom were fought for.

The happy ending of this story left me feeling very happy and content. It was something that not only rounded out a very brilliant story. But it also gave me hope for the future and just felt comfortable. I would read this again and again. And honestly, I just wish that it was a full-length novel. All of the characters were brilliant and impossible to forget.

<- The Old Nurse’s StoryAfterward ->

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 ->

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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

Front Row Rider by Muriel Gray

Overview
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Title: Front Row Rider
Author: Muriel Gray
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, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 19th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: No need to look.

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Synopsis

She’s seen him everyday since that fateful day on the rollercoaster. But now she wants to confront him.

Thoughts

Well, I didn’t see that twist at the end coming. It was brilliant. And made me smile happily. After all, I like to be surprised at the end of a story, and this one was actually a pleasant surprise.

I was completely expecting this to be a story that featured a grim reaper and a woman who couldn’t die. That most definitely wasn’t the case and I really like the direction that this story went in instead. The flick of perspectives at the very end and the different point of view that this flicking told was very well done.

Instead of being a bit of a terrifying ghost story, Front Row Rider was a much more positive and, well, cute story. I’m not entirely sure why I think that this is so cute, that, again, may say something weird about my psyche. But cute I found it.

<- Forget Us NotGod Grant That She Lye Still ->

Image source: Goodreads

Forget Us Not by Nancy Kilpatrick

Overview
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Title: Forget Us Not
Author: Nancy Kilpatrick
In: The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women (Marie O’Regan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Death, Ghosts
Dates read: 18th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: The back lanes of this city are full of strays and it breaks your heart that they live outdoors in such frigid weather.

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Synopsis

You’ve just lost the man that you love and you’re struggling to move on with life. But, a chance encounter with a cat acts as a great reminder that you may never forget, but you should still live.

Thoughts

At first I found the first person point of view of this story to be a little clunky. Although, that may be partially because I didn’t want to be thrown into the point of view of someone who has lost their husband. That’s a pretty terrifying thought.

I was honestly waiting for a tragedy to occur right throughout this story. It didn’t, actually, ultimately this was kind of uplifting. In the end, rather than being about tragedy, this was a short story that was about what happens after a tragedy.

The end of this story was hopeful. It was a reminder that even after people have left our lives, we still need to live and experience our own happiness and bliss. And it’s also important to stop and mourn the loss of a loved one, or two. No matter how crappy that might feel.

<- My MoiraFront Row Rider ->

Image source: Goodreads

My Moira by Lilith Saintcrow

Overview
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Title: My Moira
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
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, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 17th November 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “He’s temporary.”

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Synopsis

Georgia hasn’t seen her college roommate, Georgia in a long time. But out of the blue, she shows up and gives her a pendant. Then the ghosts start to appear and things start to get… bloody.

Thoughts

I really liked this story. After all, it featured two friends getting revenge on an evil ex-husband. Alright, the friendship is a bit damaged and horrible. But it’s still about a friendship and people who care about one another. I also like that Georgia accepts that the past was not all lovely, but still recognises it as her own. Her own memories and her own desires.

Moira is that friend that I think everyone has at one point in life. The friend that is glamorous and the centre of attention, but isn’t able to stop and think about how her actions actually affect anyone else. That takes advantage of you, but, for some reason you still want in your life. I honestly think that everyone has had that experience. And it’s a difficult one that you don’t know to keep or walk away from. I like that Georgia also felt this way about Moira.

The open-ended, full of possibilities nature of the end of this story was wonderful. It was fun and I really enjoyed reading this. It was definitely the kind of short story that I would enjoy reading again.

<- Another One in from the ColdForget Us Not ->

Image source: Goodreads