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Ghosts: Recent Hauntings
edited by Paula Guran
Prime Books, 480 pages

Ghosts: Recent Hauntings
Paula Guran
Paula Guran is senior editor for Prime Books. She edited the Juno fantasy imprint from its small press inception through its incarnation as an imprint of Pocket Books. Guran edits the annual Year's Best Dark Fantasy and Horror series as well as a growing number of other anthologies. In an earlier life she produced weekly email newsletter DarkEcho (winning two Stokers, an IHG award, and a World Fantasy Award nomination), edited Horror Garage (earning another IHG and a second World Fantasy nomination), and has contributed reviews, interviews, and articles to numerous professional publications. She is a literary agent for Anthony Huso and John Shirley.

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A review by Mario Guslandi

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If you think that the ghost story is a literary genre which, after its golden era in the Victorian and Edwardian ages, is gone out of fashion, you're completely wrong and this anthology of modern ghostly tales is here to prove it. Editor Paula Guran has assembled thirty pieces of contemporary fiction (mostly reprints) dealing with spectres, apparitions and spirits visiting today's world, lurking in our cities, haunting our modern houses, disquieting our skeptical, technological minds.

The volume features so many good stories that it's impossible to comment upon each of them and extremely hard to pinpoint the most accomplished. Without offense to the distinguished authors whose stories I won't mention (Margo Lanagan, Barbara Roden, Steve Duffy, Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Hand, Laird Barron, Peter Straub, Joe R Lansdale, etc.) Here are my personal picks.

I will start with Jeffrey Ford's "The Trentino Kid," a masterful example of great fiction where a sea storm and a drowned kid change forever the life of a "clammer" and Sarah Monette's "The Watcher in the Corners," an outstanding mix between a crime story and a ghost tale graced by an extraordinary storytelling ability, to continue with Glen Hirshberg's unforgettable "The Muldoon," a splendid, chilling piece where true horror lies concealed within the human heart.

John Logan contributes "The Third Always Beside You," a fascinating, terrific story about a married couple constantly under the shadow of a powerful mistress. Stephen Gallagher provides "The Box," an offbeat ghost story set in the macho world of flight training schools, and Reggie Oliver pens "Mrs Midnight," a splendid, creepy tale revisiting the mystery of the Ripper murders and portraying an unconventional doctor turned into a music hall entertainer.

"Cell Call" one of Marc Laidlaw's infrequent contributions to the genre is a stunning, superb story about a man getting lost while driving home and whose only contact with the world is his cell phone.

In the perceptive, excellent "Uncle" by Stephen Graham Jones a man haunted by the objects ordered by his wife before her death rediscovers the roots of an uneasy marriage while in the delightful "The Ex" by Steve Rasnic Tem a deceased wife returns, quite changed, to demand her husband.

Another winner is John Shirley's "Faces in Walls," partly a ghost story, partly a gripping horror piece featuring a man apparently paralyzed getting reanimated by his lady friend's spectre.

The volume, in conclusion, is a wonderful compendium of top notch fiction which will delight any ghost story lover.

Copyright © 2013 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.


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