A collection of 17 classic tales of the macabre and supernatural by some of the best known writers in these genres.
E. Nesbit - "Man-Size in Marble" and "The Letter in Brown Ink" Edgar Allan Poe - "The Sphinx" and "The Angel of the Odd" Arthur Conan Doyle - "The Case of Lady Sannox" and "Playing with Fire" Henry Seton Merriman - "The Tale of a Scorpion" M. R. James - "The Ash Tree" Robert Louis Stevenson - "The Body-Snatcher" and "Markheim" Mary Elizabeth Braddon - "The Cold Embrace" Wilkie Collins - "The Dead Hand" Saki - "Sredni Vashtar" and "The Music on the Hill" Hugh Walpole - "The Snow" Washington Irving - "The Pride of the Village" E. F. Benson - "The Cat"
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The last thing I need is another collection of short stories, but when I heard Roy Macready's voice, I couldn't resist him. He is a wonderful narrator and while some of the stories leave something to be desired, his performance does not.
I'd read most of these before, but some were new, such as "The Tale of a Scorpion." (The scorpion in question is not the stinging kind, nor a member of the intriguing eighth sign of the zodiac, but a reviled Englishman of Gibraltar).
Some of my old favorites are here. "The Angel of the Odd" shows Poe's humor at its twisted best. An impish figure bearing quantities of Kirschwasser convinces the author that events unimaginable and improbable not only occur, but are watched over by a genius of their own. And in "The Sphynx," we learn that entomology and horror are but matters of perspective.
"The Music on the Hill," while breathtakingly brief, shows Saki's talents to great effect, combining as it does social satire, the supernatural, and a pervading sense of unease.
E.F. Benson's "The Cat," is a good one, too. An artist of mediocre talents suddenly shows brilliance after he is thrown over by the woman he loves, a femme fatale of feline qualities. (I picture Sarah Alexander in this role). But getting over her turns out to be a bit more difficult than he imagined.
For me, Braddon and Nesbitt write with a bit too much treacle and melodrama, and have not really stood the test of time. I prefer Collins and RLS as novelists, not short story writers. On the other hand, Poe, Conan Doyle, James, and Saki are always superb. At their weakest, they are still wonderful.
But that's just my opinion. See what you think.
(Mr. Macready, please bring us all the Benson ghost stories and a full collection of Poe's humorous tales!)