Pabkin’s One Liner: A dose of haunting stories to give you sleepless nights.
The spookiest of specters inhabit this spine-tingling anthology—compiled by an acclaimed editor of the horror genre—that collects the most chilling ghost stories from the past 25 years. The human obsession with the mysteries of the afterlife is explored in these supernatural tales of haunted houses, lost souls, unexplained phenomena, and “good” neighbors. Neil Gaiman’s “Closing Time” is a troubling tale recounted by an elderly man on a cold drizzly night in London while Joyce Carol Oates’ “Haunted” is a chilling story of two young girls drawn to abandoned houses and what they find in one. Francis Wardwell is eager to inform readers that everything they think they know about ghosts is wrong in Peter Straub’s “Hunger: An Introduction,” and George R. R. Martin’s “Remembering Melody” stresses the importance of keeping promises—no matter the consequences. Fans of a good ghost story will find this collection the ideal go-to for chills.
Hauntings was such a creepy collection of ghost stories that I found I could read only a few each night to avoid disturbing dreams. Ellen Datlow is a master at collecting stories that complement each other. Most of these seemed to have a theme dealing with children or innocence lost.
Eenie, Meenie, Ipsateenie by Pat Cadigan
Sad and twisted. A young boy always the victim of cruelty from the other children, perpetually scared and trying to run away. Oddly enough, I got the creepy heebie jeebies more from him as an adult than I did from the ghost haunting him as a child. I can imagine that maybe this was one way how a serial killer could develop.
Hunger: A Confession by Dale Bailey
Sometimes we have a love hate relationship with our family members. This little story took that concept and ran with it. I could totally relate and I think anyone who has a sibling would also.
Cargo by E. Michael Lewis
A mission to transport cargo, of the dead body kind. Unfortunately, most of the bodies are those of dead children murdered by their own parents in a mass suicide. While this was sad I wasn’t as connected or creeped out by the atmosphere. I wanted more undefinable something, us know?
Delta Sly Honey by Lucius Shepard
This character sounded like the true voice of a soldier. It made me wonder if the author was a veteran. The setting was a military camp during the Vietnam war. We don’t see any warfare thankfully just the mental warfare that such circumstances and environs inflict upon the mind. But is it just the mind breaking down or are those from the other side really out in force?
Nothing Will Hurt You by David Morrell
This story references one of my favorite movies, Sweeney Todd. Similarly there is a serial killer on the loose, killing young female college students. Cannibalizing them. This is one father’s story of his downward spiral after his daughter is murdered by this maniac. He is so consumed by the promise he made his daughter when she was a child that nothing would hurt her. The twist at the end was exquisite and painful. So far this is my favorite of the stories on this anthology.
The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) by Caitlin R. Kiernan
So haunting I can almost hear the music. Disturbing to read this and get a serial killer’s perspective. I really wonder though…would I be able to keep something like that from a loved one? But then hey – some people keep the ashes of their loved ones in their homes…in jars no less. So would this be any different? *creepy chuckle*
Haunted by Joyce Carol Oates
A disjointed tale of recording ones awful memories. I had a hard time caring or even wanting to follow along.
The Have-Nots by Elizabeth Hand
I hate the idea of someone’s baby being taken away. But worse yet I found the narrator and the style the story delivered in particularly annoying. It made it hard to enjoy.
Closing Time by Neil Gaiman
Surprisingly I didn’t love this one. There just want anything memorable about it as I’ve come to expect from Neil Gaiman. Just a simple story, folks getting together telling stories and reminiscing about the past.
Anna by F. Paul Wilson
You don’t know what you are in for with this one. It starts off sad and then eases you into the strange, then kicks you in the face with anger, and ends with the just desserts!
Mr. Fiddlehead by Jonathan Carroll
A story of best friends, imaginary friends, and new love you would do anything to keep. What would you do to keep your Love? It’s left open ended for your own chilling thoughts.
The Fooly by Terry Dowling
A chilling encounter one night with a ghost and a completely unexpected twist ending!
The Toll by Paul Walther
A young lifeguard and Someone’s endless summer…it was a good read but a tad too predictable.
The Pennine Tower Restaurant by Simon Kurt Unsworth
Is it true? I really didn’t know what to believe by the end of this one, other than: I didn’t want to think about it anymore!
Distress Call by Connie Willis
The strangest mix between a murder mystery being told with odd comparisons to the Titanic tragedy. Wicked interesting.
The Horn by Stephen Gallagher
Have you ever wanted to smack someone got being a smart ass, criminals pffft! Haha? But enough of that, this story was awesome. It brings the fear of being stuck in a blizzard to a whole brew level of scary.
Everybody Goes by Michael Marshall Smith
Written in the voice of a child, he sounded just like one of my 10 year old nephews. It wasn’t creepy at all but actually pleasant and nostalgic and most certainly enjoyable.
Transfigured Night by Richard Bowes
Completely wackadoo! This short has definitely been the darkest and most disturbing out of the anthology. It touches on things that none of the others did in quite the same way. Nature or nurture and destroyed innocence? It is visceral and I can’t help wondering now about what else this author writes and whether I would be able to handle it.
Hula Ville by James P. Blaylock
I don’t believe this particular story belongs in Hauntings. I didn’t get the impression that it was about ghosts at all and it wasn’t particularly dark. Being dark isn’t a retirement of course as not all of them have been, but I was expecting some sort of specter which I didn’t feel was delivered.
The Bedroom Light by Jeffrey Ford
The only thing that comes to mind after reading this short is: “A day in the lives of tenants of a creepy house.” I picture it as one of those big old places that were converted into tenements. The only thing I’d note is the evil little girl that lives there and some of the off happenings that the couple in bed are discussing. And woooo some flickering on and off light. Just not much to this one.
Spectral Evidence by Gemma Files
Evidence of spooks or research evidence. It’s strange and I had to go back and re-read a few bits again. I think it would have been so much more excellent with the actual photos that were being described.
Two Houses by Kelly Link
Three passengers waking up from a slumber while traveling through space. I absolutely loved this because of the concept and the ship’s ability to change but I felt there was just something lacking in delivery. I did really enjoy one character by name of Aune and her quip, “I don’t know any ghost stories. I know stories about trolls.” It sounds like something I would say!
Where Angels Come In by Adam L.G. Nevill
Some places are off limits, and got good reason. Some things aren’t spoken of because even thinking of them can cool you to the bone. But children are curious, and satisfying that curiosity can sometimes come at a high price. Stay away from the house on the hill kids.
Hunger, An Introduction by Peter Straub
Oh I couldn’t help it! I wanted to like this final story more than I did, it was a fitting end but I just couldn’t help being annoyed with the stuffy narrator and that know it all better than thou attitude! I think it could have been considerably shorter.
Overall this is an excellent collection of ghost stories to chill and definitely not delight you. But that’s the point nite isn’t it? To make you uncomfortable, which these stories definitely do very well! I recommend it for lovers of ghost stories.