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Book review: The Spook House 
30th-Oct-2010 02:15 pm
Sutherlavatar
For once I've actually been seasonal with my reading, with a couple of spooky books for Halloween. After the latest adventures of the Bride of Frankenstein, this week it's been another of the free Times "chillers" from last Halloween, Ambrose Bierce's short ghost story collection The Spook House. For the most part they're very, very short stories, often just a couple of pages, many of them done in the style of newspaper articles. I found this didn't really help establish a spooky mood, and often meant crucial information didn't appear until after the "scary" twist. [e.g. "'Oh my God, it's Helen!' (P.S. Helen was dead.)"] The stories about mysterious disappearances are even worse, being so short that they amount to "There was this man. He disappeared." Bierce's experiences in the American Civil War provide stronger inspiration, and a story about a lost child caught up among apparitions of horrifically wounded soldiers is the only genuinely disturbing one. Other than that, probably more deserving of the "classic" tag for their influence on subsequent supernatural fiction, rather than as stories in their own right, because time hasn't been kind to their effectiveness as chillers.
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