Collected Ghost Stories by M. R. James

I did not finish Collected Ghost Stories, I made it four stories in (just shy of 50 pages). 

I love the cadence of writing from the late 19th and early 20th century, but that's the only thing I liked about this, and that wasn't enough for me to keep going. Contemporary racist and ableist ideas about what is scary played a part a couple of the stories I read (e.g.: casually invoking “gipsies” as being blamed for a child’s disappearance but not actually responsible for it; describing an apparition as dark, sub-human, and low-intelligence based on appearance alone, etc.). 

I was disappointed by the endings of the first several stories, they end with the mystery being explained, usually by a narrator, then that’s it. No resolution, nothing. Just the explanation of the event and it ends. My understanding is that the later stories get a bit better, but for me it wasn't worth pushing through. If you want to know what a late-19th/early-20th century white professor wrote as ghost stories, then it's fine for that, but I wouldn't pick this up if I want to read something scary. A couple of the concepts are really cool (a tree full of giant spiders that grows where a woman burned as a witch was buried is a neat story idea), but the actual stories weren't very engaging (even when they weren't actively racist).

CW for sexism, racism, ableism, xenophobia, child death, cannibalism (first four stories).

Clear Your Shit Readathon 2020 prompt: Scary book

A stone angel with partially open wings, viewed from a low angle.


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