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“Ghosts: Recent Hauntings” by Paula Guran (editor)

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Paula Guran has edited a number of anthologies, including the Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror series. Ghosts: Recent Hauntings is exactly what it says on the tin—an anthology of ghost stories written in the decade or so before its publication in 2012. As such, it makes perfect reading for the Halloween season.

One of the great things about this collection is that it doesn’t limit itself to the traditional idea of spooks. Don’t get me wrong; some of the best stories here, such as Neil Gaiman’s “October in the Chair” and Jeffrey Ford’s “The Trentino Kid,” are classic ghost tales. But we’re also given pieces like Melanie Tem’s “Dhost,” in which the ghost is metaphorical, formed from a child’s memories and a father’s longing. And in John Langan’s “The Third Always Beside You,” the true ghost that eventually shows up is far less important than the haunting presence of a living but absent person.

Another strength of Ghosts is the sheer originality of some of the stories. The places/people/things that are haunted go far beyond the standard ancient houses and graveyards. In Stephen Gallagher’s “The Box,” eerie events occur in the cabin of a decommissioned helicopter that’s being used to train pilots and military personnel. All the major characters in “The Trentino Kid” are clam fishermen. And in Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “The Score,” which merges the ghost story with an alternate history tale, an activist who died under suspicious circumstances continues to appear at anti-war protests around the country. This variety of scenery and subject matter ensures that Ghosts will be engaging to even a veteran reader of creepy stories. If you’re looking for something to read while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to show up, this anthology is a great choice.

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