A solid collection of 17 original ghost stories, most by veteran horror writers. Olson (ed., Horrorstruck magazine) and Silva (Child of Darkness, 1986; Come Thirteen, 1988—both paperback originals)have rounded up a sterling, but not superstar, gallery of authors here. No new King, Straub, or Strieber tale graces these pages, although Dean Koontz does offer a slight afterword touting the ghost story as a useful tool for coping with death, and Ramsey Campbell delivers the anthology's standout tale in "The Guide," a fearful, masterful homage to M.R. James. Of the 16 other authors, the biggest names belong to paperback maven Robert R. McCammon—who, in "Haunted World," comes up with a nifty idea (the ghosts of everybody who's ever lived begin to stalk the earth) but leaves it hanging—and Charles L. Grant, responsible for some soggy sentiment entitled "The Last Cowboy Song." The remaining 14 tales mn the gamut from the obvious—Gary Brandner's schlocky "Mark of the Loser"; Thomas F. Monteleone's "The Ring of Truth" (victims of American-sponsored war atrocities return to haunt their mutilator); "Eyes of the Swordmaker," Gordon Linzer's predictable vengeance-tale set in samurai Japan—to more subtle or unusual horrors: "Blanca," Thomas Tessier's feverish story of banana-republic ghosts; Janet Fox's Clive Barker-ish "The Servitor"; Charles de Lint's resonant "Timeskip"; and "Brothers," editor Silva's affecting tale of a haunted twin. Kathryn Ptacek, Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, James Howard Kunstler, P.W. Sinclair, Donald R. Burleson, William F. Nolan, Melissa Mia Hall, and David B. Silva are the other, mostly accomplished, contributors. No one haunts new ground here, but with the ghost story only now making a slow comeback after years of disfavor (probably due to its traditional lack of gore—in short supply here, too), this anthology is as welcome as it is entertaining.
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