Review and Giveaway: The Folio Book of Ghost Stories

Congratulations to the winners of the Witch Week giveaway, Nicole (Bitter Greens) and Fadi (The Bloody Chamber)! I know you will love these wonderful books and am so grateful to the publishers for making it possible to send them to you.

Illustration from The Folio Book of Ghost Stories © David McConochie 2015

And I’m even more grateful that The Folio Society is making it possible for me to offer another giveaway of one of their gorgeous editions, this time open internationally. The Folio Book of Ghost Stories is a very appropriate choice for this time of year; as the light wanes and the night deepens, it’s a traditional time to tell stories of ghosts and supernatural visitations. Folio has gathered nineteen classic and contemporary stories and added atmopsheric illustrations by David McConochie, creating a collection that will delight any aficionado of creepy fiction, as well as lovers of beautiful design and typography.

Seldom do we get to see a book that is so meticulously designed in accord with its contents. From the haunting image on the cover, to the subtly off-kilter type on the spine, to the iridescent green endpapers, to the faint smudges on the binding, it shows us what to expect within: stories about what lies the edge of our perception, discomforting and sometimes terrifying.

I especially love the font choices — a vertically elongated display font with calligraphic touches that manages to give a faint sense of unease, and a classic yet slightly spiky serif font for text, which adds an undercurrent of menace. Setting the author names in small caps is also effective, just as a whisper can be louder than a shout.

Illustration from The Folio Book of Ghost Stories © David McConochie 2015

The actual contents of the stories are no less stellar. Great writers including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Bowen, Vladimir Nabokov, and A.S. Byatt are represented, along with lesser known masters of the genre. The stories are arranged mostly in chronological order, and if read straight through show a development from artfully rendered yet fairly straightforward thrills in the Victorian tales, to greater psychological complexity in the modern stories.

Or you can just skip around and pick and choose your favorites. Mine would include the classic “Be careful what you wish for” tale “The Monkey’s Paw,” Edith Wharton’s slow-burning suspense story of a country house with a mysterious guardian, “Mr. Jones,” and Shirley Jackson’s relentlessly disorienting account of another house and its residents in “A Visit.”

The mixed-media illustrations, which come from the winner of an annual competition sponsored by The Folio Society and The House of Illustration, give us glimpses of things half-seen, beautiful landscapes that contain a twist of something not quite right, monsters that can’t be fully grasped with the senses. And as if all this weren’t enough, a brief but insightful introduction by journalist and historian Kathryn Hughes helps to orient us within the literary tradition.

I do hope I’ve enticed you to want this book in your hands, with all its deliciously spooky pleasures. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below…if you dare.

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36 thoughts on “Review and Giveaway: The Folio Book of Ghost Stories

  1. My favourite spooky book is Dracula by Bram Stoker! I also love Neil Gaiman’s books. Very odd and meandering and spooky. And more recently, I liked the Quick by Lauren Owen.
    Thank you so much for the giveaway! I really love the folio society editions *heart eyes*


  2. My favorite scary and intriguing horror stories are ones by Edgar Alan Poe. His stories reflect the aspect extremely well and are unforgettable.


  3. When I was younger, in junior/senior high school, Steven King was the master of the macabre. ‘Salem’s Lot in particular gave me serious shivers. As I got older, I grew to appreciate writers such as Lovecraft, Stoker, Blackwood, M. R. James, and others. While a dose of Lovecraft’s cosmic horror can still be a (dark) blast, nothing beats such ghostly gems as “The Willows,” “Oh Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,” and other classic stories of the genre. Thanks for the giveaway, by the way!


  4. I have the Charles Stewart 1997 FS Ghost stories which is beautifully illustrated, but I think these are more appealing to me. I would love to add this to my shelf.


  5. Folio Society makes some wonderful books, so I’m not surprised this looks so good! I really enjoy a good spooky short story too – I so rarely read short stories, but scary ones are the exception. I think my fave spooky author is Edgar Allan Poe. I love Gothic scary the most. 🙂 Thank you for hosting this giveaway!


    1. Goosebumps books were so popular when I was teaching elementary school but I confess I never read one. I should just to try to figure out what is so appealing to children.


  6. This sounds like a beautiful book! I’ve really started to appreciate books as objects in recent years and while I don’t collect first editions or anything, I do like to own book versions with a gorgeous cover 🙂


    1. While I love the convenience of e-books, to me there’s nothing like a really beautiful physical book. It makes me happy just to look at them — I can’t feel quite the same about my Kobo.


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