Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler is at it again with The Big Book of Ghost Stories, a spirited anthology with over a thousand pages full of chilling tales. It seems that few authors have been able to resist the call of the ghost story—the book includes stories from a diverse roster that includes O. Henry, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, M. L. Humphreys, and Joyce Carol Oates.
Accompanying the book’s phantoms and poltergeists are vintage magazine illustrations that are sure to keep you up way, way past your bedtime. We’ve collected a few of our favorites below.
“Without saying a word; without any change in the stony stillness of her face; without any noise following her footfall, she came closer and closer; stopped at the bed-head; and lifted the knife to stab me.”
— “The Dream Woman” by Wilkie Collins
“Ahead of them the light of the locomotive swung around and bore down on them; it was the ghost train, rushing at them with the speed of light, it seemed, with a kind of demoniac violence wholly in keeping with the shattering end to which it was destined to come.”
— “Pacific 421″ by August Derleth
“I may as well add to this, since it explains several matters, though in itself sounding somewhat odd, that actually I am dead.”
— “The Fireplace” by Henry S. Whitehead
“At this very moment you are standing in an empty room. Those windows are broken. The wallpaper has peeled away, and half the plaster has fallen off the walls. There is really no light in the house. If things appeared to you as they really are you could not see your hand in front of your face.”
— “The Considerate Hosts” By Thorp McClusky
“People sense him rather than see him. He usually crops up when I’m alone or in a crowd on the street. He never approaches me when I’m with people I know…. To be frank, I’m not anxious to introduce him.”
— “Consequences” by Willa Cather
“Suddenly the skeleton extended its long bony hand and took the violin from the wall, placed it in position against its shoulder, and began to play.”
— “The Murderer’s Violin” by Erckmann-Chatrian
Ready for more? Take a look at the table of contents for the full roster of shades and specters.