Each year the Halloween season seems to engender new found interest in both popular and lesser known spooky stories. Those of us raised on classic ghost tales likely are familiar with the work of M.R. James, but younger generations may not have had the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of his iconic stories. His work has influenced writers of horror, from H. P. Lovecraft to Steven King.
“The stereotypical Jamesian ghost stry involves a scholar or gentleman in a European village who, through his own curiosity, greed, or simple bad luck, has a horrifying supernatural encounter. For example, in “ ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad,’ ” a professor finds himself haunted by a mysterious figure after blowing a whistle found in the ruins of a Templar church, and in “Count Magnus,” a writer’s interest in a mysterious and cruel figure leads to horrific consequences. Other stories have the scholar as an antagonist, like “Lost Hearts” and “Casting the Runes,” where study of supernatural rites gives way to practice. James’ stories find their horror in their atmosphere and mood, and strike a balance in their supernatural elements, being neither overly descriptive nor overly vague.”
Now it’s possible to sample all of James’ ghost stories in a single volume for free at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts.
This collection includes all the stories from his collections Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, More Ghost Stories, A Thin Ghost and Others, and A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories.