Once again I read this for the Halloween bingo and also since this is on my Horror 2016 list (one of the top 20 must read horror books). I honestly never heard of "20th Century Ghosts" before, and though I did love some of the stories, some of them fell flat with me. Heck, I think I would have probably swapped this book out for something else because I still see a lot of flaws with some of the stories. But then again, I am the person that was bored reading "Ghost Story" and hated "Little Star" so maybe don't trust my opinion on good horror books.
Joe Hill I always thought had a length problem, but he shows in this collection he can turn a good short story. Heck, I would like more of these collections, or have him do some novellas at least, because when he is hampered in by shortness he can actually do some quite impressive things.
"Best New Horror" (5 stars)-One of my favorites in this anthology. I loved the idea of a horror editor finding a new horror story that he thinks is just the thing, and realizing that maybe sometimes those stories he calls predictable and boring, could still have an element of truth about it. Plus the way Hill ended this story had me going, oh what? You did not just end on that? Dang it! This was definitely whetting my appetite for the rest of the stories.
"20th Century Ghost" (5 stars)- Wonderful. A sad and moving ghost story (not scary at all) and ultimately it brought back my first memory of seeing Fantasia too and also being overwhelmed by the music and story I saw played out in front of me. I also liked the idea of a ghost haunting a movie theater and just wanting to watch movies over and over again.
"Pop Art" (3 stars)- This one was weird. I don't know if the character of Art was supposed to be metaphor for something or not. I actually was left feeling very confused about the whole thing. I think there was a lot of disbelief going on that didn't gibe with me at all.
"You Will Hear the Locust Sing" (2 stars)- This one was not a good story to me at all. I found myself bored and then just rushing through to finish it. Trying to link this back to the Bible (yeah of course it's Biblical) I decided to just complete it as fast as possible to get to the next story.
"Abraham's Boys" (4 stars)-I do not want to talk too much about this story. I loved the reveal and I loved the ending. Enough said.
"Better than Home" (5 stars)-This one felt a bit out of place in this collection though I loved it. Not really a horror story. Just a lovely story about a man, his son, baseball, and how much they got each other. I also hated the mother, but that's neither here or there.
"The Black Phone" (5 stars)-Once again a great story and we find a boy that has been kidnapped, and how with a little help he may be able to turn the tables on his abductor.
"In the Rundown" (3.5 stars)-Okay story, but once again after "The Black Phone" it was just a let down. Not terrible, just not that interesting to read. I liked the ending though.
"The Cape" (3 stars)- So I didn't get this story and just chalked it up to one character being a psychopath. I don't like unexplained things, so the book left a lot unexplained, with an ending that showed that things were going to go from bad to worse for one character.
"Last Breath" (2 stars)-A really short story and honestly didn't do a lot for me. I swear I have read a variation of this same plot repeatedly in short story collections since I was a kid.
"Dead-Wood" (2.5 stars)-Meh. Seriously. That's all I got.
"The Widow's Breakfast" (2.5 stars)-Double meh. I felt like things were petering out towards the end and was hoping some of the other stories would get things back on track.
"Bobby Conroy Comes Back From the Dead" (1 star)- Nope. Not even a little bit. I think this was supposed to be a homage to George Romero but I kept reading this book and rolling my eyes and I just started to skim because I just wanted to get this one over with as fast as possible.
"My Father's Mask" (2 stars)-What the heck. I still don't get what the heck was going on, what the parents were up to, what this whole thing between the mother and son meant. I was seriously ticked at the ending.
"Voluntary Committal" (5 stars)-This whole thing reads like a King story and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. And I have been wracking my brain all day about why this feels so familiar to me. I will eventually recall I am sure.
There was another story in Acknowledgements which was tongue in cheek about how these stories came to be.