Saturday, November 19, 2016

Horror Stories - E. Nesbitt

Sent to me by Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Paperback, Horror, 194pp

Buy/Read Now (links): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads

Rating: 3.5/5

Audience: Readers who are interested in enjoying aged horror stories that focuses more on the human side of the horror experience. Though there is plenty paranormal/supernatural/gore content to go around too!

Summed up in a few words: Influencial. Artistic. Human. Disturbing.

First Impressions: I fell in love with this book just by looking at the cover art. The content inside is just as intriguing and special, with 14 individual horror/ghost stories that show an array of disturbing human experiences. I felt that E. Nesbit focused more on the human mind element of horror, more than violence and supernatural (though there are elements of both involved). E. Nesbit is an acclaimed children's writer, but while she wrote classics like The Railway Children, she wrote adult short stories too (see Author Bio) and I was very impressed with her work. Thank you to Sara at Penguin Books for my review copy.

Author Bio: E. Nesbit was born in Surrey in 1858. A world-famous children's author, her works include The Railway Children and Five Children and It. She also wrote several short stories for adults. With her husband, Hubert Bland, she was one of the founding members of the socialist Fabian Society; their household became a centre of the socialist and literary circles of the times. She died in 1924.

Book Synopsis: Before she became a world-famous author E. Nesbit wrote for adults. She penned a great many ghost and horror stories, of which the very best are gathered here. These tales of terror feature sinister activities on All Hallow's Eve, church hauntings and apparitions from beyond the grave. But they also beautifully portray scenes of idyllic domesticity and love, which dark and horrific elements gradually and even brutally undermine.

My Thoughts: Horror Stories is one of five different books in the Penguin Worlds series published by Penguin Books. These books look spectacular and I have been giving the opportunity to share the artwork here with you during my review so that is why there are several other cover images to the left of this text.

After Naomi Alderman's (Author of The Power) brief introduction to E. Nesbit's work within these pages we get straight into over a dozen of her best pieces of horror fiction. I really enjoyed both EN's approach to the stories and the massive variety of content give to the reader. Due to my modern, over de-sensitised mind, these stories didn't really scare me (though a few were actually close) but these stories are over a century old. I could definitely see the style and influences that Nesbit installed in the genre that are still present in horror fiction today.

EN choose to use a human approach to her stories instead of an overly supernatural/paranormal. A lot of the horror in these stories are created within the people's minds, due to subtle influences or situational cues. As per usual with short stories, there were some I absolutely adored and some that I didn't care for much. I felt that EN was at her best when she was writing stories about the human mind and condition. I felt the ghost stories were fairly basic, with interesting points but overall relatively standard. That said, EN was among the first writers of the 20th Century to continue the horror genre so she a pioneer of modern horror, which adds an extra dimension to these tales.

My favourite was a story about a scientist who is aiming to create the first wave of super-humans. He has created a drug that will enhance all of the 5 senses a thousand-fold, giving people abilities and enhanced capabilities. Of course being a scientist, he must test the drug on himself first. The drug works magnificently, giving him outstanding sensual abilities, but unfortunately due to his body overloading with sensory information, he is left paralysed. The horror element to this piece comes into play when he is found in his lab and presumed dead, so he is buried, still alive, with all of his senses still at 1000x magnification. 

The writing style here is surprisingly modern, even being over 100 years old, Nesbit is definitely an observational author, telling her stories from the outside and letting things develop naturally over the course of the characters story. EN has created some potent and terrifying stories here that would sit well with any horror/ghost story lover. There is such a vast array of different elements of horror included that there is definitely something to scare everyone! From the fear of being buried alive, losing a loved one, black magic, death, mysticism, pain, lost opportunities, ghosts and religion.

Overall, I have given this book 3.5 stars due to the fact that though the stories were impressive, there was a low hit/miss ratio for me and I found myself only really engrossed in a few pieces. That is my personal opinion and won't reflect on your own reading experience. EN has outstanding talent and is well respected across all age groups and any of her work would be a welcome addition to your bookcase.

Thank you for checking out my review of Horror Stories, if you have decided to give it ago then you can buy or add it to your Goodreads list at the top of the page. Please follow Always Trust In Books here on blogger or on Twitter/Facebook for plenty of reviews, interviews, features and giveaways! Lastly I want to share the links to the other 4 pieces in this series:
We Who Are About To... - Joanna Russ
True Names - Vernor Vinge
War for the Oaks - Emma Bull
The World In Winter - John Christopher

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