Ghosts: Recent Hauntings is one of the better horror collections I’ve read in the past few years. The stories are, true to the title, all relatively recent in terms of previous publication, and while editor Paula Guran confesses to fudging a bit sometimes on ghosts being the subject matter, the exceptions are still consistently good stories. There’s even some local flavor in “The Castle”, set in a hotel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The stories cover a broad range of styles and tone, from traditional tales of hauntings, like the 9/11-themed opener “There’s a Hole in the City” to the Twilight Zone-style twists of “Faces in Walls”, in which revenge is maybe not so sweet after all. Laird Barron is featured here and given that the protagonist of his “The Lagerstätte” is female, the tale of ghostly beasts is not dripping with testosterone and overripe metaphors as usual. Here the metaphors are only just slightly past ripe, and the story is tight and involving.
The worst of the bunch aren’t worth singling out because I found none of the stories to be poor or even mediocre, something I have found pretty rare when reading a set of stories from a variety of authors. Paula Guran has chosen skillfully here and struck a terrific overall balance. If you’re set on a particular type of ghost story you may find the sheer variety less satisfying but if you’re ready to meet insane djinns, soldiers that hanker for closure or perhaps something more sinister long after being felled in battle, ghosts that are in turn friendly, vicious, mystifying and sometimes maybe not ghosts but something far worst, then Ghosts: Recent Hauntings will leave you pleasingly spooked.