BOOK REVIEW: THE 10TH FONTANA BOOK OF GREAT HORROR STORIES

 

BOOK: The 10th Fontana Book Of Great Horror Stories

AUTHOR: Edited by Mary Danby

GENRE: Horror Anthologies

ISBN: 0-00-614272-9

FIRST PUBLISHED: 1977

PUBLISHER: Fontana Books

LANGUAGE: English

 

Let’s talk horror. I’m a fan of ghost stories. Tales which make me look around as I read. Just to ensure that I don’t have an unwanted company. I’ve just completed reading one book in the Fontana Book series. The Fontana Books are a series of twenty books; anthologies of ghost stories published from 1972 to 1984. The book I have is the tenth to be published in the series, and my first to read. I know, I should have started with the first. (Sequence.) I couldn’t get book one, (edited by Christine Bernard) so I’ve started with the tenth.

From the first page, I could tell I was in for a treat. The stories are too thrilling.

The second story titled “The Smiling People” is written by Ray BradBury. In the story, Mr. Greppin has found someone he wants to marry, Alice Jane. He loves her so much. His aunt Rose, uncle Dimity and two cousins Lester and Lila are in the house. They are all conversing. Greppin is moving up and down his house. As he moved through the dinning room, something queer happened. He noticed that the people in the room were still. Their hands remained affixed in familiar positions. They neither moved nor made a sound. Minutes later, every sound in the room appeared larger than usual. The door opened in an explosion from his hands and his feet were trying the stairs to the third level of the house. There was another threaded tone. “Keep quiet!” Mr. Greppin shouted. He then burst upwards into the attic and destroyed the vase. He was behaving in an abnormal manner. The music that was in the house stopped and silence ensued. There were silences and silences, each with its own identity. He then started to talk to whispers. There were voices being heard. He told the voices of the woman he would marry, Alice. The whispers went on for a while. Someone then knocked the door as he was going downstairs. It was the cops. They wanted to come in as they were informed that Greppin’s aunt and uncle hadn’t been seen in a fortnight. The police eventually got in the house. When they were in, the bodies of aunt Rose and uncle Dimity fell to the carpet. Eerie stuff. As much as everything sounded bizarre, I would have loved if the story was a bit longer. The author left us in suspense.

The editor, Mary Danby also has a story. The story, written in first person has two parts. In the first part, the narrator, Alastair tells us how he was having dinner with friends in Fulham. They had a few drinks and he later left for home. While driving, he hit someone on the road, a man with an Afro. Though he says he doesn’t remember seeing the man at all, not until after he had hit him. One could tell the man was still alive as he was trying to get up. He then got out of his car, and asked the man he had hit if he was alright. The manΒ  didn’t respond but did something a bit baffling. He held the narrator’s hand, then suddenly flopped back on the road. He was dead. The narrator then left him and went home as there was nothing he could do for the dead man. In the second part, he is again invited for a party where the rich and respectable people attend. There’s a buffet supper, some sort of rice concoction, and then they had to play charades. Alastair is later imposed to make a Frankenstein monster for the game of charades. As he was standing on the monster’s feet, everything went quiet. Quiet like death. His monster, which was made of just clothes, newspaper and a mop for a head started moving. The monster was trying to sit up. The faceless mop head came up like the boy he had hit on the road days before. And then the hand which was stuffed with paper,Β  reached out and grabbed the narrator’s hand. Just like the boy he had hit. The monster then flopped back on to the table. For a moment, everyone was quiet, then someone began to laugh. Alastair laughed too, then everyone burst out laughing. You see, people in the party thought it was Alastair who had pulled some tricks yet he hadn’t done a thing. They didn’t understand what was happening. Alastair didn’t dare tell them of the accident. He then dismantled the wretched monster quickly and left the party in a rush. Alastair went to bed and the following morning, he was thinking about the whole thing. No, he wasn’t hallucinating. He looked at his hand which the man and the monster had touched and knew something had happened. Bewildering, right? Yes, I bet the writer wanted her readers to have that feeling. A frightening story, and mystifying to some extent.

Unusual and freaky stuff. Eccentric. Very strange stories. I can’t imagine if such things happen in real life. Blood curdling tales.

These two are just some of the chilling stories in the book. There are thirteen more. Juicy, scary, spooky and hair raising tales. The other stories featured in the book are:

  • Mummy To The Rescue by Angus Wilson
  • Now Showing At The Roxy by Harry E. Turner
  • The Trapdoor by C. D. Heriot
  • A Low Profile by Charles Lloyd
  • De Mortuis by John Collier
  • A Little Knowledge by Roger Malisson
  • The Brazilian Cat by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • A Sin Of Omission by R. Chetwynd-Hayes
  • The Thing In The Hall by E. F. Benson
  • Acid Test by Margot Arnold
  • Telling The Bees by Elizabeth Walter
  • At The Corner Of The Eye by David Langford
  • The Devil’s Ape by Barnard Stacey

As one completes one story, there’s that craving to get to the next as quickly as possible. There is that desire one has, to find out what creepy or horrific events will be in the next stories, or what misadventure or mishap the character in the story will encounter. It is a wonderful book, if you are a horror enthusiast. The good thing with this book is that it is an anthology, so one doesn’t stick with one character, or story line through out the the book. Very interesting to read as one can choose to read the stories in bits.Β  what relaxes me when I’m reading such stories is the thought that they are fiction. Yes, nothing real! These are just creations by authors. The book? Both a disturbing and exciting read.

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