Book Reviews

{Review} THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume Two, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

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{Review} THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES:  Volume Two, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan CagleTHE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume Two Series: Volume Two
Published by Valancourt Books on October 2, 2017
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Gothic, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Victorian
Pages: 292
Format: eBook
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Valancourt Books has earned a reputation as one of the foremost publishers of lost and rediscovered classics, reissuing more than 400 unjustly neglected works from the late 18th century all the way to the early 21st. In this second volume of rare horror stories, the editors of Valancourt Books have selected fourteen tales – all by Valancourt authors – for this new collection spanning two centuries of horror. This volume features a previously unpublished ghost story by Nevil Shute, a brand-new tale by award-winning author Stephen Gregory, and twelve other tales that have never or seldom been reprinted.

In this volume, you will encounter tales of ghosts, haunted houses, witchcraft, possession, demonic pacts, and ancient, nameless horrors. Stories of the weird and macabre, of a man tormented by an age-old evil, a corpse returned from the dead, a brutal killer with a shocking secret, a contraption with the power to trap its victims eternally inside a nightmare. With stories ranging from frightening to horrific to weird to darkly humorous, by a lineup of authors that includes both masters of horror fiction and award-winning literary greats, this is a horror anthology like no other.

Features stories by: Mary Elizabeth Braddon • John Buchan • R. Chetwynd-Hayes • Isabel Colegate • Basil Copper • Thomas De Quincey • Stephen Gregory • Michael McDowell • John Metcalfe • Beverley Nichols • Nevil Shute • Bernard Taylor • Russell Thorndike • Robert Westall

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: Volume Two, edited by James D. Jenkins and Ryan Cagle, is their second themed horror anthology–just in time for the Halloween season! The fourteen tales collected here include stories spanning nearly 200 years.

One of the many things that make this Valancourt collection stand out is the fact that the tales chosen for inclusion are NOT the most “popular” stories we’ve likely seen reprinted in various anthologies. The editors go out of their way to select some of the most obscure and rare short fiction–many of these were penned by authors not commonly known for writing horror tales. There is no “common theme” linking everything together.

In this anthology you’ll find Gothic-style horror (John Buchan’s “The Watchers By the Threshold”), dark, satirical humor (R. Chetwynd-Hayes’ “The Elemental”), modern horror (Bernard Taylor’s “Samhain”), and even a quiet ghost story or two (Stephen Gregory’s “The Boys Who Wouldn’t Wake up”). I honestly feel that no matter what “style” of horror you typically enjoy, there will be something among these well-written, rarely seen stories that appeals to you.

Some of the ones that stood out strongly to myself were:

–Michael McDowell’s “Halley’s Passing”: This one caught me completely by surprise!

–Mary Elizabeth Bradden’s “Herself”: A Gothic horror story written in 1894, this one’s focus on the brooding atmosphere of what should have been an idyllic island retreat is inescapable. “People are not happy there. No, they are not happy and sometimes they fade and die.”

–Beverly Nichols’ “The Bell”: The passing of a servant leaves his master in such a state that we wonder which role really belonged to each . . .

–Basil Copper’s “Camera Obscura”: A nasty little story that was full of unstated terrors. “. . . that he was the object of universal hatred in the outside world, bothered him not in the slightest . . . “

–Nevil Shute’s “Tudor Windows”: This was an eerie tale that kept me thinking about it long afterwards. “Everybody thinks well of it, . . . But it isn’t everybody’s house to live in.”

–Stephen Gregory’s “The Boys Who Wouldn’t Wake Up”: A haunting tale that takes place in a boys’ boarding school at Christmastime.

Overall, I was delighted to see new stories from some favorite authors of mine, as well as discovering some all new authors, who I would like to read more from in the near future. I was extremely impressed with Valancourt’s first collection of horror stories, and I am equally impressed by the selection in their second Volume. This is a book that I’ll be re-reading for certain.

Highly recommended!


I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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