by Laird Hunt
eARC, 224 pages
Published October 31st 2019 by Pushkin Press
A masquerade ball cut short by a mysterious plague; a strange nocturnal ritual in the woods; a black bobcat howling in the night: these ten tales are some of the most strange and unsettling in all of American literature, filled with unforgettable imagery and simmering with tension. From Edgar Allan Poe to Shirley Jackson, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Zora Neale Hurston, the authors of these classics of supernatural suspense have inspired generations of writers to explore the dark heart of the land of the free.
The stories in this collection have been selected and introduced by Laird Hunt, an author of seven acclaimed novels which explore the shadowy corners of American history.
I received an eARC through Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review.
👻 The preface from the editor is really scary, it gave me chills (especially since I read it at midnight…). I hope it sets the tone for the whole book!
👻 I seem to be missing the memo that this is an anthology of classic ghost stories? I don’t mind since it’s been a while since I read any classics, but I find them usually harder to understand and it might affect my enjoyment 😅
👻 The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe: The first story of this book and started this anthology on such a strong note! This is my first time properly reading this famous story and I really enjoyed it. The description of the multi-colored rooms and the oppressive black room was really vivid and the ending was amazing! It also drew an uncomfortable comparison with current condition, with a pandemic spreading while the rich seems to be unaffected…
👻 Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne: It was really weak compared to Poe’s and one of my least favorite
👻 The Eyes by Edith Wharton: This one is more a psychological thriller and honestly have the potential, but I feel it was too draggy and boring in its build-up. The ending was also a bit unclear, like was he dead??
👻 The Mask by Robert Chambers: A favorite! I didn’t expect to love this story this much but it gives me ~dark academia~ and greek mythology vibes with its statues, romance, and tragedy. I really enjoyed this one.
👻 Home by Shirley Jackson: Also another favorite! The writing was a bit more modern it felt like a relief for me and I love our chatty but brave main character!
👻 A Ghost Story by Mark Twain: I appreciate the humor, but it was too quirky and felt out of place for this collection 😅
👻 Spunk by Zora Neale Hurston: I didn’t expect to enjoy this one at first since it was really hard to understand, but it ended up surprising me! I love how it’s told from the perspective of the outsiders (fellow villagers) and it has one of the strongest ominous feelings compared to the others.
👻 The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Another psychological thriller! While I appreciate the feminist theme, it didn’t really work for me since it made me feel claustrophobic- which I really hate. So it’s more of “it’s not you, it’s me” case.
👻 An Itinerant House by Emma Frances Dawson: I didn’t really understand what’s going on but I got the gist of it and I think it’s really interesting. It also gives me the ~dark academia~ vibes with the dark room and experiment they were doing. I just wish I understand why do they keep coming back to the house- was it the curse or just coincidence?
American Midnight is an interesting and quick read but ultimately not quite for me. It’s mainly my fault for not realizing it’s based on classic story, but this collection is also not as scary as I expected. I think the scariest story is the one told by the author on the foreword- I actually got chills when I read that. Further, the stories I didn’t enjoy (Young Goodman Brown and The Eyes) were just really meh they almost put me on a reading slump.