Review: 20th Century Ghosts

20th Century Ghosts
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Took the average of the stars per story and came up to 3.5, but I liked a lot of these stories WAY more than that, so I round up to 4 stars.

Joe Hill. Owen King’s brother, Stephen King’s son…expectations were pretty high for this. I’m so glad to say it didn’t disappoint, very well written and I enjoyed this book. Most of this book.

Best New Horror – 4 stars. Eddie Carroll runs a magazine called America’s Best New Horror. He is searching for the author for the most disturbing story he’s ever read. It goes from awful horrid tale to horror movie in a blink.

20th Century Ghost – 5 stars. The Rosebud Theatre is a place of history. A girl died there during a showing of The Wizard of Oz. She shows herself to a select few, but Alec Sheldon takes a special interest in her. This story was so sweet, so great…the ending was fantastic! It’s my favorite story of this book.

Pop Art – 5 stars. The story of a boy and his best inflatable friend. Yeah, his friend is a balloon boy. This tale was so imaginative and creative and utterly heartfelt. Beautiful. My other favorite of this book.

You Will Hear the Locust Sing – 3 stars. A boy wakes up one morning to discover he’s a giant insect. The stories of the 1950s black and white type movies (think The Blob, The Fly…etc.). If I hadn’t felt like I had seen it during a monster marathon, I may have liked it more. It wasn’t bad for me, just sort of done.

Abraham’s Boys – 3 stars. Ah, yes. Van Helsing and his sons. In America. Teaching at Vassar and trying to school his boys in the ways of a vampire hunter. It was an okay story. The timeline felt like the beginning of America, then it switched and felt new…and the ending…IDK.

Better Than Home – 3 stars. A boy with mental issues (?) and his father who manages a baseball team. I’m not really sure there was a point to this story. It began, it just ended, and I’m feeling like I watched a commercial and have no idea what was being sold.

The Black Phone – 4 stars. A boy is kidnapped by a serial killer who loves boys. He’s dropped in the basement and this is what he does while down there. The story was difficult to take. I was about to fully abandon this book (see Ghost World), but the ending turned it all around for me. Whew, that was close.

The Rundown – 4 stars. A guy who isn’t the brightest is trying to make it on his own in a world that seems to be fighting him at ever turn. On his way home from a defunct job, he happens upon a murder. I will say this book did not end the way I hoped…and where the story was headed when it ended…I’m left with a ball of anger and hope for the MC.

The Cape – 4 stars. Eric discovers he can fly at the age of seven. But only that one time…until a repeat event occurs much later in his damaged life. Turns out it’s his cape that helps him accomplish this feat. This story took me on a journey and dropped me off on an entirely different planet. I didn’t see that ending coming at all!

Last Breath – 4 stars. Welcome to the Museum of Silence. A place where you can partake in a collection of people’s last breaths. It’s magical, unique…and sort of weird. Enjoyable.

Dead-wood – 2 stars. Another commercial type story (and so very short at 2.5 pages) about ghosts contained in the trees. Meh. Would be great if this were expanded upon.

The Widow’s Breakfast – 2 stars. A hobo disembarks a train in the middle of the forest and happens upon a house belonging to a widow and her daughters. This story felt like one of those long jokes that needs to be ended with a rim shot.

Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead – 2 stars. Struggling actor, Bobby Conroy, goes back to Pennsylvania after striking out in New York. He gets a job on George Ramero’s new Dead movie where he runs into an old flame… and much like a few of these, it just ends and you feel like it was almost to a point, but then…

My Father’s Mask – 3.5 stars. A boy and his irresponsible parents flee for the family cabin in the woods, where, if you aren’t careful, the card people will find you. This was something like a horror film but with an odd feel to it. Like nothing was going to be settled, but it was somewhat cleared up…I’m still sitting here confused as to what I want to believe from this and what I’m not sure really happened.

Voluntary Committal – 4.5 stars. Nolan is the older sibling in this family. His younger brother, Morris, has a condition…something similar to autism where he disconnects from the world as a whole and keeps himself busy by building…starting with cups, progressing to legos, and eventually into boxes. The coming of age story is told through Nolan’s POV. There’s moments of disturbing things, moments of wonder…it’s one of those stories that touches you, but leaves you with so many questions. My third favorite in this book.

Overall, I enjoyed reading. Though some of the stories weren’t for me, the ones that were will stick with me for a long time to come.

*A SHORTY FEBRUARY READ* – Found some life long favorites here.

View all my reviews

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