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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Deb Atwood's 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die is a non-fiction collection of literary reviews. Atwood loves ghost stories, and she's introduced 31 of her favorites in this book. Her selections are separated by category, including Historical, Horror, Literary, Romance and Young Adult, and she provides information on the publisher, page count, and format before she begins the review. Each review contains a synopsis entitled, "What it's about" and Atwood's take on the story entitled, "What I thought." Her synopses introduce the setting, main characters, and the plot while carefully avoided spoilers and too much information. The "What I thought" sections include the author's initial and final impressions of the work, as well as her perception of the work's place in the ghost story genre.
To say I was intrigued when I saw the title of Deb Atwood's collection is most definitely an understatement. I've always loved ghost stories and am constantly on the prowl for more good offerings. I appreciated Atwood's categorization scheme, and loved how she set up each of her reviews. As a fellow ghost story aficionado, I was not surprised to see some of my favorite books and authors gracing the pages of 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die, but I was quite impressed by the breadth of her research and reading material and the quality of her selections. Readers will find selections by Ursula Le Guin, Charles Todd, and Henry James. They'll also discover British horror author James Herbert, classic author Richard Matheson, and Shirley Jackson.
Atwood's comments and criticisms are intelligent and well-reasoned, and I particularly appreciated her pointing out the literary influences in the authors that she was discussing. Atwood's 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die is not only filled with recommendations for some righteously spooky ghost literature, it also features some fine work by a reviewer who has obviously made a study of this genre. It's most highly recommended.