The best pieces in this collection of eerie tales, and there are many, recall the peak ghost story output of M. R. James: elegantly composed, attuned to the darkness lurking within provincial towns and antique objects, and haunted by sudden supernatural visions. Yet without explicitly conforming to the style of horror, his work is somehow darker than so much else, obviously shaped by the attitudes of the times when its author lived. (Ghelderode originally published this in Belgium in the very midst of World War II.) Even so, there’s so much humor to spare -- see “Rhotomago”, where a demon gets loosed from a bottle and is unceremoniously forced back in.
If there is such a thing as meta-horror, Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts must be it. This novel pays an homage to horror, dissects its tropes, and has the best unreliable narrator since Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Far from being a straightforward possession story, Tremblay’s novel is a smart psychological horror with layers upon layers of uncertainty and unease.