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Thursday, October 29, 2015

“Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror”, compiled by Stefan Dziemianowicz

704 pages, Sterling, ISBN-13: 978-143515721

Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror is pretty much a 700-page reprint of classic (and not-so-classic) horror novels, of which 1/5 is taken up by Frankenstein, which is easily found elsewhere (although as it is the original 1818 text, which was considered more shocking before Mary Shelley toned down its gruesomeness for the better-known 1831 edition, this may be seen by many as a more) and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a genuine penny dreadful that has served as the foundation for all accounts of Sweeney Todd written since. Additionally, works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Wilkie Collins, and other well-known writers are to be found within, along with several sensationalized retellings of famous folk legends and accounts of notorious highwaymen. That leaves 17 stories that might actually be hard to find, with several tales that are just a few pages long, and one that was in a mock Old English that I thought was damn-near unreadable. A barebones reprinting of works that reshaped the face of horror fiction, having them together in one volume is convenient.

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