I’ve had this copy of Ramsey Campbell’s Fine Frights: Stories that Scared Me on my shelves since 1988, the year the book was published. I finally got around to reading it and found some gems.

My favorite story in this anthology is Joseph Payne Brennan’s creepy “The Horror at Chilton Castle.” The narrator of the story tells how he was involved in a bizarre ritual in the bowels of an ancient castle that holds a horror centuries old. Very atmospheric! I also liked “The Clerks of Domesday” by John Brunner. I’ve read a lot of Brunner’s work but somehow missed this story about the prelude to a nuclear war.

Ramsey Campbell provides informative introductions to the stories and reveals why he selected them. If you’re in the mood for some scary stories, Fine Frights will fit the bill. GRADE: B+


Introduction / Ramsey Campbell — ix

Child’s play / Villy Sørensen — 1
More sinned against / Karl Edward Wagner — 15
Lost memory / Peter Phillips — 43
The fifth mask / Shamus Frazer — 67
The horror at Chilton Castle / Joseph Payne Brennan — 91
The clerks of domesday / John Brunner — 119
Thurnley Abbey / Perceval Landon — 157
Cutting down / Bob Shaw — 187
The necromancer / Arthur Gray — 219
The greater festival of masks / Thomas Ligotti — 235
The war is over / David Case — 251
Upon the dull earth / Philip K. Dick — 269

24 thoughts on “WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #17: FINE FRIGHTS: STORIES THAT SCARED ME Selected by Ramsey Campbell

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Missed this one. I’ve read the Philip Dick but don’t remember it. Usually The Father Thing is the horror story of his that gets reprinted. II have read the Thomas Ligotti (I have a friend that worked with him at Gale Research in Detroit years ago). I’ve probably read Karl Wagner and maybe the Bob Shaw. Never heard of the Brunner. Looked it up. This was the only time it was ever reprinted. Doubt I’ve ever read a story by anyone Perceval.

      1. Todd Mason

        “Upon the Dull Earth” is even more brilliant than “The Father Thing”…”Thurnley Abbey” is the closest thing to a chestnut in the book, but it used to be reprinted a lot more frequently than it is in recent decades.

      2. george Post author

        Todd, like you I’ve read “Thurnley Abbey” in other anthologies. I’m guessing it got into FINE FRIGHTS because it was free.

      3. Todd Mason

        That, and Campbell wanted to dust it off…it was perhaps more effective on the young RC…it might be the weakest story in the book, but it makes a few points…

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Missed this. The editor’s introductions can really make an anthology worth reading. I read a couple of stories in an old Alfred Hitchcock anthology I found in the basement while doing the laundry the other day – I think it was STORIES NOT FOR THE NERVOUS. One was Richard Matheson’s very short “Lemmings,” which I’d read several years ago.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, FINE FRIGHTS is very reminiscent of those Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. The Ramey Campbell introductions to these stories are very well done.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Back in the ’70s when I discovered Lovecraft and his followers, one of the people I read was Campbell. I bought his first (1964) book, from Arkham House – THE INHABITANT OF THE LAKE and Less Welcome Tenants. I wish I had kept it. It’s probably worth money now.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, I always regret selling the few Arkham House books I owned at the BOUCHERCON in Toronto. I did get good prices for them, but how often do you run across an Arkham House book today? It’s been years since I’ve seen one.

  3. Michael Padgett

    I read a lot of horror fiction in the Eighties (didn’t everybody?) including lots of Ramsey Campbell, but I’m familiar with only about half of the authors here. The only title that rings a bell is the one by Ligotti. If my library had this (they don’t) I’d read it.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, you’re right about the 1980s being the heyday of Horror. Ligotti gets a lot of buzz but doesn’t write very often.

      1. Todd Mason

        You were looking in less grim places, Rick! Proto-splatter was around a lot longer than we might imagine, and splatter so tagged for four decades…

      1. Todd Mason

        It was a natural trifecta for me with the two UNCOLLECTED sf/fantasy and suspense/mystery volumes! I still need to go back and fix the contents list on UNCOLLECTED CRIMES…

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