Book: St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers

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St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers

Author: David Pringle
Publisher: St. James Press

This valuable new guide to historic and contemporary horror, ghost and gothic writers features the men and women who’ve kept readers turning pages into the wee hours of the night. Your patrons with a penchant for this genre will find all the details they need to answer their questions on 404 authors.

Author entries feature a biography; a complete list of the author’s publications; selected critical and biographical works; and comments by the author, when available. A critical essay written by an expert in the field helps readers better understand the author and his or her works.


In his preface to this encyclopedic reference, Dennis Etchison is typically eloquent in defending horror literature, the power of which “derives from its predilection for addressing the fundamental questions of life and death, the drama that does not need to be melodramatized…. The problem is that this requires a greater degree of attention to style, mood and the connotative aspects of language than is found in most fiction, and that the better you do your job the more the reader is likely to expect an extraordinary payoff at the end—something larger, deeper, and truer, justifying the trust that has been extended to you. In that respect a fine horror story may well be the most difficult of writing extant, excepting poetry. Because it is about the Great Truth, it ultimately calls for nothing less than authentic knowledge, or at least an intimation of it, the kind of understanding of one’s characters and their problems that can only come from personal insight. This is something that is not easy to fake.”

Etchison’s remarks may pertain but indirectly to the quality of the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, & Gothic Writers as a reference, but they’re worth quoting to illustrate the earnest intent behind this volume. The sense of horror being valued for what it attempts as well as for what it achieves is present on every page.

The format of this huge reference is similar to that of the other St. James Guides: each of the more than 425 entries (mostly English-language authors, with a couple dozen who write in other languages) contains a brief biography, a complete list of works (divided into horror and nonhorror titles), and a signed critical essay. The A to Z entries fill nearly 700 double-column oversized pages—a lot of useful information. Also included are three indices (name, nationality, title) and a reading list of nonfiction writing about horror, ghost, and gothic literature.

The editors intend this as a companion volume to the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers. —Fiona Webster

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