For my full-length review and reviews of individual stories, please visit Casual Debris.
Featuring the winners of recent The Fiction Desk ghost story competition, editor Rob Redman explains in his introduction that the issue became devoted to the sub-genre as a result of receiving many strong competition entries. A superb decision, I think, as the sixth The Fiction Desk is among the strongest of the anthologies, and an occasional themed issue, in light of the consistently good stories in this one, would certainly be welcome.
We have seen ghosts wandering the pages of The Fiction Desk, so the themed issue is an extension of a part of itself, rather than a complete overhaul of its standards. In fact, the journal has published stories from most genres and can likely pull off a good collection from many. Ghost stories, however, are particular in transcending genre: while they are in their strict sense fantasies, ghosts can exist as horror, drama, satire and even strict comedy. Ghosts have haunted the pages of our most notable and recognizable serious literary personas, such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, yet critics of the twentieth century, while admiring tales of fantasy, quickly relegate contemporary ghosts to a sub-genre, and most often dismissing such tales. Rob Redman and the team over at The Fiction Desk, along with the authors bravely risking credibility and submitting their ghostly tales to the journal, have succeeded in putting together a volume that transcends genre. These stories are not about ghosts per se, yet like any great collection of serious fiction, are about so many concrete and versatile topics, yet happen to feature varying concepts of ghost.