‘The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories’ by Johnny Mains

My Review (3 stars out of 5)

The series known as the Pan Book of Horror Stories ran for 30 volumes between 1959 and 1989. In this latest version, editor Johnny Mains has collected a host of new stories along with several from the original series.  

As a teenager, this series was one of my favourites and I got through about fifteen of the books over a period of two or three years. With authors like R. Chetwynd-Hayes, Christianna Brand, Dulcie Gray, Martin Waddell and even Stephen King, I remember being awed at the imaginations and creative abilities of the contributors. In revisiting the series, I hoped to discover new horror writers who I’d love just as much. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Of the authors included, seven of the stories are from the original books (my favourite being John Ware’s ‘Spinalonga’, which I vividly recall reading in book number 13). The others are all new and of these the better ones are ‘Mr Smyth’ by Tony Richards, ‘A Good Offense’ by Myc Harrison and the interesting but overlong ‘The True Spirit’ by David A Riley. Aside from these few, most of the tales are disappointing, poorly written and (in many cases) without a morsel of originality.

It’s worth saying that the best examples of the series would appear to be those edited by Herbert Van Thal. As the great man himself is no longer with us, that might go some way to explaining why this collection just isn’t up to the mark.

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  2 comments for “‘The Legacy of the Pan Book of Horror Stories’ by Johnny Mains

  1. 17/12/2021 at 8:14 AM

    Hi Colin, indeed, the editing of an anthology collection is very important, as are the contributors. I was involved with some anthologies and the first ones were great. The last two were not edited by the same person and it showed.


    • 18/12/2021 at 11:18 AM

      Yes, sometimes I wonder if the editors actually read the stories 😉


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