The Two Sams
In the title story of this unique collection a husband struggles with the grief and confusion of losing two children, and forms an odd bond with the infant spectrals that visit him in the night. "Dancing Men" depicts one of the creepiest rites of passage in recent memory, when a boy visits his deranged grandfather in the New Mexico desert. In "Mr. Dark's Carnival," a college professor confronts his own dark places in the form of a mysterious haunted house steeped in the folklore of grisly badlands justice. "Struwwelpeter" introduces us to a brilliant, treacherous adolescent whose violent tendencies and reckless mischief reach a sinister pinnacle as Halloween descends on a rundown, Pacific Northwest fishing village. Tormented by his guilty conscience, a young man plumbs the depths of atonement as he and his favorite cousin commune with the almighty Hawaiian surf in "Shipwreck Beach." With The Two Sams author Glen Hirshberg uses his remarkable gift for capturing mood and atmosphere to suggest the possibility that the most troubling ghosts of all are not the ones that hover above us and walk through walls, but those that linger in our memories and haunt our souls.

The Two Sams Details

TitleThe Two Sams
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 14th, 2003
PublisherCarroll & Graf Publishers
ISBN-139780786712557
Rating
GenreHorror, Short Stories, Ghost Stories, Fantasy, Weird Fiction, Fiction

The Two Sams Review

  • Bill Kerwin
    January 1, 1970
    Glen Hirshberg's ghostly tales are firmly in the tradition of the literary short story. These are disciplined short works of plain style and poetic detail in which credible characters experience appropriate revelations. and the narrative efficiently reaches a well-executed (although never melodramatic) climax. You will find no pulp horror here, and yet you will indeed find much to disturb and to terrify. Henry James, Edith Warton, Walter de la Mare and Robert Aickman once did wonders with this s Glen Hirshberg's ghostly tales are firmly in the tradition of the literary short story. These are disciplined short works of plain style and poetic detail in which credible characters experience appropriate revelations. and the narrative efficiently reaches a well-executed (although never melodramatic) climax. You will find no pulp horror here, and yet you will indeed find much to disturb and to terrify. Henry James, Edith Warton, Walter de la Mare and Robert Aickman once did wonders with this sort of thing, but it is rare today, and--for that very reason--should be especially prized.At its worst, this approach leads to stories like "Shipwreck Beach"--an interesting tale of abnormal psychology somewhat marred by the hint of a Lovecraftian sea monster at the end. At its best, however, it also gives us "Strewelpeter" and "Mr. Dark's Carnival" (the two best Halloween haunted house stories I have ever read), "Dancing Men" (an expert and surprising blend of Holocaust narrative and Native American initiation ritual), and "The Two Sams" (a story centered around the influence of two fetal ghosts from earlier miscarriages on a current pregnancy, a story that manages to be both sweet and creepy without a hint of sentimentality or exploitation.)Whatever the plot may be, Hirshberg is a master of setting. Whether it be the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, the Southwest or San Franciso, the setting of each Hirshberg story demonstrates such a strong sense of place that the reader becomes convinced each particular story could have occurred nowhere else but here.This is a book by a fine talent, highly recommended.
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  • Rebecca McNutt
    January 1, 1970
    Spooky, creepy and yet filled with intense grief and loss, The Two Sams is a completely unforgettable short ghost story.
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    In the title story of this unique collection a husband struggles with the grief and confusion of losing two children, and forms an odd bond with the infant spectrals that visit him in the night. "Dancing Men" depicts one of the creepiest rites of passage in recent memory, when a boy visits his deranged grandfather in the New Mexico desert. In "Mr. Dark’s Carnival," a college professor confronts his own dark places in the form of a mysterious haunted house steeped in the folklore of grisly badlan In the title story of this unique collection a husband struggles with the grief and confusion of losing two children, and forms an odd bond with the infant spectrals that visit him in the night. "Dancing Men" depicts one of the creepiest rites of passage in recent memory, when a boy visits his deranged grandfather in the New Mexico desert. In "Mr. Dark’s Carnival," a college professor confronts his own dark places in the form of a mysterious haunted house steeped in the folklore of grisly badlands justice. "Struwwelpeter" introduces us to a brilliant, treacherous adolescent whose violent tendencies and reckless mischief reach a sinister pinnacle as Halloween descends on a rundown, Pacific Northwest fishing village. Tormented by his guilty conscience, a young man plumbs the depths of atonement as he and his favorite cousin commune with the almighty Hawaiian surf in "Shipwreck Beach." Pull up a chair, start the fire, listen as the tales are told, and see if you sleep tonight. Being a sucker for a ghost story, I thought I’d get a quick scare, have a bit of fun and then put the book down with only a vague recollection of the tales. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What I found was so psychologically shattering, it left me with a chill for days. Centering on education and childhood fears, the fours stories connect and ambush the reader with a combined strike of terror and awe. The title story is heartbreaking and may come to revisit the reader for months, even years after. Each individual plot is so beguiling and intellectually chilling, they leave you breathless. Comfortable and warm, the atmosphere quietly switches gears so fast it's paralyzing. The characters are deeply portrayed, filled with a delicacy and a history that has damaged them in some way. They soon begin to not only resonate, but also demand to be heard. The pace set in the story is slow and gentle with a build up of a speed so intense it leaves you gasping for air. Hirshberg’s style of writing is measured and ingenious, always leaving the reader with his or her own explanations. Here are five tale that are nominal and unconventional. Classic storytelling with a decisive twist. Perfect! I give this book a 5 . Buy this book today, but don’t forget the No Dose…I wish i hadn't! -As written on Horror-Web.com
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  • J.R.
    January 1, 1970
    If you want to hear our in-depth discussion of this collection, check out our podcast:http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2016/6/1/e...http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2016/6/8/e...Well-written "New Yorker" style fiction that makes repeated use of the same stylistic tricks and an accumulation of exotic and fascinating details that don't really play any role in the actual narrative of the stories. Calling this horror is a real loosey-goosey playing with definitions, and anyone expecting ghosts in these "ghost s If you want to hear our in-depth discussion of this collection, check out our podcast:http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2016/6/1/e...http://nachonomics.com/hnh/2016/6/8/e...Well-written "New Yorker" style fiction that makes repeated use of the same stylistic tricks and an accumulation of exotic and fascinating details that don't really play any role in the actual narrative of the stories. Calling this horror is a real loosey-goosey playing with definitions, and anyone expecting ghosts in these "ghost stories" would probably be disappointed.
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  • Rob Errera
    January 1, 1970
    You won't find any vampires, werewolves or other traditional monsters in Hirshberg's horror fiction. You'll barely even find horror in The Two Sams. What you will find are five stories laden with human sorrow and a palpable atmosphere of dread. These stories are not so much written as they are crafted. You can practically see Hirshberg's professorial, academic fingerprints on every carefully sculpted line of text. The five stories collected in The Two Sams quietly wrap you in a cloak of uneasine You won't find any vampires, werewolves or other traditional monsters in Hirshberg's horror fiction. You'll barely even find horror in The Two Sams. What you will find are five stories laden with human sorrow and a palpable atmosphere of dread. These stories are not so much written as they are crafted. You can practically see Hirshberg's professorial, academic fingerprints on every carefully sculpted line of text. The five stories collected in The Two Sams quietly wrap you in a cloak of uneasiness. "Struwwelpeter" examines the seeds of murder and the tension of father/son relationships. "Shipwreck Beach" follows two cousins; one of whom is suicidal, the other intent on saving him...oh, and along they way they may or may not release a wailing ghost from the hold of an old shipwreck. "Mr. Dark's Carnival" is an engaging tale that should be required Halloween reading for all horror fiction fans. "Dancing Men" weaves the threads of The Holocaust, the plight of American Indians, and the unbreakable bonds of family into one bizarre tapestry. The best story in this collection is the title piece, about a man confronting the ghosts of his miscarried children. This tale sticks to you like glue, and leaves you feeling as haunted as its narrator. Hirshberg's quiet tales of terror leave you feeling claustrophobic and chilled to the bone. Is anything more frightening than family?
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    The vivid imagery this author paints with his words just left me awe-struck at times - Ship Wreck was an outstanding accomplishment in this bundle of short stories, beautiful, haunting, strange, perfect - I devoured this novel and really look forward to reading more by this author.
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  • Charles Dee Mitchell
    January 1, 1970
    Hirshberg's work has always stood out for me whenever I've encountered it in anthologies. This small collection with its sophisticated style, intricate plotting, and elegiac tone place Hirshberg's stories among the best of the genre.
  • Emmibug
    January 1, 1970
    I checked this book out on my way to a camping trip, hoping for some spooky fun, but when I started reading I realized that the stories were much more subtle than your traditional ghost stories. None of the stories (bar maybe one...) were your typical rustling chains, axe murder, haunted house situations. Many left you wondering if there even WAS anything paranormal going on at all. If you're looking for a more traditional heart pounding haunting, look to Mr. Dark's Carnival. Super spooky, witho I checked this book out on my way to a camping trip, hoping for some spooky fun, but when I started reading I realized that the stories were much more subtle than your traditional ghost stories. None of the stories (bar maybe one...) were your typical rustling chains, axe murder, haunted house situations. Many left you wondering if there even WAS anything paranormal going on at all. If you're looking for a more traditional heart pounding haunting, look to Mr. Dark's Carnival. Super spooky, without being too cheese ball. If you're looking for a story that makes you sad about humanity with a hint of a paranormal tinge, I recommend The Dancing Men or Struwwelpeter. Shipwreck Beach has some questionable characters (it's hard to read a story where neither of the main characters are remotely likable), but the living ship is the redeeming feature.Content warning for the Two Sams- reproductive issues. It's my least favorite, since pregnancy freaks me out. But it is heartrending and will certainly resonate with many.
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  • Adam Hughes
    January 1, 1970
    Superb collection of "ghost stories" that function better as meditations on childhood, grief, loss, memory, and phobias. The final, title masterpiece studies the effects of miscarriage on the would be parents and is a subject not often addressed in fiction and most certainly not this perceptively. All the tales hang with you because this author has that rare uncanny ability to hit the right notes for an emotional punch in the heart. Hirshberg is a rarity. Highly recommend.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    These stories are incredibly well written, multilayered and eminently re-readable. If you're wanting something utterly terrifying, you'll be better off looking elsewhere...for the most part. These tales are along the lines of the ambiguous, haunting stories of Robert Aickman, but with more emotional impact than his generate on average. They're haunting because Hirshberg holds his cards pretty close to the chest, then when the story is over we go back and put all the pieces together, with a lot o These stories are incredibly well written, multilayered and eminently re-readable. If you're wanting something utterly terrifying, you'll be better off looking elsewhere...for the most part. These tales are along the lines of the ambiguous, haunting stories of Robert Aickman, but with more emotional impact than his generate on average. They're haunting because Hirshberg holds his cards pretty close to the chest, then when the story is over we go back and put all the pieces together, with a lot of "Ooooh!" moments.Most of these stories are around 15,000~ words in length, except the title story, which is about half that. This allows for a good generation of atmosphere, and fleshed out characters we can care about. This collection was so good, I highly recommend it to Robert Aickman fans, and for those who like dark fiction with subtle supernatural touches.Struwwelpeter - On it's face this is a very creepy tale, set on Halloween no less (how stereotypical!) -- enjoyable as a ghost story. But it's very multilayered -- it's about teenage angst, kids that "just aren't right," ghosts, and it's the lingering, haunting atmosphere that's most memorable. It's all shrouded in an Aickman-esque uncertainty. On Halloween night group of kids tag along with the brave Peter to investigate the isolated old house of a strange old man.Shipwreck Beach - I haven't cried from reading anything in many years -- I almost got there with this, as close as I can recall getting. Such a powerful and emotional story, less weird/horror orientated, but it's ambiguous, strange closing lingers and haunts you long after it's read. After reading all of the stories this one was my favorite by far. A young woman travels to an Hawaiian island to spend time with her cousin who has a zest for life, but is has messed it up too many times.Mr Dark's Carnival - This story puts us very much back into horror territory, and it's very effective, and expertly paced in that regard. But although this one excels at the horrific, it's still the emotional connection, and ambiguity which makes these stories individual. Probably my second favorite. A professor tries to help his old girlfriend out of a depression following a recent tragedy in her life by taking her to a Halloween haunted house, once thought to be a mere legend.Dancing Men - This is a particularly powerful, intense story that holds its secrets well, ALL the way to the very end. I would have preferred a bit more reveal as the story progressed, but it certainly makes an impression after it's over and you go back and think about the details. A boy is was summoned by his distant holocaust-survivor grandfather to perform a strange ritual in the New Mexico desert, and hear of his haunted past.The Two Sams - A truly dark story, very emotional and beautifully written. This one is on the milder side as far as generating fear goes, but that's not the intent here, it's an emotionally wrenching tale with subtle supernatural touches. I won't give the plot away, even a hint might ruin it.
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  • Mark R.
    January 1, 1970
    ****1/2Glen Hirshberg has written one of my favorite novels of recent years, "The Snowman's Children," but I've just now gotten around to checking out his short stories. "The Two Sams" didn't exactly take me by surprise, having read the very dark, very sad "Snowman's Children," but it did startle me a little just by how creepy and unsettling the stories are.There are five of them, and they're all creepy, shadows-and-haunted-house-type ghost stories. Which isn't to say you've already read these s ****1/2Glen Hirshberg has written one of my favorite novels of recent years, "The Snowman's Children," but I've just now gotten around to checking out his short stories. "The Two Sams" didn't exactly take me by surprise, having read the very dark, very sad "Snowman's Children," but it did startle me a little just by how creepy and unsettling the stories are.There are five of them, and they're all creepy, shadows-and-haunted-house-type ghost stories. Which isn't to say you've already read these stories before under different titles, by different authors. Hirshberg brings something new to each tale. In a couple, the characters are set up at the beginning, and then the narrative turns to discussions of an old legend, or a haunted place, and only as the story ends, as Hirshberg kicks your teeth out in the final paragraphs, do you fully understand why he told you what he did at the story's beginning.Two hundred pages, five stories, all about, or inspired by, ghostly encounters, I highly recommend this collection.In "Struwwelpeter", a horribly misbehaving twelve-year-old leads his friends to the one time rundown residence of a spooky old man thought to be dead. He's followed by his father, a teacher at the kids' school, who's had just about enough of his son's misbehaving, possibly dangerous, destructive behavior."Shipwreck Beach" is about an eighteen-year-old girl who absconds to Hawaii to hang out with her wayward older cousin, who longs to take her to a mysterious ship off the coast. The ship has come apparently from nowhere, and despite their best efforts, the Navy had been unsuccessful at sinking the mysterious monstrosity."Mr. Dark's Carnival", the best in the book, is about a town in Montana that celebrates Halloween the way some towns celebrate Christmas. The whole town gets in on the act, with haunted houses everywhere, and people of every age participating in Halloween activities. If the town weren't in Montana, I'd probably want to live there. The main character in this story is a professor who gets as much enjoyment out of Halloween now as he did as a kid, who gets a tip about the location of the rarely (or never) seen Mr. Dark's Carnival, which offers untold mystery and possibly real horror for those unlucky enough to come upon it.In "Dancing Men", a school trip through European Holocaust sites triggers memories for the group's teacher and he is taken back to 1978, when his father took him to see his estranged grandfather, a Holocaust survivor whose key to remaining alive is terrifying enough to haunt the kid years later."The Two Sams" is the grimmest of these stories, about a man who feels haunted by the spirit of his wife's miscarried child.Each story is written in the first-person, Hirshberg's method of choice, also used in "The Snowman's Children". Very melancholy, creepy stuff.
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  • Thea
    January 1, 1970
    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERSYep, that's right, folks. I'm giving this book of short stories zero stars. It was terrible. I felt that there were good ideas in some of the stories, but the execution was lacking.I was clued-in by the intro by Ramsey Campbell, which went on, and on, and on, and on, and ON about how wonderful these stories are and what a great writer Glen Hirshberg is. Campbell was trying awfully that hard to convince readers of this book's greatness, and that right there raised a r THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERSYep, that's right, folks. I'm giving this book of short stories zero stars. It was terrible. I felt that there were good ideas in some of the stories, but the execution was lacking.I was clued-in by the intro by Ramsey Campbell, which went on, and on, and on, and on, and ON about how wonderful these stories are and what a great writer Glen Hirshberg is. Campbell was trying awfully that hard to convince readers of this book's greatness, and that right there raised a red flag for me, but I decided to read the book and form my own opinion.My opinion is that these stories are awful: contrived, cliche, unrealistic plots, plots with holes and inconsistencies all over them, wooden and/or unconvincing dialogue.Other reviewers have said that the story "Mr. Dark's Carnival" is the scariest thing they've ever read. Um, have you read "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson? Or anything by Algernon Blackwood?"Mr. Dark's Carnival" was so dumb that it had me laughing. And after I finished it and thought about it for while, I got really annoyed at how messy the writing was. The plot was confusing. The ending, which was supposed to be shocking, was dumb. And confusing. (view spoiler)[ So the narrator's girlfriend was dead the whole time. OK. What about the other guy -- the date of the hot young college chick the narrator was cavorting with in the haunted house? (By the way, THAT plot line was totally stupid and gratuitous.) The other guy went into the house, too, and much was made of him for a paragraph or two, and then we never heard about him again.And the fact that the narrator and the hot young college chick came out of the house unscathed...huh? So the "house" (or Mr. Dark) gets to pick and choose? Some of those allowed to tour the house of horrors are alive, some are dead...this may have worked if the story had been completely different and written by someone else. But the narrator's dead girlfriend was apparently seen by other people before it was revealed that she was...dead the whole time. Again, this could work...in a different story by someone else. But here it just fails.I have to stop because I'm spewing out too much negativity. Don't even get me started on the other stories. As you can tell, I was not a fan of this book. Read it and see what you think, but be warned: The only thing scary about these stories is the fact that they got published. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Hirshberg's novel The Snowmen's Children, a genuine, bracing remembrance of a childhood terrorized by a serial killer targeting children in the narrator's neighborhood, surprised me when I read it a few years back. I wasn't expecting much from this new champion of horror fiction. The genre, except for a few glaring exceptions, and they are blindingly glaring, is a bit of a joke, and most books disappoint, not only on the horror level, but also from a basic storytelling level. I've read absolute Hirshberg's novel The Snowmen's Children, a genuine, bracing remembrance of a childhood terrorized by a serial killer targeting children in the narrator's neighborhood, surprised me when I read it a few years back. I wasn't expecting much from this new champion of horror fiction. The genre, except for a few glaring exceptions, and they are blindingly glaring, is a bit of a joke, and most books disappoint, not only on the horror level, but also from a basic storytelling level. I've read absolute horseshit over the past few years from the likes of Graham Masterton, Mary SanGiovanni and Brian Keene. I've also read great books by Sarah Langan, Stephen King, Cliver Barker, and our man Glen Hirshberg.This book of long short stories, novellas if you will, disappointed only in that it fell far short of Hirshberg's novel. Still he's got a literary bent that most horror writers lack, and I respect him for getting a book like this published, with absolutely no gore, not a single fatality in fact, if you don't count a few miscarriages, and getting quite a bit of press in the horror lit underground.Hirshberg creates tension with setting. He uses light in a deft way, focusing his readers' eyes on the objects, emotions and scary shit that push the story along. So he's a competent writer. Good.He doesn't scare us with anything original. He doesn't even introduce us to original characters. His school shooter in "Struwwelpeter" is a copy of the boy in King's "Rage". The blonde bimbo narrator of "Shipwreck Beach" shows Hirshberg's awkwardness trying to flesh out a female lead. The professor of Eastern Montana Studies, whatever the hell that could be, in "Mr. Dark's Carnival" is stupid, and I'm not suggesting that professors are never stupid, but this is guy is just boringly stupid.On the other hand, the narrator of "Dancing Men" remembering one of his few childhood encounters with his holocaust survivor grandfather, creates a stirring atmosphere in relating a great tale of crossing cultures - the blood of the Jews, the blood of the natives in a ruined Arizona pueblo. The father in "The Two Sams" convinces the reader that he misses his miscarried babies, and that they haunt them in more than a metaphorical way.Hirshberg's got a ton of talent. I just wish he'd excercise it more, tone up his scary muscles.
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  • Lucretia
    January 1, 1970
    I've been dancing back and fourth on how well I liked this and decide that the style was what made it stand out. It was much more literary than most ghost stories I've read. I found this approached worked well. It was chilling at times and thoughtful at others. There is a nice mix of range in the stories, my personal favorite was Mr. Dark's Carnival. I think what is neat is that the style will make it more suited to readers of all types of work rather than just pinning it in the horror genre.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably the best collection of horror stories I've read in a long time. While the stories seem "high brow" and literate, they still carry a chill about them. And yet, the mass slaughter is traded for more of a quiet, implied sense of doom. Hirshberg relies on atmosphere, but his stories are definitely not dry. My favorites are "Struwwelpeter" and "Mr. Dark's Carnival", although I'd say that "The Two Sams," the title story, hit me hardest.
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  • Gena
    January 1, 1970
    I read this when it first came out. I had found it while browsing the San Francisco Library. I loved it. I couldn't remember the title (until tonight) and have wanted to read it again! Yay! This book is a gem!
  • Alex Jennings
    January 1, 1970
    Hirshberg seems to have a little trouble with muddiness in a lot of his endings, but "Mr. Dark's Carnival" is pretty much the only ghost story ever to make me yell aloud as I read. The guy is brilliant.
  • Cameron
    January 1, 1970
    Mr. Darke's Carnival is a story that haunted me for years after I read it in a library book. Finally have my own copy and I reread it at least twice a year. So well-done!
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Not horror per se, more a collection of melancholic and eerie stories. Mr. Dark's Carnival is good for those into haunted houses.
  • Dhauser
    January 1, 1970
    Five short stories of varying power. The second, Mr. Dark's Carnival, is one of the best ghost stories I've ever read.
  • Timothy Jarvis
    January 1, 1970
    Unsettling and deeply affecting ghost stories. Hirshberg is less interested in the hauntings, than in his subtly drawn protagonists' reactions, and this makes for some powerful and humane tales.
  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    Good stories, well-written. I will definitely read more of this author.
  • Oksana Koshel
    January 1, 1970
    This book spent so many years on my shelf! I really wanted to read it on Halloween (because my edition has a beautiful spooky pumpkin cover image) and every year I kept forgetting to pick it up. I remembered my old-time wish in 2018, but it took me 2.5 months to finish this modest-sized collection. I guess one needs to get used to the author's peculiar writing style, where his characrters act with no logic at all (OR the reader has no information needed to reason the choices they make). The stor This book spent so many years on my shelf! I really wanted to read it on Halloween (because my edition has a beautiful spooky pumpkin cover image) and every year I kept forgetting to pick it up. I remembered my old-time wish in 2018, but it took me 2.5 months to finish this modest-sized collection. I guess one needs to get used to the author's peculiar writing style, where his characrters act with no logic at all (OR the reader has no information needed to reason the choices they make). The stories should be read between the lines, and it's the descriptions (places, feelings, atmosphere) that make the overall experience worthwhile. However, I believe that the consistency of protagonists' actions is important, and I don't want to ask "Why the hell did (s)he do this?" every other page.My favourites were "Mr. Dark's Carnival" and "Two Sams" - 5 stars, and I really struggled with "Struwwelpeter" and "Shipwreck Beach" - that's where my overall ranking comes from.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    A librarian recommended this anthology to me while I was looking for ghost stories to take on a camping trip and, although it’s a world away from the books I usually read, I’m glad that I gave it a try. The five stories were all very different, but they were all characterised by an incredibly strong sense of place. In fact, one of the best things about this collection was the way that each story was tied so vividly to a unique location.The titular ‘The Two Sams’ was my least favourite of the sto A librarian recommended this anthology to me while I was looking for ghost stories to take on a camping trip and, although it’s a world away from the books I usually read, I’m glad that I gave it a try. The five stories were all very different, but they were all characterised by an incredibly strong sense of place. In fact, one of the best things about this collection was the way that each story was tied so vividly to a unique location.The titular ‘The Two Sams’ was my least favourite of the stories, with moments of unnecessary sexualisation that took me out of the story too often for me to truly enjoy it, but I really enjoyed the rest of the book. There was something strangely, eerily beautiful about ‘Shipwreck Beach’, and the writing created such an evocative mood that the lack of plot (compared to the rest of the collection, at least) was easy to overlook. ‘Mr. Dark’s Carnival’ was the most stereotypical of the horror stories in the anthology, but it was still written in such a way that it kept you guessing from beginning to end. ‘Struwwelpeter’ and ‘Dancing Men’ were both characterised by a tense juxtaposition between traditional horror and a far more human sort of horror, and ‘Dancing Men’ in particular will stay with me for a very long time.
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  • Travis Bong
    January 1, 1970
    Comprised of 5 stories. Only story worth reading is “Mr. Dark’s Carnival”, which was the reason I rented this book to begin with. Other 4 stories range from average, forgettable, and awful. “Mr. Dark’s” was great though.
  • Stephanie Hardy
    January 1, 1970
    Mr. Dark's Carnival: most haunting and memorable ghost story I have ever read.
  • C McDaniel
    January 1, 1970
    This collection of short stories lingered around 3.5/4 stars from me until I read "Mr. Dark's Carnival." Like another reader, the "twist" ending irritated me so much that I found myself re-evaluating what I'd read to that point. That's probably a personal issue since I still remember the years directly following the popularity of "The Sixth Sense"—when students felt compelled to write twist endings to their narrative essays in Comp I (don't ask; somehow they managed it...over and over again). Th This collection of short stories lingered around 3.5/4 stars from me until I read "Mr. Dark's Carnival." Like another reader, the "twist" ending irritated me so much that I found myself re-evaluating what I'd read to that point. That's probably a personal issue since I still remember the years directly following the popularity of "The Sixth Sense"—when students felt compelled to write twist endings to their narrative essays in Comp I (don't ask; somehow they managed it...over and over again). The prevalence and overuse of "Mr. Dark" in the sub-sub-genre (?) of the "Dark Carnival" also lost it some points. Overall, however, it's a decent read. It's closer to literary fiction than genre fiction, though it's not quite "there" either. Readers definitely shouldn't expect it to adhere to genre formula. It's effectively unsettling in several spots, as well, which I enjoyed. If you're a Horror fan, I wouldn't take it off your "to read" shelf, but I would suggest saving it for when you are taking a break from gorier works.
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  • Conan Tigard
    January 1, 1970
    I love to be scared by a good ghost story. In The Two Sams, I really enjoyed the first three stories. The last two stories, at least for me, seemed to drag along. "Dancing Men" is about a man haunted by his past. It is not a traditional ghost story. Glen Hirshberg does a great job of describing the atrocities of the Holocaust, but I didn't feel that it belonged in this collection. And in "The Two Sams," there is a ghost, but it is a good ghost, as it is only three years old. I guess I wanted to I love to be scared by a good ghost story. In The Two Sams, I really enjoyed the first three stories. The last two stories, at least for me, seemed to drag along. "Dancing Men" is about a man haunted by his past. It is not a traditional ghost story. Glen Hirshberg does a great job of describing the atrocities of the Holocaust, but I didn't feel that it belonged in this collection. And in "The Two Sams," there is a ghost, but it is a good ghost, as it is only three years old. I guess I wanted to be scared a little more. The best two stories are "Struwwelpeter" and "Mr. Dark's Carnival". I really loved the twists and turns in "Mr. Dark's Carnival" as it was a very eerie story. Overall, The Two Sams is an interesting collection of ghost stories that I did enjoy, but would have liked more if the last two stories would have been replaced by scarier stories.I rated this book a 7 out of 10.
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    Glen Hirshberg is an American Writer or novels and short fiction. I saw him recommended by seminal horror/dark fantasy editor Ellen Datlow and decided to pick up his first set of short stories. Amazingly unique stories stand side by side with a magically good Bradbury homage here and there isn’t a weak story. Strewwelpeter (10/10)Shipwreck Beach (4/10)Mr Dark’s Carnival (8/10)The Dancing Men (8/10)The Two Sams (4/10)
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    The scares here are an ingenious blend of psychological and supernatural and thus redefine what it means to be haunted. Each story is told from the first person and each time it's an authentically new person. The writing here is beautiful, at times heartbreaking, at times poetic but never precious or unnecessary. Each tales casts a long shadow.
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