One might not expect a woman of Edith Wharton's literary stature to be a believer of ghost stories, much less be frightened by them, but as she admits in her postscript to this spine-tingling collection, "...till I was twenty-seven or -eight, I could not sleep in the room with a book containing a ghost story." Once her fear was overcome, however, she took to writing tales of the supernatural for publication in the magazines of the day. These eleven finely wrought pieces showcase her mastery of the traditional New England ghost story and her fascination with spirits, hauntings, and other supernatural phenomena. Called "flawlessly eerie" by Ms. magazine, this collection includes "Pomegranate Seed," "The Eyes," "All Souls'," "The Looking Glass," and "The Triumph of Night."
"'No, I don't believe in ghosts, but I'm afraid of them,' is much more than the cheap paradox it seems to many. To 'believe,' in that sense, is a conscious act of the intellect, and it is in the warm darkness of the prenatal fluid far below our conscious reason that the faculty dwells with which we apprehend ghosts." Edith Wharton, known for her keen observations of an emotionally stifling upper-class social world, was so afraid of ghosts that for many years she couldn't even sleep in a room with a book containing a ghost story. As horror scholar Jack Sullivan writes, "It is this sharply felt sensation of supernatural dread filtered through a skeptical sensibility that made Wharton a master of the ghost story." This collection contains 11 of her elegant, chilling tales, including "Afterword," "The Triumph of Night," and "Pomegranate Seed," plus Wharton's 1937 preface and an autobiographical postscript.