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Ghosts by Gaslight is the perfect example of what a short story collection ought to be. Though the stories are meant to convey a sense of dread (and indeed, many of them do - especially Lucius Shepard's dirty little tale), I found myself utterly delighted. It has always seemed to me that ghost stories are best suited for briefness—else the author runs the risk of losing the tension. And yet, I am often frustrated by short stories that seem to have been plucked from some greater tale. The varied authors of the tales in Ghosts by Gaslight have avoided this trap to the one.
It's fairly common in multi-author collections to have pieces that are, well, filler. I didn't find a single one in this entire collection. Certainly, there are some stand-outs, but each and every author seems to have brought their best to bear. I was especially impressed by how many managed the particular cadence of the Victorian-era without descending into parody. I would also note that the steampunk nature of the collection is profoundly understated. There's not a single dirigible to be had, and for these small things this particular reader is endlessly grateful.
There is a bang-up fabulous table of contents in this anthology and it includes some of my favorite authors of the fantastic. I'd like to point you especially toward Peter S. Beagle, Gene Wolf, Margo Lanagan (if you haven't read Lanagan's short fiction yet, you are in for a wholly disturbing and gloriously, viciously beautiful treat), and Jeffrey Ford. I haven't read the book yet myself, but I recently discovered a copy in my box at work and it is now resting, alluringly, on the top of the stack that is obliterating my bedside table.