When this longtime Modern Library favorite–filled with fifty-two stories of heart-stopping suspense–was first published in 1944, one of its biggest fans was critic Edmund Wilson, who in The New Yorker applauded what he termed a sudden revival of the appetite for tales of horror. Represented in the anthology are such distinguished spell weavers as Edgar Allen Poe ("The Black Cat"), Wilkie Collins ("A Terribly Strange Bed"), Henry James ("Sir Edmund Orme"), Guy de Maupassant ("Was It a Dream?"), O. Henry ("The Furnished Room"), Rudyard Kipling ("They"), and H.G. Wells ("Pollock and the Porroh Man"). Included as well are such modern masters as Algernon Blackwood ("Ancient Sorceries"), Walter de la Mare ("Out of the Deep"), E.M. Forster ("The Celestial Omnibus"), Isak Dinesen ("The Sailor-Boys Tale"), H.P. Lovecraft ("The Dunwich Horror"), Dorothy L. Sayers ("Suspicion"), and Ernest Hemingway ("The Killers").
"There is not a story in this collection that does not have the breath of life, achieve the full suspension of disbelief that is so particularly important in [this] type of fiction," wrote the Saturday Review. With an introduction and notes by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise.