it’s hard to review a book that isn’t written by an actual writer. though, between you and me, i doubt that these so-called “true stories” are real true stories. so that does bring up the question of whether or not THE BEST OF TRUE PHILIPPINE GHOST STORIES was written by a real writer, or not.
there are some gems in this compilation; stories that will definitely tingle your spine. but they are few and far in between.
the thing with true stories is that they’re supposed to be believable. and because these are “true ghost stories” they should be believable and scary. but most of the stories in this compilation are either scary but not believable, or believable but not scary.
and you’ll actually notice when a story is consumer-generated–they have no concept of good storytelling. they build up the haunting for too long, and drag out a forced moral lesson in the end. or they’d give an ending that doesn’t sound plausible, if the actual story is to be believed.
i’m not one to cast stones against these “true stories.” i’ve had my share of haunting experiences, and i do believe that there are some things that just can’t be explained. it’s just that demonic possessions that are too-easily escaped, and hauntings that are easily cast out by a simple prayer, are really too much to believe.
ghost stories don’t have to have an ending, in my opinion. that’s why they’re ghost stories, they’re just supposed to scare you. when you force an ending on your ghost story, it would mean it’s not a real ghost story anymore, since you already fabricated a part of it.
overall, i did like THE BEST OF TRUE PHILIPPINE GHOST STORIES. as i said, there were some gems in the collection. but did it succeed in being an actual horror compilation? maybe not. it’s a good book for instilling values to children though. what with the “don’t open doors to strangers” vibe the book has going on.
i must say this though: whoever thought of putting illustrations randomly throughout the book was a genius. almost all of the stories weren’t scary, but when you suddenly turn a page to a draft-like drawing of a ghoul–it’s enough to make you drop the book in fright.