My preferences are not important. Just look at what I've read, note what's lacking, and tell me to read it posthaste.
This trifle of a book has more value as a pocket encyclopedia for the basic categories of apparitions that haunt the collective Irish imagination than as a collection of stories worth reading in their own right. The collection does contain a few standouts: the few poems here present are especially beautiful, and “Flory Cantillon’s Funeral” was my particular favorite for its simple, haunting ending. The rest of the stories are not bad, but they either bluster on for two or three pages too many, or they feel grievously truncated. Many of the stories in each section cover very familiar tonal and thematic ground as well, so that soldiering through them all sometimes becomes a chore rather than a pleasure. Many of the stories have a grim moral backbone to them. Though hardly unforgivable in a fairy tale, the most heavy-handed examples, such as “Teig O’Kane and the Corpse” and “The Priest’s Soul,” contain only a few innovative grace notes to save them from complete mediocrity. These stories, and a few others, feature wayward young protagonists who convert to the straight and narrow only after a threat of death from an angel, mischievous trooping fairies, or some other righteous apparition. These stories are better left told by parents whose child’s hooliganism has worn their patience to the nub, rather than readers looking for an intriguing take on personal evolution and moral maturation. The humorous stories are most rewarding when told one at a time in a bar while trying to make one’s friends laugh rather than taken all at once in a sitting.