While writing my ghost story, I've been reading ghost and fantasy short stories for inspiration, and examples of what works and what doesn't in the genres.
Beginnings seem key to a story's success, particularly opening lines so powerful and/or intriguing they speak volumes about the story to come without the need to piggyback on the promise of a book's title to give them clarity.
Some first lines that made me want to read more:
1. "I, Earthling" from Bruce Coville's short story collection Odder Than Ever:
It's not easy being the only kid in your class who doesn't have six arms and an extra eye in the middle of your forehead.
2. "Stealing Dreams" by Ruth O'Neill, from the short story collection A Glory of Unicorns:
When Michael Evans was a baby, his parents covered his room in magic wallpaper.
3. "Harlyn's Fairy" by Jane Yolen, from the short story collection A Wizard's Dozen.
Harlyn had not expected to see a fairy that day in the garden.
edited to add:
Note to self: how memorable/effective are my first lines?