Tis the season of spooky stories – and here comes a collection of eleven standalone supernatural short stories to send shivers down your spine. These eerie and outlandish fables resonate with the traditions of true Victorian gothic – although you won’t encounter anything truly horrific in here.
These are gently unsettling stories of the type which get told around campfires late at night, when the moon has risen and your best friend is doing her best to scare the bejaysus out of you. Think of them as Grimm’s tales for grown-ups; cautionary tales of malevolent manifestations and desolate spectres. There’s even a wonderfully warped guardian angel in the story ‘Leap of Faith’ which is probably my favourite of the collection.
The original ‘Fisher’s Ghost’ was a 19th century spooky story, set in Australia, in which a dead man returns from beyond the veil to cast suspicion upon his murderer. The author ingeniously incorporates that original myth into a modern-day mystery – with a devious twist in the tail. In fact, this anthology could almost be an homage to Roald Dahl because almost every single episode is a tale of the unexpected in one way or t’other.
Some of these stories feel as if they could’ve been written 200 years ago on the shores of Lake Geneva – others are bang up to date and bring ancient legends into the modern era. All are easy to read and immediately engaging, and none overstays their welcome. The temptation is, of course, to devour the entire anthology in one insatiable sitting, but I really enjoyed pacing myself with one story a day at coffee time – they’re the perfect length to transport yourself into the twilight zone for half an hour.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Fisher’s Ghost by Karen Stollznow is available at Amazon
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