Yaaay, a new ghost story collection! Some cracking British writers have banded together to give you the winter willies. You won’t find a haunted cell phone or Zoom seance here; these tales of very much “traditional” ghost stories. Here’s a mini breakdown of what you can expect.
A Study in Black and White (Bridget Collins) – Very atmospheric and creepy. A man rents a suspiciously cheap, vacant house, and engages in a very strange game of chess.
Thwaites Tenant (Isobel Hermes Gower) – A woman leaves her husband, much to her father’s chagrin. Ends up staying in her father’s “den of ill-repute”, and awakens some restless spirits. Great feminist angle to this one. I love Gower’s writing.
The Eel Singers (Natasha Pulley) – Not a story about an Eels tribute band, but a family taking a vacation in rural England to escape some psychic vibes.
Lily Wilt (Jess Kidd) – I absolutely adore Kidd; I want to live in her universe. She perfectly balances humor and horror. In this story, a man tries to resurrect a girl he wishes to marry, which goes exactly as well as you imagine such a thing would.
The Chillingham Chair (Laura Purcell) – Purcell has the honor of writing one of the most terrifying books in recent memory (The Silent Companions). She continues her reign of terror with this dark tale of a haunted wheelchair, and the poor lady who happens to occupy it.
The Hanging of the Greens (Andrew Michael Hurley) – To be honest, I bought this book on the strength of Hurley’s past work. Starve Acre is incredible, as is The Loney (I’m well overdue a re-read of that one). While I enjoyed this story, I wasn’t absolutely blown away. A priest helps a homeless man try to make peace with those he has wronged. But there are always two sides to any story, aren’t there? Hurley always makes innocuous traditions seem utterly horrifying, and this story is no exception.
Confinement (Kiran Millwood Hargrove) – Childbirth and motherhood are absolutely exhausting, but make for some fantastic stories. Based on the author’s experiences, and actual historical figures, this is a story of witchcraft and abduction.
Monster (Elizabeth Macneal) – This was my favorite story in the collection. A newly married man takes his wife off on some wild goose chase to discover a new creature, which he hopes will validate his existence. No spoilers, but I was incredibly satisfied with the ending of this story.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable collection, and the stories are short enough to read in one sitting. Perhaps as a little advent treat?
The Haunting Season is out now, through Sphere/Pegasus Crime.