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The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) [Paperback]

Marjorie Bowen
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Oct 2006 Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction by Hilary Long.

Marjorie Bowen (1885-1952) spent the early part of her working life providing for a demanding and ungrateful family. We are lucky that she did so, since among the results were these short stories of rare quality. In their use of dreams, ancient anecdote, and ruined or dilapidated buildings (‘Florence Flannery’, ‘The Fair Hair of Ambrosine’) they are at times in the finest tradition of The Castle of Otranto and the Gothic revival which had chilled the blood of the British public a hundred and fifty years earlier.

But her stories are more subtle in their construction, and often use simple materials (‘The Crown Derby Plate’, ‘Elsie's Lonely Afternoon’), interweaving their terror and mystery with the commonplace of everyday life. Their mastery of detail, sureness of expression and acute reading of human nature give them a sinister force, which is realistic and unnerving, yet at the same time tinged with pity and compassion.

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The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) + The Power of Darkness: Tales of Terror (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural) + Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New edition edition (20 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840225378
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840225372
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.3 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Part of Wordsworth's Mystery & Supernatural series, featuring classic spine chilling tales, some previously unavailable for many years.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting beauty 26 Feb 2008
Marjorie Bowen's classic story `The Crown Derby Plate' features in many ghost story anthologies but I imagine few readers will be familiar with her other supernatural tales. The 12 stories contained in this book are a fine representation of her mystery and supernatural output and feature beautiful and evocative descriptive passages that showcase her talent and flair for the macabre.

Bowen was noted for her superb descriptions of desolation and decay and these passages are plentiful in this collection. In `Florence Flannery' - "the November moon was high in a misted space of open heaven by the time he reached the old carp pond. Dead weeds tangled over the crumbling, moss-grown stone, trumpery and slime coated the dark waters". In `The Crown Derby Plate' - "the house sprang up suddenly on a knoll ringed with rotting trees, encompassed by an old brick wall that the perpetual damp had over-run with lichen, blue, green, white, colours of decay". These wonderfully suggestive portrayals of sombre decay add a deft poignancy to the tales.

As to the stories themselves, `Florence Flannery' is a particularly gruesome account of a bickering couple who find themselves the victims of a 300 year old revenge. The last two lines are grisly and repugnant in equal measure. `Kecksies' is another great story, featuring a dead man who switches places with a love rival and returns to exact terrible revenge and fulfil a vow he made before his death. `The Bishop of Hell' portrays a wicked, debauched man who gets his comeuppance and proves to his equally debauched friend that hell does indeed exist. `The Avenging of Ann Leete' tells the tale of Eneas Bretton's dead sweetheart and how he forces the murderer's soul to a confession.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rakehells and Revenants 23 Dec 2007
By Murray
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The stories in The Bishop of Hell were Bowen's own choice of the best of her supernatural and uncanny tales. "The Crown Derby Plate" has to be one of the best, an excellently subtle ghost story about a visit to an all-but abandoned house on the marshes. There's also "Kecksies", which was chosen as the title story for Bowen's collection issued by the legendary Arkham House. Kecksies is a "rustic" name for hemlock, and the tale gives a good lesson (if one's really needed) in why one should never throw a corpse into a patch of that ill-favoured weed, even if done as part of a macabre jest. "Kecksies" is, like many of the tales in this volume, set in the latter part of the 18th century, an era Bowen has a peculiar affinity for, with its scoundrels and rakehells, its innocent women brought down by the same, and its less-than-innocent women who are no better. Not all of these tales are supernatural, but those that aren't still have a macabre weirdness just as strong as the genuinely ghostly ones.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 15 Nov 2007
I was inspired to read more of Bowen's work after reading "The Crown Derby Plate" in the Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, and I found this truely chilling. The stories collected in this book are original and frightening, an absolute must for any horror fan. Well I say any fan, some of the stories are very descriptive but stick with them and they have brilliant twists and chills!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old-fashioned and great to read 15 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lovely old-fashioned supernatural stories, just right for a rainy evening. I like this authors style and will read more of her books now.
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