6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2011
As the evening grew rainy & thunderous, I felt the need of immersing myself into something dark, sombre, and yet with a silver lining. A good collection of Occult Detective kind of stories seemed to be the need of the hour, and I hastily got hold of this collection, and managed to devour it in no time. The only reason behind the somewhat deficient rating (only 3 stars) is that the stories appeared somewhat shallow. But let me give a story-wise description here: -
1) The Invader: a classic case of en evil spirit coming to occupy another body, and its consequences. The protagonist, despite all his "experiences", could not accomplish anything.
2) The Stranger: a powerful tale of love between a carefree (almost pagan) girl and an old god. Again, Aylmer Vance accomplished nothing.
3) Lady Green-Sleeves: the germ of this idea is so oft-repeated (ghost coming back for the thrill of present) and has been bettered by so many other authors (esp. Seabury Quinn) that this story appears very light, almost an exotica in a dark & dangerous terrain.
4) The Fire Unquenchable: a poet returns from beyond the grave to finish his poetry, and Aylmer Vance's companion (a Barrister, to boot) relaises that he is clairvoyant!
5) The Vampire: a solid, horrific, and suitably gothic tale. Unfortunately, the only solution that Aylmer Vance can offer is of destroying the castle of the forefathers of the central character, apparently because a very bad person had lived there, and seems to have a morbid hold over the present incumbents!
6) The Boy of Blackstock: a good story, with villanious human beings and ghosts from the past competing to become more horrific. Aylmer Vance understands the problem quite well, but has no "role" to play. The characters were worthy of being the centrepiece of a suitably nasty tale by H.R.Wakefield, and the story belongs to that vein more than the other stories in this collection.
7) The Indissoluble Bond: music and death combining to have a ghastly effect upon a lovely girl. Once again, Aylmer Vance "sees" the ghost (technically he is yet to die), but does nothing about it.
8) The Fear: Once again, this story lies squarely within H.R. Wakefield terrain, and all that Aylmer Vance has to say is: "Destroy" (the entire castle), to solve the persisting problem (people getting almsot scared to death at certain points of time, without actually watching or hearing anything).
When you have a "ghost-seer" whose strike-rate is like that of Dr. Hesselius of Le Fanu (whose patients had unusually high mortality rate) you really can't be very hopefull about the character. But, the ghosts were good, and rather than being cosmic, were horrific enough by virtue of being more earth-bound. Recommended for stormy evenings.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2010
These are effective little tales, short, succinct and neatly done. Don't expect any great shocks or surprises, but they deserve to be read. I'm glad that Wordsworth Classics have rescued these stories from oblivion, but the book really needs some kind of critical introduction- nothing fancy, but something in put the tales into context and give us some information about the writers.
A neat little book to tuck into a jacket pocket for those spare ten minutes you sometimes get.
Not as frightening as Carnacki, not as well written as John Silence, but entertaining and worth the effort, particularly at this price.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2012
A collection of tales by Claude and Alice Askew featuring Edwardian ghost hunter Aylmer Vance.
I enjoyed this book, gaslight and ghouls are always a good match, and the stories are very readable. Vance is an amiable (if a touch Holmesian) character, more charming than Hope Hodgeson's 'Carnacki' but lacking the mystery of Blackwood's 'Dr John Silence'.
Unlike gothic writers such as Lovecraft or Blackwood, these are more 'traditional' ghost stories (with the odd vampire thrown in). The tales vary from grim tragedy, 'The Invader' to blatant romance, 'Lady Greensleeves'.
This is a slim volume (127 pages), and it seems to finish before the characters of Vance and his friend Dexter get the chance to develop. In addition, it would have been useful to have had an introduction, to give some background about the authors.
However, you can't pick about the price, and Vance is a worthy addition for any fans of gothic fiction.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2008
Firstly my thanks to Wordsworth Editions publishers. They have brought back in their massive library of collections some truly wonderful and rare works to be appreciated again. Not only have they brought them back but they have done so at a cheap price. What a fantastic publishing house!
This book is a thin volume of 127 pages but each page is packed. The stories contained within this volume are;
"The Fire Unquenchable"
"The Boy Of Blackstock"
"The Indissoluble Bond"
The stories themselves are not unlike the tales of Sherlock Holmes but with supernatural edge.
Superb tales that are perfect for reading over Christmas or dark winter evenings.
A perfect stocking filler for that member of the family who revels in spooky.