Customer Review

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Just room for one inside, sir", 1 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Night Terrors: The Ghost Stories of E.F. Benson (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) (Paperback)
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

In the 1980s, E.F.Benson's 'Mapp and Lucia' stories were rediscovered by readers, due in no small part, to an excellent series broadcast on the UK's Channel 4. However, during his lifetime, Benson (1867-1940) was equally well known for his ghost stories, and they are now re-published by Wordsworth, having been out of print for a number of years.

Most of the stories are told in the first person by an upper class gentleman of independent means. Some of my favourites are 'The Confession of Charles Linkworth' in which a ghost communicates by telephone; 'The Terror by night', where a sense of smell plays an important part; 'The Cat' in which an artist is unnerved by the animal as he paints a portrait and 'The Other Bed', set in a snowbound hotel in Switzerland.

Benson is particularly good at evoking atmosphere by describing weather conditions as in 'The Gardener', 'Home, sweet home' and 'The Farmhouse'. 'The Shootings of Achnaleish' is more of a folk tale, set in Scotland, where visitors are made unwelcome by the locals. 'Mr Tilly's Séance' is lighter in tone and told from the viewpoint of a recently deceased person. 'The Face' is an evocative description of a nightmare. The only story that didn't really work for me was 'The Man who went too far'.

In my opinion, the best of the collection is 'Pirates', an elegaic minor masterpiece which lingers in the mind.

The title of my review are the words uttered by the eponymous hero of 'The Bus-Conductor', which was adapted as one of the sequences in the 1945 film 'Dead of Night'.

The book is a fabulous bargain, containing 54 stories in 700+ pages.

If you only know E.F.Benson as a writer of entertaining, camp, light fiction, then you are in for a considerable and pleasant surprise. 'Night Terrors' is an impressive body of work and a major contribution to the genre. I do hope that this new publication will lead to a re-evaluation of E.F.Benson as a writer of ghost stories.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Dec 2013 23:00:10 GMT
Mr Harvey has it just right. Read the review because the title was from one of my favourite films! I have a very old copy of the original series and it is falling to bits so I am going to get a brand new copy for myself. Benson's ghost stories have been entertaining me for years and I reread them at will. Great reading for anyone who devours this genre.
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