Ghost-ly without sight of ghosts,
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This review is from: Cupboard of Skeletons (Kindle Edition)
At first, the story headings: "The Hypnotist", Haunted by Amy" and "Hide and Seek" suggested Cupboard of Skeletons was going to be a straight collection of ghost stories, so I hesitated. Some were going to be what I'd call contemporary ghost stories but the first one, "The Hypnotist", refreshingly, didn't seem to be coming up with the bread and butter of apparitions or the far-fetched supernatural of the usual convenient Gothic props.
If ghosts were present, it was the 'ghost-LY' or the 'presence' and the hint of supernatural agency which was woven in, rather than any physical appearance, that made me want to read on. There was enough hint to whet the appetite but, a bit like the famous veiled lady, not too many veils were taken away to spoil the anticipation of the starker reality.
What saved the 'ghostly' from being implausible was the natural feel of the dialogue and sharpness of observation in the build up of the main characters. As others have said, Nickford tends to focus his storyline around the psychology of eccentric or even dysfunctional people in character-driven stories, even when this runs alongside the atmospheric and the hint of the ghost or spirit presence.
The longer novellas, which each have about five to ten chapters, had a more gradual build but, in exchange for the pace I'd found in the shorter stories, there was still the suspense which the author squeezed out of his troubled characters over several chapters, until it was the minute psychology of their quirks which kept me engaged.
A Child from the Wishing Well