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Ancient Haunts: The Stoneground Ghost Tales / Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye Paperback – 11 Jan 2010
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The first half, E.G. Swain's "Stoneground Ghost Tales" feature the adventures of the fenland village priest Reverend Batchel, in the village where Swain himself was the local vicar. This collection gets off to a strong start with the opening story called "The Roller", which strongly recalls the M.R. James classic "The Mezzotint". These stories have subtle humour which often raises a smile and have a few moments of real suspense. Mostly however the ghosts are definitely not in the Jamesian malevolent mould.
The second half of the book, Arthur Gray's "Tedious Brief Tales of Granta and Gramarye" are much more subtle and esoteric in nature, and as such are not as immediately enjoyable. These concern mysterious happenings at Cambridge's Jesus College during the medieval and Tudor period, with the local necromancers, alchemists and others in various macabre stories. The stories take place mostly within the college chambers and have a much more claustrophobic feel. These tales are attractively illustrated with the line drawings from the original publication.
There's much to enjoy in these books. Nothing matches M.R. James at the height of his powers, but the stories here are different animals anyway and can be enjoyed as such. Well worth a look, this superb book collects two sets of otherwise rare and not widely read stories.
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