The Haunted Hotel & Other Stories (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) Paperback – 5 Aug 2006
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Top customer reviews
Another excellent volume at dirt cheap prices. And just because it's cheap does not mean a sub standard product. Far from it in fact.
"The Haunted Hotel & Other Stories" is a wonderful volume. Running to 317 pages this book is big enough to keep even the most avid reader quiet for some time.
The book contains 9 wonderful tales by Wilkie Collins. These are;
"The Haunted Hotel"
"The Dream Woman"
"Mrs Zant and The Ghost"
"A Terribly Strange Bed"
"Miss Jeromette and the Clergyman"
"The Dead Hand"
"Blow up with the Brig!"
"The Devil's Spectacles".
All are marvelous tales and are the perfect antidote to those dark, boring evenings.
Buy two, one for yourself and one for the lover of ghostly tales. It'll fit perfectly in a Christmas stocking.
Guaranteed cure for insomnia.
Whereas Collins is best known for his mystery novels ‘The Woman in White’ and ‘The Moonstone’, with the second title being widely hailed as the first detective novel written in English, he was also rated highly as a writer of ghost stories, and ‘The Haunted Hotel’ is, unsurprisingly, just such a story. However, the reader has to wait a long time before any form of ghostly manifestation materialises, with much of the novella reading more as a conventional mystery. Although I may be mistaken in taking this view, it struck me that Collins had, perhaps, originally intended his novella to be a full-length novel, but had grown tired of it, and thus decided to abridge it. Thus, the author appears to have employed the device of allowing one of his leading characters to divulge the hidden course of events by passing off his own unrealised notes in the form of notes for an as yet unwritten play. It left me feeling that it could have become something greater than it was.
It was, therefore, the short stories that I found most to my taste in this collection, particularly ‘The Dream Woman’, ‘A Terribly Strange Bed’, ‘Nine O’Clock!’, and ‘The Devil’s Spectacles’. Only the first of these four can be described as a true ghost story, although ‘Nine O’Clock!’ does feature a doppelganger and deathly prophecy.
‘The Dream Woman’ centres upon a premonitory haunting, in which the tale of an unfortunate ostler is recounted by his current employer – the landlord of an inn – to the narrator. It is an atmospheric classic, in which Collins builds an eerie tension that is sure to hook the attention of any lover of a good ghostly yarn. The concluding story in this collection – ‘The Devil’s Spectacles’ – is a supernatural oddity, and all the better for it. In this, the protagonist is gifted a pair of spectacles by the most unsavoury of characters, and the powers that they bestow upon the wearer prove to be of a suitably Mephistophelian nature; they are not what could be termed ‘rose tinted’. Still, this engaging morality tale possesses a somewhat mythic quality, as well as a devilish dose of humour, and is my joint favourite in this collection.
Overall, I would rate this book as 3.5 out of 5 if the choice were there, but as I found some of the tales a little overly melodramatic for my taste, I’ll award it a solid three. As this Wordsworth edition is so cheap, I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in classic mysteries with a dash of the supernatural.
Part ghost story and part gothic mystery, The Haunted Hotel begins in London but soon moves to Venice, an atmospheric setting complete with dark canals and ancient palaces. At the heart of the story is the mysterious Countess Narona, who marries Lord Montbarry after he breaks off his engagement to Agnes Lockwood. When Montbarry dies in Venice soon after insuring his life for ten thousand pounds, rumours abound that the Countess may have had something to do with his death.
While I enjoyed The Haunted Hotel, I wouldn't class it among Collins' best work and the shortness of the story means the characters aren't as well developed. I did love the second half of the story in which the palace where Montbarry died is converted into a hotel. There's a very creepy sequence of events where each member of the Montbarry family who stays in the hotel feels a ghostly influence that manifests itself in a different way to each person.
You can buy The Haunted Hotel on its own, but I recommend looking for this edition because the additional short stories are well worth reading too. In every story, Collins gradually builds the suspense and draws the reader into the story. One of my favourites was Miss Jeromette and the Clergyman, a short ghost story in which the ghostly happenings are accompanied by mysterious clouds of white fog. I loved the way even though the story was quite predictable, it was still a pageturner. Another favourite was A Terribly Strange Bed, an Edgar Allan Poe-like tale which creates a feeling of claustrophobia and terror as the narrator finds himself trapped in a room with a very unusual bed.
I don't generally like reading short story collections straight through from beginning to end, but I didn't have a problem with this book. There are only eight stories (plus The Haunted Hotel) and most of them are less than twenty pages long.
I highly recommend this collection as an alternative to more recent historic novels, because these are more grounded in the era.
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Most recent customer reviews
Good story line and great fun to read.
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